Having read all about the touted benefits of bamboo pillows – they are cooler, they have some antimicrobial and antifungal properties, they are durable and almost completely hypoallergenic – you excitedly ordered one, and expected to be sleeping on a soft, cool cloud in just a few days. Except when your bamboo pillow arrives it is as flat as a pancake, not much softer than a brick, and may even have a slightly odd smell.
While all this is normal (more on that soon) you will naturally want to know how to remedy all these problems, so you can start sleeping on yours as quickly (and comfortably) as possible. But how do you make bamboo pillows softer?
The simple answer is with a small investment in time, patience and a decent tumble dryer. It is not a hard process and anyone can do it.
But before we get into how to soften up your bamboo pillow, let’s take a look at why you’ll need to in the first place.
Why Is My Bamboo Pillow So Hard?
Almost all bamboo pillows are shipped in such a way that they are tightly compressed, shrink-wrapped and maybe even vacuum sealed. In part, this is to keep shipping costs down, both from the manufacturer to the supplier and then from the supplier to the buyer – that’s you – and to keep it as clean, sanitary and contaminant free as possible. These are all great things, but it does usually result in that surprisingly hard pillow when you remove all that protective packaging.
Your bamboo pillow will likely come with instructions that advise you leave the pillow to re-expand for at least 12-24 hours. If the fill is memory foam, you may need to shake the pillow as it expands to redistribute the fill and remove any clumps and lumps that might have formed while the pillow was so tightly sealed. The same might be true for polyester fill.
How To Soften a Bamboo Pillow
Once your pillow has started to re-expand, it is time to head to the dryer to help both speed up the process and soften your bamboo pillow so that it really can offer that dreamy, cloud-like sleeping experience that you had expected when you purchased it.
In addition to your tumble dryer, you will need a few dryer balls. If you don’t have any, they are getting increasingly easy to find – we love organic wool dryer balls as they don’t damage fabrics and help soften them without the need for extra chemicals – but you can even find them in the laundry section of the grocery store these days.
If you can’t find dryer balls, and don’t have the time to purchase any, in a pinch, rolled up socks or even clean tennis balls will work reasonably well. However, since these little laundry extras are excellent for softening all kinds of fabrics in general, stocking up on them for the future isn’t a bad idea in general (and it will save you a fortune on dryer sheets!)
Before you put your bamboo pillow in the dryer, separate the casing from the fill. Memory foam and high heat often do not go well together! Your pillow should come with instructions on how to do this, as at some point in the future it will need to be washed.
You also need to ensure that you use the lowest heat setting available on your machine. Run it, with the bamboo pillow and dryer balls, for about ten minutes. Once the cycle is finished, remove it and fluff it a little more.
How To Get Rid of Bamboo Pillow Smell
Remember that odd smell we mentioned earlier? If your bamboo pillow seems to smell a little odd it is due to offgassing. When new, manufactured goods in our homes produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals, this is known as off-gassing. It happens with bedding, new furniture, sometimes even new clothes.
While it does not sound very pleasant, as long as you go about ‘airing out’ the items including your bamboo pillow, in the right way, it’s not particularly harmful.
To get rid of that bamboo pillow smell, while you are leaving it to re-expand make sure it’s in a well-ventilated area away from your bedroom – outside in the sun is ideal as that helps with the plumping process too. If that’s not possible, an area of your home that’s open and gets good air movement should work almost as well.
What you should not do is attempt to cover the smell with air fresheners. Doing so will only mask it for a short time, and those VOCs won’t go anywhere!
How to Care for Your Bamboo Pillows
If you have invested in high quality bamboo pillows, they should have a reasonably long life, at least the two to three years that sleep experts say most god pillows should last. Taking care of them properly will help extend that life, though. Here are some tips for doing just that:
Washing Bamboo Pillows
Even if you make use of a separate pillowcase, you should wash your bamboo pillows at least a few times a year. Here’s how:
To reduce friction with other materials, wash the bamboo pillow cover separately in the washing machine. Scratchy materials, such as towels, can cause the bamboo fabric to pill and lose its smooth texture.
Wash the pillow cover in cool water in your washing machine with a tiny amount of gentle detergent. Baby Dreft is always a good choice.
Once it’s done washing, transfer the bamboo pillow to your tumble dryer. Make use of the lowest heat setting again and keep the drying time to a minimum (try checking every ten minutes or so).
Note, you can also air dry your bamboo pillow, but the fabric, however, will not be as silky as when tumble-dried.
While dryer sheets aren’t mandatory, many people find they add a feeling coziness and softness to their pillow quality.
Storing Bamboo Pillows
Should you need to store your bamboo pillows, you should do so carefully. Do not store them in a warm or damp spot. A cool linen closet is ideal, or under your bed in a sealed storage container.