We all know that we should be washing our sheets and bedding regularly, but what about your pillow? Well, according to a 2015 New York Post article referencing a bacteria exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, your pillow is as germy as a toilet seat. Given that (hard to digest) fact, the answer is a resounding yes – our pillows need regular washing too, but there’s a lot of conflicting info out there on this topic that can be confusing. Maybe you have never washed a pillow before or didn’t know that they could be washed, or maybe you’re a pillow washing expert! Either way, we could all use some brushing up on the ways in which our pillows can be washed so that we can promote the healthiest sleep environment possible.
How pillows are washed depends on their primary material makeup. The first thing that you should do when preparing your pillow for washing is to read the manufacturer’s instructions for your pillow. If guidelines are not given, a basic rule to follow is that you can hand or machine wash fiber-filled pillows but memory foam pillows are generally spot clean only.
Cotton, fiber-filled, and shredded memory foam pillows are the easiest to clean because they can be tossed into the washer. Before washing the pillow, remove any pillowcase or protector. Many protectors can be washed in the washer as well, but, as always, check the tag for instructions. It is recommended that pillows be washed on a gentle machine cycle with warm water. If possible, set the load size to the highest option and use as much detergent as you would washing a large load of clothes. For best results, no more than two pillows should be washed at a time. After the cycle completes, it’s a good idea to set the washer to a rinse cycle to make sure that all detergent is fully out of the pillows prior to drying. Once rinsed, squeeze extra moisture out of pillows before drying. Fiber-filled pillows can be placed in the dryer on a low to medium heat.
Memory foam pillows are more tricky. Many memory foam pillows have a cover that can be washed with your sheets, but check the manufacturer’s info on the product because some covers are specially treated and can be damaged in the washer. Memory foam pillows themselves cannot be washed in the washer and should never be submerged in water. Memory foam pillows should be spot cleaned by rubbing the pillow using a damp cloth with mild detergent followed by a clean moist cloth to pull out the dirt, stain, or debris. Unlike fiber-filled pillows, memory foam pillows cannot be placed in the dryer, and air drying is the way to go for these pillows. Alternatively, a clean dry towel can be pressed on the damp spot on the pillow to hasten the drying process.
It’s important to keep your bedding (including pillows) clean to promote a healthy sleep environment. Remember to replace fiber-filled pillows about every 6 months and memory foam pillows every 18 to 36 months. Happy pillow cleaning!