How to Care for Your Pillows

Benjamin Franklin said, “Fatigue is the best pillow,” but everyone knows that quality pillows are a valuable asset and are essential to a good night’s sleep. Since you may spend an average of seven to eight hours a night using your pillows, they need regular pillow care. Here are tips to help you care for your favorite sleeping accessory. 

Daily Pillow Care

Fluff your pillows into their original shape every morning, especially if you are using down-alternative pillows. Consider using a pillow protector under each pillow case. This gives you two layers of protection so your quality pillows are always protected, even when you are washing the pillow case.

A pillow protector keeps your pillows feeling new longer and protects against allergens, bacteria and grime. Additionally, it is typically easier to wash a pillow protector than to wash a pillow. 

pillow care

When washing the pillow protector, take your pillows and place them in the dryer for 15 minutes. This should be done every two to four weeks. This will reduce moisture inside the pillow and mechanically help to fluff it up.

When to Wash & Replace Pillows

Pillows should be washed regularly. Over time they collect dust mites, oil, spores, fungi, and dead skin cells. When buying pillows, look for "easy care" pillows that you can wash and dry at home without harming their quality and durability.

Down pillows should be washed at least once a year, and preferably every six months, and replaced after several years. If you have allergies and are using a down-alternative pillow, consider laundering your pillow every two months. Your fiberfill pillow should be replaced every 12 months if a basic polyester model and 18 months for down-alternative grade pillows.

How to Wash Pillows

  1. Remove the pillowcase and pillow protector. Then, check the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Follow the recommendations since every pillow can be different.

  2. Inspect the pillow closely and make sure that it does not have any holes, worn areas or other breaches that would allow the filling to escape. If the filling comes out during washing, it could ruin your pillow, your washing machine and your day.

  3. Place your pillow in your washing machine. Pillows should be washed separately from other laundry – and two at a time to maintain balance in the washing machine. If you are using a top loading machine with an agitator, position two pillows vertically to avoid them being wrapped around the agitator. 

  4. Fill your washing machine with warm water and mix in only a teaspoon of liquid soap, such as Dawn or another similar brand. This small amount of soap is all that is needed for both fiberfill and down pillows. The soap will clean the fabric and filling, as well as avoid stripping down feathers of their natural oils. Then, run your washing machine on a delicate setting. You may add several tennis balls stuffed in socks in order to keep the fabric of the pillows moving during the cycle. At the end of the cycle, run a second full cycle of clean warm water with no soap to ensure a thorough rinse.

Drying Pillows

Once washed, the process of drying your pillows will take several hours. You do not want to rush this phase. The wet fibers or feathers are fragile at this point. Place the pillows in the dryer with drying balls or tennis balls in order to fluff the pillows and protect them from clustering or clumping. Program your dryer at high heat and, every 20 to 30 minutes, forcibly shake, tap and fluff the pillows and put them back into the dryer until they are completely dry.

It may take three to four dryer cycles to dry your pillows. Be sure they are completely dry, as damp pillows generate mold. After you are certain that your pillows are completely dry, store them in a dry place if you are not using them.

Avoid storing down pillows in plastic, instead use a cotton cover, such as a clean pillowcase. You are now ready to place your clean pillows back on the bed and enjoy a good night’s sleep, or at least a power nap. Visit for more information on bedding and pillow care.


This article on pillow care was written by Stefan Hunter of Downlite (, a bedding manufacturer with products ranging from quality filling materials to comfort bedding solutions. 

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