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A Helpful Guide To Washing Pillows

If you read my posts on a regular basis, you know how much I love escaping into the world of beautiful interiors, fabulous party concepts and stunning views. But today’s post is all about reality! Kate here, and below you will find a step-by-step guide to washing pillows, from throw pillows to bed pillows. In fact, you can only ignore a dirty pillow for so long. While many people decide to dispose of pillows that collect dirt and stains, others give them a second life by cleaning them. It may not be as much fun as daydreaming about your next home makeover, but it will save you money, refresh your space and make it a healthier place! Read on for all the details… [image from Restoration Hardware]

Pillows from Restoration Hardware A Helpful Guide To Washing Pillows

Washing Bed Pillows

If your bed pillows are covered in yellow stains, never fear. It happens to all of us. When we sweat at night, the sweat can soak into our pillows, even if we cover them in pillowcases. So what are we to do–throw them out when they become discolored? Try again! [image from Dream Crafter]

Yellowing bed pillows A Helpful Guide To Washing Pillows

You can wash your bed pillows! Don’t feel bad if you’ve never thrown them in the wash. I haven’t. Yes, I’m admitting this fact, even though experts recommend that bed pillows be washed twice a year. Yikes–I’m glad to know that now! [image from Linens ‘n Things]

Bed pillows from Linens 'n Things

Sometimes our pillows are in such bad shape, it may be time to let them go, especially if they are misshapen and therefore uncomfortable. But in many cases, a good wash gives them a new lease on life. [image from Linens ‘n Things]

Striped bed pillows

If your pillows still have their tags, simply follow the care instructions. However, if you’ve cut off the tags (like I have), here are a few key steps in the bed pillow washing process for down and fiberfill pillows: [image below from Boutique Linen]

Crisp bed pillows

1. Remove the pillowcases and place pillows–two at a time–into the washing machine. Washing two pillows at once will help balance the load. [image via Allwood Construction]

Crisp laundry room



2. Wash the pillows in warm water. Use a gentle liquid detergent for the best results. [image from Living Healthy ‘n’ Happy]

Laundry detergent possibilities

3. Add an extra cold water rinse, as well as an extra spin. These simple additions will ensure that the pillows have been adequately rinsed. Not to mention, that extra spin cycle helps remove excess water. [dryer ball tutorial image below from A Back to Basics Lifestyle]

Dryer balls

4. Tumble dry the pillows on low heat. Toss in a couple of dryer balls or new tennis balls wrapped in socks to help fluff the pillows and prevent the filling from clumping. [from Linens ‘n’ Things]

Down feather pillows

Extra Credit: There are a few other steps you can take to make the pillow washing process a smooth one. For starters, you may decide to add bleach to the wash to whiten the pillows. Some sources, such as this blog, recommend adding Borax as well. Once the pillows are drying, check them every 30 minutes to make sure they’ve rotated (so they are dried evenly throughout). You can also set the pillows in the sun to finish the drying process. [image from Foam N’ More & Upholstery, Inc.]

Foam pillows


For foam pillows, follow the care instructions on the tag. If the tag is missing, sources such as Good Housekeeping recommend spot cleaning the pillows with a mild solution, then wiping them with a damp cloth. Air drying is probably best, as some foam may melt in the dryer.

Washing Throw Pillows

Throw pillows from CB2

Throw pillows are a different ball game. They are often made of specialty fabrics, and they likely won’t yellow as much as the bed pillows that rest under your head night after night. Nonetheless, throw pillows benefit from a good washing too! As always, we recommend following the instructions on the tag. However, if your throw pillow doesn’t have a tag, here are some simple steps to it clean: [images above and below from CB2]

Chair with throw pillows

1. Remove the pillow cover. Some pillows may not have covers, but if yours does, launder it separately. [images from West Elm]

Crewel pillow covers from West Elm

2. Pre-treat the stained areas of the pillow and/or cover before washing. Make sure the pre-wash cleaner/spray is color-safe. [image from Melissa Lenox Design]

Turquoise laundry room

3. Wash the pillow and/or cover in warm water. If there’s any concern about shrinking, use cold water, or opt for a fluffing in the dryer rather than a washing. In this case, spot cleaning the pillow before fluffing is key (rather than using a pre-wash spray). If you are able to wash your pillow, a gentle cycle is recommended, as is a mild detergent. [image from Restoration Hardware]

Linen throw pillows

4. Fluff the pillow in the dryer or hang it to dry. Again, use your best judgement on the safest practice if the pillow has no tag with care instructions. As with the bed pillows, try adding some rubber dryer balls or some new tennis balls wrapped in white socks to help with the dryer fluffing process. [image from CB2]

Indoor outdoor throw pillows

Special note: If your throw pillow is foam, try soaking or spot cleaning it in a mix of warm water and mild detergent, and then air dry. 

Thanks for joining me today as I dove head-first into the realm of pillow care and maintenance! These instructions are not foolproof, as each and every pillow is different. It’s best to follow the care instructions on the tag, but if the tag has been removed, go with a mild cleaning using the instructions showcased today!

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