The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Pillows and Pillowcases

Dust mites, dirt, pet dander, and pollen – you’re bringing anything you come in contact with throughout your day to the soft surfaces in your home, including your pillows!

Keep your decorative and bed pillows clean with a routine of regular cleaning.

Do I Need to Wash My Pillow?

Yes. Cleaning your pillows is critical to getting better sleep and staying healthy. A common misconception is that cleaning your sheets, blankets, and pillowcases is enough, but this isn’t true. It’s important to clean your pillows themselves every few months.

Cleaning Different Types of Pillows

Some pillows are easier to clean than others. It’s critical to match the right cleaning regimen to each pillow in your home. Before you start cleaning your pillows, consider the following:

  • Fabric type – The most common fabrics used in pillows are satin, cotton, linen, canvas, faux leather, velvet, and wool.
  • Fill type – Cotton, feather, memory foam, synthetic filling, and wool are often in pillows, but they aren’t the only ones.
  • Size – Pillows come in all shapes and sizes, especially throw and decorative pillows.
  • Decorative features – Embroidery, beads, and screen printing are common, but sometimes the decorative element is just on the pillowcase. Make sure you identify where the decoration is before cleaning.

Most pillows will include washing instructions on a tag, but we’ve included our recommendations for cleaning different pillow types below.

How to Clean Cotton Pillows

Basic cotton pillows can usually be put directly in your washing machine, making cleaning them very easy. For best results, use cool water and gentle/non-fragranced detergent. If your washer has an extra rinse cycle, it’s a great idea to use it to make sure that all the detergent is properly rinsed out.

How to Clean Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows need to be handled with different care than most other pillows. The foam itself will retain water and it’s essential that your pillow has fully dried before using it again, or even just putting the pillowcase back on.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Remove all cases and make sure they’re washed. Most memory foam pillows will have an outer case that you sleep on and an inner case to cover the memory foam.
  2. Apply baking soda to the foam and let it sit. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Let it sit for at least an hour and repeat on the other side. Even if you only use one side of your pillow, make sure you clean the entire thing.
  3. Mix a cleaning solution of detergent (a gentle, unscented one would be best) and room-temperature water.
  4. Using a soft cloth, wipe the outside of the pillow. Try to keep your cloth moving to avoid any pooling. The less water that soaks into the pillow the less time it will take to dry.
  5. Allow the pillow to air-dry. Do not use a machine dryer to speed up the process.
  6. After the pillow is dry, make sure you make your bed like the pros.

Tips for Cleaning Down Pillows

Down and down alternative pillows may be machine washed and dried. For best results, we recommend that you:

  • Don’t put too many pillows in at one time. More than two pillows can cause uneven washing and even trigger error warnings from your machine.
  • Make sure to read the pillow’s care tag for temperature settings. Your pillow should have a recommended temperature, and you’ll want to follow that as closely as possible.
  • Use a small amount of a gentle, non-fragrance detergent. If you use too much detergent, it might be harder for your washer to properly flush it out of your pillow by the time the washing cycle ends.

Best Practices for Cleaning Throw Pillows

Throw pillows can require more work to clean than bedding pillows. Before doing anything, make sure to read the instructions tag on your pillow as some will be dry clean only.

For throw pillows that can be machine washed, we recommend using the same gentle detergent you would use on down or down alternative pillows. We also suggest taking advantage of your machine’s delicate cycle.

Like memory foam pillows, you’ll want to let them air-dry in a dry, ventilated area. If your pillows seem to be misshaped, you can use your dryer to fluff them, just make sure you use the lowest, or no-heat, setting with some dryer balls.

Cleaning Decorative Pillows the Safe Way

In many cases, the best practice is to have them dry-cleaned. For pillows that have beadwork or other decorative elements, putting them in a washing machine could be destructive. However, you still might want to avoid dry cleaning. Despite being “dry,” the process still involves chemical agents that could impact your pillows. Borax can also be wiped off easily without damaging your pillow or any decorative elements.

How to Wash Pillowcases

Washing your pillowcase should always be done in accordance with the instructions on the case’s tag. In most situations, you’ll want to use the delicate setting on your washer. For decorative cases, most will need to be cleaned without using a washing machine due to the decoration. For pillows that you sleep on, use vinegar to help reduce the oils and other stains that come from regular use.

Refresh Your Home with Regular Cleaning

Washing your pillows regularly is just one step in keeping your home clean and fresh, and could even give you better sleep. At The Cleaning Authority, we offer home cleaning services designed to free up your time and make your home more comfortable.

From bathrooms to kitchens and everything in between, we can help you finish the little tasks that make a big impression. Request a free estimate online or call (888) 658-0659 to learn more about our cleaning services.