Washing Bed Pillows in 3 Simple Steps

October 24, 2013

Washing Bed Pillows in 3 Simple Steps via Clean Mama on ABFOL

When was the last time you washed your bed pillows? If you’re worried that you will ruin your favorite pillow or that your pillow isn’t washable, most pillows can easily be laundered and returned to their original glory.  (And for me, all the gunk that they’re holding onto – bacteria, dust mites, dead skin cells, etc. makes it worth the risk of washing it).  It doesn’t matter if your pillows are made of natural materials like down or feather or if they are synthetic, just about any pillow can be washed at home. Pillow washing is easiest in a high-capacity, front-loading machine, but can just as easily be accomplished with a top loading machine as well.


Cleaning Routine Tip: 

Pillow cases should be washed weekly with your bedding and pillow protectors should be washed monthly with your mattress pad. Launder your pillows at least 2 times a year – I like to wash mine seasonally.

Step 1 – Wash:

Remove the pillowcase and pillow protector (if you don’t use a pillow protector, put it on your list for your next shopping run). You will want to use the most liquid gentle detergent you have, avoiding harsh detergents loaded with stain removers and scents. Set your washer on the gentle, warm water cycle as well as it’s largest capacity. Put in the detergent and allow the washer to begin filling before putting in your pillows. Wash no more than two to three average pillows at a time to guarantee a thorough cleaning.

Step 2 – Rinse:

After your washer has completed it’s cycle, run it through the rinse cycle again. This is to make sure that the detergent is thoroughly removed from the interior of the pillow. Due to their thickness and density, pillows require a bit more care to be thoroughly cleaned. I like to run my spin cycle twice as well to remove any excess water.

Step 3 – Dry:

Upon finishing the washing portion of cleaning your pillows, it’s time to dry them. If your pillow is foam, you will want to line dry or hang your pillow to dry as a trip through the dryer would cause the material to melt. For other synthetic materials, dry on a low to medium heat cycle and avoid any high heat. Down and natural materials can’t stand much heat, so set your dryer on Air and allow them to dry thoroughly. If you would like to fluff up your pillows again, put a couple tennis balls in some socks and toss them in to agitate and return the fibers to their natural state. Stop the dryer every 30 minutes to rotate the pillows around to make sure that they dry thoroughly.


With a little extra attention, your favorite pillows can feel like brand new again. So go ahead – wash and dry them and look forward to a good night’s sleep.

For more cleaning tips and tricks, come visit!

Becky (Clean Mama) writes a cleaning and organizing lifestyle blog all about simplifying everyday life and making daily cleaning tasks more fun. You'll find her with a printable checklist and a cup of coffee while running around with her three little ones. Clean Mama is also the housekeeping expert on Answers.com, and has been featured in HGTV magazine, BHG.com, Oprah.com, iVillage and has written cleaning and organizing content for companies like 3M, Peapod, and Reckitt. Look for Becky's first book to be published in the Spring of 2014! Learn more about Becky at www.cleanmama.net.

19 comments on “Washing Bed Pillows in 3 Simple Steps

  1. Sara says:

    I totally did this a few months ago, and it was amazing how clean they got! It was so much easier than I expected it to be, too!!!

    Seriously – this works!

  2. Hello Toni,

    I have ordered your Christmas planner but have not received it yet. Can you please give me an idea as to when it may arrive?


  3. James says:

    A co-worker recently told me about how pillows/mattresses get heavier over time with all the dust etc. they collect. Needless to say, I was very grossed out. Doing this tonight!

    • classy says:

      what if you dont have a drier ?? whats the best way of drying pillows
      also what aboout pillows made from natural cotton ?* can they be washed??

      • Becky says:

        I wouldn’t attempt to wash pillows if I didn’t have a dryer – I think it would take too long and they could get moldy. Yes, natural cotton can be washed – a foam or cellulose pillow cannot be washed in the washing machine. Do you have a laundromat you could take your pillows to? That would be an option 🙂

  4. Angie says:

    Do you have any great advice on how to clean uphostery, such as sofas? Thank you.

    • Rachel says:

      check out the post for today (11/12)! You can click <HERE>

    • Hi Angie!
      It really depends on what type of upholstery you have, but for starters I love the upholstery attachment on my vacuum cleaner. It picks up dirt, pet hair, and anything else that might be hiding in the sofa. Check your manufacturer’s labels for exact instructions – if it’s washable, remove anything that can be removed and wash according to instructions. Hope this helps!
      xo, Becky

    • Anonymous says:

      I was told by a man who steamed carpet etc to take a bowl of club soda with a white rag or wash cloth and start to scrub it all over my couch & chair to clean it because my couch needed dry cleaning & there was no dry cleaners in my area. It worked great. The dirt that came off was shocking. Vacuum your couch first of course. Please let us know how it turns out for you.

  5. Melinda says:

    Hi Becky,
    Pillows are definitely tricky to deal with. I had no idea about this approach towards pillow cleaning. Thank you for your helpful advices. I will most certainly make use of them.

  6. Karen Bryner says:

    I was directed to this website from a posting on IVillage.com and it looks like the last bit of your posting may be missing since it seems like the sentence is not complete: “Stop the dryer every 30 minutes to rotate the pillows around to make sure that they”. Could you check on this and let me know what that last bit is? My dear late grandmother taught me to wash my pillows seasonally but my boyfriend has NEVER washed his pillows; he just buys new ones every couple of years. What a waste!

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you for catching that. I got in touch with our contributor and will hopefully have that fixed. Please check back to read the rest of the post 🙂

  7. Rachel says:

    Will this also kill the dust mites in the pillow? Thanks!

  8. Donna says:

    I have a front loading machine, so there’s no waiting for the water to fill and then adding the pillows. Is that stepabsolutely necessary?

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