You Should Be Washing Your Pillows—Not Just the Covers

Don't forget about washing your pillows. Here's how you can clean them and how often you should be washing them.

People often overlook cleaning their pillows—but it’s not something you should skip. Not only do pillows collect dust, but bacteria as well, according to Michael Silva-Nash, the Executive Vice President of Molly Maid of Arkansas, a Neighborly company. Removing these unpleasant odours is as simple as washing your pillows.

Here are some pro tips on how to wash pillows the right way.

How to wash pillows

Some experts say you should wash pillows two to three times a year, but the frequency depends on the person and how often they clean their pillowcases, according to Tom Harari, CEO and Co/Founder of Cleanly, an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service. Quick tip: Mark your calendar to wash your pillows every three to six months to keep up with your cleaning schedule, but make sure you are washing your bed sheets more often than that. (Also, did you know not making your bed can actually boost your health?)

How to wash feather or down pillows

If you have feather or down pillows, Laura Goodman, a Senior Scientist for P&G Fabric Care, says to use the following steps to clean your pillows:

  1. Check your pillow labels to ensure they can go in the washing machine. This might seem like a given step, but Harari says it’s crucial not to make assumptions about your specific pillow.
  2. Check the pillow seams and mend any weak ones that might break.
  3. Opt for a gentle or delicate wash and spin cycle and add detergent (learn if green detergents really clean). Wash with some same-coloured towels, too.
  4. If you have a top-loading washer, stop it occasionally to press air from the pillows during the wash cycle.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Tumble dry on low or an air-dry setting for a few hours until completely dry. Adding some clean, dry towels will absorb moisture and speed the drying process.
  7. Add a few dryer balls or tennis balls to help break any clumps in the feather or down filling and keep them fluffy.

How to wash foam pillows

Step away from the washing machine. If you have foam pillows, Silva-Nash says you should dust them using a vacuum hose and spot clean them with a damp cloth.

Bonus pillow-washing tips

If possible, using a front-loading washing machine is better for pillows, according to Goodman. “If you have access to one, it’s best to use a front-loading washing machine since pillows may float in a top-loading washing machine and this can cause them to have dry patches and not be washed as well in certain spots,” Goodman says. Silva-Nash adds that you should wash two pillows at a time because this helps keep the washing machine balanced and makes damage less likely.

When should I just buy new pillows instead?

“How to wash pillows” might not be the question you need to ask. There comes a time when it’s best just to buy new ones. Silva-Nash recommends replacing pillows after a quick test of folding them in half. If the pillow doesn’t bounce back to the original, flat shape, it’s time to replace it. Goodman adds that when pillows lose their shape, and re-fluffing doesn’t get it back, it’s time to get new ones. “You should also replace them if any odour of mold or mildew is detected,” she says.

Next, check out the house plant that has serious healing powers.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest