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How To Wash Cotton Pillows

How To Wash Cotton Pillows


How To Wash Cotton Pillows: Pillows, those silent guardians of our peaceful slumber, often bear the brunt of our daily stresses and night-time escapades. Among the plethora of pillow materials, cotton pillows have emerged as a popular choice due to their natural comfort and breathability. However, much like any cherished possession, these pillows demand thoughtful care to maintain their pristine quality and, more importantly, our well-being. In the quest for a good night’s sleep, understanding the nuances of pillow maintenance becomes crucial, making the art of washing cotton pillows a subject of paramount importance.

How To Wash Cotton Pillows

We embark on a journey to demystify the process of washing cotton pillows. Beyond the ordinary act of tossing them into a washing machine, this exploration delves deep into the intricacies of preserving both the integrity and hygiene of these beloved sleep companions.

Cotton, a material renowned for its softness and durability, requires a delicate touch when it comes to cleaning. We will unravel the secrets of selecting the right washing techniques, exploring the realms of temperature, detergents, and gentle cycles. The guide will not only cover the basic steps but also introduce advanced methods for tackling stubborn stains and maintaining the fluffiness that ensures a restful night.

Can cotton pillows be washed in washing machine?

Usually you’re safe to wash cotton, feather, down, or fiberfill pillows in the washing machine. It’s also a good idea to check the fabric for rips or tears.

Yes, cotton pillows can typically be washed in a washing machine, but it’s essential to follow specific guidelines to ensure they come out clean and undamaged. Cotton pillows are popular because they are durable, breathable, and machine washable, making them easy to maintain. Here’s how you can safely wash cotton pillows in a washing machine:

Check the Care Label: Before tossing your cotton pillow into the washing machine, check the care label attached to the pillow. The care label will provide specific instructions on how to clean the pillow properly. It might indicate the recommended water temperature, washing cycle, and drying instructions.

Pre-Treat Stains: If your cotton pillow has any visible stains, pre-treat them with a mild stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Gently rub the stained area with the detergent, allowing it to sit for a few minutes before washing.

Use a Mild Detergent: When washing cotton pillows, opt for a mild laundry detergent to avoid harsh chemicals that might damage the fabric. Also, use a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to prevent excessive agitation.

Balancing the Load: It’s a good idea to wash two pillows at once to balance the load in the washing machine. This helps maintain the machine’s balance during the spin cycle.

Proper Drying: After washing, it’s important to dry the pillows thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew growth. Tumble dry on a low heat setting, and consider adding tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer to fluff the pillows and prevent clumping.

Fluff and Air Them Out: Once the pillows are dry, fluff them to restore their shape and let them air out for a few hours before using them again.

What is the best way to clean cotton pillows?

Cotton and feather pillows: Machine washable; wash on gentle and in cool or warm water. Wool pillows: Machine washable; wash on gentle and in cool or warm water.

Cleaning cotton pillows is a straightforward process if you follow the right steps, ensuring they remain fresh, hygienic, and in good condition. Here’s the best way to clean cotton pillows:

Check the Care Label: Always start by checking the care label on your pillows. Different cotton pillows might have specific washing instructions. If the care label allows machine washing, you can proceed with the following steps.

Pre-Treat Stains: If there are visible stains on your cotton pillows, pre-treat them with a mild stain remover or a mixture of water and mild liquid detergent. Gently dab the stained area, being careful not to saturate the pillow.

Washing in the Machine: Place two pillows in the washing machine to balance the load and prevent the machine from becoming unbalanced during the cycle. Use a gentle cycle with warm water and a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the cotton fibers.

Rinse Thoroughly: After the wash cycle, ensure the pillows are thoroughly rinsed to remove all detergent residues, which can cause skin irritation. Run an extra rinse cycle if needed.

Drying Carefully: Proper drying is crucial to prevent mold and mildew growth. Tumble dry the pillows on a low heat setting. Adding clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer helps fluff the pillows and maintain their shape. Make sure the pillows are completely dry before use.

Regular Fluffing: To maintain their fluffiness, fluff the pillows regularly. After washing, give them a good fluff to redistribute the filling evenly.

Sunlight and Fresh Air: Occasionally, expose your pillows to sunlight and fresh air. Sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant and helps eliminate odors.

Use Pillow Protectors: Consider using pillow protectors under the pillowcases. These covers act as an additional barrier, protecting the pillows from stains and extending their lifespan. They are also easier to clean and maintain.

How To Wash Cotton Pillows

Which pillows Cannot be washed?

“Most solid/memory foam pillows are dense and cannot be machine washed.” “First and foremost, follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the pillow and the cover. Then, repair torn or loose seams before laundering so you don’t end up with a machine full of feathers or synthetic fill,” she adds.

While many types of pillows can be washed to maintain their freshness and hygiene, there are certain types that should not be washed in a conventional manner. Understanding which pillows cannot be washed is essential to avoid damaging them. Here are some types of pillows that generally should not be washed:

Memory Foam Pillows: Memory foam pillows should not be submerged in water or machine washed. Memory foam is highly absorbent and can retain moisture, leading to mold and mildew growth. Instead, spot clean any stains with a mild detergent and water, and then allow the pillow to air dry.

