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Can You Wash Bed Pillows? A Comprehensive Guide

While we're quite diligent about keeping our sheets and comforters clean, we tend to forget about our pillows. It's easy for pillows to gather a mix of skin cells and dust mites, so it's important to give them cleaning regularly to maintain a fresh and healthy sleeping environment. Experts suggest washing your pillows every three to six months either in the washing machine or by hand, depending on the type of pillow. Proper drying methods like air drying or using heat in the dryer are also essential to preserve the shape and fluffiness of the pillow. Keeping up with maintenance, using pillow protectors, and avoiding eating in bed can help prolong the life of your pillows and keep them feeling fresh in between washes.

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  • 1. Importance of Cleaning Bed Pillows
  • 2. Types of Pillows and Cleaning Methods
  • 3. Drying Pillows Properly
  • 4. Frequency of Washing Pillows
  • 5. Tips for Maintaining Pillow Freshness
  • 6. Pillow Replacement Guidelines
  • 7. Conclusion
  • 8. FAQ

Importance of Cleaning Bed Pillows

During a night's rest, pillows tend to gather an amount of hair, dead skin cells, sweat, and drool. This creates a habitat for dust mites to flourish, potentially causing health issues like allergies and asthma. It is crucial to clean your pillows to rid them of these allergens and ensure a healthy sleep environment.

Buildup of Dead Skin Cells and Dust Mites

While we sleep, our bodies naturally shed millions of skin cells that can get trapped in the pillow fibers. This coupled with the warmth and moisture from our bodies creates conditions for dust mites to breed, contributing further to the buildup of allergens. Regularly washing your pillows can help eliminate this buildup.

Potential for Allergic Reactions

The presence of dust mites and other allergens in our pillows can provoke symptoms in individuals with sensitivities such as sneezing, itchy eyes, and breathing difficulties. Maintaining a sleeping environment by washing your pillows as advised can help lower the chances of experiencing these reactions.

Odor and Stain Removal

As time goes by, pillows might gather smells and stains from sweat, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Washing your pillows can get rid of these problems, ensuring your sleeping space stays clean and cozy.

Types of Pillows and Cleaning Methods

Different kinds of pillows have cleaning requirements to ensure they are properly cleaned without any harm. Knowing the cleaning methods for each type of pillow is essential for keeping them in condition and maintaining a fresh and hypoallergenic sleeping environment.

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Down and Feather Pillows

For feather pillows, it is recommended to either opt for cleaning or use a gentle machine wash with a mild detergent. Due to their nature, these natural fillings may not tolerate washing well. Following the manufacturer's instructions is crucial to preserve the quality and structure of the pillow.

Synthetic Pillows

Synthetic pillows like those filled with polyester are easier to clean. They can usually be machine-washed, using water making them convenient for cleaning. It's important to use a detergent and avoid high heat drying to maintain the shape and fluffiness of the pillow.

Memory Foam Pillows

When it comes to memory foam and latex pillows, they require cleaning. It's best to hand wash or spot clean these types of pillows as machine washing can harm their structure and support.

It's important to follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer and refrain from submerging the pillow in water to prevent it from tearing or losing its shape.

Latex Pillows

When it comes to latex pillows like memory foam ones, it's best not to put them in a washing machine. Instead, these pillows should be gently hand. Spot cleaned when necessary to maintain their form and effectiveness. It's advised to keep latex pillows from moisture or heat as these factors can affect the quality of the material.

No matter what type of pillow you have, always double-check the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning to ensure that you're using the methods and preventing any damage.

Drying Pillows Properly

After washing it's important to make sure that pillows are dried thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew growth and also to maintain their shape and fluffiness.


Experts suggest laying the pillows on towels or a drying rack for air drying, allowing them to dry completely under the sun or in a well-ventilated space.


When using a machine dryer, it's advisable to select a heat setting and include some tennis balls or dryer balls in the cycle to help fluff up the pillows and evenly distribute the filling. It's also recommended to check on the pillows during drying and take them out once they are completely dry.

