How to Clean a Pillow or Wash it at Home Easily (Step by Step)

How to clean a pillow

Your pillow may look pretty clean for a long time while actually, it is not. If it stays for too long without some good old washing, your pillow becomes a favorite place for bacteria, bugs and dust mites – looks can be deceiving.

One study shows that up to a third of the weight of your pillow that hasn’t hit the showers for a long time is dead skin, bugs, and their droppings –oh yeah, it’s pretty disgusting! The recommendation by experts is to clean your pillow. Well, in this article we’ll show you “How to clean a pillow at home” Step by step. Let’s start-

Remove Pillow Protector or Cover

Remove Pillow CoverThe pillow protector helps to keep the pillow cleaner and more comfortable. It absorbs sweat and provides a cooler surface to lie on. The pillow cover also protects the foam inside from getting too much dirt and dead skin and is easier to clean.

Choose The Best Pillow Protector to Keep You Safe

But what’s inside it?

Before cleaning, make sure that, which material is used inside your pillow. There are varieties of materials out there like foam, feather or down, synthetic etc. And you know the process of cleaning for each material is different.

Most of the people use foam pillow because it provides proper support to back and side sleepers. And these are made with NASA-developed materials. Again, a group of people prefers down or feather pillow because it’s very soft, luxurious and comfortable. Again, Synthetic pillows are not so expensive but it provides ideal support for all types of sleepers.

Every pillow doesn’t provide the same materials and their washing process cannot be same. So, first you need to ensure the materials of your pillow and clean accordingly. And here we talk about the pillow cleaning process step by step.

How to Clean a Foam Pillow

The followings are easy steps you can use to clean a foam pillow. However, pick a warm and breezy day to speed up the drying process after you are done with the cleaning.

Read the instruction

It is always good to go through the manufacturer’s instructions as they will tell you how to handle it in the best way. After all, they know the components they use and how to best handle the product.

Use vacuum cleaner


After removing the cover and throwing it to the cleaner, take the pillow and sprinkle some baking soda over it. Then vacuum clean it to remove dirt mites, pet hairs, and other dirt. Make sure to use the upholstery brush attachment when using the vacuum cleaner.

pillow clean by vacuum cleaner

It is always ideal to invest in a good handheld vac specifically for your bedding. This prevents you from using the same device you use on floors.

Spot clean using baking soda

Sprinkle the baking soda on the pillow and allow sitting for about 30 minutes. Submerge a cloth in mild soapy solution and spot clean any soiled patches and rinse using the same fabric. Allow complete drying before returning it to the bed or furniture.

Hand Wash

Deep the pillow in a basin full of warm water mixed with a gentle detergent. Fully submerge the pillow and squeeze gently to ensure proper movement of the cleaning solution. Avoid throwing the pillow into the washer. The washer movement can easily damage the foam. Rinse it a number of times until the water is clear. Don’t wring the foam.

Important: Wash the pillow protector separately and hang to dry.

Dry out

Locate in a dry, level and ventilated surface to place the foam for drying. The pillow is sensitive to heat and can damage under direct sunlight. Preferably, lay the pillow under a shade and use a fan if you want to hasten the drying process.

Important: Drying can take up 24 hours depending on the thickness of the foam.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow Easily at Home

How to Clean or Wash a Down /Feather Pillow

A down or feather pillow is relatively more comfortable to clean than foam.

Using Washing Machine


Unlike foam, you can put the down and feather pillow in the washing machine. However, there are several things you need to observe for efficient and safe cleaning.

Clean a pillow Using Washing MachineAn agitating washer is not the best as it can cause the pillow to wrap around and rip, pouring all its contents. The non-agitating front-loaders are the best in this case. The machine need not be too big and inspect it for objects that might pierce your pillow.

Add an extra amount of warm water to adequately cover the pillow and use a mild detergent – something not too strong. Avoid the suds as much as possible as they are not too good with feathers or down pillows.

