Skip to content

How to Clean Pillows: A Comprehensive Expert-Approved Tips

by Ruchi Daga 28 May 2024

Hello everyone, today we’re going to walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to clean pillows at home, incorporating expert-approved tips to ensure your pillows stay fresh and in the best shape.

Assessing Your Pillow Before Cleaning Pillows

The first step in cleaning pillows is to assess its condition. If your pillow is so far gone that it cannot be saved by a washing machine or spot cleaning, it’s time to throw it away. However, if it’s salvageable, we can proceed with washing pillows at home.

How to Clean Pillows: Cleaning Methods

There are three ways to clean your pillow: machine wash and dry, hand clean or spot clean, or remove the cover and ensure the filling is maintained. The method you choose depends on the care instructions and the materials of the outer and inner covers of your pillow.

In our case, we have a pillow with 100% polyester fiber on the inside (a down alternative) and 100% cotton on the outer cover. We’re going to do two different cleanings: a hand clean, spot clean, and then we’re going to throw it in the washing machine.

Spot Cleaning Pillows

If your pillow is hand clean or spot clean only, you’ll need a few things to get started with cleaning it: a clean cloth or rag, a mild detergent, and a stain remover like oxygen for really bad stains.

First, get the cloth wet and dampen the area of the pillow that needs to be cleaned. Once it’s damp, put a little bit of detergent on the cloth and rub it into the pillow. If the stain is still there, you’ll need to use the stain remover. Follow the instructions on the stain remover, which will likely involve leaving it on the stain for a few minutes and then trying to rub it out. Rinse the cloth, get it wet again, and dab out all the detergent as much as you can. Your pillow cover will be a bit wet, so wring it out to dry and then leave it in a ventilated area to finish air drying.

Machine Washing Pillows and Drying

If you want to throw your pillow in the washing machine and dryer, make sure the care instructions say that you can do that. Use a mild detergent and not too much of it, especially if you’re washing the pillow by itself. If you have a top-loading washer, you might need to add a few pieces of clothing to balance the washer. Do it on a delicate cycle. The idea isn’t to beat the pillow to get it clean. A gentle cycle should work just fine and you can use warm or cold water, depending on what your care instructions say.

Drying Your Pillow

Once you’ve washed your pillow, it’s time to move it to the dryer. One thing I like to do is to do an extra spin cycle in the washer. This tends to wring out even more moisture from your pillow and allows it to dry faster in the dryer. Once you put it in the dryer, my secret tip is to always put a tennis ball in a tube sock and throw it with your pillow. This bumps against your pillow in the dryer, breaks up any clumps, and allows it to dry faster and more thoroughly.

Dealing with Stains

Sometimes, regular detergent just won’t work on certain stains. That’s when you bring in the big guns, and by big guns, I mean Clorox. Sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned bleach and water and soaking it to really get those tough stains out.

Cleaning Your Travel Pillow

In addition to cleaning your regular pillow, it’s also important to clean your travel pillow. Even if you don’t see nasty stuff on your travel pillow, just be aware that you’re probably collecting germs when you travel and you’re going to want to wash this pretty frequently.

Understanding the Importance of Washing Pillows

Washing pillows is more than just a chore; it’s a necessity for maintaining a clean sleeping environment. Over time, pillows can accumulate dirt and bacteria, regardless of their material.

Pillow Materials and Dirt Accumulation

According to a 2021 study, certain materials may resist dirt and dust mites more effectively. These materials include latex foam, memory foam, gel, and hypoallergenic materials.

Feather and Down Pillows

Contrary to popular belief, feather and down pillows don’t necessarily harbor large amounts of dirt and dust mites. In fact, 2021 research found that goose down pillows appeared to harbor lower amounts of dust mites than pillows made from wool.

Synthetic Pillows

A 2015 study suggests that down and feather pillows may actually accumulate less dust than some synthetic options. On the other hand, synthetic pillows, such as those made from polyester, may accumulate more dust and require more frequent cleaning.

So, yes, you really do need to wash your pillows. Not only does it help maintain a clean and healthy sleeping environment, but it can also prolong the life of your pillow.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pillow?

