How To Wash My Pillow DIY

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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!

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How to wash my pillow?  This is a question I hear a lot.  You'll be surprised how easy it is to clean them 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 stains in. So I knew going into this that I would have some challenges... These are our 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 pillow case covers to run the test as to how this would work with those and potentially with mattress pads.

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
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
First whenever you wash your pillows, it's best to do 2 at a time to create balance in your washing machine. (See how yellow they are - gross)

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)

Settings - to get rid of stains like these you need to set your temperature to the hottest setting you have, 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 you washing machine with water and then stop it so that it can soak.

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.

For my first run through I added 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide - this is a bleach alternative.

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.

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.

And 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Lemon juice is also acidic so same qualities as vinegar, & added a nice lemon smell.

Let soak for 30 minutes, then flip the pillows to make sure you get both sides and soaked for 30 more minutes. I realized that my washing machine is a fairly large one and I was not satisfied after the 30 minutes 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.)

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.)

Add your laundry detergent of your choice and run your normal wash cycle.

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 were - put them in the dryer. If not you may need to start over and soak again or try an alternative method below.

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).

I set my dryer to low, and it took about 30 minutes to dry my pillows.

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.

Here is how they came out – and I was extremely pleased with the results.

What else did I try? (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. Soaked 30 minutes, flipped the pillows and soaked another 30 minutes, ran the wash cycle and here is how they came out...

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.

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

Why do pillows turn yellow?

Our pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pads turn yellow over time due to our body oils, sweat, dust mites, excess moisture, etc.

How do you whiten yellow down pillows?

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.


More information:

  • 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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How to wash my pillow? This is a question I hear a lot. You'll be surprised how easy it is to clean them with just a few ingredients you already have at home!

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24 Comments

  1. Wow, what a great post. I usually just throw the pillows out after a while and feel that is such a waste. I’ll have to see if my mom will let me do this at her house. I can’t actually soak anything in our front load washer (bummer). Pinned! BTW, Saw this in Imparting Grace.

    1. Thank you so much Cindy, and I hope you are able to give it a try. You could also try soaking them in your bath tub since you have a front loading washer.

  2. Great informative post! I normally remove the outer covering after washing the pillow & use an older clean pillowcase to replace it. But this is a great idea!

    You’re most welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration anytime!
    Jennifer

    1. Thank you Jennifer and thank you for the invite, I look forward to stopping by.

  3. Wonderful directions on how to clean pillows. Found you on Over the Moon Link Party.

    1. Thank you so much Candy and thanks for stopping by.

  4. I usually throw my pillows out too! Thanks for the tips! Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!
    Kim

  5. I’m another person who just replaces pillows once they get really nasty, this is definitely worth a try. thanks.

    1. Thank you Michele, and I hope it works for you too 🙂

  6. Brilliant!!! I usually just throw my pillows away once they are starting to yellow. Going to wash my pillows tomorrow and see how they turn out! Thanks for sharing at wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop!!!
    ~Emily @ LeCultivateur.com

    1. Thank you Emily and let me know how it works for you 🙂

    1. Thanks Jean and keep me posted as to how this works for you.

  7. This is a lifesaver! I’ve already thrown out several old yellow pillows. I also have more that I had intended to toss as well. Great post and thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story and we hope you will join us again next week.

    1. Thank you Sandra, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post too. I really wanted to find a way to keep using the pillows rather than throw them out.

  8. I tried a similar method and my pillows went all lumpy, because the filling had bunched up inside. I ended up discarding them in the end.

    All due respect, but your pillows also look lumpy?

    1. They came out a little lumpy and I have since learned to put tennis balls in with them and or those dryer balls. With a little reshaping, our fell back into shape and were great again.

  9. Interesting! I have never used tennis balls in the dryer – not sure how they’d work, but certainly worth a try.

    Possibly depends on what the pillow filling is? Mine appeared to have polyester batting folded over loose stuffing in the middle. It was the polyester batting that bunched up.

    Thank you for all the great cleaning tips, you have listed. 🙂

    1. That’s a really great point Ava about what is inside the pillows as well. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Louise Dahlgren says:

    Any ideas on how to clean decorative pillows that cannot be washed? I would love steam clean.
    Love all your ideas. Happy day.

    1. Can you handwash them? If not, steaming them would disinfect them and you could spot-treat them.

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