Can all Pillows be Washed? The Pillow Hygiene Guide
Be honest: how old is your pillow and how often do you wash it?
Believe it or not, each night your body sheds over 15 million skin cells. And every night these body cells keep building up - unless you wash your pillow and bed sheets.
And that’s not all: dirty pillows, bed sheets, and other bedding are a rich breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Actually, your dirty pillows and pillowcases could be dirtier than a toilet seat. And isn’t that is where you will put your head tonight?
A troubling thought, isn’t it?
The solution is to either wash your pillow or throw it away and buy a new one.
Let’s help you decide:
Know the Type of Material Used in Your Pillow
Before you buy a new bed pillow, you should understand its pros and cons. This knowledge will help you select a pillow that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Below is an overview of various pillow types along with their advantages and disadvantages.
Memory Foam Pillow
Memory foam pillow was first invented by NASA researchers. They wanted better cushion on their aircraft that would improve passenger safety.
The memory foam pillow is made of polyurethane and other chemicals. It is a viscoelastic form - that means that your pillow will react and soften when subjected to heat.
Memory Foam Pillow Advantages
- Offers excellent support due to its conforming and shape-retaining properties;
- Readily available and in a great array of variety; medium-to-high loft; medium to firm;
- The pillow is virtually silent when compressed so you sleep without any noise disturbance;
- Offers pain and pressure relief on the head, neck, and shoulders due to its contoured construction.
Memory Foam Pillow Disadvantages
- Retains high levels of body heat which may be uncomfortable if you are sleeping hot
- May have an unpleasant smell after unpacking; like polyurethane foam
- May sag and indent after use for a couple of years
- Suitable for side and back sleepers only.
Polyester Fiberfill Pillow
The polyester fiberfill pillow is an inexpensive pillow option for your sleeping needs. Interestingly, this pillow suits all types of sleepers.
Polyester Fiberfill Pillow Advantages
- Affordable and often sold in pairs
- Cuddly as the pillow is soft and huggable
- Easy to maintain; moderate to limited fluffing or shaking is required
- Easy to lift turn and move - usually weigh between one and three pounds
Polyester Fiberfill Pillow Disadvantages
- The pillow becomes lumpy with continuous use and ageing;
- For a significant number of owners, polyester pillows flatten excessively when compressed;
- They perform about average or somewhat better on the issue of not acting as a heat and moisture trap;
- The pillows are hypoallergenic but are susceptible to dust mites because mites like to feed on the poly fibre.
Down pillow fill comes from the fluffy bottom part of geese and duck. A pillow is considered down if it’s filled with at least 75% down and no more than 25% feathers.
Down Pillow Advantages
- Down contours to the head and neck moderately resulting in pressure relief and generally equal weight distribution;
- Durability and longevity are generally above average. As the pillow ages, it tends to become softer. The main durability-related complaint is down feathers escaping from the case;
- The pillow provides about average relief from (neck) pain. Their softness often results in minimal pressure on the head and neck;
- The medium to soft down pillow varieties are cuddly soft and huggable; as opposed to hard, rigid, stiff, and heavy;
Down Pillow Disadvantages
- Not easy to clean - dry cleaning is often recommended;
- Regular fluffing and shaking may be needed to even out contents and increase loft;
- Pricier than other pillow types. Less expensive down pillows tend to not have much fill content;
- Can cause allergies unless the down has had dander and microbes removed. As for dust mites, down pillows are susceptible to them;
- About 7% of owners say that the product can give off an unpleasant odour especially when new. The smell may come from the feathers or the cleaning process;
Other types of pillows are:
- Wool pillow;
- Kapok pillow;
- Cotton pillow;
- Water pillow;
- Feather pillow;
- Microbead pillow;
- Shredded latex pillow;
- Buckwheat Hull pillow.
Practice Good Pillow Hygiene
If buying a new pillow is not an option for you, then you can practice good pillow hygiene. However, you can’t practice pillow hygiene forever. At some point, you’ll have to let go of your old pillow and get a new one. More about that later.
By now you already know that an unclean pillow is gross. Here’s what your not so clean pillow contains:
- Skin cells;
- Dust Mites;
- Body Sweat;
- Bacteria and yeast;
All nasty stuff.
Keep sleeping on that gross and dirty pillow and the following could happen to you:
- Get acne and a duller more uneven complexion;
- Breathe in dandruff, dry flakes, and oils while you sleep;
- Leave behind makeup stains that look a mess on your pillow;
- Get blocked pores that can lead to blemishes and breakouts;
- Attract dust mites to your millions of dead skin cells that you shed every day;
- Leave on your bed 56 hours a week of sweat, body oil, and dead skin cells;
- Sleep in your sweat; especially in summer or if you don’t shower before going to bed;
- Expose yourself to bodily fluids that you leave behind when you sleep such as sexual bodily fluids and saliva;
- Get a lower immune system which exposes you to a greater risk of asthma, bronchitis and other health conditions that can arise from bacterial infections.
