What’s The Best Way To Wash A Pillow?

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If you’ve taken the time to find the best pillow for you, you want to make sure you take good care of it. How often you should wash your bedding depends on a number of factors, including how often you sleep in your own bed, whether you sweat at night, and if you share your bed with pets or a partner.

A good general guideline is to try washing your sheets and pillowcases once every other week. But how often should you wash your actual pillow — and what’s the best way to do it?

Martha Stewart says you should aim to wash your pillows once every three to six months, Good Housekeeping recommends that you wash your pillow every six months, and Esquire says that once a year is fine.

If your pillow comes with a care label, you should always follow the instructions as directed. But if there is no label, here are some recommended guidelines.

Down Feathers

According to Good Housekeeping, you can safely machine wash most down pillows in a front-loading washing machine, or a top-loading washing machine without an agitator.

Use a small amount of detergent, set the washer on the “delicate” setting, and add an extra rinse cycle when possible. You can also dry down pillows in the dryer, though you may want to pause the dryer every now and then to shake out any clumps in the pillows by hand.

The Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down pillow should be spot cleaned for stains but can be machine washed and dried if necessary. Always follow the care label for your pillow as directed. 

Down Alternative

Because alternative down stuffings are usually made of polyester or cotton, they are very easy to care for. Wash these pillows in the machine, using a cold water cycle and a very small amount of detergent. You can also tumble dry alternative-down pillows on a low setting.

Memory Foam

In general, you should avoid putting your traditional memory foam pillow in the washer and dryer if at all possible, as the machines can seriously damage the material. The good news is that memory foam is typically hypoallergenic, naturally antimicrobial, and resistant to dust mites. So you can spot clean your memory foam pillow to treat any specific stains.

If the pillow needs a deep clean, try submerging it in a sinkful of warm water that contains a small amount of detergent. Squeeze the pillow underwater to make sure the detergent passes through the material, then rinse it out a few times. Don’t wring out the pillow to dry it, since that could damage the material — just squeeze out the water then hang it to drip dry.

There are many different types of memory foam pillows on the market now, including both solid ventilated pieces of foam and shredded pieces of foam. In some cases, you may be instructed to launder your entire pillow in the washer and dryer but more often than not spot cleaning or hand washing is advised.

Classic Brands Conforma Memory Foam Pillow ReviewThe cover of the Classic Brands Conforma memory foam pillow is removable and can be laundered but the solid foam filing must be spot cleaned only.

The Bottom Line

No matter what type of pillow you sleep with, you should clean it at least twice a year so you stay healthy and your pillow keeps performing at its best. Remember to wash your pillowcases at least once every other week as well.

Most pillows will come with care instructions and they should be followed first and followed carefully. Just like you can extend the life of your mattress with a mattress protector, you may want to consider a pillow protector for your pillow as well.

Featured image: Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock


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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.