Bring them back to life with these expert-approved tips.

By Kaitlin Stanford
Updated August 10, 2016
Stack of fluffy pillows
Credit: Mark Lund/Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like the feel of a brand new pillow, is there? So firm and fluffy, just begging for you to rest your head upon it. There’s also nothing quite like the feel of a pillow that’s seen better days. It’s flat, it’s lumpy and often a bit sad-looking.

But whether we’re talking about bed pillows or throw pillows, it’s pretty much unavoidable: After some use, any pillow is bound to loose some of its oomph. Here are some tips for bringing it back to life.

Stack of fluffy pillows
Credit: Mark Lund/Getty Images

Manually fluff it regularly.

“How flat a pillow is, and how often it goes flat, comes down to the type and quality of fill you are using,” says Sean Juneja, CEO of the interior design service Decor Aid. “Even quality feather down, which is lovely and gives a beautiful weight to a pillow, has to be ‘fluffed’ after nearly every use.”

The fix? “A few good karate chops,” says Juneja. (So consider that a good enough excuse for releasing any pent-up aggression.)

Rotate, rotate, rotate.

“It also never hurts to rotate your pillows,” says Juneja. “Try flipping them if you can, or styling them on a different chair or sofa than you might usually. The change up in use will help keep the pillow from molding to your furniture.”

Don’t be afraid to run it through the wash.

Running pillows through the wash will help rid them of dirt as well as allergens. (Just make sure everything is sewn up tight and run the washer on a delicate cycle to avoid any snafus.) Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro, also suggests throwing in some dryer balls — or even tennis balls, if you’re in a pinch. “Those little guys may be noisy, but they fluff up anything!” says Homer. Set the heat to low instead of high to avoid clumping.

Consider sticking it outside in the sun.

Believe it or not, your pillow can absorb a lot of moisture if you’re resting your face on it regularly, thanks to sweat and, yes, drool. Leaving it outside in the sun for a bit can help evaporate any excess moisture that’s locked in and restore it to its once fluffy state, says Homer. Just make sure not to leave it out in humid weather—that could actually make things worse.

“When in doubt, make sure the pillow is fully laundered and dried in a proper dryer,” says Homer. “Then put it outside for a sunbath a final freshening step, if desired.”

Make sure you’re using the correct insert.

“If the insert is not the correct size for the pillow case, your pillow will feel and look very droopy,” says Juneja. “Typically, I try to use inserts that are 1-2" larger than the insert itself. For example, for a 20" pillow case, fill it with a 22" insert.”

Consider getting a pillow protector.

Believe it or not, a pillow gets matted down by dirt almost as much as it does by the continual pressure of being laid upon. According to Homer, a pillow protector “noticeably slows down the pillow flattening process, as it keeps the dirt and oils from matting the fibers in the pillow.”

Always invest in quality.

Opting for an inexpensive pillow may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you’re looking for longevity, you may want to spring for something pricier if the quality is better.