How to Clean Pillows the Right Way

Learning how to clean pillows is essential. While pillowcases are the first layer of defense, things still seep through.

Pillow, bed, and side table.

Steps to clean pillows

After months and years of using a pillow, your sweat and oil will accumulate. It leads to the yellowing of your pillows and it can make them less comfortable.

While most modern pillows can be machine-washed and dried, it’s important to check the care label to see what the cleaning requirements are.

Related: How to speed clean your home

Take the following steps to clean pillows:

  1. Remove the pillowcase.
  2. Wash your pillows gently, unless the care label says to dry clean it.
  3. Dry it out completely. The best way is to put it in the dryer with a couple of towels and tennis balls for at least an hour.

The steps for cleaning a pillow is similar to other items such as the pillowcase or duvet cover. To keep your pillows fresh and clean, wash them every 6 months.

Methods based on the pillow fill

The pillow fill plays a big role in the method that you use to clean your pillow. Some can be machine-washed, while others can’t. Some can withstand a tumble dry, while others need to be air-dried.

The following are specific care methods based on the pillow fill:

  • Memory foam or latex: To clean pillows made of memory foam or latex, spot-cleaning is the best method because you can’t wash or steam it.
  • Cotton, down or synthetic: You can use the standard method with these materials. Machine-wash with a small amount of mild detergent, and toss it in the dryer with a couple of tennis balls, if you have them.
  • Velvet, silk or has heavy braiding: For these materials, get your pillows professionally dry-cleaned.

Maintaining your pillows

To extend the life of your pillow, maintaining it properly is key. If you have a pillow that can be washed, doing so every 6 months will extend the longevity and ensure that you have a clean pillow.

Between washes, check your pillows once a week and spot-clean, as needed. It’s also a best practice to only use your pillow when your face and hair are clean.

Another way to keep your pillows clean is to use a pillow cover, which goes between your pillow and pillowcase.

Frequently asked questions

How often should I replace my pillows?

Pillows should be replaced every 2 years.

How do I know if I need to clean my pillows?

If your pillow or pillowcase starts to turn yellow, it’s time to wash it. You can also tell if you need to clean it if your pillows have a sour or musty smell.

How do I make my pillows white?

You can use a small amount of bleach when you wash it, or you can add hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.


Take the time to clean your pillows every 6 months. It’ll ensure that your pillow remains fresh, comfortable, and gets rid of the dust and sweat. If it’s time to replace your pillows, do it because a good pillow enhances your quality of sleep.

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Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola and Luna, the destination for home improvement and decor. He launched Nola and Luna to share DIY how-to’s, inspiration, reviews, shopping guides, and expert advice to help you create a beautiful home.

About Nola & Luna

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