How to Fluff a Pillow

A flat pillow is an uncomfortable pillow. It can throw your spine out of alignment, which leads to headaches and migraines, a sore head and neck, and difficulty sleeping. Failing…

Last Updated On May 12th, 2022
How to Fluff a Pillow

A flat pillow is an uncomfortable pillow. It can throw your spine out of alignment, which leads to headaches and migraines, a sore head and neck, and difficulty sleeping.

Failing to regularly fluff your pillow can cause it to wear out quickly, meaning you’ll have to replace your pillow sooner. We recommend fluffing your pillow every few days to keep it lofty and prevent it from going flat or lumpy. Regardless of what your pillow is made from, fluffing your pillow is simple. Here are our simple steps on how to fluff a pillow.

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By Hand

The first way to try fluffing your pillow is with your hand.

The first way to fluff a pillow by hand is by grabbing the top and bottom of the pillow and then squeezing and releasing it. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds before repeating the process to the other sides of the pillow and repeating these steps.

You can also try hitting the pillow against the bed or hitting it with your fists to loosen up lumps.

Another way to fluff your pillows by hand is by kneading or massaging out the lumps individually.

With any of these options, it should take a couple of minutes of fluffing for your pillow to fully expand.

In the Dryer

Before you just toss your pillow into the dryer, read the care guidelines on your pillow and ensure it’s dryer-safe. Machine drying a pillow not meant for the dryer only makes it lumpier and wears it down quicker, leaving you with a flat and uncomfortable pillow.

For pillows that are dryer-safe, spinning your pillow in the dryer helps it regain its fluff and feel as good as new, all without leaving your hands achy and tired.

When fluffing a pillow in the dryer, we recommend using low heat to prevent damage. Be sure to place up to two pillows in the dryer at a time and nothing else. Adding more pillows will prevent your pillows from fluffing properly while using fewer pillows will cause an uneven load in your dryer.

Another way to fluff your pillows in the dryer is to add one or two clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer. The balls prevent the pillows from clumping up and further fluff them.


After regular use, pillows tend to trap moisture, which can cause lumping and unpleasant odors. Leaving your pillows in a sunny spot outside helps them regain some fluffiness.

The sun evaporates moisture left in your pillow and helps the fibers in the pillow’s fill separate from each other. Not only does laying your pillow out in the sun help your pillow regain its fluffiness, but it also eliminates stale odors.

Before leaving your pillow outside, be sure it’s not humid, as the humidity moistens your pillow instead of fluffing it.


What types of pillows need to be fluffed?

Pillows with fibrous fills need to be fluffed to maintain their shape. There are several types of pillows, including down, cotton, down alternative, wool, or memory foam pillows. The pieces of fibers need regular fluffing to keep them lofty and prevent them from going flat.

On the other hand, pillows made from block memory foam or other foams don’t need fluffing as they naturally maintain their lofty structure.

Should you wash pillows?

Yes, all pillows need to be washed every four to six months, but the way you wash your pillow depends on its fill. Washing your pillow improperly can wear it down rapidly and void your pillow’s warranty.

Most pillows only need a mild detergent and warm water when being cleaned, and fabric softener is not necessary. Always follow your pillow’s exact care instructions—on the pillow’s tag—but here are the general steps to washing different types of pillows:

  • Down and feather pillows need to be put in the washing machine on a gentle cycle and dried on a no-heat setting or air-dried
  • Down alternative pillows need to machine washed with warm water and dried in the dryer on low heat
  • Memory foam pillows need to be spot cleaned with a damp cloth with gentle detergent and dried outside

Do you have to wash new pillows?

No, new pillows are clean straight from the factory, so they won’t need to be washed.

Some pillows may have a strong scent when you first get them. If so, simply leave your pillow under the sun for several hours or a day or two until the odor dissipates. Other than that, all you need to do is place a pillowcase on your new pillow before using it.

When should you throw away pillows?

Generally, you should replace your pillows every 1 to 2 years.

Even with proper maintenance, all pillows eventually go flat and no longer provide adequate support for your head and neck.

A flat, unsupportive pillow will only lead to pain, stiffness, and difficulty sleeping, so it’s not worth keeping it. Old pillows also trap allergens such as moisture, dirt, dust mites, and other bacteria. This only leads to mold and mildew, which isn’t safe to sleep on.

How do you help your pillows last longer?

Regularly maintaining your pillow is the easiest way to help your pillows last as long as possible. This includes using both pillow protectors and pillowcases, fluffing your pillows, and washing your pillows properly.

Although you’ll still need to replace your pillows eventually, taking proper care of them can prevent them from becoming unusable too quickly.


Fluffing your pillows prevents them from getting lumpy, flat, and uncomfortable. It’s also useful for aesthetic purposes, as fluffing will keep your pillows looking full.

Still, although regular fluffing can revive and maintain your pillows, fluffing can only do so much for so long. Pillows don’t last forever, and it’s important to realize when it’s time to let go of your favorite pillows.

About the author

April Mayer has a degree in exercise physiology and is a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep. She spends her days reading, researching, and writing about sleep, and her nights, well, sleeping. April’s passion lies in helping others lead more productive lives by helping them get sound, restful sleep every night. April primarily writes about foods and vitamins for better sleep and has written several “better sleep guides” covering a wide variety of topics in her time with Early Bird. She's been a member of the team since March 2020. Additionally, as a sleep expert, April has been featured in various publications including Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That.

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