We sleep on them. Hug them. Drool on them. Put them between our legs. Sometimes sit on them. Do other nameless things to them. What are we talking about? That's right – pillows!
Most of us know in the backs of our minds that we should probably wash our pillows more often, but it's one of those tasks that gets procrastinated endlessly. We change and clean the pillowcases much more regularly but the pillows themselves? Hardly ever. After all, if it doesn't look dirty, it must not be dirty, right? Wrong.
A 2011 study by Sleepbetter.org on pillows and mattress pads of undergraduate students in the US found that the average pillow has hundreds of thousands of live bacteria, mold, and yeast colonies! Doesn't the mere thought give you the creeps?
Read on to find out how to wash your pillow and stop it from being the playground for all those microorganisms.
Check the type. Is it down pillow, bamboo pillow, or latex pillow? Then you can probably machine wash it. The best way is to read the care label for maintenance directions. If your pillow is made of foam, you must read the label carefully as memory foam washing instructions differ. You should follow them carefully to avoid any damage. Or, for some professional help, contact a dry cleaner.
Some say it's best to remove the pillow from the case before putting it into your washing machine. But according to the website of well-known detergent brand Persil, you can leave it in the pillowcase and toss it in.
Put two pillows into the machine for a balanced load (so your washing machine doesn't hop around the laundry room or sound like an industrial machine during the cycle).
The general guideline for washing pillows is to set your machine on a gentle wash cycle using hot water (but if the care label tells you to use another type of cycle, go ahead and follow that). Use mild liquid detergent as powder can leave a residue in/on your pillows even after rinsing.
After the cycle is done, it's good to put the pillow through an extra rinse cycle with cold water. Since pillows are absorbent, it's likely that there is still some soap left in there, and the second rinse will better ensure that it's all washed off.
Once you're done thoroughly washing your pillows, check the care label to see if you can put them in the tumble dryer. If so, put them in on a low heat cycle. Throw in some tennis balls stuffed into socks, or a (really) clean pair of sneakers to help re-fluff the pillows as they dry.
If tumble drying is not recommended for your pillows, put them to dry in the sun or a well-ventilated room.
Persil recommends putting the pillows in an airing cupboard again (or a clean place with lots of light and air) even after the tumble dry cycle. It is to make sure your pillows are completely devoid of damp and moisture, through and through. Leave them to dry for a few days if necessary. Any residual moisture can lead to mold and mildew growing in your pillows, which is precisely the problem we are trying to get rid of in the first place.
Replace your pillow, mate. Sometimes there are just too many stains or too much damage to salvage your pillow. A good way to find out if your pillow needs replacing is to fold it in half and see if it comes back to its original shape. If it doesn't, it's probably doing your neck and body more harm than good and you should get a new one.
Remember, washing your pillows isn't just a one-time or annual task. It needs to be done every six months or so. You could be allergic to the dust mites and dead skin particles embedded deep in there. Why set yourself up for sneezes and rashes? Get into the habit of washing your pillow a few times a year to get rid of allergens.
While you're at it, why not get out those throw cushions from your living room couch and give them a wash too? You may not spend as much time with (or on ) them, but they too collect dust mites, dirt, and other unsavory things over months and years.
And as you might already have thought of, visitors to your home get a free sample of this stuff too! All the more reason for you to wash them quickly. Quick - to the laundry room!
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