Should New Pillows Be Washed Before Use?

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Some people wash everything as soon as it leaves the store before they even consider using it. Clothes, sheets, pillows, everything starts fresh. Other people have honestly never even thought about it and assume it comes from the store “already clean.” This article, after much research, will focus on just one of those things – pillows. So the question is, should new pillows be washed before use?

Always wash your new pillows before use. Most of the reasons that new pillows might be unclean are not apparent to the naked eye. While new pillows are rarely dirty, they can have chemicals, dust mites, and more. 

Continue reading to learn more about the reasons why your new pillows aren’t as clean as you’d think, how often you should clean them in the future, and just how to do it. You can also find some ideas for preventing stains on your pillows, and how to treat yellowing stains if they do occur. Let’s continue, shall we?

Overlooking of an empty bed with white bed sheet and pillows, Should New Pillows Be Washed Before Use?

Why Wash New Pillows?

Bedclothes on sale

It’s possible that new pillows are clean, straight from the store, and don’t require any washing. Some companies swear by this, even vowing that their pillows are sterilized before they are bagged and sealed for safekeeping.

Obviously, in a case like that, one could assume the pillow is clean and won’t need to be washed. The big problem is that you really just don’t know the state of the pillow. Pillows need washing because of more than just visible dirt. Other problems that can plague your new pillows include:

  • Treatment with a chemical spray to prevent wrinkles and make them look more appealing in the store
  • Having sat on a shelf or in storage, collecting dust
  • Dust mites accumulating in the pillow
  • For any unsealed pillow, exposure to anything in the store is possible (including germs from any potential purchasers touching the pillow)

Again, none of these problems may actually affect your new pillow, but they also could. Since it’s not anything you can tell by looking at the pillow, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. Washing your pillows won’t hurt them, and at least you’ll know they’re really, honestly clean.

Should You Wash Pillowcases Before Use?

Just like pillows, pillowcases need to be washed before you use them. They can also be treated with chemicals that should be removed before you sleep on them. In addition, there may be dye on the fabric that needs to be rinsed off before use. You can read more about how and why to wash new bedding here: Should You Wash New Sheets? (Facts and Myths)

Do You Need To Use A Pillow Protector?

Pillow protectors have many benefits, including:

  • Preventing the spread of bed bugs
  • Stopping dust mites
  • Blocking oils, sweat, etc. from being absorbed by your pillow (which, in turn, can prevent mold and mildew from forming)
  • Makes a barrier against stains and regular wear and tear
  • Can make your pillow more comfortable, for example, if you select a cooling pillow protector

This pillow protector works well for allergy sufferers (and everyone else):

Click here to see allerease pillow protector on Amazon.

How To Wash Pillows

So if you’re supposed to wash your pillows, how exactly do you go about it? The steps are actually pretty easy.

  1. It might seem obvious, but the first step is to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the tag. If any of the following directions go against the care instructions on the pillow, do as the manufacturer says. 
  2. Wash pillows (if they are machine washable!) with detergent on a gentle cycle. Tip: Wash 2 pillows at one time to help keep the machine balanced, and lay pillows standing up (not bent around the agitator, which makes them lumpy).
  3. If your machine is top-loading, stop the machine occasionally. Squeeze excess air from the pillows, then resume the wash cycle.
  4. Tumble dry with some clean, dry towels (this will help the pillow dry faster). Use the low heat or air-dry cycle, and make sure the pillow is dry all the way through (otherwise, you risk mold growth).

Hint: Use some dryer balls to keep the pillows fluffy. If you don’t have any, try these:

Click here to see these wool dryer balls on Amazon.

What About Foam Pillows? 

Latex pillow on bed in sunshine

Foam pillows cannot go into the washing machine, so you have to keep them clean by hand. First of all, vacuum the pillow once a week. Spot clean with a damp towel.

You can deep clean it every few months by submerging the pillow in the bathtub. Use warm water and detergent. Let it sit for a few minutes, then squeeze the water out. Repeat this a few times. 

Next, drain the soapy water. Rinse the pillow with clean water, continuing to squeeze the pillow (and squeeze out any remaining soap). Rinse until the water runs clear. Squeeze (gently!) the excess water out, and, finally, let the pillow air dry.

How Do You Refresh A Pillow Without Washing It?

There are a few ways to freshen up a pillow in between washes. Wash your pillows every 4-6 months (4 months if you tend to be forgetful about washing pillowcases regularly, are an allergy sufferer, or sweat a lot). But if your pillows get a bit musty before then, here are some ideas:

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the pillow, let sit for about 30 minutes, then vacuum.
  • Air out the pillow, preferably by hanging outside on a clothesline.
  • Pop them in the dryer on an air-dry cycle for a few minutes with a dryer sheet.

How To Remove Yellow Stains From Pillows

Dirty stained pillow on new white bed

If you’ve had your pillows for a while, you may have seen them start to get yellow and grungy. It looks unappealing, but it can be fixed. This problem most commonly occurs because of sweat. And if this problem frequently affects your pillows, it’s another good reason to get a pillow protector! To get rid of these nasty yellow stains, try one of these recipes:

Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup of vinegar to the washing machine the next time you wash your pillows. If you can, fill the tub, then add the detergent, peroxide, and vinegar, and let it soak for a while before starting the wash cycle.

Another recipe is to add 1 cup of bleach and 1/2 cup of borax to the wash and let it soak. For this version, you’ll want to do 2 rinse cycles – the borax can be gritty and stick to pillows without an extra rinse.

Click here to see borax on Amazon.

For more ideas on treating yellow sheets (and pillows), try reading: How To Wash White Sheets [Inc. How Hotels Keep Sheets White!]

In Closing

Always wash new pillows before you use them. There are several things they are potentially exposed to in the manufacturing and shipping process, not to mention once they reach the store. These include chemicals, dust mites, and more. Once your new pillows are clean, use a pillow protector to maintain your new pillows and prevent future problems such as yellowing sweat stains. Wash every 6 months to keep your pillows sanitary, and enjoy!

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