A good night’s sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle and everyone loves hopping into a clean-sheeted bed. But when was the last time you washed your pillows?
It may never have occurred to you to wash your actual pillow but did you know that an old unwashed pillow could contain as much as 10% of its weight in skin scale mould, dead and living dust mites and their allergen-laden droppings?
How often should I wash my pillows?
Unlike bedsheets and pillowcases that need washing regularly, pillows only need washing two to three times a year to keep them smelling fresh and hygienic. Use a pillow protector too as a protective barrier to help keep pillows cleaner.
How do I wash my pillows?
Washing or cleaning a pillow is very important to maintain hygiene, as the user’s mouth and nose are in such proximity to the pillow. There are care tags on the side of your pillow that will tell you if it can be washed in the washing machine. Always follow these instructions.
Natural – such as wool, cotton, duck and goose down – or synthetic-filled are usually safe to put in the washing machine and generally require gentle and cool settings. For people with asthma, zippered “hypo-allergenic” or “dust-proof” covers can be bought to help reduce asthma symptoms.
Put two pillows in at once to balance out the washing machine, add detergent and use the gentle cycle unless otherwise specified. You may be able to tumble dry them (check care instructions) on low heat or leave them to dry in a well-ventilated room or outside in the sun.
Memory foam should never be machine washed, as this can completely ruin the foam’s structure. Check the care label, but we generally advise that you can vacuum the pillow and wipe it with a cloth and gentle detergent. Some can be hand-washed, but if you are unsure, check with the manufacturer.
No matter what filling your pillow has, ensure it has completely dried before using it again. You will be surprised at how long pillows can take to dry, so maybe plan to wash them before going away on holiday.
When it is time to buy new pillows?
Pillows affect your sleeping posture and lie next to your skin and your nostrils, so it is a good idea to invest in quality pillows, wash them twice a year and replace them at least every two or three years for a healthy sleeping environment. When they have lost their ‘loft’ (height) and become lumpy, discoloured or misshapen they are definitely ready for replacement. Read more about pillows and the different types available.