How to Clean a Pillow: Easy Steps for Fresh Bedding | UK Guide

how to clean a pillow

When was the last time you cleaned your pillow? You may not realize it, but pillows can accumulate dust, dirt, and even dead skin cells over time. With regular use, your pillow can lose its shape, become discolored and start to give off unpleasant odors. That’s why it’s important to learn how to clean a pillow to maintain fresh and hygienic bedding.

Follow our step-by-step guide to clean pillows and achieve a comfortable and healthy sleep environment. You’ll learn how to identify your pillow type, prepare it for cleaning, wash it in a washing machine or by hand, dry and fluff it properly, and address stains and odors. With these easy tips and tricks, you can refresh your pillows and extend their lifespan.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular pillow cleaning is necessary for maintaining fresh and hygienic bedding
  • Clean pillows can improve sleep quality and prevent health problems
  • Different pillow types have specific cleaning requirements
  • Preparation is key before cleaning a pillow
  • Washing and drying techniques vary depending on the pillow type
  • Spot cleaning is effective for addressing stains and odors
  • Removable pillow covers are practical for easy cleaning
  • Proper pillow care and maintenance can extend their lifespan
  • Professional pillow cleaning services can provide thorough and safe cleaning

Why Clean Your Pillow Regularly?

When it comes to maintaining a clean and hygienic sleep environment, many people overlook the importance of regularly cleaning their pillows. But did you know that pillows can harbour a variety of nasty allergens, bacteria, and dust mites?

Here are some reasons why you should make pillow cleaning a regular part of your cleaning routine:

  1. Hygiene: Your pillow comes in contact with your face and hair for hours every night, making it a prime breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes.
  2. Dust mites: These microscopic creatures can live deep inside your pillow, triggering allergies and respiratory problems.
  3. Allergens: If you suffer from allergies, your pillow can be a major source of irritation, collecting pollen, dust, and pet dander.

So, how often should you clean your pillow? Experts recommend washing your pillows at least every six months, or more frequently if you have allergies or sweat heavily at night.

By neglecting pillow cleanliness, you risk compromising both your sleep quality and your overall health. So, make sure you take the necessary steps to keep your pillows fresh and hygienic.

Types of Pillows and Their Cleaning Needs

Not all pillows are created equal, and different types of pillows require different cleaning methods. Here are some common types of pillows and how to clean them:

Pillow Type Cleaning Method
Down pillows Most down pillows are machine washable. Use a gentle detergent, and make sure the pillow is completely dry before use.
Memory foam pillows Many memory foam pillows cannot be machine washed. Instead, spot clean with a mixture of water and mild detergent.
Synthetic-filled pillows Like down pillows, most synthetic-filled pillows can be machine washed. Be sure to use a mild detergent and a gentle cycle.

To determine the type of pillow you have, check the care label or packaging for guidance. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer’s website or customer service department for cleaning instructions.

Preparing Your Pillow for Cleaning

Before starting with the cleaning process, you need to prepare your pillow adequately. Start by removing the pillowcase and cover if applicable. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure these items are washable and at what temperature.

Inspect the pillow for any damage or stains. If there are any rips or tears, it’s better to repair them before washing to prevent further damage. For stains, it’s best to spot clean them before washing.

If you’re short on time and just need to freshen up your pillows between deep cleans, try placing them in the dryer with a couple of tennis balls. The balls help to fluff up the pillows, giving them a new lease of life.

Washing Machine Method

If your pillow is machine-washable, this method is a quick and easy way to clean it.

Step Instructions
1 Remove the pillowcase and any protector.
2 Inspect the pillow for any damage or stains.
3 Place the pillow in the washing machine, along with a few towels to balance the load.
4 Add a small amount of gentle detergent and run the machine on a gentle or delicate cycle with warm water.
5 Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is removed.
6 Remove the pillow from the machine and gently squeeze out any excess water.
7 Dry the pillow thoroughly, following the instructions on the care label.

