Unless you’re in your first year of college, we are in the habit of washing our sheets regularly. In the process of creating a healthy sleep hygiene, we often forget to clean our pillows. Most of
us—even entirely responsible adults—don’t give our pillows the treatment it deserves. We have a simple three-step process from the experts at Consumer Reports that will keep your pillow fresh, clean, and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Step 1: Give Your Pillow Fresh Air
Give your pillows a daily fluffing to restore their shape and remove dust. Once a very month or so, set the pillow outdoors on a chair for a few hours, ideally on a bright, breezy day, either warm or chilly. If that’s not an option, run them through the dryer on a no-heat cycle.
Step 2: Wash Your Pillow Gently
Pillows should be washed to remove dirt, dust, and dead skin, and to leave them smelling fresh. Do it too often and they’ll lose their shape. We recommend doing this at least twice a year.
Most foam-filled or synthetic pillows can be machine-washed, though it’s always wise to check the care instructions on the label. We suggest selecting your washer’s gentle cycle and running the load with lukewarm water and a delicate laundry detergent. You can wash two pillows at a time. That will help balance the load, allowing the water and soap to circulate more efficiently. The agitator on conventional top loaders can be tough on pillows, so it’s best to agitate on the gentle cycle only for a few minutes (or the shortest possible setting, if you can’t control the particular time).
Down- and feather-filled pillows should be hand-washed only, many machines have a hand wash cycle. Fill a basin with warm water and add as much detergent as you would for a small load in the washer. Submerge the pillow completely and knead gently. Drain the basin and press on the pillow to expel the water before rolling it in a dry towel. Then put the pillow in your washer and run the slowest possible spin cycle to extract water before drying gently.
Step 3: Dry The Pillow Completely
In laundry tests, they weigh items before and after running them through the clothes dryer to see whether they’ve retained any moisture. You’re not going to go to those lengths, but it’s important to make certain the pillow is dried all the way through, or mildew could develop.
Skip the auto-dry setting, because the sensors will detect only surface moisture, leaving you with a pillow that’s still damp on the inside. Instead, time dry the pillow for a good hour on moderate heat. Try adding a couple of dry bath towels to speed things up. Toss in two fresh tennis balls, as well, and they’ll keep the filling from clumping as they bounce around the drum. If the weather is mild, you can sit the pillows on a chair until they’re dried all the way through. Either way, you need to feel around inside the pillow to check for moisture. If none remains, it’s time to make the bed.