How To Wash Throw Pillows [5 Easy Steps]

Throw pillows get a lot of wear and tear, especially for families with kids or pets. They get used as tv snack trays on movie night, nap-time drool catchers, and even furniture for living room forts. This could leave you wondering what the best method is for cleaning these germ-infested comfort items. We have dug down deep to find you the very best information so your posse can keep their snuggles to the max!

Heavy duty washing machine with two pillows on the top, How to Wash Throw Pillows [5 Easy Steps]

There are a few basic steps for cleaning most throw pillows:

  1. Remove the cover, if possible, and wash separately according to manufacturer instructions. 
  2. Pre-treat any deep-down dirt or stains. 
  3. Machine wash on a delicate cycle with a gentle detergent. 
  4. Hang to dry or tumble dry on low heat.
  5. Gently hand fluff.

Sounds easy enough, right? While these steps work for most throw pillows, they will not work for all. Keep reading for all the not-so-gory details on how to get your throw pillows in tip-top shape!

How to Wash Throw Pillows

Knowing how to wash your throw pillows is an absolute must. Pillows should be cleaned every three to six months, depending on their use. Always check out the acre instructions on the tag of the pillow to make sure it is machine-washable. Down-filled pillows or those made of delicate fabrics may need dry-cleaning.

Step One: Remove the Cover

Removable covers are an excellent choice for busy households where it might be necessary to wash your pillows frequently. They come in most standard sizes, and you can usually toss, wash, dry, and have them back on the sofa by lunchtime. They also make decorating for a specific decorating style or season incredibly easy and cost-effective. Check out our posts on Boho Throw pillows and Beach-Themed Throw pillows for some cool examples of how to do this.

If you are lucky (or smart enough!) to have pillow covers, remove them from the filler pillow, then launder according to care instructions.


Step Two: Pre-treat Deep Down Dirt and Stains

If your pillows don't have covers, you will need to wash the whole pillow. But first, you need to pre-treat any stains or ground-in dirt. This is very important since you have to clean the pillows on the gentle cycle. With pre-treatment, these stains may not come out, and your pillows will be marred forever.

To Pre-treat, apply a good stain remover to the spot with a sponge gently but firmly, until well saturated. Allow to soak into the fabric according to the instructions.

Try using a gentle but effective stain remover like Dreft, which will not fade your fabric.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Machine Wash on Gentle Cycle

Your next step, assuming that the pillow tag shows that the pillow is machine washable, is to toss your treated pillow into the washing machine. Launder on the delicate cycle in warm water, using a gentle detergent. This should take care of any dirt and debris ground into the pillow.

Hang to Dry

The preferred method for drying throw pillows is to hang dry, so the stuffing does not get all lumpy. That being said, you may be able to dry on low heat in the dryer. Check the pillow's cleaning instructions to make sure, as some pillow stuffing may melt at higher temperatures. Use a few dryer balls to help the pillow keep its shape.


Once your pillow is completely dry, hand fluff it back to its regular form and return to the sofa or bed.

How to Spot Clean Non-Washable Pillows

Some throw pillows made from a washable fabric but stuffed with non-machine washable filling. In these cases, the best option is to spot clean any dirt or stains on the surface of the pillow. For deeper stains or odors, take the pillow to a dry cleaner, or you may need to replace the pillow altogether.

To spot clean a pillow, use a good upholstery cleaner and a sponge to gently massage any dirt marks or stains on the surface of the pillow. Rinse the sponge, then use it to carefully 'rinse' any remaining soap from the surface of the pillow, without saturating the pillow. Blot away excess moisture with a clean towel.

Can I Put a Throw Pillow in the Washing Machine?

Some pillows can, while other pillows cannot. If your pillow is made from a delicate fabric like silk, satin, or velvet, or the filling is made of down or feathers, then your pillow will need to be drycleaned.

Most pillows are made from washable fabrics. Double-check the care instructions to be sure.

Can I Put a Throw Pillow in the Dryer?

