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How to Wash Pillows: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Pillows Clean


There are two kinds of people when it comes to pillows. Some buy new pillows regularly; you see them buying stacks and stacks of fluffy new pillows and wonder what dignitary or celebrity must be visiting to warrant dropping such a large amount of cash on all those new pillows. Then there are those who prefer—enjoy even—the same pillow they've had since 1987.

Thankfully, most of us fall somewhere in between those two extremes, hopefully leaning a little more toward the "fluffy new" pillows zone.

Whether you have a pillow-buying problem or prefer your old faithful, we're sharing best practices to keep your pillows in peak condition so that they always look fresh and feel great on your Leesa mattress.

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?

Each week, you will spend approximately 56 hours on your pillow. No matter how clean your pillowcase is, it can never be completely spotless. Consider these facts if you're scratching your head and wondering why you wash pillows. As you sleep, your body constantly sheds dead skin cells, which attract dust mites and their allergen-containing droppings. A buildup of these substances can lead to asthma, rhinitis, and itchy eyes. As if this weren't bad enough, sweat, dribble, and facial oils can also soak your pillowcase. For this reason, we recommend you wash your pillows three to four times a year at the latest, or at least six times a year.

How to Wash a Pillow

We recommend that you consult the pillow's label for manufacturer-specific instructions, but if it has been a while since you cleaned them, keep reading to find out how to wash your pillows.

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Before washing pillows, remove the pillow cover (if there is one) and ensure your washer is balanced by washing two pillows simultaneously. After that, add your favorite detergent and an optional 1/4 cup of bleach, and run the wash cycle at the hottest temperature. After the washing cycle, rinse your pillows and spin them dry. Depending on how long it takes to dry your pillows, you may need to let them air dry completely.

Step 1: Air Out Your Pillows

When you make your bed in the morning, take a second to fluff and reshape your pillows. This will help remove some dust, but daily fluffing isn't quite enough. At least once a month, on a bright and breezy day, hang them outside on a clothesline. If you don't have access to this kind of space, you can run them through the dryer on air fluff or a no-heat cycle. Add a couple of tennis balls or dryer balls for extra fluffing power.

Step 2: Wash Your Bed Pillows

Just as your mattress absorbs sweat, dust, and allergens, so does your bed pillow. Some people prefer to buy new pillows as soon as they've lost their freshness and loft, but many pillows can be washed in a regular laundry cycle and dried to nearly "good as new."

Before tossing your pillows into the washer, however, be sure to read the laundry tags to make sure you can safely run them through the wash. Unless your pillow care instructions say otherwise, you can and should wash your bed pillows.

Most synthetic, poly-filled pillows can be easily washed and dried. You might be surprised to know that you can even wash and dry feather and down pillows. (Note: memory foam pillows should not be machine washed and dried, but more on that later.) Check out our complete step list below with everything you need to know about washing your pillow.

  1. Check the laundry care tag found on most pillows to be sure you can machine wash and dry your pillow.
  2. Remove the cover (if there is one). You can wash the cover along with your pillow, but you want to wash the pillow itself without the cover on it to get it as clean as possible.
  3. Balance your washer. For balance, wash two pillows at a time in your washing machine, making sure they are evenly distributed in the washer drum. For top-loading washers, make sure the pillows are balanced evenly around the agitator.
  4. If desired, add your cleaning solution to the dispenser, along with ¼ cup of bleach.
  5. Wash your pillow on the longest, hottest wash cycle. You may want to stay close to the washer to periodically pause and turn the drum to be sure the weight of the wet pillows stays evenly distributed. If it sounds like an alligator in a mosh pit, you'll need to redistribute the weight.
  6. Rinse and spin. Run your pillows through an extra rinse and spin cycle.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow

Though you may find instructions about washing a memory foam pillow online, completely immersing a foam pillow in water (a.k.a. putting it in the washing machine) is not a good idea.

Why can't you put a memory foam pillow in a washing machine? The machine's agitator will break up the structure of the foam. It may tear the material and can permanently damage it. Also, putting a memory foam pillow in the dryer is a fire hazard. Not to mention, the density of the foam will make it difficult for the pillow to fully dry.

We have good news, though. We offer a few different (excellent) pillows, including a memory foam pillow, the Leesa pillow, and our hybrid pillow. Each features removable, washable covers. Yep, just unzip the covers and pop them in the washing machine to take care of any stains and freshen your pillow up.

If you need to wash the actual memory foam insert, use a vacuum attachment. This will get any dirt or dust that's deep in the pillow. We also recommend doing this for your mattress at least once every season.

Read on for full details on how to clean your foam mattress. >>

How to Dry a Pillow

Yes! Many pillows that can be washed can also be dried. Here's how we recommend drying pillows:

  1. Add dryer balls and place them in the dryer with the pillows. Throw in some dryer sheets or a tennis ball. They will help the pillows dry evenly and keep them from clumping up as they dry.
  2. Let them dry completely. Set your dryer on medium heat and check them every 15 minutes or so until completely dry. To completely air them out, you can also set them out in the sun until they're completely dry and so fresh they smell like a pocketful of sunshine.

