How to wash my pillow? This is a question I hear a lot. Most pillows are machine washable and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to clean a dirty pillow with just a few ingredients you already have at home!
I have cleaned my pillows in the past but my latest challenge was to not only clean them but also whiten them. Our pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads turn yellow over time due to our body oils, sweat, dead skin cells etc. I tried a few different techniques and wanted to share my results.
So let’s start with the disclaimer… I have washed and dried my pillows – and we all know drying sets in stains. I knew going into this that I would have some tough stains … These are our actual pillows and mine is a slightly off white to begin with. It’s hard to see the yellowing stains here but I promise they are there and you’ll see them more in the next few photos… In addition to this I also washed my pillowcases to run the test as to how this would work with those and potentially with mattress pads.
What materials are needed to clean pillows?
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Lemon Juice
Instructions for how to wash pillows
1. Place 2 pillows in the washing machine on opposite sides
First whenever you wash your pillows, it’s best to do 2 at a time so you have a balanced load, especially if you have a top-loading machine. (See how yellow they are – gross)
2. Select settings on the washing machine
Settings – for best results with stains like these you need to set your water temperature to hot water, the hottest setting you have, the fullest load, and then if you have a soak setting select that. If you don’t have a soak, you’ll need to fill up your washing machine with water and then stop it so that it can soak.
3. Add your cleaning ingredients to your pillows
For my first run through I added 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide – this is a bleach alternative.
1/2 cup of vinegar – this is a natural cleaner, breaks down stains, and fabric softener.
And 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Lemon juice is also acidic so same qualities as vinegar, & added a nice lemon smell.
4. Let Pillows soak
Let soak for 30 minutes, then flip the pillows to make sure you get both sides, and soak for another 30 more minutes.
I realized that my washing machine is fairly large and I was not satisfied after the 30 minutes of how things were going so I added another cup of hydrogen peroxide. Everyone’s laundry tubs are a different size so take that into consideration. (So in the end I used 2 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup lemon juice.)
5. Add your laundry detergent and wash
Add laundry detergent of your choice and run your regular cycle for a good wash. You can always add an extra rinse cycle or an extra spin cycle if necessary.
Pull your pillows out and inspect them. If they are clean enough which mine was – put them in the dryer. If not you may need to start over and soak again or try a different approach (see below).
6. Dry your pillows
I set my dryer to low heat and it took about 30 minutes to dry my pillows.
Here is how they came out – and I was extremely pleased with the results.
How To Wash My Pillow, what else did I try to wash my pillows? (and why – this one is color safe)
Here is the next set of pillows and again they had been washed and dried before. I placed the pillows in the wash and added a mixture of 1 cup laundry detergent, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, and 1 cup Castile soap. I soaked for 30 minutes and again it’s a good idea to flip the pillows and soak another 30 minutes. I ran the wash cycle and then dried them on a low-heat setting. Here is how they came out…
Definitely made a difference but one pillow was still more yellow than I liked.
In the end, these are great alternatives to bleach if you want to stay away from chemicals. It works on pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads.
How To Wash My Pillow Questions and Answers
Our pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads turn yellow over time due to our body oils, sweat, dust mites, excess moisture, etc.
You can use the same washing instructions listed here, as one of my pillows was a duck down pillow. Place feather pillows in the washer, select settings, add ingredients, soak, add soap and wash. You might want to air dry any down pillows.
- When it comes to pillows like foam pillows, memory foam pillows, latex pillow, synthetic pillow, new pillows, polyester pillow, or feather pillows, check the care tag for care instructions before washing your pillows.
- I do wash my pillow protector or removable cover this same way.
- I use the handwash, delicate cycle, or gentle cycle on my washer.
- I use a small amount of detergent and I use a natural mild detergent in our home.
- I am using dryer balls to fluff my pillows after they are washed, or you could use a couple of tennis balls.
- I use the air-dry setting or low setting on my dryer.
- You can spot treat with a damp cloth with clean water, and then I use a dry towel to soak up the cold water.
- You can do this in front loading machines, but they don’t allow you to soak. Feel free to soak them inside a laundry tub or another container first.
- Make sure to allow your pillows to air dry thoroughly to avoid bacteria, mold, and mildew from growing in them. I like using closed-cell foam pillows for that reason.
- An agitator helps move the pillow around.
- Fluffing in a dryer with tennis balls helps stops clumps from forming
- Spot-clean your pillows in advance.
- Baking soda is great for neutralizing germs and odors
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Check out some of my other pillow-related posts!