Washing Cotton, Down, and Synthetic Pillows
1.Remove the case. If you have placed your pillow in a pillowcase or sham, take this off now. Some pillows come with additional zip-on cases that should also be removed and washed separately from the body of the pillow.
2.Put your pillows in the washing machine. Don’t worry - it is perfectly safe to wash pillows (even down pillows) in the washing machine. Try to wash at least two at once so that the washer is balanced and the pillows don’t get thrown around so much.
3.Add your detergent. For a regular wash job, add a cup/scoop of your regular washing detergent. To get your pillows ultra white, add the following in addition to the detergent: 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, the recommended amount of bleach, and ½ a cup of borax.
4.Start the wash cycle. Adjust the settings on your washer so that it runs with hot water and goes through a 2nd rinse cycle. Use the "bulky/large" cycle if it is available on you washer. Then, let it work its magic!
5.Put your pillows in the dryer. Place your pillows in the dryer and adjust the settings; if your pillows are feather-filled, put your dryer on the "air"/"fluff"/"no heat" setting. For synthetic pillows, switch your dryer to low heat.
6.Dry your pillows. Take two tennis balls and put them in separate clean, white socks. Throw these in the dryer with your pillows to fluff them and help decrease their drying time. Then start your dryer!
7.Check your pillows. When your dryer has finished its cycle, remove the pillows and feel them, checking for dampness. Smell the pillows to check for moisture in the center. If your pillows don’t feel quite dry, repeat the drying process and check them again a second time. Otherwise, your pillows are clean and ready!
Washing Memory Foam Pillows
1.Remove the cover. If your pillow has a pillowcase or sham, take it off prior to washing. Most memory foam pillows also have a zip-on protective cover that should be removed as well. These items can be washed separately and in a washing machine.
2.Fill a tub with water. Washing machines prove too rough for sensitive memory foam, so pillows of this material must be hand washed. Fill a tub (or your sink) with warm water. You only need enough water to cover the pillow.
3.Add your detergent. For each pillow, add a tablespoon of liquid clothes detergent to the water. Swirl it around with your hands a bit to bubble it up and get it evenly mixed.
4.Wash your pillow. Place your pillow in the water, and move it around the bit to help the detergent to work its way in. Massage and squeeze the pillow with your hands to help get dirt out and to freshen it past the outer layer.
5.Rinse the pillow. Run the pillow under fresh water. It is important to get as much of the soap out as you can, checking for suds in the runout. Rinsing the pillow may take several minutes longer than washing it.
6.Dry the pillow. High heat levels can ruin the memory foam and cause it to crumble, so do not put your memory foam pillow in the dryer. Instead, lay it out on a clean white towel in a dry area. If possible, allow it to dry in the sun.
7.Check the pillow. Memory foam is especially susceptible to holding water for a long time, as it is made out of a sponge-like material. Make sure that there is absolutely no water left in the material before bringing it back for use on your bed, otherwise it will begin to grow mold and mildew.
How To Dry and Fluff Your Pillow
This is the crucial step in ensuring your pillow is even more comfortable and supportive post-wash than it was before you washed it. Incomplete drying will result in mildew and odor, while drying incorrectly can leave you with a lumpy, possibly even singed, pillow.
Dryers are safe for the majority of pillows. Once again, your fill material will dictate your dryer settings:
Use air-dry only (no heat) for down and feather pillows. These are prone to heat damage and can even singe, leaving a permanent odor.
Synthetic down and polyester can both be dried on low to moderate heat. However, drying on lower temperatures for longer is safest.
Ignore any smart-dryer settings, as these are dependant on surface moisture readings and the surface of your pillow will be dry long before the interior.
To encourage fluffiness and speed up drying time, place clean, dry towels or tennis balls in with your pillows.
Dryer sheets can be added for extra freshness. However, many brands leave residue which can irritate the skin or attract debris. An alternative is a few drops of essential oil on the dry towels.
If you have an outdoor clothesline, hanging your pillow to dry in the sun is an excellent way to dry it while eliminating any stubborn odors. Of course, it’s important to ensure the filling is completely dry once you take it down. If there is any lingering dampness, use the air-dry setting on your dryer to finish the job.
Once your pillow is dry, use your hands to gently pull apart any obvious lumps. Shaking it well with quick snaps of your wrists will also help re-distribute the filling.
Keeping Your Pillow Clean
The easiest way to protect your pillow is to use a pillow cover or protector. When used with a pillowcase and cleaned regularly, these protect against obvious soiling and staining as well as less visible build-up.
Different styles of protectors are available, ranging from simple cotton to thick, water-resistant varieties. Most are inexpensive and do not interfere with the feel of your pillow, so choose whatever suits your needs best.
Airing out your pillow regularly will also keep it fresh between washes and help you avoid having to wash it more than necessary. When making your bed, fluff your pillow by hand and place it on top of any other bedding to allow any moisture it collected overnight to evaporate.
For a more thorough airing-out, place the pillow insert in a sunny area every time you wash its pillowcase or cover. Sunlight is a disinfectant and will leave your pillow smelling and feeling fresh and clean. (If you hang your pillow outside on a clothesline, make sure there are no insects hidden in the seams before replacing your cover.)
Finally, pay attention to your pillow’s lifespan. While some pillows can last 3-4 years, the majority of pillows have a lifespan of 1-2 years. Washing your pillow regularly and drying it well will keep it in better condition for longer, but eventually even the best pillow will lose its structure or begin to form lumps.