You’ve just bought some great, very comfy looking new pillows, and you can hardly wait to try them out and hopefully get a more restful, comfortable night’s sleep. But as you take them out of their packaging, you wonder: should you wash new pillows?
The answer to this question is unclear, from a strictly factual point of view. Most pillow manufacturers say no, many home furnishings experts say no, but some people, concerned about that odd new pillow smell that some new pillows have – especially those crafted from memory foam – and the possibility of chemicals interacting with their skin – feel that you should.
Do New Pillows Need to Be Washed Before Using?
The one thing, however, that almost everyone agrees on is that pillows, even when they have been covered with a pillowcase at all times, should be refreshed at least twice a year. As you’ll see, it’s very rare for manufacturers to advise washing pillows, but they do have plenty to say about keeping them fresh and clean, as we’ll explain.
And as for new pillowcases, if you are the type of person who prefers to wash new jeans before you wear them, the chances are that you already wash new pillowcases as a matter of habit. If not, again, opinion is mixed.
If the pillowcases were in a sealed package, there is no scientific or even really sanitary need to wash new pillowcases, but if a ‘new smell’ bothers you, or you are concerned about excessive dyes or chemicals you might want to.
However, if the latter is the case, you may want to look into organic pillowcases instead anyway.
How Do You Wash New Pillows?
Whether you choose to wash new pillows right out of the package, or are doing, so after you have been sleeping on them for a while, the most important thing about washing pillows is to read, and follow, the manufacturer’s instructions for that particular pillow exactly.
While some pillows are very expensive – a few dollars in some cases – the higher end, designed to be longer lasting options can cost upwards of $75, and you’ll certainly want to protect that investment by laundering them in the right way!
However, if you are still shopping for pillows, and want to factor future care into your buying decision, then here is a basic guide to how the most popular pillows on the market today are generally cared for (but again, read that label!)
Down and Feather Pillows
In general, the manufacturers of down and feather pillows themselves recommend that you only wash down pillows in an emergency, such as if a beloved pet who shares your bed has an unfortunate accident (or ‘marks’ their territory.)
In that case, however, they recommend the following:
- Remove the pillowcase and protector from the pillow.
- Place the pillow in the washing machine, and don’t use detergent. The reason for this, the manufacturers say, is to avoid stripping away the natural oils on the down that help give it some of its best qualities, like cooling and moisture wicking.
- Set the washer’s cycle to “gentle” or “delicate.”
- Once finished, place in a low-heat dryer wrapped in a clean white bath towel.
- Run a short cycle, and, if needed to ensure the pillow is dry, run a second one right away. It’s crucial that the pillow is completely dry, so make sure it is!
Buckwheat Hulls Pillows
Buckwheat hulls pillows and water do not mix, so they should never be washed, and, as far as possible, they should never even be allowed to get wet.
Memory Foam and Gel Pillows
It is very rare that a good quality memory foam or gel pillow can be successfully laundered. And, in the case of the expensive, high-end memory foam and gel pillows, doing so will often void the warranty that they come with.
Can You Put Pillows in the Washer?
As we have already mentioned, feather and down pillows can be washed in a washing machine very occasionally if you really need to. And detergent should never be used.
Can You Put Pillows in a Drier?
Driers shrink things, even on low, so while you can put feather or down pillows in the drier on very low heat – maybe even that no heat fluff setting if your machine has one – you will need to be very careful if and when you do so.
How To Dry Pillows, and How Long Does it Take?
If you must put your pillows in the drier it should be on the lowest possible heat setting, and it may take quite a while to dry pillows that can be laundered – generally down and feather pillows only – as the heat must be very low. However, it’s crucial that you be patient and wait for the pillow to be completely dry, as leaving it even a little damp is likely to ruin it.
How Often Should Pillows Be Washed?
In the case of most pillows, their manufacturers recommend washing them as infrequently as possible.
That’s not always the advice you’ll see, however. One down pillow maker has even bemoaned the fact that someone as respected as Martha Stewart has offered misleading advice on the topic!
How To Clean Pillows That Can’t Be Washed?
So what are you supposed to do if most good quality pillows should not be washed directly? The obvious answer – and the one offered by most pillow companies – is to make use of both a pillow protector and a pillow case.
A pillow protector is not the same as a pillow case. A pillow protector is a zippered, water resistant cover, the kind you see in hotels. Making use of one of these both helps keep your pillow clean and helps it retain its original supportive shape longer too.
Pillow protectors should then be covered by the pillowcase of your choice. This both adds an extra layer of protection that can, and should, be washed often, and the pleasing aesthetic touch that everyone wants in their bedroom, as while pillow protectors are very efficient, they are not pretty.
Do I Need a Pillow Protector?
As we just mentioned, a pillow protector is a must if you want to keep your pillows clean and supportive for as long as possible. You’ll find that the best of these lock all kinds of nasty things out and prevent them from damaging your pillows, including sweat, body oils, dust mites and more.
While a pillow case offers some protection against all these things they can seep through, and without a pillow protector they’ll be absorbed by your pillow, shortening its life and compromising its cleanliness.
How To Spot-Treat Pillows?
There may be times when you need to spot treat a pillow. That really should not be the case for bed pillows if you make proper use of a pillow protector and a pillow case, but throw pillows are a different matter, they can easily attract stains when out on display.
Ideally they should have protective covers that can be washed too, but if they don’t, you can do the following:
- Mix a combination of very gentle detergent (Baby Dreft is a good choice) and lukewarm water in a mixing bowl.
- Using a clean, lint free cloth moistened with the detergent mix, dab at the stain – don’t rub – until it lifts away. For wine, juice or lipstick stains, a small amount of baking soda added to your cleaning mix can help tackle these tough stains. Use as little of the liquid as possible to avoid permanently damaging your pillows.
- Using a second, clean lint free cloth moistened with clean water, dab away all traces of detergent and then allow the pillow to air dry.
When Should I Just Buy New Pillows Instead?
Pillows, even the very expensive ones, are not designed to last forever, even if you make good use of pillow protectors and pillowcases. The reason to replace a well cared for pillow is rarely its cleanliness though, it’s when it loses its shape and becomes unsupportive. An unsupportive pillow is of no use to anyone, and can even worsen or cause neck and shoulder pain.
If you haven’t taken good care of your pillows, and they are stained or have a bad smell, trying to rescue them is rarely a good idea. Instead, throw them away – or recycle them in a craft project – buy new ones and resolve to take better care of those this time!
Do You Wash New Pillows?
Let me know your thoughts on whether you need to wash new pillows before use or not and be sure to message in.
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