Frequency of Washing Pillows

It's generally suggested to wash them twice a year. If you suffer from allergies, sweat a lot, or have young kids sharing your bed, more frequent washing may be necessary. Pillows tend to collect skin cells, dust mites, and allergens over time so regular cleaning is essential for a sleep environment. The recommended frequency of washing sleeping pillows typically ranges from two to four times a year as per experts. It's also an idea to air out your pillows every month or two between washes to keep them fresh. Adjusting the cleaning schedule based on factors like pillow hygiene and maintenance habits is important for care.

Tips for Maintaining Pillow Freshness

In between cleanings, there are things you can do to maintain the freshness of your pillows. Using pillow protectors is a way to shield your pillows from skin cells, bacteria, and other particles.

Use Pillow Protectors

Pillow protectors serve as a barrier that helps keep your pillows cleaner for periods between washes. This can help increase the longevity of your pillows and preserve their freshness.

Air Out Pillows Regularly

Occasionally airing out your pillows by hanging them or putting them in the dryer on a no-heat cycle can also help get rid of any lingering smells. This simple step can contribute to maintaining hygiene for your pillows.

Avoid Eating in Bed

Moreover, refraining from eating in bed and ensuring that pets stay off the bed can reduce the amount of dirt, oils, and other pollutants that come into contact with your pillows. This practice helps with pillow maintenance and prolongs their lifespan.

Pillow Replacement Guidelines

It's generally advised to change your pillows every one and a half to two years because they can harbor bacteria and are used daily. This recommendation comes from experts like the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. However, the actual durability of a pillow may differ based on the material type, pillow quality, and how well it is maintained with cleaning and care. Opting for a top-notch pillow and adhering to washing and drying methods can help prolong the lifespan of your pillows.


In conclusion, it's important to keep your pillows clean and well taken care of to maintain a cozy sleeping space. Understanding how to wash and dry types of pillows as well as following good practices for pillow care and replacement will help keep your pillows fresh, free from allergens, and supportive for a restful night's sleep. Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, use cleaning methods, and make pillow maintenance part of your bedding routine for optimal sleep quality. Proper drying techniques like air drying or using heat in the machine are essential to preserve the shape and fluffiness of the pillow. By focusing on pillow care, hygiene, and cleanliness, you can create a sleep environment that leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized upon waking up. By incorporating these habits into your routine, you can prolong the lifespan of your pillows while ensuring a comfortable night's sleep for years ahead.


Can you wash bed pillows?

It's recommended to wash your bed pillows regularly. Over time pillows can gather a mix of skin cells dust mites and other allergens, so keeping them clean is crucial for a sleeping environment.

How often should you wash pillows?

Typically experts suggest washing your pillows twice a year. However, if you suffer from allergies or sweat a lot and have children sharing the bed with you, more frequent washing may be necessary. The exact frequency can vary based on the pillow type and how well you maintain them in between washes.

What are the best methods for washing different types of pillows?

The cleaning approach varies depending on the pillow type: Down and feather pillows usually need cleaning or a gentle machine wash with detergent. Synthetic pillows can usually be machine-washed using water. Memory foam and latex pillows are best hand-washed or spot-cleaned to prevent damage to their structure and support that could occur in a washing machine.

How should you properly dry pillows after washing?

To air pillows, experts suggest laying them flat on towels or a drying rack, and letting them dry completely in the sun or a well-ventilated area. If using a machine dryer, it's advised to use a heat setting and include some tennis balls or dryer balls in the cycle to help fluff up the pillows and distribute the filling evenly.

How can you maintain pillow freshness between washings?

To maintain pillow freshness, consider using pillow protectors to shield them from skin cells, bacteria, and other debris. You can also air out your pillows occasionally by hanging them or running them through a no-heat cycle in the dryer. Avoid eating in bed and keep pets off to reduce dirt, oils, and contaminants on your pillows.

When should you replace your pillows?

It is recommended to replace pillows every one and a half to two years due to buildup from daily use. The lifespan of a pillow can vary based on material type, quality, and how well it is cared for through cleaning.

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