Your pillows are filled with dust mites and dead skin cells - here's how to wash them


pillows on a bed


Your pillow is filled with dust mites, dead skin cells, and bacteria - it's time to clean it.

Pillows should be washed about twice a year.


Not just your pillow cases, but the actual pillows themselves.

I didn't know this either.

But after speaking with Emily Hull-Martin, Bloomingdale's fashion director of Home Furnishings, she said we should be washing our pillows regularly and replacing them every two years or so. And despite the fact that every single pillow we buy has care instructions, most people I know tend to only wash their pillow slips and protectors.

So we asked Hull-Martin and gathered tips from some of the top home blogs about how to rid your fluffy pillows of the dust mites, bacteria, and dead skin cells that they're secretly harboring.


Plus, taking care of your pillows will make them last longer.

How To Wash Your Pillows

First, remove your pillow covers and protectors (yes, you should be using a pillow case protector - it's especially good for people with allergies).

Next, you'll want to combine really mild detergent and hot water. If you want to get your pillow back to its original whiteness, the best luck I've had is with the whitening solution recipe I found on the blog One Good Thing which is a combination of hot water, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, bleach, and borax (a type of laundry booster).

If you have a top-loading washing machine, add your cleaning solution and hot water and let it all mix together before adding your pillows and letting them soak for an hour or two. Turn your pillows horizontal to soak and flip after a half an hour so the entire pillow gets the cleaning solution.


If you have a front-opening washing machine, add hot water and detergent to a large, deep sink and let your pillows soak for an hour or two before adding back to the washing machine.

After your pillows have properly soaked, let them run on a full cycle so that they get thoroughly cleansed. It's also a good idea to run your spin cycle more than once just in case your pillow is retaining extra water.

Note: Most home blogs recommend washing two pillows at a time to even out the weight in the washer.

When drying your pillows, check the label to make sure that they can go in the dryer - most down and synthetic pillows are good to go.

Set the dryer to low heat and add two tennis balls that have been stuck in clean socks or dryer balls to fluff up your pillows again. The tennis balls will break up the wet fluff to help it dry faster while the clean socks will prevent your pillows from smelling of tennis balls or having the neon color transfer.


Stop the cycle every half an hour or so to check on pillows. Make sure they dry thoroughly so that you don't get any mold inside your pillows.

This is for synthetic and down-filled pillows. Foam pillows are a bit more complicated. Hull-Martin recommends vacuuming them if they're very solid or memory foam, but other types of foam can be soaked and rinsed in a cold cycle in your washing machine or hand washed.

Whichever method you choose, hang foam pillows or leave them out to dry completely - they'll melt in the dryer.

Sure, this is a long process but considering that you only have to do it twice every year, it's really not so bad.

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