How To Wash Pillows: Your Complete Guide


Did you know that we spend nearly a third of our lives in bed? Learn how to wash pillows so you can rest easy.

How clean is the place where you rest your head at night? While most people are quite diligent about washing sheets and pillowcases, our pillows can often get overlooked when laundry day comes around. Over time, sweat, oils, dead skin cells, and more can seep through your pillowcase and build up on your pillow. This build up is a breeding ground for dust mites and nasty bacteria, so it’s important to give your pillows some regular TLC. Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President of Communications, Outreach, and Membership at the American Cleaning Institute, recommends washing them at least every three months (four times a year) to ensure that your pillows are consistently in their best shape. But how do you wash pillows without ruining them? Can you wash pillows in a washing machine, or do they need to be washed by hand? Dropps is here to help with our complete guide to how to wash pillows.

How to Wash Pillows

Ready to learn the best way to wash pillows? We have all the information you need for how to clean a pillow by machine or by hand! Remember to always check the care label on the pillow for any specific instructions before washing. Now, keep calm and wash on!

How to Wash Polyester, Down, and Feather Pillows

1. Choose a Gentle Cycle

Choose the gentle cycle on your machine. Use warm water, and if you have the option to add an extra rinse with cold water, do so!

2. Use the Right Detergent

Use a gentle detergent, particularly if you are washing down or feather pillows. Down and feather are natural materials, and should be washed with a detergent that does not contain enzymes, like our Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent. If your pillows are stained or yellowing, you may want to add an Oxi Booster Pod as well.

3. Run the Cycle

Washing pillows in washing machine is less labor intensive than hand washing. Just run the cycle and let the washing machine do its thing!

4. Dry Them Completely

Gently press excess water out of the pillow with a light colored towel. Do not wring or twist feather pillows. Once you pop your pillows in the dryer, make sure you choose to tumble dry on low heat. To help keep pillows plump, XL Wool Dryer Balls, which will also speed up drying time! It’s crucial to get the pillow completely dry—otherwise you risk mildew. Skip the auto-dry setting on your clothes dryer because the sensors will detect only surface moisture, leaving you with a pillow that’s still damp on the inside.

How to Wash Foam Pillows

1. Clean Pillow Protectors and Pillowcases

Remove the pillow covers or pillowcases and wash according to the care tag.

2. Vacuum Dust

Foam pillows can’t go in the washing machine, but they can still use a good clean! Use a vacuum to get rid of any dust, or choose the tumble setting in the dryer on the no-heat or air-only cycle for 20 minutes.

3. Spot Clean

Spot clean any soiled areas with a cloth dipped in a mild soap solution. Our Ultra Concentrated Detergent is perfect for spot cleaning. Lightly rinse with a damp cloth. Wet foam tears easily, so be gentle!

4. Dry Completely

Allow the pillow to air dry completely before putting it back on the bed or couch. If you can dry them in direct sunlight, that’s even better! Do not put foam pillows in the dryer–they run the risk of catching fire when exposed to high heat!

How to Hand Wash Pillows

1. Fill a Clean Sink or Basin with Hot Water

Fill a clean sink or basin with the hottest water allowed by the care label. Hot water kills dust mites without the need for bleach or other harsh chemicals.

2. Add a Gentle Detergent

Add a gentle detergent suitable for hand washing, like our Ultra Concentrated Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent, to the water.

3. Hand Wash

Submerge the pillow under water and lightly agitate for 30-60 seconds. Be careful not to wring or twist feather pillows to prevent damaging the down.

4. Dry Completely

Gently press excess water out of the pillow with a light colored towel, then allow to dry completely. You can dry the pillow in a dryer, or allow it to air dry.

Extra Tips

  • Washing two pillows at a time will help keep the washer balanced, ensuring a thorough clean.
  • While any washing machine will do, front- or top-loading machines without an agitator (a.k.a. The large spindle in the middle of some machines) is your best bet. If an agitator-style top loader is your only option, place the pillows in the tub vertically to lessen the chance of them getting damaged by the agitator.
  • Musty smells may arise! Pillows take much longer to dry than a normal load of clothes. If you face this issue while washing your pillows, you can set them in the sun for a few hours to get rid of the stench. You can also give them a quick spritz with our Revitalizing Mist! We recommend Lavender Chamomile for maximum relaxation.
  • Use a pillow protector regularly to add an extra layer of protection to keep your pillows clean, longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions about how to wash pillows? We have answers!

Is it OK to wash pillows in the washing machine?

Washing pillows in washing machine is ok for those made of polyester, feather, or down. Foam pillows should not get wet, and so will need to be spot cleaned by hand.

What is the best way to wash pillows in a washing machine?

We have a few tips and suggestions when washing pillows in a washing machine.

  • Choose a gentle cycle.
  • Use a front loader or a machine without an agitator if possible.
  • Use a detergent that does not contain enzymes, like our Sensitive Skin Detergent.
  • Wash two pillows at a time to keep the washer balanced and ensure the best clean.
  • Make sure they dry completely! Wool Dryer Balls will help speed drying time.

Can I put my pillows in the dryer?

Most pillows can be put in the dryer. Foam pillows are flammable, and so should be air dried only. When in doubt, check the pillow’s care label and dry on low or no heat.

How do you wash pillows without ruining them?

Pillows are easier to wash than you may think! Follow our tips and guides above and your pillows should be sparkling clean without any damage.