Electric blanket

Can I wash a pillow in the washing machine?

21 Dec, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

Your pillow is an important part of your sleep comfort. To ensure that your pillow remains hygienic and fresh, it’s important to wash it once in a while.

But can you wash any pillow in the washing machine? What should you do to wash a pillow and what should you pay attention to? In this blog, we discuss all the details about washing your pillow.

Can I wash my pillow?

To know if you can wash your pillow, check the label. This is where the washing instructions are described. Most pillows can be washed, and for hygiene reasons, you better do so from time to time.

Can I wash my pillow

Not sure if you can wash your pillow? For example, because washing instructions are no longer present or the labels are illegible? Should you want to wash your pillow, but your are unsure if you can? Hand washing is the safest option. In general, the following table applies:

Pillow typeHow to wash
Down or feathersHand wash or washing machine max 30°C, fine detergent or shampoo
SyntheticDirectly in the washing machine, fine detergent
WoolVery good airing or cold hand washing only
Neck support pillowsAlways remove neck support first
Mold cushions (gel, visco or foam)Hand wash and aerate well

Most pillows, both down and synthetic, are machine washable. However, it is important to follow the washing instructions on the label. These instructions may vary by filling and type of pillow.

With an ergonomic neck support pillow, the neck support can (or must) often be removed separately before washing. Molded pillows made of memory foam, latex or gel usually cannot be washed (properly). They suck up the water and become very heavy so you can damage them during the spin cycle. So let these varieties air well and always use a good pillow protector that you wash often.

How often should you wash a pillow?

If your pillow is washable according to the label, it is recommended that you wash it at least once a year. This will flush sweat, dander and the like out of your cover (ticking) and filling.

To protect your pillow from dirt, as well as wear and tear, a good and extra protective pillowcase is very important. The pillowcase should also be washed in a timely manner, at least once a week.

You may need to wash your pillow more often, if you perspire a lot or suffer from allergies. Your pillow will need renewal sooner anyway but this way you avoid unsightly and unsanitary-looking yellow stains. If you want to wash your pillow to remove yellow stains, read first:


How often to wash a pillow

7 tips for washing your pillow

So, in general, you can wash a pillow. So it may well be your first time. Hence, we have compiled a list of tips for washing your pillow.

  1. Remove the pillowcase and any pillow protector from the pillow.
  2. Put the pillow in the washing machine. Pay attention to the fill weight of your unit and put a maximum of two pillows in the washing machine at a time.
  3. Use a detergent suitable for delicate laundry.
  4. Wash the pillow at a low temperature. Follow the indicated temperature.
  5. Use a gentle wash cycle for delicate laundry or delicate fabrics.
  6. Spin the pillow, not too hard, but long enough to get the water out.
  7. Let the pillow dry thoroughly before using it again.

6 tips for washing your down pillow

Down and feather pillows tend to be a bit more sensitive to washing than synthetic pillows. Therefore, it is important to wash them carefully. Follow these additional tips for washing a down pillow in the washing machine:

  • Use a laundry bag to wash the pillow in. This prevents the cushion from being damaged.
  • Add a small amount of fine detergent or regular hair shampoo to the washing machine.
  • Wash a down pillow at up to 30 degrees.
  • Use a gentle wash cycle or if in doubt, do a hand wash.
  • Let the cushion spin gently to get the water out. Add an extra bag of tennis balls if necessary.
  • Let it dry the down feathers 100% before using it again.

Are you insecure about how to wash your down pillow? Often, sleep stores offer a special service for down pillows. Then the pillow will be cleaned by a professional.

Down in a pillow

Washing pillow for dust mites

Do you suffer from allergies? Then this is for you, because you lie for hours with your head up and your nose sometimes in your pillow while you sleep. Therefore, it is extremely important to avoid allergic reactions because of allergens in your pillow.

House dust mites are one of the most common allergies. These critters can be found in your bedding, your mattress and therefore your pillow, among other things. That’s why it’s best to wash a pillow. Wash your pillow sufficiently to prevent symptoms and improve your sleep.

The dust mites spread allergens that you are allergic to. To wash away the allergens, wash at least at 60 degrees Celsius. And dust mites are also killed at 60 degrees Celsius.

Can you wash pillows with wool?

Like down, wool is a natural product. Wool is very prone to shrink greatly when you wash it at temperature. Why is that? Well, small, toothed scales cover the surface of wool fibers. When wool is machine washed, these scales can interlock, causing the wool to felt and shrink. To avoid this entanglement, wool is usually dry cleaned, steamed or hand washed with a wool detergent.

Can you wash a pillow with wool

Do you have a pillow stuffed with wool? Then know that it is best to ventilate this fine pillow very well! Wool also holds dirt much less, so feel free to hang it outside on an overcast day with some wind.

Thanks to the lanolin in the wool, you are naturally protected from dust mites. So anti-allergic! Despite these warnings, would you still like to try cleaning it in the washing machine? If so, always use wool detergent, keep the rpm extremely low and wash at very low temperatures.

Is there any washable wool?

Washing a pillow with wool is possible if, for example, a special treatment has taken place on the wool. For example, the Hercosett treatment. This treatment makes the wool washable. However, you can no longer speak of a 100% natural product.

Even the well-known brand Patagonia has already reported on this, follow the link to a statement from this company. First, the wool fiber is exposed to chlorine and then treated with Hercosett 125, a polyamide-epichlorohydrin polymer.

Does washable wool exist

An additional problem is the waste water that eventually remains at the end of the process. Chlorine reacts with carbon compounds, creating toxic dioxins that remain in wastewater.

This wastewater can be treated, but it is not without risks. Want to know more about this story? Through this link you can retrieve, in English, some more information.

Conclusion

Most pillows can be machine washed. Pay close attention to the washing instructions found on the label. It is recommended that you wash your pillow at least once a year. Allow the pillow to air and dry thoroughly after washing.

Can I wash a pillow in the washing machine: Most frequently asked questions

Whether you can wash a pillow with stuffing depends on the stuffing. Read your pillow’s label carefully to find out if and how it can be washed.

Cushions turn yellow because of dirt and moisture. Moisture evaporates and dirt remains in a circle. You can get these white again by washing with some detergent or powder, and a little bit of bleach.

Read your pillow’s washing instructions carefully. A synthetic pillow can usually be washed at 60 degrees. Always choose a gentle wash cycle such as delicate wash or wool wash.