How to Clean Pillows in a Few Simple Steps

When you’re washing your pillowcases and sheets, don’t forget to clean your pillows. The experts give us their best tips for different types, from the ones on your bed to decorative accents.

They cushion your head when you sleep, and they’re a major player in a polished-looking bed—but compared to bigger bedroom pieces, pillows can sometimes seem a little insignificant. So even if you’re the type who regularly deep cleans the house, it’s easy to overlook cleaning your pillows. You’re probably washing your sheets and the pillowcases on a regular basis—that is important, of course—but, let’s face it: Those fluffy, feather-filled sacks (which absorb oils from your hair) also need some extra TLC. Keep in mind that not all pillows can be cleaned the same—down and feather-filled ones require a different method than decorative accent pillows you have on your sofa or chair. It’s not hard or time-consuming; just follow our expert tips and tricks for foolproof pillow cleaning that will leave them looking like new. Plus, we’ll also give you tips for cleaning your mattress and pillowcases while you’re at it, too.


Use a Washer and Dryer for Down and Feather-Filled Pillows

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Down and feather-filled pillows can be machine washed on a delicate cycle and then placed in the dryer to tumble dry. Make sure they dry completely, though, to prevent those feathers from producing mildew. Some experts even suggest leaving the pillows out near a window or warm radiator for a few hours before returning them to the bed or sofa to be certain that the interior filling dries out. The same goes for travel pillows too. Since their synthetic stuffing tends to breed mildew if left damp inside the pillowcase, only wash the pillow if completely necessary (like your soda spilled on it during flight). Otherwise, you should be fine with a simple pillowcase refresh.


Spritz with Vodka in Between Washings

You only need to wash your pillows every six months to a year. Vodka is actually a quick-drying sanitizer that can give your pillows a refresh as you are changing the sheets. Fill a spray bottle with vodka and spritz your pillows and let dry. These will dry faster than when you do a deep clean, so you’re not risking the chance of mildew.


Spot Clean Decorative Pillows

Now, for more decorative pillows (like those on your sofa or guest bed), these should be spot cleaned as needed and the appropriate cleaning technique depends on the type of material each is made out of. Since these pillows often have appliques and fabric that should not be machine washed, spot removal is the way to go. If the fabric is linen, cotton, jacquard, or a polyester-acrylic blend, try Capture Soil Release Pre-Mist then sprinkle the spot with just enough Capture Carpet and Rug Dry Cleaner to cover the stain. With a dry cloth, gently rub that powder into the fabric, vacuum it up, and the stain should have disappeared. If not, repeat the same process once more. If the stain remains, experts suggest you leave it alone so as not to damage the integrity of the fabric (and maybe just flip over the pillow).


Wash Pillowcases Weekly

When it comes to washing pillowcases, the pros suggest a weekly (and twice-weekly during the hot summer months) machine wash. If the cases are made of cotton, flannel, synthetic, bamboo, or modal, wash them in hot water. If your pillowcases are linen, silk, or sateen-weave cotton, opt for the gentle cycle and a cold water wash. Dry both on the low setting.