How to Wash a Pillow the Simple Way

How to Wash a Pillow the Simple Way

How to Wash a Pillow

I recently read an article in All You Magazine (prime bathroom literature, my friends) which claimed that after two years, 1/10 of the weight of your pillow is made up of dust mites and their waste…as in itty bitty little dust mite poo.

That’s kinda gross.

I have had the same pillow for, hmmm, let’s round down to 10 years, so if every two years 1/10 of the weight is replaced by mites and mite-poo, and I’ve had mine for 10 years, that 10 divided by 2 times 1/10 equals…ewwww…50%.

Even with my faulty math, that almost makes me want to buy a new pillow.

But I love my buggy, pooey pillow.

Lucky for me, the article was kind enough to explain how to wash a pillow, a bit of information I am kind enough to pass on to you, in case you, too, love your buggy, pooey pillow.

How To Clean a Pillow 2

How to Wash a Pillow

  1. Check the washing instructions. Most pillows are machine-washable. (If mine says it is not machine washable, I wash it in the machine anyway. Yes, even feather pillows…but you most certainly did not hear that from me. The only exception in my home is very old pillows that will not survive the process, or those, like my son’s with more holes than casing due to a few too many pillow fights.)
  2. Wash two normal-sized pillows or one jumbo pillow at a time to keep your machine balanced. You don’t want it doing a fox-trot across the floor.
  3. Set your machine to the longest, hottest cycle.
  4. Use liquid detergent, since, supposedly, powder detergent leaves a residue. I can’t imagine why someone who’s been sleeping on a pound of dust mite poo would care too much about a little detergent residue, but, I guess dust mite poo is “all-natural,” so, there ya go.
  5. Run the pillows through the rinse cycle twice.
  6. Toss the pillows in the dryer with a couple tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff them up and speed up the drying process.
  7. Dry your pillows completely at medium-high or high heat until dry. It may take several cycles. Check the pillows between each cycle, and consider letting your dryer rest for half an hour between cycles so it doesn’t burn out. Yup, it happens. Boo.
  8. Be sure the pillows are completely dry by squeezing them with your hands to feel for moisture. Optionally, squeeze them with a paper towel. If any moisture shows up, pop those babies back in the dryer. It is not unusual for the drying process to take 3-4 hours.
  9. Use an allergen pillow case from here on out to prevent a reinfestation of mites and their poo.

I think I said the word “poo” far too much in this post.

Check out the comment section for some helpful questions and answers.

Do you have any tips for how to wash a pillow?

Also, I am happy to tackle any other obscure homemaking tasks you’d like demystified. I warn you, I don’t “homemake” by the rules, but I’m happy to answer questions…the simple way.


18 Replies to “How to Wash a Pillow the Simple Way”

  1. Great post – even though I do not want to think about ‘bug poo’ – eewwww!
    I always just washed my pillows and the allergen cases because of drool. 🙂 Dust mite poo – scary thought…now I need to go wash my pillows 🙂 Hugs to you all!

    1. Some people dry clean them, others wash them by hand in the bathtub. Personally, I wash my feather pillows in the machine. If the pillow is really old and the case’s structural integrity is questionable from a few too many pillow fights, it should probably be dry cleaned, but personally, I’d rather take my chances with the poo than with dry cleaning chemicals. 😉 I cannot wash my boy’s pillow, because it would come out completely empty. Mine all come out of the dryer really nice and fluffy. Be absolutely certain the feathers themselves are dry, not just the outside case. That’s why you have to do the squeeeeeeze test.

  2. Dust mite poo?? I know what I will be doing today…LOL I wonder though…would it be a bad idea to hang the pillows out in the sun to air dry? – you know to let the sun bleach & air the thing out?!? Just wondering as I have one of those pillows that are “not” washable (down pillows) that I have “accidentally” washed before…but you didn’t hear that from me!! 😉

    1. I think that’s perfectly great, as long as you make sure to fluff them occasionally as they dry, so the feathers don’t all hang out at the bottom in their little feather party and clump together in their little feather cliques. Do make sure it’s 100% dry, though. I think it would be dreamy to sleep on an air-dried pillow. Ahhhh. 🙂

      Yeah, I “accidentally” do that on purpose too. 🙂

  3. My mom growing up always washed the feather pillows in the washing machine and then hung them on the line to dry. She said they dried throughly that way much better than in the dryer, and they smelled cleanwhen I brought them inside after hanging out in the sun all day.

    1. If they’re old and falling apart, don’t put them in the machine. It might finish them off for good. My boy’s pillow/weapon/jet/racer sends out a spray of feathers every time I take off the pillow case, so that will never go in the machine. We’ll just burn that one. 😉 Or I suppose I could make it a second casing…

  4. I too am dealing with too much poo these days. I have a 2 1/2 year old toilet training toddler, and a one month old son. Enough said. I am curious–why does 90% of motherhood involve cleaning up or disposing of bodily fluids?

    On the subject of pillows, I just washed mine because my 2 1/2 year old threw up on it accidentally when suffering from a tummy bug. Yuck. It took forever to dry, and since then all the stuffing has decided to lump up on one side of the pillow. My poor pillow will never be the same again 🙁 But at least it’s free of dust mites!!

    1. 🙁

      I think that’s why you’re supposed to dry it with tennis balls or something. I had that happen to one of my cheap poly-pillows, but my feather pillows always do well in the wash.

      You’re so right about the bodily fluids! Ha ha!

  5. I just washed mine last night, before I read this, and didn’t do it right I guess! I didn’t do the double rinse, and maybe they smelled fresh due to the residue? But too late, I also ran them through the dryer – twice – and they still didn’t feel quite dry so today they are out in the sunshine finishing up (I hope). I wondered about the dryer burning up so I took them out. While this whole dust mite business is gross, it makes sense (they say the same about mattresses) and actually I DID just the other night buy new pillows AND those zippered pillow covers for putting on prior to pillow cases. The freshly laundered ones, possibly now free of mites but who can be sure, will be used in shams (recycled) and not have face to pillow contact any longer. Mine were also pretty old, I don’t even recall when I got them. I really enjoyed this post and will be better prepared in the future!!

  6. You are right about the dust mites and their waste, but when you launder them in a washing machine, you are not getting rid of the problem, just running water over them. In order to get rid of the mites, you need to have the feathers professionally sanitized with a cleaning machine (not drycleaning solution, used by many drycleaners). They open up your pillow, empty the contents (mites, dust, feather breakdown included), sanitize them, and then put your feathers into a brand new ticking. If you just put your pillows in a washing machine, you are trapping all of that stuff in your pillow as it has no way to escape. I just sent mine in to Feathertex in Lomira, WI and they came back simply fabulous!! Really nice people to deal with and they really know what they are doing. Just thought I would share what I had found out.

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