How To Take Proper Care Of Your Pillows

How you take care of your pillows probably follows the story line of a love that is taken for granted. They give you warmth; help you find comfort and peace at your times of greatest need. However, you treat them like they don’t need care and attention. You may not have thought much about it, but the time you spend with your pillows can turn the love story into a horror feature.

Risks Of Using Unclean Pillows

We all have that favourite pillow that we love to snuggle to every night. There’s just something about it. Perhaps it’s the scent which brings back memories of happier times. It could be the warmth that it gives back whenever you hug it tightly.

Who cares if there are more brownish and yellowish stains showing up on the pillow? Nothing comes between you and your pillows right? No, and at this point, you should think about cleaning pillows.

The smell and the stains are indicative that is time to give proper care to your pillows. In terms of hygiene, you should remove stains from pillows. Besides, don’t you want to get that “new pillow smell”?

Your pillows and mattress are a rich source of dead human skin. Every day that you come in from work or school, you track in dust mites on your used clothes. These dust mites love dead human skin. They build nesting areas in your pillows and mattress because they can feast on as much dead human skin as they like.

When they excrete dead human skin, these become allergens which contaminate the air you breathe. If you are sensitive to allergens, these can make your lungs tighten up making it difficult for you to breathe while causing symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes.

A 2005 study conducted by the University of Manchester discovered around 1 million spores composed of 16 varieties of fungi in a number of old pillows.

And there’s more.

Another favourite treat of dust mites is fungi. That musty smell you love? That could be fungi growing on your pillows.

Your pillows could harbour fungi due to moisture, changes in temperature and the presence of allergens. Keep in mind that on average, you pour in 20 gallons of sweat on your pillows every year!

Fungi use the feces excreted by the dust mites as a source of nitrogen which supports the growth of more fungi on your pillows. In a sense, there appears to be an ecosystem at work within your pillows; one that continuously supports the growth and proliferation of dust mites and fungi!

The bottom line is you need to give your pillows some love. The good news is that you don’t have to wine or dine them. All you need to do is make sure your pillows are frequently cleaned.

Cleaning pillows regularly will ensure your health and well-being are also taken care of.

How To Take Proper Care Of Your Pillows

Taking proper care of your pillows happens even before you remove their covers for washing. Proper hygiene for your pillows starts with you:

  1. Don’t bring your shoes inside the living quarters of your home. Keep them stored inside a cabinet that has proper ventilation. Shoes track in dirt, grime and mites that could encourage the growth of moulds and mildew in your pillows, mattress, carpet and upholstery.
  2. Put your used clothes in the proper laundry bin. The bins should be covered and located outside your room.
  3. Take a bath before lying on your bed. You wouldn’t want to get sweat, dust mites and bacteria on your pillows and mattress.
  4. Make sure your room has proper ventilation. The bathroom should have an exhaust fan to control the level of moisture. Also, make it a point to keep the floors dry.
  5. If possible, use a humidifier inside your room.

Now let’s find out how to wash and clean your pillows for proper care. The process of cleaning your pillows will depend on their type of material and filling.

Cotton, Down, And Synthetic Pillows

  1. Remove the pillow case. If you purchased your pillows with zip-on cases, these should also be removed. The cases should be washed separately from the pillows themselves.
  2. Place your pillows inside the washing machine. It is perfectly fine to use the washing machine to clean cotton, down and synthetic pillows. The tag or label at the back of your pillow will most likely guarantee its safety in a washing machine.

    If possible, put in two or more pillows at a time. Washing multiple pillows at once will keep the washer in good balance and ensures that the activity will not be extremely turbulent for the materials.
  3. Next, add a cup or scoop of your standard detergent. If you want to give your pillows that brand new, ultra-white look, add the following mixture with the detergent: 1 cup dishwasher detergent, half a cup of borax and the recommended quantity of bleach powder. This combination will effectively remove stains from pillows.
  4. Make sure you have hot water running for the washing machine. Allow it to go through a second rinse cycle. Check if your brand of washing machine has a bulky or large cycle. If so, use the setting for your washing.
  5. Once the pillows have been properly washed, place them in the dryer. If you have feather pillows, set the dryer setting to “air” or “no heating” setting. If you have synthetic pillows, set it to “low heat”.

    Here’s a tip: Put two tennis balls in a clean white sock and give it a tight knot. Throw it in the dryer in order to give your pillows a better fluff.
  6. Once the dryer cycle is over, remove the pillows and check for dampness and moisture. If they don’t feel dry enough, put them back in the dryer. It should be properly dried and cleaned after the second go-round.

Memory Foam Pillows

  1. The same as cotton, down and synthetic pillows, some brands of memory foam pillows can be purchased with a zip-on pillow cover and pillowcase. Make sure these are removed before washing the pillows. The cases can be washed in a washing machine but not memory foam!
  2. Memory foams can and should only be washed by hand. Washing machines are too active and create turbulence that could severely damage the material for memory foam. You can use a sink or your bath tub. You just need the right amount of water to make sure the memory foam pillow is properly submerged. The important thing is to use only warm water.
  3. Next, add a tablespoon of your standard liquid detergent to the warm water. Mix it around until the detergent is properly dissolved. Try to create a nice, thick bubble.
  4. Submerge the memory foam pillow into the warm water and detergent mixture. Move it around to get the detergent to do its job. From time to time, use your hands to massage the pillow. This will help remove more dirt and move the cleansing properties of the detergent through the pillow’s many layers.
  5. Once you are confident that the memory pillow is clean, place it under running water. Check the water coming out of the pillow if it is clear of detergent. This will take quite a while so you need to be very patient. You cannot put the memory pillow inside a dryer because its heat will damage the pillow’s material.
  6. To dry the memory foam pillow, put it on top of a clean, white towel and place it on a dry area under the sun. Remember, memory foam material is extremely absorbent. Do not use it until the pillow is completely dry of water.


Now you know why it is absolutely important to keep your pillows clean. The next question is, how often should you clean them?

Foam pillows should be cleaned at least once a month. If you wash them too frequently, you may end up damaging the material.

For down, feather, and synthetic fibre, you should wash your pillows every six months to one year.

The most important takeaway is that your pillows deserve proper care. The same goes for your bed and pillow covers. You spend one- third of your day lying down on them. For sure, you will be contaminating it with dust mites, sweat and bacteria on a regular basis.

A pillow is not just a pillow and smelly pillows are never cool! If you don’t clean them properly, your favourite pillows could become a health issue.