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How to Wash Pillows to Keep Them Fresh and Allergen-Free

March 3, 2024
How to Wash Pillows to Keep Them Fresh and Allergen-Free


Washing pillows regularly is important to keep them fresh, clean, and allergen-free. However, washing pillows improperly can damage them or fail to remove allergens. Follow these tips to properly wash pillows and keep them in optimal condition.

When to Wash Pillows

  • Wash pillows every 6 months – Pillows accumulate sweat, oils, dead skin cells, dust mites, and other allergens over time. Washing them twice a year helps remove these buildups.

  • Wash pillows that smell musty or look dirty – Don’t wait for the 6-month timeline if pillows seem dirty or have an odor. Wash them right away in this case.

  • Wash pillows after illnesses – Viruses and bacteria can transfer to pillowcases and pillows. Wash them after recovering from colds, flu or other contagious illnesses.

How to Wash Pillows


  • Read pillow labels – Check for washing instructions and materials. Look for “machine washable” and avoid “dry clean only.”

  • Check for stains – Pretreat any visible stains with stain remover before washing. This helps lift stains.

  • Use a mild detergent – Harsh detergents can damage pillows. Choose a mild liquid detergent without dyes or fragrances.

  • Use tennis balls – Place 2-3 tennis balls in with pillows. They help beat up and fluff up pillows during washing.

Washing Steps

  • Wash pillows individually or in pairs for best results.

  • Use the gentle or delicate cycle on warm water. The delicate cycle helps preserve pillows.

  • Rinse pillows twice to remove all detergent residue. Detergent buildup can accelerate yellowing or allergens sticking to pillows.

  • Air fluff pillows in the dryer on low heat or no heat. Avoid high heat, which can damage pillows.

Drying Time

  • Let pillows air dry completely before using or putting pillowcases on. Wet pillows can grow mold.

  • It may take 24 hours for pillows to fully dry after washing. Shake pillows occasionally to distribute filling and speed drying.

  • Consider drying pillows outside on a breezy day or use a fan indoors to help circulation.

Use Proper Materials

  • Choose the right pillow fill – Down, feathers, poly-fill and memory foam are machine washable. Avoid dry clean-only fills like latex.

  • Get pillow protectors – Use waterproof or allergen-blocking protectors to keep pillows clean between washes.

  • Use cotton pillowcases – Cotton allows airflow to keep pillows fresh. Change pillowcases 1-2 times a week.

When to Replace Pillows

  • Replace pillows that are over 2-3 years old. Washing cannot fully restore older pillows.

  • Look for yellowing and clumping, signs it’s time to replace a pillow.

  • Replace pillows if washing fails to restore loft and comfort.

  • Consider allergen-blocking pillows if allergies are an issue.

Washing pillows regularly and properly is important for health and hygiene. Follow these tips to keep pillows fresh and allergen-free while maximizing their lifespan. Proper materials and handling make pillow care easier. Replace pillows timely when washing no longer restores them.

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