Skip links

How to Clean & Dry Your Pillows in a Washing Machine

Ever wonder if it’s possible to clean your pillows in a washing machine? I’ve got some good news for you—it’s not only possible but also pretty simple. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s a great way to keep your pillows fresh and free from dust mites.

However, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. In this article, I’ll share my tried-and-true method for washing pillows in a machine. I’ll also provide some handy tips to ensure your pillows look, smell, and feel as good as new. So, stay tuned.

Additionally, we introduce Clotheslyne, a user-friendly app that simplifies your laundry chores by connecting you with local laundry experts. Whether you’re dealing with everyday wear or accidental spills, this guide and Clotheslyne’s resources will help maintain your pillows in top condition, making the task of cleaning them less intimidating and more efficient.

Select the Right Pillows

Knowing which pillows you can safely throw in the washing machine is a critical first step.

Polyester-filled pillows are usually significantly washing machine-friendly. Their durable fill will withstand the agitation of your machine without getting bent out of shape.

On the other hand, feather or down-filled pillows are a bit more delicate. But don’t worry; you can also clean these in your machine gently. Avoid harsh detergents or high temperatures, as they can damage the feathers.

Here comes the tricky part: Memory foam or latex pillows should never, and I mean NEVER, go in the washing machine. They’re too delicate for the rough and tumble of a washing cycle, even in a gentle setting. This can cause their structure to break down over time, leaving you with a lumpy, uncomfortable mess.

So, in a nutshell:

  • Polyester-filled pillows: Machine friendly
  • Feather or down-filled pillows: Machine-safe, under gentle conditions
  • Memory foam or latex pillows: Do not wash in the machine

I’ve given you a brief low-down on the type of pillows you should (or should not) wash in a machine. Now that we’ve covered that, I’ll delve into the nitty gritty of fresh and clean pillows. You’ll be surprised how simple it can be! Oh, and remember: always check the care label first. It’s your pillow’s way of telling you what it prefers. After all, being responsible for belongings means taking the time to understand their needs.

Check the Care Label

When cleaning your pillows in a washing machine, check the care label. It’s like a roadmap leading to the best practices for pillow maintenance. Like you wouldn’t start a journey without knowing your direction and reading your map, you shouldn’t begin pillow washing without consulting the care label.

The care label contains crucial information about your particular pillow’s specifications as referenced by the University of Florida’s guide. It’ll often tell you the materials used in your pillow, hinting at the pillow’s nature and washing requirements. Remember those polyester-filled pillows we mentioned? They’re usually machine-friendly. However, the label will help specify how hot the wash water should be and which cycle to select. If you’re dealing with feather or down-filled pillows, the label will guide you on gentler washing methods to preserve the softness and loftiness.

The label will also be your guardian angel for memory foam or latex pillows. Remember, we said earlier these shouldn’t be washed in the machine? The care label will reinforce that point, often stating they should be spot-cleaned only.

To make this process even easier, I’ve compiled a simplified break-down of this information in a list below:

  • Polyester-filled: Machine-wash in warm to hot water
  • Feather/Down-filled: Machine-wash in cool water, gentle cycle
  • Memory Foam/Latex: Spot-clean only

As you embark on the maintenance task, take the time to Check the Care Label. It’s remarkable how much more accessible and effective this simple act can make your entire pillow cleaning process. And remember, the care label isn’t just an annoying tag on your cot’s best friend, but it’s a guide, a life-saver, a silent partner working tirelessly to make your cleaning routines manageable. So, don’t disregard it – give it the attention it deserves. Doing this will help you master maintaining your pillows in great shape for a long, comfortable slumber.

Use the Right Detergent

Understanding the significance of using suitable detergent for different pillow types is crucial to maintaining quality. Saying “the right detergent” doesn’t imply that you should use the most expensive one on the market. Instead, it relates to the pillow’s material and washing requirements specified on the care label.

Feather or down-filled pillows often call for a gentle or special detergent due to their delicate nature. Polyester-filled pillows might not be as picky, but care should still be considered. Infrequent washing means these pillows absorb sweat, oils, and possibly salivas. A detergent with solid cleaning power will get the job done. As for memory foam or latex pillows aren’t supposed to meet washing machines at all – a spot-cleaning strategy is your best friend here. Use a mild detergent to clean any stains or spills gently.

It’s crucial to avoid detergents with solid fragrances or harsh chemicals. Not only can they potentially damage the pillow’s materials, but they could also cause skin or respiratory irritations. Opting for dye-free, perfume-free formulas is innovative for sensitive skin or allergies.