Let’s break it down into two different things. If you’ve got a pillowcase, either the one that comes with your pillow or one you buy separately, wash that frequently. Maybe once a week or so, depending on how much drool and sweating stuff happening to you overnight. But for the inside filling, I actually recommend cleaning it at least twice a year. If you rotate your mattress once a quarter, that’s a good reminder to do it as well.

How to Hand-Wash Pillows

But for instance, some of the most popular kinds of pillows, namely the memory foam and the latex ones, cannot be washed in the washing machine, and therefore you’ll need to wash them only with your hands. The agitation is far too vigorous, it would seem that this motion will cause the padding to clump. We suggest you to avoid washing foam and latex pillows in the washing machine, but instead, We advised that such pillows ought to be washed in a clean bathtub or basin. 

Here are the steps to hand-wash pillows:

  1. Remove pillowcases or pillow protectors from the pillows.
  2. Soak the pillows in lukewarm water alone in a clean bathtub or basin depending on the size of the pillows.
  3. Add a small amount of natural detergent to the water, followed by a 1/2 cup of white vinegar.
  4. Agitate the water to mix it with the detergent and put the pillows into the water.
  5. Rub and press the pillows and in case there are any stains, heed should be taken to clean those areas. Thus, if you have more minute areas that you wish to clean more thoroughly, this is a good moment to use a soft brush.
  6. Drain the water, then refill the basin with clean water.
  7. Rinse the pillows thoroughly until all detergent is washed out.
  8. Remove the pillows from the washing machine and let out the remaining water in them without twisting them round and round. 
  9. Always spread out clean towels flat occasionally on a flat surface like a countertop or a towel dryer. Arrange the pillows and make sure that lays on the towels in a bid to let it dry. Make sure the pillows are contoured to the right dimensions in order to arrive at the right form.
  10. During the drying process, rotate the pillows occasionally to ensure even drying.

How to Remove Odors From Pillows

It is also recommended to use sunlight in order to eliminate any smells that are still present, even after washing the pillows. If that doesn’t work, baking soda should do the trick.

Here are the steps to remove odors from pillows:

  1. Sprinkle the pillows with baking soda and let it sit for a few hours.
  2. Shake off the excess baking soda and use a vacuum with the brush attachment to remove the rest.

How Often to Replace Pillows

Pillows should be replaced every year and a half to two years maximum since they are used daily and can harbor bacteria. However, there are some specialties from one type to another of pillows.

How to Maintain Pillows

Here are some tips for keeping your pillows fresh between cleanings:

  1. Use pillowcases to protect your pillows from skin cells, bacteria, and other debris.
  2. Air out your pillows periodically to eliminate odors.
  3. Avoid eating in bed and keep your pets off the bed and the pillows, says Sokolowski.
  4. Wash or replace pillowcases when you’re sick.
  5. They should be washed at least once a week and when not in use and stored in a cool, dry place such as a shelf.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can you wash polyester pillows?

Yes, most polyester pillows can be washed in a washing machine as long as the instructions given by the manufacturer are being followed.

Q. How to remove odor from pillows without washing? 

Keep bad smells away from pillows by sprinkling baking soda on them for a couple of hours or overnight. After that, it is suggested to remove the remains of baking soda and clean pillows with a vacuum cleaner.

Q. How many pillows can I wash at once? 

Ideally, it is recommended to wash two pillows at a time to ensure that it is well balanced in the washing machine.


I hope this guide on how to clean pillows has been helpful. Please don’t hesitate to ask me anything if you have any questions. And of course, I would like to invite you again to our group soon. Like and subscribe for more content right now. Remember, a clean pillow is not only more comfortable but also healthier for you. Happy cleaning!
Prev Post
Next Post
Someone recently bought a
[time] ago, from [location]

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Popular Products

Example product title
Rs. 19.99
Rs. 19.99
Example product title
Rs. 19.99
Rs. 19.99
Example product title
Rs. 19.99
Rs. 19.99

Choose Options

Preeti textiles
New arrivals, and insider-only discounts! Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about our latest news and special offers.

Recently Viewed


Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning


Shopping Cart
0 items

Before you leave...

Take 20% off your first order

20% off

Enter the code below at checkout to get 20% off your first order


Continue Shopping