Latex Pillows: Latex pillows, similar to memory foam pillows, do not fare well with water exposure. Water can cause the latex to break down and lose its shape. Spot cleaning with a damp cloth is a safer option. Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Decorative Pillows with Embellishments: Pillows with delicate embellishments, such as beads, sequins, or embroidery, should not be machine washed. The mechanical action of the washing machine can damage these embellishments. Spot cleaning or dry cleaning is a better choice for maintaining their appearance.

Down and Feather Pillows: While some down and feather pillows are machine washable, many require special care. If the care label indicates that the pillow is not machine washable, it’s best to avoid washing them at home. Professional dry cleaning or using pillow protectors and regular fluffing can help maintain their cleanliness.

Buckwheat Pillows: Buckwheat pillows have a unique filling that consists of buckwheat hulls. Washing these pillows can cause the hulls to clump and lose their supportive properties. Instead, remove the pillowcase and sun the pillow occasionally to freshen it up.

Silk Pillows: Silk pillows are delicate and should be handled with care. They should not be machine washed, as silk is a delicate fabric. Instead, spot clean any stains gently with a damp cloth or seek professional cleaning if necessary.

Why do pillows turn yellow?

Pillows turn yellow over time because of moisture absorbed from your face and body. Yellow pillows are easy to clean and even easier to prevent. Yellow pillows are safe to sleep on, but should be replaced if they show signs or wear or turn mostly yellow or brown.

Pillows turning yellow is a common issue, and it occurs due to several reasons:

Sweat and Body Oils: When you sleep, your body naturally produces sweat and oils. Over time, these substances can seep through your pillowcase and into the pillow, causing it to yellow. Sweat and body oils contain compounds that react with the pillow’s fabric, leading to discoloration.

Drool and Saliva: For many people, drooling during sleep is normal. Saliva, like sweat, can penetrate the pillowcase and pillow, contributing to yellowing over time.

Dead Skin Cells: Every night, you shed dead skin cells. These cells, along with dust mites that feed on them, can accumulate inside the pillow. The combination of dead skin cells and dust mite waste can cause yellow stains and unpleasant odors.

Washing Infrequency: If pillows are not washed regularly, these bodily fluids and particles accumulate, leading to discoloration. Regular washing, as per the care instructions, can prevent this buildup.

Mold and Mildew: If a pillow becomes damp and isn’t thoroughly dried, mold and mildew can develop. These fungi not only cause yellow stains but also contribute to an unhealthy sleeping environment.

Smoking and Air Quality: If you smoke or live in an environment with poor air quality, particles from smoke and pollutants can settle on your pillow, causing it to yellow more quickly.

Aging: Over time, the natural aging of pillow materials can cause them to yellow. The breakdown of fibers and materials in the pillow can lead to discoloration.

Can I machine wash all cotton pillows, or are there specific types that require different cleaning methods?

Cotton pillows are generally machine washable, but it’s important to note that there are different types of cotton pillows, and their specific construction and filling can influence the cleaning method. While some cotton pillows can be machine washed, others may require different cleaning techniques. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand the distinctions:

Standard Cotton Pillows: Basic cotton pillows, usually filled with cotton fibers or clusters, are often machine washable. Always check the care label on your pillow for specific washing instructions. Using a mild detergent and a gentle cycle with warm water, along with a balanced load to prevent an imbalance in the washing machine, can help maintain these pillows.

Cotton Blend Pillows: Pillows made from a blend of cotton and other materials (such as polyester) might have specific care instructions. The presence of other fibers could affect how the pillow reacts to washing. Follow the care label to determine whether they can be machine washed, hand washed, or require professional cleaning.

Organic Cotton Pillows: Pillows made from organic cotton are often considered more delicate. Organic cotton pillows may require special care to maintain their organic properties. Hand washing with mild detergent and air drying might be recommended to prevent chemical exposure and preserve the organic qualities.

Cotton Decorative Pillows: Decorative pillows with intricate designs, embellishments, or delicate stitching should not be machine washed. The mechanical action of the washing machine can damage these decorative elements. Spot cleaning or dry cleaning is a safer option for preserving their appearance.

What’s the recommended frequency for washing cotton pillows to ensure hygiene and longevity?

To maintain hygiene and prolong the longevity of cotton pillows, it’s important to establish a regular cleaning routine. The recommended frequency for washing cotton pillows depends on individual habits and the use of the pillows, but a general guideline is to wash them at least every three to six months.

Regular Pillowcases: If you use regular pillowcases, washing them weekly can significantly contribute to keeping your pillows cleaner for a more extended period. Pillowcases act as a barrier, preventing sweat, oils, and dirt from directly reaching the pillow.

Pillow Protectors: Using pillow protectors can extend the time between washes for your pillows. These protective covers are usually waterproof and provide an extra layer of defense against stains, allergens, and dust mites. They are easier to clean and can be washed along with your regular bedding.

