How to Fluff a Pillow: By Hand, in the Dryer, & Outside

Layla provided financial support for this article and video. See our disclosure page for details.

You may not have known it until this moment, but there is more than one way how to fluff a pillow!

In fact, there are three great ways to keep your pillow fluffy and performing at its peak:

  • Fluffing by hand
  • Fluffing in the dryer
  • Fluffing naturally outside (via fresh air!)

So get those pillows handy, and get ready to learn not only how to properly fluff that pillow of yours but also why you need to fluff it (and keep it clean!) in the first place.

These techniques will work on all pillows with filling made up of pieces, such as:

  • Down
  • Down alternative polyester microfibers
  • Kapok fibers
  • Shredded foam chunks or pieces

Fluffing (and re-fluffing) your pillow allows air to come in between all these pieces and lets them expand again.

We’d like to thank the team at Layla Sleep for financially sponsoring this post and the video and for giving us a lovely Layla pillow (part memory foam pieces/part Kapok tree fibers) to use for our demonstrations. They’ve also got a great mattress and some soft premium bamboo sheets as well.

How to Fluff a Pillow: Video Guide


In case videos aren’t your thing, we’ve included step-by-step instructions below. Keep in mind that you don’t need to complete all these steps in order to fluff your pillow fully. Simply pick the best method for you and run with it!

How to Fluff Your Pillow: Step-by-Step Instructions

Fluff Your Pillow By Hand

Grab your pillow and place it on your lap. Now act as if you’re playing the accordion and push the pillow in and out. Do this on both the short and long sides of the pillow.

This breaks up any pieces inside the pillow and allows air to enter and increase the pillow’s loft.

Massage Your Pillow

If your pillow has big chunks, work your hands into it (like you’re massaging the pillow) to break them up and allow them to re-distribute inside your pillow. This will increase the loft, height, and overall feel.

Fluff Your Pillow In The Dryer

If the care instructions on your pillow allow for it, toss it in the dryer! Some fillings will need to fluff on a low temperature to avoid damage. It may not take a full cycle for your pillow to fluff up.

Increase Fluffiness With A Tennis Ball In A Sock

Put a tennis ball inside a tube sock and throw it in your dryer along with your pillow. The tennis ball will bounce around inside the dryer and press against your pillow, breaking up any pieces inside and increasing the fluff factor of your pillow.

Fluff Your Pillow Outside

Some pillows might do very well when left outside to breathe and fluff. Leave your pillow in a sunny spot outside where the breeze can fluff it.

This is especially helpful when you first get a pillow that arrives compressed and has an “off-gassing” odor that needs to dissipate in addition to expanding.

Why Should I Fluff My Pillow?

Using the right pillow is a part of having good sleep health. When you sleep on a pillow that is the correct height, loft, and overall firmness and feel for your primary sleep position, you’re releasing any pressure on your head, neck, and spine.

Doing this increases the chances that you’ll wake up feeling amazing and refreshed each morning (instead of stiff, achy, or in pain).

RELATED: Best Mattress for Back Pain

Over time, the filling in your pillow can become flattened or compressed from using it night after night. If you don’t fluff your pillow, you could start to experience issues with spinal alignment and a poor angle in your head and neck. The feel and firmness can also change as your pillow compresses. All the more reason to keep it fluffed!

pillow loft and spinal alignment by sleep position


We’ve put together more information on the best pillows for side, back, and stomach sleepers, so check them out:

Extra Tips

  • Before fluffing in the dryer, check your pillow’s care instructions.
  • Avoid putting the dryer on a super hot heat setting, because it could potentially burn or damage not only the cover of your pillow but the filling as well. Burned feathers, anyone? No thank you!
  • If your pillow comes compressed or rolled up in packaging and has pieces of foam filling, it’s worth leaving it outside or in a well-ventilated space to expand. Sometimes there can be a chemical-like smell (called “off-gassing”) that can happen. It should go away over time, but letting your pillow fluff outside will help you avoid the smell.
Katie Golde

Katie Golde

Katie manages the day to day operations of the Mattress Clarity news site and reviews sleep products in addition to writing and editing sleep news. She hails from Austin, where she lives with her growing family. She is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and has a background in health and science content. Her work can be found in print and online publications like Discover Magazine, USA Today and The Huffington Post.