How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows

Muffetta shares some expert tips for how often you should wash your pillows. Read the Homes & Gardens article here:

Utilizing pillow protectors and changing pillowcases regularly can help extend the time between washes by reducing exposure to sweat, oils, and other contaminants,’ says Muffetta Krueger, cleaning expert and the founder of Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants.

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How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?

Pillows, unlike the sheets and covers they’re paired with, often fly under the radar when it comes to regular cleaning. Despite being essential for a good night’s sleep, most people are unaware of the recommended frequency for washing them. With the rise of house cleaning services and professional maid services emphasizing holistic cleaning approaches, washing your pillows is increasingly highlighted as a priority.

Why Clean Pillows Matter for Health and Hygiene

Have you ever stopped to consider what might be lurking inside your pillow? Beyond the soft filling and comforting fabric lies an environment that could be teeming with unseen contaminants.

Pillow cleaning guide

The Unseen Contaminants of Unwashed Pillows

Over time, pillows can become a hotspot for various contaminants that you wouldn’t want near your face.

Skin Residues and Natural Oils

As we sleep, our bodies shed skin cells and produce natural oils. Over time, these accumulate on and inside our pillows. A study once revealed that unwashed pillows could harbor a significant amount of dead skin cells, which can attract dust mites.

Pillow washing frequency
For instance, a research study from the University of Manchester found that an average pillow could contain millions of fungal spores, primarily fed by human skin scales.

Allergens and Dust Mites

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments and feast on the skin cells we shed. Over time, they can multiply and lead to allergic reactions.

A case study showcased an individual who suffered severe allergies for months, only to find the root cause was an infestation of dust mites in her unwashed pillows.

Why Clean Pillows Matter for Health and Hygiene

While most of us have a routine for washing our bed sheets, blankets, and duvet covers, pillows are often neglected.

The Role of Professional Maid Services

Professional maid services are attuned to the details. When you hire such a service, you’re not just getting a superficial clean; you’re getting experts who understand the ins and outs of home hygiene.

Refreshing dirty pillows

How Often Should You Entrust Your Pillows to Maid Services?

If you’re using a maid service, it’s recommended to have your pillows cleaned every three months. Between these professional cleanings, make it a habit to wash or air out your pillows at home, especially if you’re prone to allergies.

An example of this is the "house cleaning services" package offered by many companies which now incorporate pillow cleaning due to increasing demand from informed homeowners.

DIY Pillow Cleaning

For those who prefer the DIY route or in between professional cleaning, it’s essential to understand the best practices for cleaning your pillows.

Check Pillow Labels

Always start by checking the care label on your pillows. Some may be machine washable, while others might require spot cleaning or professional care.

Drying Your Pillows

Ensure your pillows are thoroughly dried after washing. Use the low heat setting on your dryer and toss in a couple of tennis balls to help fluff them up.

A practical tip many homemakers swear by is placing pillows in the sun. This natural method helps kill bacteria while freshening up pillows.

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows. Understanding Different Pillow Types and Their Cleaning Requirements.

Not all pillows are created equal. From memory foam to down feathers, each type of pillow has its own specific cleaning instructions and requirements.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows have grown in popularity due to their conforming abilities and orthopedic benefits.

Cleaning Techniques

Memory foam should never be submerged in water or placed in a washing machine. Instead, spot clean any stains using a mild detergent and water. For regular cleaning, vacuuming with an upholstery attachment can remove dust and allergens.

A notable case was when a homeowner soaked their memory foam pillow in water, causing it to lose its shape and supportive properties.

how often should you wash your pillows - Drying Techniques

While these pillows can be tumble dried on low heat, adding a few clean, dry towels can speed up the process. Make sure to fluff the pillows regularly during drying to ensure even drying and maintain their shape.

In a particular house cleaning service tip shared widely online, people were encouraged to fluff their pillows every half hour when drying to ensure optimal loft.
Pillow sanitization methods

Synthetic Pillows

Made from polyester or other synthetic materials, these pillows are a popular choice due to their affordability and hypoallergenic properties.

Cleaning Techniques

Most synthetic pillows can be machine washed on a gentle cycle with warm water. It’s essential to balance the load to avoid machine damage.

For example, always wash two pillows together. This helps maintain balance in the washing machine and ensures an even clean.

Drying Techniques

Tumble dry on low heat. Like with down and feather pillows, adding a couple of tennis balls can help them regain their shape.