You now understand that it is necessary to maintain excellent pillow hygiene, right?
But how do you do that?
You’ll know shortly. Keep reading.
Pillow Cleaning at Home Tips
Each pillow type has its own wash, clean, and care instructions. Most of which you will find attached as a label to the pillow. Follow those along with these home tips:
Down and Feather Pillows
Down pillows require dry cleaning; therefore, take the dirty pillow for professional dry cleaning.
Another option is to discard the dirty pillow and buy a new one.
Alternatively, you can take action yourself and get rid of the stains and dirt. Here are your action steps:
- Mix up a warm, soapy solution in water and then squeeze this gently through the pillow;
- Repeat the process about three times with fresh water that has no washing soap;
- If you have a washing machine, spin dry the down pillow for a couple of minutes and then hang the pillow up in the fresh air by two corners;
- While the pillow is drying, you will need to shake it now and then to distribute the feathers.
Polyester Filled Pillow
- Follow the specific washing instructions on the label
- Most should not be sent to a dry cleaner, and unless the manufacturer’s care instruction state otherwise,
- Don’t try to tumble dry the pillows because the heat might damage the polyester.
- Wash but don’t take the latex out of the casing because it deteriorates when exposed to sunlight.
- Don’t put latex into a washing machine rather, hand-wash it in warm soapy water and don’t try to twist it or wring it out
- Rinse well when you have got it clean and then gently put pressure on the pillow to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. It helps if you do this with a dry towel over the pillow. If the towel becomes saturated, use another dry towel. Then put the pillow somewhere to air dry; avoid a sunny spot
How to Deodorize Your Pillow?
When your pillows are no longer smelling nice and fresh, use the following methods to make them smell good:
The Light Tumble Dry and Fabric Softener Sheets Method
- Put your smelly pillows into the dryer;
- Add 4-6 fabric softening sheets into the dryer;
- Run the dryer on the lightest setting for about 20-30 minutes.
P.S: This deodorizing method only works with synthetic pillow fills. It’s not recommended for feather pillows.
Watch these video to learn more about this hack.
Baking Soda Within the Pillowcase Method
- Measure a quarter cup of baking soda;
- Lightly sprinkle the baking soda on both sides of the pillowcase (within);
- Shut the opening of the pillowcase and give it a good shake to evenly disperse the deodorizing powder through the inside of the pillow.
P.S: Performing this task once a week should have a freshening effect of the underlying pillow.
The Enzymes Spray Method
- Remove the pillowcase from the pillow;
- Spray down the pillow with enzyme cleaning spray from all directions;
- Take the pillow outside and hang it within direct sunlight until it is completely dry.
“Enzymes assist in breaking down organic odour-causing bacteria. They consume the odour-causing bacteria, therefore reduce malodours. This is done by the enzyme breaking down the organic material into smaller parts.” Jonathan Rice, vice president of sales - corporate account, Amrep Inc., Marietta, Ga.*
How Often Should You Be Washing Your Pillows?
The answer will depend on a number of factors. Let’s take a closer look:
- If your pillow has a pillow protector, wash it every week;
- If you apply face lotions before going to bed, or you have oily skin or scalp, wash your pillow every day;
- If you have any kind of allergies or illnesses (e.g., asthma), wash or change your pillow on a weekly basis;
- If you sleep with a pet or have recently had a cold or other contagious illness, wash your pillow at least twice a week;
- if the pillow looks or smells musty (droll and all), wash the pillow weekly
- If you don't use a pillow protector wash your pillow weekly.
In a nutshell, if you are dealing with a given condition, wash your pillowcases every day. If all is well, wash your pillowcases/pillow protectors every two to three days. If you have to clean your entire pillow, do it weekly.
When to Buy a New Pillow?
Are there any tell-tale signs that it’s time to purchase a new pillow? Certainly. If you have no idea, here’s what to look out for:
The Fluffiness Test
- Is your pillow lumpy?
- Do you have to punch it into shape before you can get comfortable?
- When you lay it on a flat surface, can you see an indentation where your head rests?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time for a new pillow.
The Springiness Test
Simply fold your pillow in half long ways. Pillows that spring back open are still good. Those that stay folded need to be replaced.
The Age Test
Have you been using your pillow for 18 months already? Then it is time to get a new one. The easy way: head over to Australian Linen Supply and select the pillow of your choice. You’ll love the variety and quality. Click here to find your perfect pillow now.
Feature Image: Flickr Image by freepik