Pillow Maintenance

Don't Toss Your Toss Pillows in the Trash, Give Them a Little Love!

Toss pillows and throw pillows always seem to get dirtier than anything in the house because they're always ending up under sofas or under sweaty sleeping feet.

How do you clean fluffy throw pillows?

Getting a little dusty? In this article, I dive into all the effective methods for cleaning cushions and pillows as well as giving some insider secrets on the specifics of what you can and cannot wash!

Effective Methods for Cleaning Couch Cushions and Pillows

Removing Cushion Covers

One of the best ways to clean dirty pillows is by removing the cushion covers, if possible. This allows for a thorough wash either in the washing machine or the sink. For cushions with non-removable covers, spot cleaning is the recommended method to avoid damage.

Washing vs. Dry Cleaning

Should pillows be washed or dry cleaned? Dry cleaners often do not accept full pillows but are very effective at cleaning removable cushion covers. For non-removable covers, spot cleaning remains the best option. Washing cushion covers at home is also possible, provided that the label does not explicitly prohibit it.

Sanitizing with a Dryer

Addressing whether a dryer can sanitize pillows, it’s clear that it technically cannot. However, using UV rays from the sun is an effective alternative for sanitizing and deodorizing pillows. Alex recommends airing out cushions in sunlight for a natural antibacterial effect.

Spot Cleaning Techniques

Spot cleaning is essential for non-removable cushion covers. Alex advises using mild detergents or specialized cleaning products to treat stains without damaging the fabric. Testing the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first is crucial to ensure it does not cause discoloration or damage.

Dry Cleaning Benefits

For those with removable cushion covers, dry cleaning is a professional option that can effectively remove tough stains. Alex emphasizes the expertise of dry cleaners in handling various fabrics and stains, making it a worthwhile investment for maintaining the appearance of couch cushions.

Washing Machine Tips

When using a washing machine to clean cushion covers, it’s recommended to choose a mild detergent and follow the care instructions on the label. Cold water cycles are generally safer for delicate fabrics, while warmer settings might be necessary for heavily soiled covers.

Preventing Stains

Preventing stains before they happen is always better. The best practice is using fabric protectors to create a barrier on the cushion covers. This makes cleaning spills easier and prevents stains from setting in, extending the life of the cushions.

Professional Cleaning Services

For particularly stubborn stains or when in doubt, professional cleaning services can be the best option. Professionals have the right tools and expertise to clean cushions thoroughly without causing damage, ensuring that the pillows and cushions remain in excellent condition.

Some quick tips and tricks for pillow care

  • Start by checking the care label for specific instructions.
  • Remove the pillow cover and hand wash it in a mild detergent and lukewarm water.
  • Let it air dry or tumble dry on a low heat setting. Fluff it back into shape once dry.

For more detailed instructions, you can refer to this article on how to clean couch cushions.


How do you clean dirty pillows?

  • Check the care label on the pillow, if machine washable, proceed to the next step.
  • Then, use a mild detergent and run the pillows on a gentle cycle.
  • Either use the low setting on your dryer or air dry the pillows for a fresh night’s sleep.

How do you wash couch pillows with stuffing?

  • Check the care label for specific cleaning instructions.
  • If machine washable, use a mild detergent on a gentle cycle.
  • If they’re not machine washable, consider removing the pillow cover if possible to wash just the cover and/or to wash the insert separately.
  • Ensure pillows are thoroughly dry before using them again.

For more information, consult the care label or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Here’s our Couch.com ultimate guide to sofa cleaning!

How long does it take for pillows to air dry?

  • The drying time can vary depending on various factors such as pillow size and thickness.
  • On average, it may take several hours to a full day for pillows to air dry completely.
  • To speed up the drying process, you should consider placing the pillows in a well-ventilated area with good air circulation.

Can you put pillow stuffing in the dryer?

  • It is not recommended to put pillow stuffing directly in the dryer. This is because most pillow fillings, such as down or fiberfill, can clump or get damaged in the dryer.
  • Instead, focus on drying the pillow cover and only air dry or fluff the stuffing separately.

Which pillows cannot be washed?

  • Pillows filled with solid foam, like memory foam pillows, cannot be machine washed.
  • Natural fiber pillows, such as silk or wool, may require special care and are best not washed.
  • It is always recommended to check the care label or manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance.

Should pillows be washed or dry cleaned?

While some might argue that pillows could benefit from a little pampering, here’s the scoop:

  • For most pillows, washing is the way to go to keep them fresh and clean. Just make sure to check the care label for specific instructions.
  • However, there are certain types of pillows, such as memory foam or specialty fabrics, that might need to be dry cleaned to maintain their shape and quality.

Remember, maintaining an impeccable sleep companion is not a pillow fight, but rather a delicate balancing act between cleanliness and preservation. Happy pillow pampering!

Crazy Colored Throw Pillows

Does the dryer sanitize pillows?