A helpful hint from many maid services is to ensure these pillows are entirely dry before using them again to prevent mold and mildew.
Maintaining pillow hygiene

how often should you wash your pillows - The Lifespan of Different Pillow Types

While cleaning pillows regularly can extend their lifespan, all pillows have a certain shelf life after which they should ideally be replaced for optimal comfort and hygiene.

Memory Foam Pillows

Generally, memory foam pillows can last anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. Their lifespan depends on the quality of the foam and how well they’re maintained. Over time, memory foam can lose its shape and support.

Down and Feather Pillows

Down and feather pillows, with proper care, can last between 5 to 10 years. They tend to be durable, but their lifespan can be shortened by factors like oil buildup and dust mites.

Synthetic Pillows

Synthetic pillows, such as those made from polyester, typically last between 1 to 2 years. They are less durable than natural fill pillows and can become lumpy or flattened over time.

Latex Pillows

Latex pillows can have a long lifespan of up to 3 to 4 years, depending on the quality of the latex and the care they receive.

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows

Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Pillow

Ensuring a clean and supportive pillow is vital for health reasons. If you notice any of the following signs, it might be time to replace your pillow:

Visible Wear and Tear

If your pillow has noticeable lumps, flattened sections, or even small tears, it’s a clear indication that it’s past its prime.

Persistent Bad Odor

Over time, sweat, oil, and other body fluids can cause pillows to develop a persistent smell. If washing doesn’t remove the odor, replacement is advised.

Allergic Reactions

An increase in allergic symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, or itchy eyes during bedtime or upon waking can be a sign that your pillow is harboring allergens.

Neck or Back Pain

If you wake up with neck or back pain, it could be because your pillow is no longer providing the support you need.

Failed Fold Test

For a synthetic or down pillow, fold it in half. If it doesn’t spring back into shape, it’s time for a replacement.

Cleaning pillow stains

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Dispose of Old Pillows

In an age of environmental consciousness, it’s essential to dispose of or repurpose old pillows responsibly.

Repurpose Old Pillows

Turn them into pet beds, use them as floor cushions, or even open them up and use the stuffing for crafts or other DIY projects.


Many animal shelters accept old pillows to use as bedding. Check with local shelters to see if they have any need for them.


Natural fill pillows, like down or feather, can be composted. Remove the filling and compost it while recycling the fabric cover.


Some synthetic pillows can be recycled. Check with local recycling programs or textile recycling facilities.

Pillowcase Crafts

Turn old pillowcases into reusable shopping bags, aprons, or even clothing for dolls.

Concluding Thoughts on Pillow Hygiene

Your head rests on your pillow every night, making its cleanliness paramount for your health and well-being. Regular cleaning, whether DIY or through a trusted maid service, can make all the difference.

It’s recommended to wash your pillows every 3-6 months to remove dust, sweat, and allergens. Regular washing can also extend the life of your pillow.

It’s recommended to wash your pillows every 3-6 months to remove dust, sweat, and allergens. Regular washing can also extend the life of your pillow.

No, not all pillows are machine-washable. While most synthetic and down pillows can be machine washed, memory foam and latex pillows should only be spot-cleaned. Always check the care label for specific instructions.

Regular washing removes accumulated dirt, oils, sweat, and allergens, ensuring a hygienic sleep environment and preventing potential health issues like allergies or respiratory problems.

Dirty pillows can harbor dust mites, fungi, bacteria, and allergens, which can lead to allergies, respiratory issues, and skin problems.

Depending on the pillow type, most can be tumble-dried on low heat. Adding tennis balls in the dryer can help fluff them. Memory foam and latex pillows should be air-dried in a well-ventilated area.

Check the care label on your pillow. It will provide cleaning instructions and indicate whether the pillow can be machine washed or if it requires specific cleaning methods.

Pillow protectors and pillowcases come in direct contact with your skin and hair, so they should be washed more frequently – ideally every 1-2 weeks.

If washed correctly and according to care instructions, pillows should retain their shape. Using tennis balls or wool dryer balls in the dryer can help maintain their form.

While pillows don’t have a set expiration date, they typically last 1-10 years, depending on the type and quality. If a pillow no longer provides proper support or shows signs of wear, it’s time to replace it.

If a pillow remains lumpy, flat, or odorous even after cleaning, or if you experience neck pain or worsening allergies, it’s likely time to replace it.

Yes! Old pillows can be repurposed for pet bedding, used as stuffing for crafts, or donated to shelters. If disposing, research local recycling options for pillow materials.

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