Most standard throw pillows that are machine washable are safe to put in the dryer. Be sure to use a low or no heat setting and add dryer balls to help keep the filling from clumping.

Do not dry feather pillows in a dryer. They will clump up, besides smelling terrible!

How to Wash Throw Pillows That Don't Have a Cover

If your pillows do not have a removable cover, then you have the following options:

  • Drycleaning- If your pillow s made from a delicate fabric, take them to the dry cleaner.
  • Spot Cleaning- Use a wet sponge or cloth to blot away stains or dirt gently, then allow to air dry before using it again.
  • Machine Wash- Follow the instructions provided above.

How to Wash Throw Pillows in Top Loading Washer

To keep the balance from being thrown off in a top load washer, you need to load enough pillows, so they evenly spaced around the tub. Depending on the size of the pillows, this will be two or three. Fill the tub with water then readjust the pillows so they are spaced evenly. Wash on a delicate cycle, which will minimize the movement of the pillows.

Be aware that the machine may still become unbalanced during the spin cycle, causing a loud thunking sound, If this happens, open the machine, wait for the spinner to stop, then readjust the pillows. Close the lid and allow the machine to finish spinning the water from the pillows.

How to Wash Throw Pillows in Front Loading Washer

Washing pillows in a front-loading machine is preferable, as you are less likely to have the balancing issues of a top-load machine. Place your pillows inside the washer drum loosely. They should not be pack in so tightly that the water can't immerse them and do its job. Use a delicate cycle with warm water and a gentle detergent.

How to Wash Polyester Throw Pillows

Polyester pillows can be washed using the steps above, with one main change. Only use a small amount of detergent, as this type of fill can hold on to the soap. A tablespoon or so of liquid detergent will do the trick. Then make sure they are rinsed thoroughly before drying. Soap residue can turn rancid and give your pillows a musty smell over time if not rinsed cleanly away.

How to Wash Couch Pillows

Cleaning couch pillows can be quite similar to throw pillow depending on the fabric that the pillows are covered with. However, couches are frequently upholstered in materials that are not machine washable, like suede, leather, microfiber, and woven upholstery fabric.

Couch Pillows with Removeable Covers

If your couch pillows have covers that can be removed and are machine washable, then all you need to do is launder the covers. Turn the covers inside out, then wash as usual, with warm water on the delicate cycle. Hang to dry if possible to prevent shrinkage.

Couch Pillows with Non-Removeable Covers

If your pillows do not have removable covers, you will need to either handwash or spot clean them.


Couch pillows are typically too large to fit into a standard washing machine, so if made from materials that are submersible in water, then you can wand wash in warm water in a large tub, sink, or your bathtub.

  1. Use warm water and a small amount of soap, like you would in a washing machine.
  2. Gently scrub the exterior of your pillow with a sponge to remove dirt and stains.
  3. Drain the dirty water from the tub.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with more warm water. Drain tub again.
  5. TO remove as much water as possible from the pillow before drying, carefully roll your pillow, like a toothpaste tube, squeezing the water out as you go. Be careful not to damage the filling when you do this.
  6. Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area. Do not return the pillows to the couch until they are completely dry.

Spot Cleaning Delicate Fabrics

Couch pillows that are covered with non-washable fabrics like leather, suede, or upholstery need to be treated with special care.

For leather and upholstery, gently brush the pillows and vacuum any debris. Then spot clean with a soft cloth, and warm water, with a small amount of gentle soap. Once the dirt has been removed, blot the spot with a clean damp cloth to remove any soap residue.

When cleaning suede, brush gently with the grain to remove any dirt, then vacuum. If you have a tough stain that can't be removed that way, then you should always use a suede cleaner that is made for such situations. Always spot test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it will not leave a discoloration.


One comment

  1. Nice to read your blog, I also write blogs for people, Let me explain the correct process for which pillow you can wash
    Firstly check your pillow’s label to see if there are any specific cleaning instructions recommended. In general, most types of pillows are machine washable and can be washed using a cool, gentle setting. This goes for those filled with cotton, polyester, down, and feathers.

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