How to Wash and Whiten Pillows

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Washing pillows is easy, learn how to wash pillows in the washing machine and how to whiten them in the process!

How to wash and whiten pillows over white pillows and sheets

How to Wash Pillows

I learned a little something new last week…did you know when a three year old chugs a bottle of his daddy’s gatorade he’ll have no less than 3 accidents that night? Yep.

After that hard lesson was learned I thought I’d take the opportunity during the mountains of laundry I was doing the next day to share a few tips for washing and whitening pillows!

whiten pillows

Whiten Dirty Pillows

If you’ve read my other laundry posts you’ll know that I’m a stickler for washing linens once a week.  A microbiology course in college gave me the big time eebie-jeebies about what we may not be able to see in those beds.  

When it comes to pillows however, I usually wash them every few months.  Even with regular washing pillows can yellow over time-sweat, saliva, you name it…it’s not pretty.  Here’s how to get those pillows clean and bright so you can rest easily!

pillows in washer

How to Wash Pillows in the Washing Machine

The number one rule of pillow washing is to wash two at a time to keep the load balanced during the spin cycle!  

Position your pillows on opposite sides of your washbasin and select HOT wash and extra rinse options, if you don’t have an extra rinse option you can manually run a rinse cycle afterward.  Add your detergent and 1 cup of bleach to your washer (following washer instructions.) Run the washer.

washer settings for pillows

How to Dry Pillows After Washing

Depending on what type of pillows you have you’ll need to adjust the dryer settings appropriately-down pillows need to be dried on the air only cycle while synthetic pillows can be dried on low heat. (Do NOT dry foam pillows-hang them to dry!)

Add a couple of clean tennis balls to the dryer to help fluff the pillows as they dry. If possible, lay your pillows out in the sun after running through the dryer. (I learned that from my friend Kelly over at View Along the Way in her article about how she keeps white slipcovers clean with kids!)

There you have it! Bright clean pillows!! Considering what ours went through last week you can bet I was relieved to know they were totally clean after this process!

When’s the last time you cleaned your pillows?

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  1. I am so happy to find this post on how to wash pillows. I haven’t been able to find a dry cleaner that will clean pillows, and I was never sure how else to get it done. Now I know – and I’m on my way to clean them now! Thank you!!

  2. Thanks for this great post, I find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.

    1. Right now I’m using a memory foam pillow that is keeping it’s shape really well. I bought it at Walmart as a temporary measure when we moved from England back to the US this past summer and were waiting on our household goods to arrive and loved it so much I’ve used it ever since. It was very affordable! ~Melissa

  3. Really love to read this post and its seems like a great blog i have ever seen. Just read your article.
    Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for sharing!

  4. WOW! Great tutorial Mellisa. Thanks for your effort that you show us those procedures. I always afraid of washing pillow. Because it gets loosen. Though. Is there any DIY way to dry wash? Don’t have idea on it.

  5. I am so glad to read your post. I’ve looked for ways to whiten up my pillow cover effectively but couldn’t. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. I’ve tried this with the same washing machine(no middle agitator), the pillows do float. you have to manually flip things around. I used the dryer balls with my husband’s gym socks on them. used low heat setting on the dryer for about 2 hours, fluffed the pillows in between. One pillow smelled faintly like cooked chicken; otherwise, my pillows came out great.

  7. Sorry but I thought there was going to be something new on how to whiten your pillows. But isnt that a guven laundry detergent and bleach.. I want to add to that for nice whites add borax! It really does make them white and keeps the bleach from yellowing them. *as it does sometimes* a 1/2 to 1 cup borax and your pillows will be beautiful white! Thanks

    1. Actually, I hadn’t considered washing two at a time – to keep it balanced. I found that tip extremely helpful.

    2. I agree. I never use bleach for cleaning, especially pillows. I use my regular laundry detergent, a cup of vinegar and a cup of Borax. The pillows come out like brand new and smell great. Using bleach leaves them smelling like bleach, not what I want to smell while trying to sleep. Bleach is not the answer to achieving “white, bright” laundry.

  8. What if you dont habe a dryer? I habe down pillows. Can I dry them by hanging or will the down clog?

    1. NO!! The feathers mildew ! A down feather pillow takes approximately 4 hours drying time. I then leave it on ” woven ” chairs, shake it daily, to dry it more.
      Mildew would give you breathing problems.

      1. Any pillows you dont want to wash, put in sun..dor a sun barh. what I normally do is I take my feather pillows and I put them in my car in the back window Dash or the front window Dash and I leave them there because the heat from the Sun kills bacteria. I learned this when I lived in Cuba the sun works wonders

    2. My grandmother used to wash her feather pillows, but ONLY in the hottest part of summer, so they would dry thoroughly. She washed them early in the morning, then hung them outside, shaking vigorously every hour or two, for the remainder of the day. It was a lot of work, but was only done once a year.

  9. I am so lucky to read your post. I’ve looked for ways to whiten up my pillow cover effectively for a long time. Thank you so much!

  10. I have tons of pillows on my bed, but only use one. It’s be great find another brand that will foster a good night rest.

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