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How to Wash Pillows in the Washing Machine: 11 Simple Steps

pillow in the washing machine

We sleep on pillows every night, but while most people typically wash the pillow covers often, when was the last time that you washed the pillows themselves? Even with pillow covers, they can get dirty, and washing them can save you from needing to head out and purchase brand-new pillows.

But while washing your pillows can help keep them fresh longer, doing it the wrong way can ruin them.

So, we developed this guide to walk you through how to wash your pillows, step by step. We also provide you with guidance on how often you should wash pillows in the first place!

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Before You Start

Before you put any pillows in the washing machine, you need to take the time to read the label on the pillow. There are many types of pillows out there that are not washing machine safe, and the label will tell you this.

If you put one of these pillows in your washing machine by accident, there’s a good chance that you’ll damage the pillow, even if you do everything right.

Next, you need to ensure that both your washing machine and your dryer have customizable settings that enable you to control the temperature of the water and the cycle. If you’re using a washer machine or a dryer without these adjustment knobs, you shouldn’t use them to wash pillows.

But if all these things check out, go ahead and wash your pillows in the washing machine using the following steps!

pillows on bed
Image By: Akyurt, Pixabay

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The 11 Steps on How to Wash Pillows

There are many steps here, but just take them one at a time, and you’ll have fresh, clean pillows in no time!

1. Remove the Pillow Cover

Pillow covers help keep your pillow clean, but when you’re washing the pillows, you want to remove the pillow covers first. If you leave the pillow covers on, the washing machine won’t be able to effectively wash the pillow. Wash the pillow covers separately for the best possible results.

2. Wash at Least Two Pillows at Once

You need a balanced load in your washing machine, and the easiest way to do this is to wash more than one pillow at a time. You need at least two pillows, but if there’s enough space, you can wash more. Never overload your washing machine by stuffing too many pillows in there.

3. Use the Delicate Wash Cycle

Pillows might be large but they’re sensitive. The delicate wash cycle is gentler on them, reducing the chance of the washing machine damaging them during the cleaning process.

pillow near a washing machine
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

4. Use Cold Water

The cold water helps keep things from shrinking up, and it’s better for delicate loads. Both of those things are true for pillows, so always use a cold wash cycle when washing them.

5. Add Desired Products

You still need detergent when washing pillows, and you can use a fabric softener if you’d like. Use your favorite laundry products just like you would with any other load of laundry.

6. Use an Extra Rinse

Most pillows are large, leaving plenty of space for the detergent to cling to the pillows through the first rinse cycle. An extra rinse cycle remedies this problem. You can inspect the pillows instead but you risk missing something.

person switching on wachine machine
Image By: LumenSt, Shutterstock

7. Move Pillows to the Dryer

After the extra rinse cycle, it’s time to move the pillows to the dryer to finish the job! If it’s a warm summer day, you can also let the pillows air dry outside if you’d prefer.

8. Use Low Heat

Pillows are sensitive, and you don’t want to expose them to too much heat. Use the low heat setting on your dryer to help prevent any damage. You want to go to the lowest heat setting possible but ensure that there is at least some heat.

9. Use Tennis Balls

When you put your pillows in the dryer, you don’t want them to get caught in something. If this happens, it can burn the pillows and completely ruin them. Throwing at least two tennis balls in the dryer will ensure that the pillows don’t get stuck on the wall during the drying cycle.

The tennis balls will create a fair amount of noise, but they won’t damage the dryer. You can also use wool dryer balls if you have them.

two tennis balls
Image By: 41330, Pixabay

10. Use the Delicate Dryer Setting

Just like you want to use the delicate wash cycle, you want to use the delicate dryer setting. This reduces the likelihood of damage during the drying process. This is especially important because pillows typically require more than one dry cycle to dry out completely.

11. Repeat Drying As Necessary

There’s a good chance that the pillows won’t dry out completely after just one dry cycle. Check the pillows and repeat the delicate low-heat drying cycle as necessary to completely dry them out. Most pillows will take two or three cycles to dry completely.

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Knowing When to Wash Your Pillows

You use pillow covers to keep the pillows clean, so you don’t need to wash pillows that often. We recommend washing them about three times a year unless there are obvious signs that they’re dirty. Look for discoloration or an unpleasant odor.

Finally, while we recommend washing pillows about three times a year, you might not need to wash them that often if they’re in a guest room or on a bed you don’t frequently use. Basically, the more you use them, the more you’ll need to wash them!

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to wash pillows, you just need to check out your own pillows to see if you can wash them.

Don’t put it off for too long if you haven’t washed them in a while; you never know what kind of bacteria and odors have built up throughout the months and years!

Featured  Image Credit: Sunvic, Shutterstock


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