For a balanced spin cycle, you should throw in two pillows at a time. You can choose your own water temperature, but hot or warm water can cause some shrinkage to occur. And selecting the fastest spin ensures the removal of moisture as much as possible.

An extra rinse cycle will remove soap from the pillow. Ideally, use soap without additives and utilize non-chlorine bleach for whitening. Stay away from any kind of fabric softener as it easily takes away the fluffiness of the feather or down pillow – this is not what you want.

Hand Wash

After taking the cover off, check the seams for any rip and sew it. Hand washing is a bit intense and can rip any hole further if you don’t exercise care, causing the down or feathers to escape.

Hot water easily kills dust mite and so fill the basin with it – you don’t need to use harsh chemicals for this. Mix it with a mild detergent before submerging the pillow gently into it. Agitate and rinse a number of times.

To dry it, utilize a white cloth towel. If yours is a feather pillow, do not wring it as you risk damaging the feathers and taking their fluffiness away.

Dry and Fluffing

Pillow FluffingYou can hang the pillow outside to dry, or you can air dry it. Fluffing can be done manually or by throwing a tennis ball within the machine. Fluff it by hand before tossing it in the dryer – set the heat to medium.

Other items that can help break up the feathers include canvas tennis shoes and wool dryer balls. They will help retain the pillow’s original fluffiness – you need it to ensure better sleep even after washing it.

[Drying depends on your pillow’s thickness. The thicker it is, the longer it will take.]

How to Remove Odor from Pillow

Sweat, dirt, and bugs together with their poop eventually replace the sweet smell your pillow came with – something that may keep you awake at night. The following two methods will help remove that awful odor so you can finally go back to enjoying your sleep.

Baking Soda Method

Baking soda is popular for removing odor from the refrigerator. Fortunately, it is also useful for freshening up your pillow. Sprinkle it over the pillow on both sides and leave it for about an hour.

Vacuum or brush the baking soda off and your pillow should now smell better. 

Sunlight Method

keep you pillow on sunlightTaking your pillow out for a little bit of sunshine removes odor. The fresh air and sunshine have this natural effect against mold spores and mildew that may have taken residence on your pillow, especially if you often sleep on wet hair. Develop a tendency for airing them in sunlight to make them healthier and smelling better.

How often should you Wash your Pillow?

Over time, your pillow accumulates dirt, dead skin and bugs. One study shows that your pillow can hold a variety of fungi. The closeness of the pillow to the airway could contribute to health problems if you fail to clean it. This is especially critical if you suffer from sinusitis or asthma.

Dust mites also take residence in your pillow, and if you stay long without cleaning the pillow, these spider family bugs can pose a health risk for you. For example, a sizeable portion of people with skin allergies or breathing problems may be due to some sort of dust mites within your home.

Ideally, experts recommend cleaning a pillow every three months and the cover every three weeks. For people with allergies, cleaning should be quite often and if necessary, replace it after three years. But the simpler and cheap solution is replacing it.

Things to Avoid while Cleaning

Now that you understand how critical it is to clean your pillow, here are some of the don’ts.

  • Yes, bugs are living in your pillow, but that does not mean you are now free to use one of the toughest scrubbers. Scrubbing will ruin your pillow.
  • Don’t throw your memory foam pillow into the washer or dryer as it will easily ruin it.
  • Industrial-strength detergents are not necessary and will end up destroying your pillow.

Final Verdict

We all know how much a good night’s sleep is important to us after a hard day at work. A clean and fresh-smelling pillow enhances your sleep and is healthier. Unfortunately, many people clean the protector when it gets soiled up and forget to wash the pillow itself but what you don’t know is that there is danger lurking within.

Cleaning a pillow is way much more comfortable than dealing with a particular health problem. They say prevention is better than cure and this can’t be truer when it comes to cleaning the pillow.

Written by Mark Johan

Hi there! I am 'Mark' in Pillow Idea, I have the responsible one to give you guys a low-down on every product that we review. Long story short, I’m the person in charge of the ‘research and review’ department of the blog. Please check out to know more- About Us.

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