Allergies or Health Issues: If you have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, more frequent washing (every 1-2 months) might be necessary to ensure a healthy sleeping environment. Allergens such as dust mites can accumulate in pillows, leading to discomfort for allergy sufferers.

Spills or Stains: Accidental spills or visible stains on the pillow should be addressed promptly. Spot clean the affected area as soon as possible to prevent the stain from setting in. Regularly checking for and dealing with stains can prolong the freshness of your pillows.

Sunlight and Fresh Air: Occasionally exposing pillows to direct sunlight and fresh air can help eliminate odors and bacteria. Sunlight has natural disinfecting properties that can freshen up your pillows.

Are there any special considerations or tips for removing stubborn stains from cotton pillows during the washing process?

Removing stubborn stains from cotton pillows can be challenging, but with the right approach, it’s possible to restore them to their former glory. Here are some special considerations and tips for tackling stubborn stains during the washing process:

Act Quickly: The sooner you address a stain, the better your chances of completely removing it. Act quickly to prevent the stain from setting into the fabric.

Pre-Treat Stains: Before tossing the pillow into the washing machine, pre-treat stubborn stains with a stain remover, mild liquid detergent, or a paste made from baking soda and water. Gently rub the solution onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes to break down the stain particles.

Avoid Hot Water: While hot water is often effective for stain removal, it can set certain stains in cotton fabric. Use warm or cold water instead, as per the care label instructions. Cold water is particularly useful for bloodstains, as hot water can cook the proteins in the blood, making the stain more difficult to remove.

Use Oxygen Bleach: For white cotton pillows, consider using an oxygen bleach (color-safe bleach) to remove stubborn stains. Oxygen bleach is less harsh than chlorine bleach and is suitable for most types of stains. Follow the package instructions for the right amount to use.

Lemon Juice and Sunlight: For mildew or mold stains, a mixture of lemon juice and salt can be applied to the stain, followed by exposure to sunlight. The lemon juice acts as a natural bleach, and sunlight enhances the stain-removing effect. Rinse thoroughly afterward.

Avoid Overloading the Washing Machine: Overloading the washing machine can hinder the cleaning process. Ensure there’s enough space for the pillow to move freely in the machine, allowing the detergent and water to reach all areas of the fabric.

Can you provide guidance on properly drying cotton pillows to prevent clumping or damage to the filling material?

Proper drying is crucial to prevent clumping or damage to the filling material of cotton pillows. Incorrect drying methods can lead to an uneven distribution of filling, a lumpy texture, or even mold growth. Here’s a guide to ensure your cotton pillows dry thoroughly and maintain their original shape and comfort:

Read the Care Label: Always start by checking the care label on your pillow. The manufacturer’s instructions will indicate whether the pillow can be machine dried, air dried, or requires specific drying conditions.

Tumble Dry with Tennis Balls: If your cotton pillows are machine washable and the care label allows machine drying, use a low heat setting. To prevent clumping, add clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer. These items will help fluff the pillows and keep the filling evenly distributed during the drying process.

Dry Thoroughly: Ensure the pillows are completely dry before using them again. Even a slightly damp pillow can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Dry them until there are no traces of moisture inside. You can periodically check by pressing on the pillows to see if they feel dry.

Air Dry for Delicate Pillows: If the care label recommends air drying, lay the pillows flat on a clean, dry surface in a well-ventilated room. Fluff the pillows occasionally during the drying process to maintain their shape and prevent clumping. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can fade the fabric.

Avoid High Heat: Avoid high heat settings in the dryer, as excessive heat can damage the cotton fibers and the filling material. Low or delicate settings are generally suitable for most cotton pillows.

Fluffing After Drying: Once the pillows are completely dry, give them a good fluff to redistribute the filling evenly. This helps restore their original shape and ensures a comfortable sleeping surface.

How To Wash Cotton Pillows


Knowing how to wash cotton pillows is essential for maintaining a clean and comfortable sleeping environment. Cotton pillows are a popular choice for their natural breathability and softness, but over time, they can accumulate dirt, oils, and allergens. By following a few simple steps, you can keep your cotton pillows fresh and prolong their lifespan.

It’s crucial to check the care label on your pillows for any specific washing instructions. Generally, most cotton pillows can be safely machine-washed in cold or warm water on a gentle cycle. Using a mild detergent is important to avoid damage to the cotton fibers. Additionally, adding a couple of tennis balls to the wash can help fluff the pillows and distribute the detergent evenly.

After washing, it’s essential to thoroughly rinse and then dry the pillows. You can either air dry them in sunlight, which can help eliminate bacteria, or use a low-heat setting in the dryer, ensuring they are completely dry before returning them to your bed.


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Sophia is a creative and passionate entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Bubble Slides, a rapidly growing company that designs and produces innovative and eco-friendly children's water slides. She continues to innovate and improve her products, always keeping in mind the well-being of children and the environment.

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