For feather or down pillows, add a couple of clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer to prevent clumping.

Handwashing Method

If your pillow is delicate or non-machine washable, you can clean it by hand using a gentle cleaning solution. Follow these steps to handwash your pillow:

  1. Fill a basin or bathtub with lukewarm water.
  2. Add a small amount of gentle detergent and mix well.
  3. Immerse the pillow in the water and gently squeeze it to work the detergent in.
  4. Drain the soapy water and refill the basin with clean water.
  5. Rinse the pillow thoroughly by squeezing it gently in the clean water until all the soap is removed.
  6. Squeeze out excess water from the pillow and gently reshape it.
  7. Place the pillow on a clean towel and roll it up to absorb as much water as possible.
  8. Unroll the towel and let the pillow air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources.

Handwashing your pillow can take more time and effort than using a washing machine, but it is a suitable method for maintaining the quality of delicate or non-machine washable pillows. Remember to always check the care label and follow any specific instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Drying and Fluffing Your Pillow

Once your pillow is clean, it’s important to dry and fluff it properly to ensure it maintains its shape and comfort. There are two primary methods for drying pillows: air-drying and using a dryer.

Method Instructions
Air-drying Lay your pillow flat on a clean, dry surface in a warm, dry room. Fluff and rotate your pillow periodically until it is completely dry, which may take several hours. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, which can damage the pillow’s filling.
Dryer Place your pillow in the dryer on a low heat setting and add a couple of clean, dry towels to help absorb moisture. Fluff and rotate your pillow periodically until it is completely dry. Avoid over-drying, which can lead to clumping or damage to the filling.

Regardless of the drying method you choose, it’s important to fluff your pillow periodically during the drying process to maintain its shape and prevent clumping. You can also add a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer to help fluff and separate the filling.

Properly drying and fluffing your pillow will help it maintain its shape and comfort, ensuring you get the best possible sleep.

Spot Cleaning Stains and Odors

If you notice any stains or odors on your pillow, it’s important to address them promptly to prevent them from setting in. Here are some tips for spot cleaning:

  • For liquid stains: use a clean cloth to blot the stain, being careful not to rub it in. Mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar, and apply it to the stain with a clean cloth. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then blot the area with a new cloth to remove the solution and stain. Repeat as necessary.
  • For oil-based stains: sprinkle baking soda onto the stain and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the oil. Use a clean cloth to brush off the baking soda and then apply a small amount of dish soap to the stain. Blot the area with a damp cloth to remove the soap and stain, and then let the pillow air dry.
  • For odors: sprinkle baking soda onto the pillow and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda from the pillow. Alternatively, you can place the pillow in a large plastic bag with a few dryer sheets and let it sit for a day or two to absorb the odor.

Remember to always check the care label on your pillow before attempting any stain or odor removal and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pillows with Removable Covers

If you are lucky enough to have a pillow with a removable cover, cleaning is a breeze. Simply remove the cover and wash it separately according to the care instructions. You can wash the cover along with your regular laundry or with other bedding items, such as duvet covers and sheets. For best results, make sure to use the right detergent and water temperature as per the care label.

Once the cover is washed and dried, put it back on the pillow. The pillow underneath should be clean, but you can also inspect it for any dirt, stains, or odours. If the pillow itself needs cleaning, you can either use the washing machine or handwash it as per the instructions provided earlier in this guide.

By maintaining the cleanliness of your pillow cover, you can prolong the life of your pillow and ensure that you always have a fresh and hygienic sleeping surface. Additionally, if the cover is damaged or worn out, you can replace it without having to buy a new pillow. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website or contact customer service to purchase an identical or compatible cover for your pillow.