  • Unfortunately, your dryer is not equipped with a mini sanitizer spa for your pillows. So no, the dryer does not sanitize your pillows like a magic wand.
  • However, the heat from the dryer can help eliminate some germs and bacteria to a certain extent.
  • If you are looking for a more thorough sanitizing process, consider using other methods such as washing with hot water, using a sanitizing spray, or even giving your pillows some fresh air and sunshine. This is actually the recommended method for disinfecting futon beds and mattresses!.

Remember, while the dryer can lend a helping paw in the battle against icky stuff, it’s not the ultimate sanitizer.

What types of pillows are washable?

Ah, the eternal question of washable pillows! Here are the top contenders:

  • Synthetic-filled pillows, such as polyester or microfiber, are often washable. They’re low maintenance so go ahead and give them a good spin in the washing machine.
  • Down and feather pillows can often handle a delicate dance in the washing machine, just be sure you tread lightly and follow the care instructions.
  • Some memory foam pillows have removable covers that can be washed, but the memory foam itself usually prefers to stay dry.

Remember, before unleashing the washing machine warriors, always consult the care label for specific instructions to keep your pillows fluffy and fresh. They could be good candidates for a professional steam clean.

How do you clean smelly pillows?

  • Give those stinky pillows a breath of fresh air by placing them outside in the sun.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda on the pillows and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it off.

Can’t get the stench out of your pillows or cushions? Maybe just throw a few scented candles on your sofa table!

Full Transcript: How to Wash Your Pillows | How to Clean a Pillow | Pillow Revival Tips

Hey couch cadets, it’s Alex with Couch.com, and we are going to talk about cleaning your couch cushions and pillows today. Sometimes cushions and pillows get stained, but you don’t have to just live with them. There are plenty of ways to clean them, and we’re going to talk about those right now.

How do you clean dirty pillows? Well, there are two fundamental ways to clean dirty pillows. One, you try removing the cushion cover and you sort of attack that cushion cover. Or if the cushion covers can’t be removed, then you may want to go with the spot cleaning method. One method allows you to remove the cushion covers and literally put them in the washing machine or take them to the sink, whereas if your cushion covers are attached permanently, then spot cleaning may be your only method.

Should pillows be washed or dry cleaned? That’s a great question. The fact is that dry cleaners will often not accept any pillows at all in their fullest form. So, if your cushion covers cannot be removed, you can pretty much cross dry cleaning off the list. Dry cleaning can be incredibly effective, however, if your cushion covers are removable. Not just in the traditional way of literally dry cleaning that doesn’t use any liquid solvents, but also dry cleaners are very adept at getting stains out of shirts, pants, suits, you name it. This is literally what they do all day long, so why not bring it to the professionals if you can? It certainly costs a little bit of money, but it might be worth it in the long run. You can also wash these things at home if your cushion covers are not removable. Obviously, you’re going to be spot cleaning them since they can’t go in a washing machine or be brought to the dry cleaners. You might be able to put certain cushion covers inside a washing machine unless it explicitly says not to on a label or if the retailer says that’s a no-no.

Can you put pillow stuffing in the dryer? Sure, you can, but sometimes you may not be pleased with how it comes out in the end, and it depends on what you’re putting in the dryer specifically. Now, a lot of times you’ll have a cushion that’s like this one, and you’re wondering exactly what to do with it. Luckily, this type of cushion has a zipper, and inside you’ll notice that there’s something that I would call a fill bag. Inside this fill bag are those pieces of synthetic foam. It’s called fiber fill or polyfiber. It has many different names, but it’s basically the fluff, those cotton-like balls of things that go inside the couch cushions to make them nice and fluffy. Ideally, you want to remove this before you do anything with your couch cushions, but in the event that you can’t, it is perfectly fine to wash them. Sometimes you may have washed blankets or pillows in the past and dried them, even if they have that stuff inside of them. It’s just sometimes it can get a little bit warped, it can take a very long time to dry, and it’s generally preferred to take them out first. They can go in the dryer; it just may create some unforeseen results that you weren’t exactly hoping for.

Does a dryer sanitize pillows? The technical answer is no, it doesn’t. Even though it makes logical sense that putting something in a high heat environment may serve to sanitize it, it’s not technically the case, and nothing you’ll really read online will show you or tell you that putting something in the dryer is going to sanitize it. However, we do have a great tip, which is using the UV rays from the sun. Bringing your cushions outside to dry, even though you want to be careful not to leave things in the sun for too long or they may get discolored, has this sort of magical antibacterial effect that we talk about in a few other articles here at Couch.com that can be really, really good for your couches and your couch cushions. So it’s actually recommended to take your cushions outside, whether they’re dirty or need to be cleaned or not, just to have a nice airing out, get some of those beautiful sun rays, and give it a nice deep cleaning the way that mother nature intended it. That’s a great way to get some of that stench out of your cushions.

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Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Couch.com. Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Couch.com. Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the Couch.com audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back
Couch.com CEO & Founder