How To Clean Pillows

Unless you want to regularly throw away your pillows and buy new ones, knowing how to clean pillows is an important piece of information.  The first step towards this is known what type of pillow you have, as different types of pillows have different cleaning methods.  Here are some tips for the most popular types.

Down and fibre filled pillows

With both down and fibre filled pillows, most of them can be washed in the washing machine.  The pillow itself will have a label telling you exactly what temperature and type of wash can be used for the best results but if for some reason the tag is no longer legible, then the best bet is to go for a gentle cycle.   Either put two pillows in at a time to keep the washer balanced or using a front or top-loading machine without an agitator.  If you only have a washer with an agitator, then load the pillows in vertically to reduce the change of them being wrapped around it and damaged.

As well as using a gentle wash, it is also a good idea to use an extra-cold rinse and an extra spin.  If you tumble dry pillows, do it on a low heat and fluff and turn them frequently.  Good Homekeeping’s Research Institute also recommend adding a couple of rubber dryer balls to help maintain the pillows fluffiness and stop it clumping up when drying.

Foam pillows

Foam pillows can’t be washed in the washing machine because the heat will ruin them.  However many have a removable cover and this will be washable as per the instructions on the label.  A good way to freshen up a foam pillow is to give it a good vacuum using an upholstery tool.  Dial the suction level down a bit if needed so you aren’t fighting with the pillow vanishing up the tube.  Another option is if you have a no heat or air-only cycle on a tumble dryer, then you can put the pillow in this for around 20 minutes to freshen it up.  You can use spot cleaner on areas or bathe it with a damp cloth then leave to air dry before putting it back on the bed.

Some foam pillows have instructions for hand washing and if this is the case, make sure you do it very gently.  Wet foam can rip easily so cleaning gently is important.  If your pillow doesn’t have a liner, then consider getting one as this considerably lengthens the life of the pillow.

Decorative pillows

Bed pillows aren’t the only ones that can need a freshen up – decorative pillows from the living room can easily get stained and dirty.  Again, reading the label is the first step because everything should have instructions on it as to whether you can machine wash it or not.  With many of the colourful and patterned outer pillowcases, these will require hand washing due to the delicate or fancy nature of the materials used.  Hand washing also allows you to make sure there is no damage caused to embellishments or frills that might otherwise be caught up in a washer and could be ruined.

The actual pillow itself will be washable in the same way as a bed pillow, dependant on the type of filler used.

Bed bugs

Everyone dreads discovering they have an infestation of bed bugs but unfortunately the horrible little menaces are on the rise, no matter how clean and tidy you are.  Therefore it never hurts to know what to do to kill them should the worst happen and you find you have the most unpleasant house guests.

Pillows are one of the favourite havens of bed bugs but their presence can be spotted quite easily.  Look for tiny dark spots that are bug droppings as well as a sweet, musty scent that marks their presence.  Getting the pillows and bedding into the washing machine is the first step, usually on as hot a wash as possible without damaging them.  But don’t forget, these little devils also hide in the mattress and other crevices so make sure you put a comprehensive clean-out into place to avoid them moving back into the pillows when you return them to the bed.

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