Pillow Care Tips and Maintenance

Regular pillow cleaning is important for maintaining a clean and healthy sleep environment. Here are some tips to help you keep your pillows fresh and in good condition:

  • Keep pillows dry: Moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, so avoid using wet hair or going to bed with wet skin.
  • Fluff pillows daily: Fluffing your pillows helps to maintain their shape and loft, and prevents them from becoming lumpy or flat.
  • Wash pillowcases and covers weekly: Pillowcases and covers can accumulate sweat, oil, and bacteria, so it’s important to wash them regularly.
  • Rotate pillows: Rotating your pillows every few months helps to distribute wear and tear evenly, and extends their lifespan.
  • Store pillows properly: When not in use, store pillows in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your pillows stay fresh, clean, and comfortable for a better night’s sleep.

Professional Pillow Cleaning Services

If you want to ensure your pillows are cleaned thoroughly and effectively, professional pillow cleaning services might be the way to go. These services offer specialized equipment and expertise in cleaning different types of pillows, ensuring they come out looking and smelling fresh.

Professional pillow cleaning is especially recommended for non-machine washable or delicate pillows, such as down or silk pillows. These materials require special care and attention to avoid damage or shrinkage.

When choosing a professional pillow cleaning service, it’s important to do your research and find a reputable and reliable provider. Look for reviews and recommendations from previous customers, and don’t hesitate to ask for references or certifications.

Prices for professional pillow cleaning services can vary depending on the provider and the location. However, the cost may be worth it, especially if you have expensive or sentimental pillows that require special care.

Overall, professional pillow cleaning services can be a convenient and effective option for maintaining clean and fresh bedding. Consider this option if you want to ensure your pillows get the best care possible.


Now that you know how to clean a pillow, you can enjoy fresh and hygienic bedding every night. Regular pillow cleaning is essential for your health and wellbeing, as it helps to reduce allergens, dust mites, and bacteria that can cause allergies and respiratory problems.

Remember to follow the recommended frequency for cleaning your pillows based on their type, usage, and exposure to dirt and sweat. Whether you prefer machine washing or handwashing, use the right temperature, detergent, and drying technique to ensure the best results.

Don’t forget to fluff your pillows after cleaning and spot clean any stains or odors promptly to maintain their freshness and lifespan. If you have pillows with removable covers, wash them separately and keep them in good condition to enhance your pillow’s hygiene and comfort.

If you prefer a hassle-free option, you can always hire professional pillow cleaning services that use advanced equipment and techniques to deep clean and sanitize your pillows.

We hope that this guide has been helpful and informative, and you’re now confident in your ability to keep your pillows clean and fresh. Sweet dreams!


Q: How often should I clean my pillow?

A: It is recommended to clean your pillow every 3 to 6 months to maintain hygiene and remove allergens.

Q: How do I know what type of pillow I have?

A: Check the care instructions or packaging for information on the type of pillow. You can also contact the manufacturer for clarification.

Q: Can I wash all types of pillows in a washing machine?

A: Not all pillows are machine washable. It is important to check the care instructions for your specific pillow before attempting to wash it in a machine.

Q: What should I do if my pillow has stains?

A: For spot cleaning stains, you can use homemade solutions or commercial stain removers. Promptly addressing stains helps prevent them from setting in.

Q: How should I dry my pillow after cleaning?

A: Pillows can be air-dried or placed in the dryer. Follow the care instructions to determine the appropriate drying method and settings.

Q: Can I remove the cover from my pillow and wash it separately?

A: If your pillow has a removable cover, it is generally safe to wash it separately. Check the care instructions for specific guidance.

Q: Are there any alternatives to machine washing my pillow?

A: Handwashing is an alternative method for delicate or non-machine washable pillows. Follow the proper technique and use a suitable cleaning solution.

Q: How should I store my pillows between cleanings?

A: Store pillows in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in plastic bags, as this can trap moisture and lead to mildew.

Q: Should I consider professional pillow cleaning services?

A: Professional pillow cleaning services can provide thorough cleaning and maintenance. Look for trusted professionals who specialize in pillow cleaning.

Q: Why is regular pillow cleaning important?

A: Regular pillow cleaning helps maintain hygiene, removes allergens, and prolongs the lifespan of your pillow. It contributes to a healthier sleep environment.

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