How to Tell if Your Pillow Needs to be Replaced

Just like you'll have to replace your mattress after years of wear and tear, your pillow will also eventually need to be replaced.

As we mentioned before, you may know someone who has had the same bed pillows for as long as you can remember. Because pillows collect allergens, dust mites, and yes, dead skin cells (that's what makes pillows get heavier over time), some sleep and allergy specialists recommend purchasing new pillows every two to three years. However, purchasing an anti-allergy pillow cover can help extend the life of your pillow.

Another way to tell your pillow is ready to be tossed is to fold it in half. If you can fold your pillow in half and it doesn't spring back to its original supportive shape, it might be time to invest in a new one so your head and neck are properly supported.

Healthy Pillow, Healthy Life

Taking care of your pillows is a simple process, and you don't even need to do it that often. It's better for your pillows' lifespan and for your own health and quality of sleep. If you've decided it's time to get yourself a new snuggle buddy, check out Leesa's Premium Foam Pillow or our Hybrid Pillow.


How often should I change my pillowcase?

You should change your pillowcase as often as you change your sheets, which is, ideally, about once a week. Just like your sheets, your pillowcase catches drool, dirt, and dead skin cells, so if you're going to bed a little dirty or are a sweaty sleeper, you may want to change your sheets more often. Although we recommend putting a pillowcase on your Leesa pillows, if you prefer to sleep just on the cover, you should remove the cover and wash it about once a week, as well.

How often should I clean throw pillows?

So many of the #bedgoals we see of Pinterest-worthy bedrooms feature layers of bedding and throw pillows that make you want to get in the bed and never get out. But what about cleaning them? Throw pillows are for decoration. They don't need to be washed, right? Wrong. Because we don't necessarily use them every day, we sometimes overlook throw pillows (and blankets). But think about all the times you toss your throw pillows on the floor, kick them under the bed, or lounge around on them during the day. As with bed pillows, check the laundry care tag to see if your throw pillows are machine washable. If not, you can vacuum them and spot clean them as necessary.

How do you wash a pillow?

You can wash a pillow with or without its pillow protector, but you should remove the cover to get the pillow as clean as possible. Wash your pillow on the longest, hottest wash cycle. Add your cleaning solution to the dispenser, along with ¼ cup of bleach. Rinse and spin.

How do you clean feather pillows?

If there's a protective cover over your pillow, remove it and wash it later. Put two pillows in your washer at a time to balance the load. Add a blanket or another pillow if you don't have two feather pillows. Wash your pillows in cold water only. Set your machine to the gentle cycle. Choose a mild detergent free from chemicals and fabric softeners. Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the soap is out of your pillows. Place your pillows in the dryer on medium heat. You'll have to babysit them a bit and pull them out every 20 minutes or so to redistribute the filling and break up any clumps that may have formed.

How do you clean pillows with baking soda?

Simply sprinkle a little baking soda on the pillow and let it sit for half an hour or so. Then vacuum the baking soda up.

How do you clean a stained pillow?

Most pillows can be spot treated with stain remover. When ready to wash, pour 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup of vinegar into the drum of your washer. Set the machine to soak. Once the soak cycle is done, add a gentle detergent and wash them on the gentle cycle.

How do you clean pillows without washing them?

A few options are available to help you keep your non-washable pillows clean and sanitary: You can sprinkle your pillows with baking soda and vacuum them after the baking soda has sat on them for 30 minutes or so. You can also spray your pillows with a light mist of white vinegar or soak a clean sponge in the vinegar and lightly wipe your pillow down. Leave it to dry for a few hours. Air your pillows out on a dry, breezy day, or place them in the dryer on a no-heat cycle.

How do you deep clean a pillow?

If your pillow isn't machine washable, you can wash it by hand in your bathtub or a utility sink. Fill the basin with warm (not hot) water and add a couple of drops of your favorite laundry detergent (preferably odor-free). Once the tub is full, dunk the pillow and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the pillow is done soaking, squish it by hand to get it nice and clean. This will take about 10 minutes. Drain the tub and rinse the pillow until all the soap is gone. Next, dry the pillow by wrapping it in a dry bath towel, squeezing it nice and hard, and then placing it on a rack or hanging it outside to air dry. If your pillow is machine washable, you can add some baking soda to the mix, along with laundry detergent. Baking soda is excellent at removing odors and stains.

When should you replace your pillows?

Has your pillow lost its loft? How to find out? Fold your pillow in half. If it doesn't bounce back, it's dead, Jim.

How often should you wash pillows?

We recommend cleaning pillows once a season at most or at least every four months.