How To Sanitize Pillows


A clean pillow is key for a good night’s sleep and a healthier lifestyle. Keeping your pillows clean will prevent any dirt from building up over time, and make sure that your bed feels fresh and hygienic.

How to Sanitize Pillows

But cleaning and sanitizing a pillow can be tricky, and you definitely don’t want to end up with a half-washed and smelly pillow if you do it wrong. So what’s the best way to sanitize a pillow?

Don’t worry, because this handy guide has got you covered. Simply follow these easy steps and you’ll be able to keep your pillow feeling clean and fresh.

Why Sanitizing Your Pillow Is Important

First of all, let’s look at why you need to clean and sanitize your pillows.

The most obvious reason is to remove dirt. Over time, dirt and oil from your skin and hair will begin to build up in your pillow, along with dust from the air and even flakes of dead skin. These not only make your pillow look and feel gross, but it’s also unhygienic to sleep on a dirty pillow.

The oil and dirt on your pillow will transfer onto your skin while you sleep. In addition to making your face dirty, it can cause spots or styes if you aren’t careful.

Regular cleaning and sanitization of your pillow will stop these materials from building up in and on the pillow.

All this dust and dead skin makes dirty pillows a breeding ground for dust mites.
These microscopic creatures feed off particles of dirt and dead skin, laying eggs and leaving their droppings on the surface of your pillow.

Not only is this unhygienic, but a lot of people are also allergic to dust mites and their waste. It’s important to keep your pillows sanitized to prevent these tiny critters from making your pillows their home.

You should also keep your pillow clean to prevent breathing in bacteria. Your pillows will harbor more bacteria the dirtier they become, and chances are your face will end up against the pillow while you sleep.

Not only does bacteria grow and feed on the dirt on your pillow, but your breath will also deposit germs as quickly as you can breathe them back in.

This can have a serious impact on your health – if you inhale any harmful bacteria or viruses, you have a much larger chance of getting sick.

The best way to avoid this is to keep your pillows clean and sanitized.

How Do You Sanitize A Pillow?

Now you know why you should sanitize your pillows, let’s go over the best methods!

Washing Pillows In A Washing Machine

How to Sanitize Pillows

Check Your Pillow’s Care Label

Luckily, most pillows can be cleaned in a washing machine. Cotton, down, and synthetic pillows are all typically machine-wash safe, but some models and other materials may not be suitable for a washing machine.

The first thing you should do when sanitizing a pillow is to look at the care label. This should let you know whether or not a pillow is fine to put in a washing machine, as well as what settings you should use if it is.

Pre-treat Any Stains

If there are any particularly tough or noticeable stains on your pillow, consider spot-cleaning them with a pre-treatment before putting them in the machine. This will help shift the stain and keep your pillows fresher than ever.

Follow The Care Label

While it may seem obvious, following the instructions on your pillow’s care label is the best way to ensure your pillow is completely clean.

Remove any pillowcases and put your pillows in at the required settings. It’s best to wash more than one pillow at a time to keep your machine balanced.

If there aren’t any instructions or you removed the label but know your pillow can be machine-washed, try using the standard cycle for most pillows.

Add a small amount of gentle detergent, and wash your pillows in hot water on a gentle spin cycle. You may also want to run an extra cycle with only water to make sure the detergent is completely rinsed out.

Washing Pillows By Hand

Unfortunately, not every pillow can be put in the washing machine. Memory foam and latex pillows (and even some cotton and down ones) aren’t suitable for machine-washing, and will need to be cleaned by hand.

Foam Pillows

Foam pillows can’t be machine washed, and once they get damp it’s hard to get them fully dry. Wet foam also tears easily, so be careful to keep them dry.

To clean a foam pillow, first remove any pillowcase. Vacuum both sides of the pillow or take it outside and whack it to dislodge any loose pieces of dirt. You may want to use an upholstery brush to make the process easier. Spot-clean any stains with a damp cloth, but try to avoid getting the pillow too wet.

If the pillow can be used in the tumble dryer, put it on a gentle spin at a low temperature. Add some tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff your pillows and knock out any last dust.

Other Pillows

If you have a synthetic, cotton, or down pillow that needs to be hand-washed, start off by spot-cleaning any stains with a pre-treatment. Using a basin or bath full of warm water and a detergent, submerge your pillows and leave them to soak for 10-15 minutes.

After this, knead and massage the pillow for an extra 10 minutes to simulate the motion of a washing machine.
Rinse your pillow off with warm water to remove any leftover detergent, and squeeze out as much water as possible before leaving your pillow to air dry.

Drying Your Pillows

Check The Care Label (Again)

Once again, your best bet is to check the care label to see if your pillow is suitable for going in the dryer beforehand so you know what settings to use.

In a Tumble Dryer

If you don’t have any instructions available, most pillows that are tumble dryer-safe will need a low-heat cycle and a gentle spin. Try adding dryer balls to fluff the pillow and knock out the last of the moisture.

Air Drying

To air-dry your pillows, hang them outside if it’s cool and dry. If the weather isn’t permitting, you can use a clothes horse inside.

If there is nowhere to hang the pillow up, wrap your pillow in a dry towel and press it to squeeze out as much of the remaining moisture as possible. From there, leave it in a warm and dry spot, preferably in the sun.

Final Thoughts

So now you know a little more about how to sanitize pillows, as well as the reasons why it’s important.

If you want to take it a step further, you can add a further cleaner or sanitizer to your pillow while or after it’s clean.

Spray disinfectants or cleaning powders can be applied to your pillow for extra cleanliness, and will either dry in or can be removed by a vacuum cleaner.

For a more chemical-free approach, you could sprinkle some baking soda on your pillows and leave it for an hour before vacuuming it off. This will absorb any more moisture and help kill bacteria, as well as get rid of any unwelcome odors.

Whichever way you clean your pillows, you’re sure to end up with fresh and hygienic bedding every time.

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