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For a good night’s sleep, learn how to wash pillows

Find out how to wash pillows the right way, both in the washing machine and by hand!


kids playing with pillows

Pillows are in use everyday, and over time they accumulate plenty of dust, sweat and grime. That can really affect your comfort, and your sleep, so knowing how to wash pillows properly will soon give you more peaceful nights. In this guide we’ll show you how to wash your pillows so they always look, feel and smell fresh.

If you’re cleaning pillows in your washing machine, and have enough room, put two in at a time. In addition to saving time, washing pillows this way will protect them too as one will buffer the other and prevent them getting bounced around too much.

How to wash pillows in washing machines

Always check your pillows are machine-safe before putting them in the machine. The method you use to wash your pillow will then depend on what they’re made from.

How to wash feather pillows in the washing machine

  1. Check that the pillow covering is strong enough not to burst open. 

  2. Make sure there’s enough room in your washing machine to fit your pillows. Try to wash two at a time if you can – a single pillow can get damaged if it has too much room in the drum. 

  3. Follow the wash instructions on the care label – you’ll normally want a gentle cycle and a higher wash temperature to combat bacteria. 

  4. Use a mild detergent such as OMO Sensitive that has a soothing fragrance and is gentle to fabrics and skin. If your pillow is ok to be cleaned with fabric conditioner, add a little to your wash to leave it fresh and soft.

  5. Let your pillows dry naturally. If they’re white, hanging them outside in the sun can have natural bleaching effects.

How to wash cotton or synthetic pillows in the washing machine

  1. Check the care label for guidance.

  2. Put your pillows in the machine with a little detergent. 

  3. Wash on a gentle cycle. You may want to use a lower temperature than with feather or down pillows as the synthetic or cotton filling could be more delicate.

  4. Add fabric softener for added freshness.

  5. Let your pillows dry naturally in the sun.

How to wash memory foam pillows in the washing machine

A washing machine is likely to do more damage than good for memory foam pillows. The best way to wash pillows made of this material is by hand.

How to wash pillows by hand

Not all pillows are machine-washable, and even those that are don’t have to be washed in the machine. If you prefer to handwash your pillows, try this method:

  1. Take off the protective cover. This may be able to go in the washing machine but remember to check first.

  2. Submerge your pillow in water. With solid memory foam pillows, use clean water with no soap. With regular memory foam pillows, add a tablespoon of detergent.

  3. Spot clean any stains. Lightly scrub marks with a little detergent and a wet sponge.

  4. Rinse thoroughly. Solid (hypoallergenic) pillows are resistant to bacterial growth and mites so you can simply run them under the tap until the water runs clean. Otherwise you need to make sure that all of the detergent is completely rinsed off

  5. Allow to dry. Don’t use them again until they’re completely dry.

How to dry pillows

Now you know how to clean pillows, but what about drying them? While feather, cotton and synthetic pillows can often go in your tumble dryer, memory foam probably can’t. If you can’t tumble dry your pillows, or simply don’t want to, let them dry naturally in the sun.

When drying pillows, it’s important to remember these rules:

  • Don’t ring them out: this can cause damage to their shape.

  • Squeeze gently: take your time getting as much water out as you can.

  • Air-dry: ideally on a rack (so both sides can get dry) and out in the sun.


Can we wash pillows in washing machine? It depends. Check the care label on your pillow to see if it is machine-safe. If the label has been removed or the ink has worn away, then generally you are fine to machine wash synthetic, cotton, or down pillows. Foam pillows should always be cleaned by hand – or even taken to a professional.

How often should we wash our pillows? It’s up to you but all pillows should be washed at least twice a year. During hot weather, you may feel the need to wash them more frequently in response to sweating.

Now that you know how to wash pillows correctly you can look forward to clean and comfy nights. Want to make all areas of your bed clean and fresh? Try our tips on how to clean your bed and mattress next!

  • Always read the label and follow instructions.

  • Check protective covers for holes before putting them in washing machine.

  • Submerge memory foam pillows before rinsing thoroughly.

  • If air drying, use a rack for best results.

Originally published