Pro Tip: You’ll want to “overdose” on detergent. But hear me out. More is not always better. Too much detergent can leave a soapy residue on your pillows, which can attract dirt and dust easier down the line. A quarter to half a cup should suffice for a whole load of laundry. Use less if you’re washing just a couple of pillows.

Lastly, fabric softeners may sound pleasing but are a no-no for pillow cleaning. They leave a waxy residue that damages the pillow’s texture and absorbency over time, defeating the whole purpose of washing in the first place. Please stick to the rule of simplicity regarding pillow cleaning: less is more, and essential is better.

So, you’ve understood the importance of using the correct detergent for your pillows and are mindful of what not to use. Now, we’re moving on to the next step.

Wash on Gentle Cycle

Choosing the proper wash cycle is equally important as selecting the suitable detergent for your pillows. Remembering the golden rule is always opt for the gentle or delicate cycle. You wouldn’t want your precious pillows to endure rigorous tumbling or a high-speed wash cycle.

Since most washing machines have various settings, it’s crucial to choose correctly. As I’ve discovered, longevity in pillows is achievable with a bit of knowledge of washing machine navigation. The gentle or delicate cycle is designed for items that must be handled gently. Your washing machine spin speed takes a back seat, ensuring a peaceful bath for your pillows.

Remember always to use cold water. This helps prevent shrinkage of the material or damage to the stuffing of your pillow, whether it’s filled with feathers or synthetics. 

Despite what you may think, balance is vital when washing pillows. My years of experience gloating over perfectly cleaned pillows show me it’s essential to distribute the load evenly. Doing this will prevent the washing machine from wobbling or shifting out of place. Add another or a few towels to balance the load when washing one pillow. This also applies to bigger-sized pillows. No one wants a noisy, unbalanced washing machine.

As you can gauge, washing pillows doesn’t have to be daunting. When done right, it can add years to your pillows, eventually leading to worthier investments. This simple practice of using the correct cycle can do wonders in preserving the life of your pillows. So the next time you plan a pillow cleaning day, remember this – gentle cycle, cold water, and balance.

Dry Thoroughly

After we’ve carefully washed our pillows, it’s equally important to dry them thoroughly. Understanding the proper techniques can help you determine the difference between fluffy pillows and damp, lumpy, or fostering mold.

The initial and vital step is gently removing excess water from the pillows. You can do this by pressing down on them — but don’t wring them out! Twisting or squeezing the pillows can damage their structure and fill material.

Next, place your pillows in the dryer, ensuring you’ve selected the correct setting. 

Feather or down pillows do well with the air setting on your dryer, which uses no heat. To keep the filling from clumping during the drying process, tossing a couple of clean tennis balls into the dryer is a great idea.

You can put it on the air or use a low-heat setting for synthetic fill pillows. As with feather or down, include a few clean tennis balls to ensure they are even dry.

Foam pillows, on the other hand, are not made for the harsh conditions inside a dryer. Foam pillows should be air-dried only, ideally in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

It’s also good to mention that drying times can vary depending on the type of pillow and the specifics of your dryer. As a rule of thumb, however, it’s better to err on caution and allow your pillows to dry a little longer.

Remember to check your pillows for any remaining damp spots by feeling around and squeezing gently especially the corners. If they’re not 100% dry, put them back in the dryer or allow them to continue air-drying.


Cleaning pillows in the washing machine is more manageable than you might’ve thought. Just remember, drying is as crucial as washing. There is no wringing; it is just gentle pressing to eliminate excess water. The type of pillow determines the dryer setting: air-dry for feather or down pillows with tennis balls, air or low heat for synthetic fill pillows with tennis balls, and air-dry only for foam pillows. Always check for dampness and ensure your pillows are completely dry. This simple routine will prevent clumping or mold, ensuring your pillows last longer and stay fresh. Now, you’re all set to enjoy a clean, cozy sleep.

Clotheslyne: Your Laundry Solution for Bulky Items

The Convenience of Clotheslyne

For those who find washing large or bulky items like pillows a hassle, Clotheslyne offers a convenient alternative. This app enables you to connect with local Clotheslyners who will pick up, wash, dry, and fold your laundry, including pillows and other large items.

Advantages of Using Clotheslyne

Using Clotheslyne saves time and eliminates the challenges associated with washing bulky items at home. Professional Clotheslyners have the expertise and equipment to ensure your pillows are returned to you clean, fresh, and perfectly dried, saving you the headache of managing them in your home washing machine and dryer.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up and folded clothes drop off date with a community Clotheslyner near you! It’s that simple.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!