How to Wash a Body Pillow

By Mitchell Tollsen
Last Updated On June 29th, 2020

Body pillows create a relaxing and inviting sleep space. Their extra-long length allows sleepers to curl themselves around these soft pillows for added support and comfort. Body pillows are especially…

How to Wash a Body Pillow

Body pillows create a relaxing and inviting sleep space. Their extra-long length allows sleepers to curl themselves around these soft pillows for added support and comfort. Body pillows are especially helpful for pregnant women and side sleepers since they can alleviate pressure on the spine, hips, and back.

If you use your body pillow every night, it will become dirty quite quickly. With constant use, body oils, dandruff, dust, and germs can build up on the pillow—causing breathing issues and sleep disruptions. Even with a high-quality pillowcase, debris can make its way into the layers of the body pillow. Therefore, your body pillow will need a good cleaning every 4 to 6 months to ensure this build-up doesn’t interrupt your sleep. If you don’t use a pillow cover, it will need to be cleaned once a month.

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Due to its extra-large size, you may be wondering how best to wash your body pillow at home. The process may be easier than you think. To help you along the way, we have provided washing instructions for the most common pillow types.

Body Pillow Washing Guidelines

The materials used in your body pillow, whether down, memory foam, or cotton, will determine the best way to go about washing it. If these materials are not washed correctly, it could damage the pillow beyond repair.

Before washing your body pillow, be sure to read the care instructions on the pillow’s tag. This tag will let you know what materials make up the pillow’s case and filling, and how best to launder them. If you’ve removed the tag and are uncertain how to go about washing the pillow, our detailed instructions can help. To make the process as easy as possible, we break down the washing instructions based on the most common pillow materials.

Washing Down, Feather, or Down Alternative Body Pillows

If your body pillow is filled with down and feather fibers or a down alternative such as polyester, it can easily be cleaned in a washing machine. If you have a top-load washing machine with an agitator in the center, be sure your body pillow fits comfortably inside. Most body pillows measure 54 inches long. At this length, the pillow should sit vertically and curve around the agitator.

How to Wash a Body Pillow

If you have a front-load washing machine, you can fold the pillow in half and place it in the machine. You can also curve the body pillow around the drum of the washer. To ensure a thorough washing, you do not want your body pillow to be too confined. If this happens, water and soap will not be able to reach each part of the pillow. If you feel that your machine is too small for the pillow, it may be best to take it to a laundromat and wash it in an industrial-sized machine.

Once you have the pillow inside the machine, add powdered laundry detergent to the machine. Liquid detergent is often difficult to rinse out and can cause down and feather fibers to clump together.

Next, start the machine on a gentle wash cycle with warm or cold water. Be sure to avoid hot water if possible, as it can cause filling to deteriorate and fall apart. To ensure all the soap is rinsed from the pillow, select a second rinse cycle. If your machine doesn’t have this option, you can manually create a second rinse by stopping the machine and resetting it.

Once the pillow is washed, you can transfer it to your dryer and select a low heat setting. To keep the pillow fluffy and speed up the drying process, place two clean tennis balls or wool dryer balls in with the pillow.

If your down pillow has a higher percentage of feathers than down, the drying process may be longer than for a load of clothing. Before placing your pillow in a clean pillowcase, be sure it is completely dry.

Cotton pillows are no longer as popular as those filled with polyester fibers. However, if your body pillow is filled with cotton or a cotton-poly blend, it can also be machine washed using the instructions above.

Washing Memory or Latex Foam Body Pillows

If your body pillow is made of memory foam or latex, the clean process is a little different. Memory foam pillows must be cleaned properly to ensure that mold and mildew do not form in the pillow. Latex pillows are antibacterial but can become damaged if machine washed. Therefore, it is best to hand wash these foam pillows. When hand washing a large pillow, it will not fit in a sink or bucket, so it’s best to use a tub.

Fill the tub with cold or warm water and a mild detergent. Immerse the pillow into the water and begin to gently squeeze the soapy water through the pillow to remove dirt. Then, repeat this process with clean water. Before filling the tub with fresh water, be sure to rinse out all traces of soap.

Once the pillow is clean, gently squeeze out the excess water without twisting or pulling the pillow. Then, you can place it in the sun to dry. The heat from the sun will eliminate any trace of bacteria from the pillow. You can also use an indoor fan to dry the pillow.

Spot Cleaning

If your body pillow has a small stain, you can do a quick spot clean of the area. To do this, use a mild detergent and a damp, clean cloth. Submerge the cloth in soapy water and gently rub the stain from the pillow.

Once the spot is removed, rinse the soap from the area using another damp, clean cloth with no soap. If the spot is particularly severe, you may need to repeat this process two to three times. To dry, you can place the pillow in the sun or in the dryer depending on its material.

FAQs

How do you wash pillows that cannot be washed?

If your pillow’s care instruction advises against washing, you can freshen up the pillow at home using your dryer. Place the pillow on a low heat setting and let it run for about 10 minutes. This process will remove dust and dirt from the pillow. You also can place the pillow in the sun for about 20 minutes per side. The warm sun will kill bacteria and viruses.

Can you put a body pillow in the washing machine?

Most body pillows can be machine washed. However, before you do so, it is best first to check the washing instructions. Some pillows need to be washed with cold water only. Also, it is best to dry the pillow on a low heat setting. If your home washer and dryer are not large enough to accommodate the size of your body pillow, you may need to take it to a laundromat and wash it in an industrial-sized washing machine.

Can you put pillows in the dryer to kill bed bugs?

If you suspect your pillow has become infested with bed bugs or dust mites, you can place it in the dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes. This temperature will kill bed bugs at any stage. However, if you have a pillow that cannot tolerate the extra high heat, you may want to consider getting rid of the pillow if it is infested with bed bugs.

What do you wash pillows with?

When washing a pillow, it is best to use a mild powder or soap explicitly made for cleaning delicate items. Liquid detergent can often leave behind a residue and cause the filling to clump together. If opting for liquid soap, be sure to select a second rinse cycle.

How do you get the yellow out of pillows?

Over time, some pillows start to turn yellow around the edges. This discoloration is due to sweat, body oils, and dirt that build-up in the pillow. You can wash the yellow out of your pillow and return them to a bright white with a simple washing solution.

In your washing machine, mix 1 cup of dry dishwashing detergent, 1 cup of dry laundry detergent, 1 cup of bleach, and a half a cup of Borax with warm water. Let this mixture aggregate for a few minutes before adding the pillows. Wash no more than two pillows at a time. Once you add the pillows, let the machine complete the washing cycle. If available, select the double rinse cycle to ensure all the soap is rinsed from the pillow.

Once the cycle is complete, you can dry the pillow on a low heat setting with two clean tennis balls or wool dryer balls.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have found what you need to wash your favorite body pillow at home. To keep germs and allergens from building up, it’s best to wash your body pillow regularly. With a clean, healthy, sleep space, you will be more likely to sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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