Can I wash pillows in the washer? This question is likely one you’ve asked in the past. And we don’t blame you.
Pillows are exposed to drool, sweat, and body oils, all of which seep into the fabric. Taking the time to wash them thoroughly can make a whole world of difference to you and your overall sleep quality.
When Should I Wash My Pillows?
There are two main ways people typically decide whether it’s time to wash their pillows or not. You can either look at them to see if they’re dirty or keep your pillow cleaning on a schedule.
Most people find that washing their pillows every three to four months is a great way to keep them as clean as possible. However, it can also be beneficial to take a peek at what’s beneath your pillowcase to see if they need cleaning more often.
One of the key indicators that it’s time to throw your pillows in the wash is if they have signs of staining. You might see yellowish or brown-colored stains from sweat, hair dye, or body oil. If your pillows don’t look clean, there’s a good chance it is time to wash them.
Another way to know when to clean your pillows depends on any health concerns you could be experiencing. For example, people with acne-prone skin can benefit from washing their pillows more often, as can allergy sufferers.
If you have specific ailments or skin conditions, especially sensitive skin, consider washing your pillows more often. Throwing them in the washer every two to three months can help get rid of potential allergens and skin irritants.
Can All Pillows Go in the Washing Machine?
Before you decide to put your pillows in the wash, it’s essential to consider whether they’ll survive a spin cycle. The best way to figure this out is to take a look at their material label. There, you’ll find care instructions that typically advise whether they need hand-washing or machine-washing.
Fortunately, most modern pillows are crafted using unique fillers that withstand plenty of wear and tear. Whether you have down or fiberfill pillows, you should be clear to put them in the washing machine. First, consider the temperature of the water, which we’ll explore in detail below.
Another thing to keep in mind is the safety of your washer. Remember, all of the water your washer puts out will be absorbed by the pillow, effectively turning it into a stiff ball. If you wash one pillow at a time, this can cause the washer to be off-balance, damaging your equipment.
A far better alternative is to wash two to three pillows at the same time to keep the washer balanced. By cleaning multiple pillows at a time, each one will act as an agitator, helping to knock dirt and grime out of each other. With that said, if you have a top-loading washer, you’ll already have a built-in agitator.
Washing Pillows in the Washer - Step-by-Step Guide
With a good idea of whether your pillows can be washed in your washing machine or not, let’s get into the project. The steps are elementary and can be done on your regular laundry day.
Step 1: Stain Removal
The first thing you’re going to want to do with your pillows is inspect them to see if there are any stains. Even if they’re hidden beneath a pillow protector (more on that later), there could still be stains.
Using a stain remover, treat any problem areas that you see on the pillow’s surface before washing. This step helps loosen caked-on dirt and any traces of bacteria hidden within the pillow’s material. Also, it will make it significantly easier to restore them to their original condition after washing.
You should be able to find a bottle of stain remover in the same aisle as laundry detergent, or you can make your own. Mixing a little bit of baking soda with laundry detergent or any other oil-free soap can help remove stains.
Simply dab the baking soda on the stain and use a clean sponge to scrub away at the spot. After a couple of treatments, you should begin to see the spot lightening, which means you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Clean for the Fill Type
The next step is to determine what type of pillows you own, as the care instructions could differ. As we discussed earlier, you can wash most pillows in washing machines but at different water temperatures.
Use this quick guide to help you choose the proper process for the type of fill your pillows have in them.
Feather and Down
Feather and down pillows are some of the most resilient to washing and drying. Typically, you’ll want to use cool water and a mild detergent while washing with these materials. You can then put them in the dryer on a low heat setting, as higher heat can damage the down’s quality.
One of the more common types of pillow fills is polyester, as it’s pretty affordable. With that said, it is also quite resilient to washing but is best suited for air drying.
If you know you have to wash your pillows soon, dealing with polyester pillows is best done first thing in the morning. This way, you’ll have plenty of time in the day to wait for it to dry.
When washing, you’ll want to use warm water and a gentle cycle. Again, ensure you wash multiple pillows at the same time to balance the load in your washer. You won’t need to use as much laundry detergent as you would with down, for example. One tablespoon should do.
Memory Foam and Latex
The two materials you’ll have to be most careful about when washing your pillows are latex and memory foam. As comfortable as these materials are for sleeping, they are also prone to shedding and breakage when washed.
You’ll want to avoid cleaning these types of pillows in washing machines with agitators, as it can cause the material to rip. Instead, hand-washing your memory foam and latex pillows is a far better alternative.
You should first vacuum any dust out of the pillow’s surface and then spot clean them by hand. Do this by combining a bit of baking soda with laundry detergent in a cup and scrubbing away at the pillow.
Once it’s cleaned, gently rinse it with a damp cloth. For drying, it’s also important to avoid using a machine because it can destroy the fill. Instead, let your pillows air dry.
Step 3: Allow for Drying Time
One of the main steps to cleaning your pillows is to make sure they have more than enough time to dry. The last thing you’d want is to go to bed and have a wet pillow beneath your face when you lie down. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also encourage mold and mildew to grow inside the fill.
Most materials, aside from memory foam and latex, work well with being put in the dryer. It’s essential to use low heat to preserve the integrity and bounceback of the fill. Also, double-check the care instructions for your pillow to ensure it can safely be dried.
Add a couple of dryer balls or tennis balls in the dryer to help agitate the pillows as they dry. Without dryer balls, you might find the fill will clump up, which can cause them to get lumpy and uncomfortable.
Another great idea is to give your pillows enough time to air dry to keep them fluffy. Instead of using a dryer, air drying allows the pillows to remove water naturally without the worry of clumping. As long as you lay them down flat while drying, they’ll be back to new within a couple of hours.
Once you think your pillows have dried fully, push down on them to see if any moisture seeps through. If so, it means you’ll need to give them a couple of more hours to dry. If not, it’s time to start making your bed.
Step 4: Buy Pillow Protectors
When you buy a new mattress, one of the first things you’re bound to grab is a mattress protector. Like your bed, your pillows also need protection against dead skin, stains, spills, and more.
Pillow protectors are a cost-effective way to add a second layer of protection for your pillows. Also, in the future, instead of having to wash your pillows, you can simply wash your pillow protectors.
You can typically purchase them from wherever you buy your pillows, or you can find them in home goods stores. Like pillowcases, pillow protectors zip around your pillow and typically contain several layers of fabric for protection.
Step 5: Keep Up With Maintenance
Now that you’ve gone through cleaning your pillows, it’s important to make sure they are regularly maintained.
Stick to a schedule when it comes to cleaning your linens, as it can make a world’s worth of difference. With set cleaning dates, you can finally feel proud and confident about your favorite place in your home.
Following the specific care instructions for your pillow is vital to ensure you protect its integrity. Can I wash pillows in the washer? If you’re asking this question, in most cases, the answer is an absolute yes. With a clean pillow, you’ll begin to notice far fewer allergies and a more peaceful night’s rest.