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Pillow Talk: Your Guide to Washing Different Pillow Types

by Mitchell Chitiz

The Joys of Going to Sleep On a Fresh Pillow

The smell of freshly laundered bedding - nothing can beat it. We don’t know about you, but we’re always excited to hop into our beds and get a good night of sleep after putting a fresh set of bedding on our beds. We’re not just talking about bedsheets here. No, we’re talking about fresh pillows too. 

We lay our heads on pillows at the end of each day, yet, we often forget about washing them. If you recently noticed your pillow beginning to resemble the colour of egg yolks rather than the breathtaking crisp white of snow, it is a guarantee that they are in need of a soak, rinse, and lather. 

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, pillows are not stain-resistant and have the ability to house a range of unsightly items such as dead skin cells, bugs, dust mites, and their droppings. For this reason, it is important that your pillows receive as much attention as the rest of your bedding items. 


Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Different Pillow Types 

While you may think that cleaning a pillow is a simple task to figure out, do you know exactly how to clean different pillow types? If you have ever found yourself typing how to wash a Down pillow’ into Google, then you have come to the right place. 

Different pillow fill types will require a different approach to cleaning. That’s why we have put together a step-by-step guide on how to clean various types of pillows. 

Most pillows, including those filled with cotton, Down, feather, and fiberfill can be cleaned in a washing machine on a gentle cycle. However, it is always best to read the care label carefully for care instructions as not all will fall into this category (see Down-Alternative pillows below).


Cotton Pillows

Cotton pillows may be considered as the easiest pillow types to be washed via a washing machine. In fact, there are only a few steps that you need to follow in order to make these pillows fresh and fluffy again. 


  1. Remove pillowcase and pillow protector. Place no more than two pillows in a machine at the one time. This ensures that both pillows will be given the proper space they need to be washed. Typically, a 50-pound and above machine is recommended.
  2. Add a cup of detergent and a small amount of fabric softener to the machine.
  3. Wash on a gentle cycle with warm water. Once the first cycle is complete, run the pillows through for an extra rinse to ensure all the detergent is washed out. 


Down and Feather Pillows

Down and feather pillows can be slightly more delicate than that of cotton, so require a more gentle approach when it comes to washing. But the good news is that you’re in luck, most Down and feather pillows can also be washed in the washing machine. 


  1. Similarly to above, make sure to balance the washer by placing two pillows in the machine at a time. 
  2. Avoid using an agitator style washing machine if possible (a.k.a a machine with a large spindle in the middle) as these machines can harm the clusters of Down and feather. 
  3. Using a small amount of mild detergent, massage the liquid into the pillow to make sure that the Down and feather is truly wet.
  4. Select the gentle cycle with warm water, then add on an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle. 


Down-Alternative Pillows

Finally, there are Down-Alternative pillows. Various types of pillow fill can fall under this category such as memory foam, bamboo, silk, and even microfibre gel. If you have a Down-Alternative pillow, it is important to pay careful attention to the care label. 

For example, memory foam and bamboo pillows should never be tossed into a washer. Instead, you can wash them in a bathtub. It is important to vacuum each side of the pillow to get rid of any dirt or dust. Then, spot clean any soiled areas using a cloth and mild soap solution. Finally, place the pillows in a bathtub with room temperature water and some detergent. Gently massage the detergent into the pillow and then rinse using cold water. 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Pillows Between Washes? 

Now that you know how to wash a Down pillow and how to wash a feather pillow, let’s look at exactly how you can get the most out of your pillows between washes. Pillows should get a good wash every six months. So, here are some ideas to keep them fresh in the meantime: 


  • Fluff your pillows - By keeping your pillows fluffed on a regular basis you can actually bring your pillows back to life. This process of pillow fluffing ensures that pillows are kept bouncy, soft, and in shape. As we all know, after prolonged use pillows can start to resemble a deflated balloon.
  • Use a pillow protector - Pillow protectors are great for keeping your pillows stain and bug-free. These protective covers extend the life of your pillow by keeping it safe from general wear and tear. That’s not all - they also provide a healthier sleep environment. 


Having said that, no matter how meticulous or diligent you are in cleaning your pillows, you’ll need to replace them at some stage. If your pillow continues to smell bad even after a good wash or doesn’t spring back into shape easily, it may be time to replace them. 

Your pillows deserve to be as fresh and clean as your bedsheets. So, what are you waiting for? Get washing!