Can You Wash Pillows In A Washing Machine?

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When people first go out on their own, it becomes abundantly clear how important it is to have a good washing machine. They can wash blankets, tee shirts, denim, even underwear! It often feels like washing machines can wash anything related to fabrics, doesn’t it? This isn’t always the case, though. As it turns out, some things should never be dumped in a washer. Are pillows one of those things, though? We’ve done the work to find the answer for you.

People who want to wash pillows in a washing machine should take care. Most cotton, down, fiberfill, and feather pillows can be placed into a washing machine on a gentle cycle. However, there are certain pillows that should never be placed in a washing machine. Check the label and use personal discretion whenever possible. 

It’s possible (and actually rather common) to ruin a much-loved pillow by putting it in the washing machine the wrong way. It’s a good idea to learn what you can and cannot do before you try to wash your pillows yourself. We’ll cover all you need to know in this post, so be sure to keep reading. 

Multi colored pillow, pillowcase, blanket and bedsheet, Can You Wash Pillows In A Washing Machine?

How To Wash A Pillow In The Washing Machine

Woman holding a pile of bedding for sleeping

In order to wash pillows in a washing machine, you have to know how to do it the right way. The steps below will make sure that you can wash a generic pillow in a washer: 

  1. Remove the pillowcases from the pillow and check for tears. Do not wash the pillows if there are any tears. 
  2. Check the pillow label. If it advises against machine washing, err on the side of caution and don’t do it. 
  3. Place at least two pillows in the washing machine. 
  4. Run the machine on the delicate cycle, on cold, using a very small amount of gentle detergent. (We suggest Woolite!)
  5. Place them in a dryer on a low setting for both speed and temperature. Use dryer balls to fluff. 

Click here to get Woolite on Amazon.

Of course, there are other important things to consider when cleaning your pillows. We’re going to take a closer look at some of the more specific pillow cleaning techniques out there next.

Can You Machine Wash A Down/Feather Pillow?

Absolutely, though down and feather pillows each have their own needs. Both pillows require an extra rinse. Unlike other kinds of pillows, both down and standard feather pillows need to be air-dried in order to be fully usable afterward. Trying to fully dry the pillows in the dryer can lead to tearing, so don’t do it unless you absolutely have to. You can also find out how to wash feather pillows with this article, too.

Can You Put A Foam Pillow In The Washing Machine?

While most pillow types can be placed in the washing machine, foam pillows are a major no-no. Foam, though solid, is too delicate for all the jostling that occurs inside a washer. This can cause the foam to warp, get brittle, or even break apart. The best way to clean a foam pillow is to rinse it with water and squeeze (don’t wring!) it dry. 

Can You Machine Wash A Microbead Pillow?

Considering how fragile all those little beads feel, you could be forgiven for thinking that these pillows are too fragile for the washer. Believe it or not, most microbead pillows can be washed using a machine. However, there are several things you need to keep in mind if you want to do this:

  • Front-loading washing machines are considered to be the best choice for these pillows. 
  • When working with microbead pillows, it’s best to set it to a gentle/delicate cycle with lukewarm water. 
  • To prevent bead-bursts, wash the pillows while they are tied up in a larger pillowcase. Should the pillow pop, the pillowcase will contain the beads.
  • You can machine-dry them, or air dry them. It’s up to you. 

Can You Dry Your Pillow In The Dryer?

Neatly made hotel bed with 4 pillows

For the most part, pillows fare pretty well in the dryer. However, it’s important to make sure that you dry the pillows the right way. Here’s how you can use your dryer to get a fresh pillow dried and ready for sleepy time:

  • Foam pillows should never be placed in the dryer, as they can melt. (This actually is true for most synthetic foam-style pillows.)
  • Feather, down, cotton, and microbead pillows are alright for machine dryer use. However, you always should double-check to make sure that the pillow is capable of being professionally dried. You can find this out on the tag.
  • When drying your pillows, keep temperatures low and cycles gentle. 
  • Using dryer balls can help add extra fluff to your pillows. 
  • Though dryer sheets aren’t mandatory, many people find them to be a nice touch to their pillow quality. 

Click here for dryer sheets on Amazon.

Do You Need To Dry Your Pillows?

You should never let your pillows stay wet or damp for too long, regardless of the type of pillow it is. Keeping pillows wet for more than 30 minutes can increase the risk of mold, mildew, and other similar issues. If you cannot put your pillows in the dryer, squeeze them to remove any excess water, then lay them flat in a sunny, warm, and dry room. 

Unless you want a gross, smelly pillow sooner rather than later, you will take time to dry your pillows. If they can only air dry, place them in a dry sunny room. The UV rays from the sunlight can kill fungi.

How Can You Tell If A Pillow Is Dry?

The easiest way to see if a pillow is dry is to pick it up and touch it. Dry pillows are going to be light to the touch, fluffy, and also dry on the outside. A damp pillow might feel heavier than usual, and when squeezed, will often start feeling damper to the touch. If the pillow is really wet, you might even feel the moisture on the outside of the pillow!

When in doubt, just assume that your pillow could use more drying. Placing it flat in a dry room will help ensure that you don’t have too much of a hassle once it’s time to go to sleep. 

What Should You Do If Your Pillow Can’t Be Machine Washed?

Close up of a pillow on white background

If it’s a foam pillow, a light misting with water followed up with a squeeze and air drying session is great. On the other hand, if the pillow simply says that it can’t be machine-washed, you might be able to do one of the following to make sure your pillow is sanitized:

  • Check out the label on the pillow to see what the official instructions for caring for the pillow are. It’s always best to follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer. 
  • If the soiling is mild, you might be able to wipe the pillow down with a damp cloth and a 50/50 water-vinegar solution to remove the staining on it. Once this is done, let the pillow air dry. 
  • Should all else fail, take the pillow to a professional cleaning company to have them care for the item. This is the top suggestion for antique pillows, silk pillows, as well as pillows made from exotic materials. 

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?

Most of the time, people know when they should wash a pillow. Dirty pillows smell bad, have yellow stains, and also may feel a little gross to touch. Still not sure if you’re overdue for a pillow washing session? It’s okay, you can set a schedule. When in doubt, clean your pillows once every two months. Speaking of yellow stains, you’ll want to check this post out: How To Get Yellow Stains Out Of Pillows?

In Closing

Washing a pillow seems like it should be a fairly simple thing to do with a washer, the truth is that this cleaning endeavor is nuanced. In order to avoid shredding your pillow into smithereens, you’re going to have to take into account things like material as well as the actual instructions on the pillow. 

Though most pillows can be washed via a machine, the truth is that you shouldn’t immediately assume that it’s the best way to do things. Washers and dryers can be pretty rough, even at their lowest settings. It only takes a little bit of wear and tear to make a machine washable pillow fall apart under the wrong circumstances. 

So while you can always give this cleaning method a shot, our final verdict is not to run the risk. Gentler cleaning methods exist, which means that you can always find a different way to sanitize your pillows if you look hard enough. 

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