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How to Clean Your Pillows

Sure, a pillowcase does some of the work for you, but it’s still important to properly clean your actual pillows from time to time -- either in the washing machine or by hand. Here’s how each method works.

Photo: Mark Lund

Machine Washing
Use a gentle liquid soap and a few drops of bleach. (Use color-fast bleach if your pillows aren’t white.) Throw in several fabric softener sheets or some liquid fabric softener, and start the cleaning cycle -- choose the delicate or gentle wash option. Let them go through the rinse cycle a few times to make sure all the soap is washed off, then put them through the spin cycle two or three times to pre-dry as much as possible before putting them in the dryer. Every so often during the cycle, open the door, turn the pillows, and punch them a few times to fluff.

Hand Washing
Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water, detergent and a few drops of bleach (again, make it color-fast if the pillows aren’t white). Put pillows in the water and let them stand for about half an hour. Then squeeze each pillow, a section at a time, to help spread the detergent and get them really clean. Once you’re done squeezing, rinse each pillow in clean water at least three times to get all the soapiness out. Set them on a flat surface so the extra moisture can drain off before putting them in the dryer (set to air-dry) along with some tennis balls for fluffing.

You’ll need more than one cycle to get them dry, so just keep going until you’re satisfied. Once you think they’re dry, take them out and hang them in a moisture-free environment -- because, guess what? They’re probably not dry on the inside. Hanging them for a few days will really dry them out, inside and out.

-- Paula Kashtan