If cleaning pillows is not part of your typical house cleaning routine, you’re far from alone. Many people dutifully strip the sheets and comforters off of the mattress and take off the pillowcases to wash them, but as far as the bed pillows themselves? They’re often ignored entirely.
Here are just a few reasons why you should clean your pillows every few months. Read on to find out some pillow cleaning tips that are easy to follow.
Why Cleaning Pillows Is Important: How Can Dust Mites And Mold Affect A Good Night’s Sleep?
There’s really no pleasant way to put this. Some people sweat in bed – a lot. If your bedroom isn’t cool enough, or if you eat or drink something hot before bedtime, you might experience night sweats.1
But even if you sleep in a perfectly cool room, you’re still going to perspire in bed at least a little bit. Over time, that sweat can build up, leading to the accumulation of moisture in your bed pillows. This creates a breeding ground for dust mites and mold – which can cause serious health issues.
Dust mites love moist places, such as your carpeting, your furniture and, unfortunately, your bed, pillows and pillowcases. If the humidity level in your bedroom is between 70-80 percent, that’s the perfect environment for dust mites. For people with allergies or breathing issues, that can lead to big problems.
A dust mite is a microscopic little bug – a fraction of a millimeter in size. They actually look something like spiders when you put them under a microscope. Dust mites feed on the dead skin cells that typically flake off the body while you sleep. Just 1.5 grams of skin – the amount that humans usually shed each day – can feed one million dust mites.
If you have a cough, a runny nose, or an itchy mouth, throat, or nose, those could be signs of a potential dust mite allergy. Some people even experience breathing difficulties and wheezing.2
Moisture in your pillow can also promote the growth of mold. This type of fungus can live in just about any area of your home. Inhaling mold spores can lead to severe allergic reactions, the symptoms of which are similar to those associated with dust mite allergies.3
Cleaning Tips: Washing Your Pillows Regularly
Everybody loves a good night’s sleep. But you want your sleep time to be healthy as well. One way you can help ensure that happens is to clean your pillow and pillow cover on a regular basis.
Check the care label of your pillow first, however. Some pillows need to go to the dry cleaner. If you don’t see a “dry clean only” label on your pillow, you can try these at-home washing and drying methods.
Washing Your Pillow
Cleaning pillows may sound like a chore, but they’re usually pretty easy to wash and dry. Drying pillows will typically take a little time, but it’s not difficult.
Try cleaning two pillows at a time in your washing machine. This will help the water and detergent to circulate more efficiently in the washer. Use a mild liquid detergent, and be sure to put the machine on the gentle cycle.
As far as specific washing instructions go, that depends on the material from which your pillows are made.
- Feather and down pillows – Pour a small amount of mild liquid detergent (don’t use bleach) in the washing machine and use the delicate spin cycle setting and warm water. Don’t use too much detergent. It could leave a residue. When you put the pillow in the dryer, use a dryer ball to disperse any detergent clumps that might remain. Dry on the no-heat setting so that the feathers don’t burn.
- Polyester – About a tablespoon of liquid laundry soap and cold water is all you need. Like feather pillows, use the gentle setting.
- Memory foam and latex pillows – You should not put these kinds of pillows in the washing machine. Instead, use pillow protectors to reduce the amount of moisture that gets trapped in them.4 If you see stains on the pillow, spot treat with baking soda and a damp cloth.
Drying Your Pillows
The proper method for drying your pillows will also depend on their material. For instance, if you have a down pillow, you can use your dryer. After washing, squeeze out any excess water in the sink and put the dryer at its lowest heat setting. The pillows should be ready within 45-60 minutes.
Just like you can’t wash foam pillows in your washing machine, you can’t put them in your dryer, either. It will ruin the pillows and can even damage the dryer.
After you’ve spot-treated any stains, be sure to blot up any excess moisture. If it’s a sunny day, consider hanging the pillow up to air dry on a clothesline outside. If it’s not, lay it flat on a towel to absorb moisture. You can even put a fan on the pillow if needed. Flip the pillow every so often to make sure it’s drying thoroughly. Check every portion of the pillow to make sure it has completely dried.5,6
Should You Replace Or Clean Your Pillows?
If you’ve had your pillow for a few years, there’s a good chance you need to replace it. The main reason is that body oils and sweat from your head and neck can accumulate on pillows over the years. If you’re not ready to replace it, at least consider using a protective pillow cover underneath your pillowcase. A protective cover may help keep your pillow in good shape and safe from dust mites and mold.