How to Wash Throw Pillows – Essential Tips

Pillows not only make sofas and beds more comfortable, they also add texture and color to a room. Over time, however, these decorative pillows tend to accumulate dust, flakes, dirt or grime. To keep the colors and materials fresh, you should wash your pillows regularly. So instead of throwing away decorative pillows at the first sign of dirt or stains, there are simple ways to clean them.

In this article, we explain step-by-step how to wash cushions and covers so they look like new again.

How often should I wash my pillows?

Regularly washing decorative pillows should be part of your cleaning routine. After all, these accent pillows are an integral part of any interior design and look great in living rooms and bedrooms. As a general rule, wash accent pillows, including their covers, at least once a month. The filling in the cushion should also be cleaned every two months. However, if your pets sit on your pillows, you should wash them every two weeks to keep them in good condition.

Preliminary tips for washing pillows

  • Always read the care label before washing your decorative pillows. This is the easiest way to determine how to wash these pillows. Some pillows can only be dry cleaned, hand washed with a mild detergent, or spot cleaned. If there is no care label, determine what type of fabric your pillow is made of.
  • The easiest way to clean them is with a sponge. If your cushions cannot be cleaned in the machine, it is better to clean them with a sponge. All you need is a good quality shampoo and a furniture sponge. First, go over the dirty area with your hand in a circular motion. Be very careful when cleaning the surface or trim of the cushion. Then pat the wet areas with a clean white towel until dry.
  • Many pillows are made of hard foam. Always remove the foam inserts, as they cannot be machine washed. After removing the upholstery, place the foam in a bathtub or sink and add hot water with a small amount of mild detergent. Immerse the foam in the water and rinse thoroughly. Gently rotate the foam insert until all excess is removed before hanging it outside to dry.
  • If you want to discard only dry-cleaned cushions, simply drench a clean sponge in the cleaning solution and wipe the fabric. Use circular motions and then pat the area with a clean towel to absorb moisture. Please note that decorative pillows made of suede, leather, silk or wool cannot be washed with water. They can only be dry cleaned.

How to wash cushions by hand

Before we show you how to wash your pillows, you must first determine what material they are made of. Some pillows can be machine washed, while the more decorative ones can only be hand washed. Silk and wool, for example, are delicate fabrics that can only be dry cleaned. Those made of washable materials will retain their original shape and style when hand washed. For maximum durability, always remove the covers and wash them separately (we’ll show you how to wash a pillowcase later).

To hand wash your decorative pillows, you will need the following:

  • Hot water
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Bathtub or large sink
  • Rubber gloves
  • An old toothbrush or scrub brush
  • A clean slate
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Fabric

Step 1: Once you have gathered all the cleaning tools, remove the cushion covers and vacuum them to remove all the dirt, dust and hair from the cushions.

Step 2: Now fill the tub or container with warm water and add mild soap or detergent. Stir the detergent solution well into the water to form bubbles. Note: Protect your hands from hot soapy water by wearing rubber gloves. Place the pillows in the bath until they are completely submerged in the soapy water.

Step 3: Continue to soak the pillows in water up to 6 times until they are completely soaked.

Step 4: Take an old toothbrush or scrub brush and scrub the entire surface of the cushion in a circular motion. Concentrate on the areas with visible stains and add a little starch.

Step 5: After you have cleaned the surface of the cushion, soak it again in soapy water.

Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 for all other pillows.

Step 7: Now remove the pillows from the soapy water. Place them on a clean cloth and drain the bath water.

Step 8: Fill the bathtub with hot water and rinse the cushions thoroughly until all the cleaning solution is removed. You can do this by squeezing clean water onto the pillows, but be sure to wear rubber gloves.

Step 9: To wring out the pillows, wrap them in a cloth towel and turn them over on the countertop.

Step 10: Use a dry towel for each pillow. Once this step is complete, you can dry the pillows by hanging them outside or putting them in the dryer, according to the care instructions.

Step 11: While you wait for your pillows to dry, it’s time to wash their covers. The following section explains how to proceed, depending on the specific type of fabric of your pillowcase.

How to rinse a pillowcase.

Most pillows have a zipper or flap for easy removal of the cover. However, if the cover is sewn, use a seam puller and carefully open each seam one at a time.

If you cannot safely remove the cover, locate the pillowcase fabric and check its color fastness. If the material is washable, you can simply wash the entire pillow. However, if the fabric is delicate, it will lose its color and therefore should not be washed. Vacuum the cushion to remove dust and sprinkle a little baking soda to neutralize odors. Let the baking soda sit on the pillow for a few minutes before vacuuming again. You can freshen down or foam pillows in the dryer or air dry them outside. Another option is to dry them professionally.

Follow the instructions on the label to clean the pillowcase. These provide details about the material and filling. Most fabrics, including polyester, cotton and nylon, are machine washable. However, silk, linen, wool or velvet can only be hand washed or dry cleaned. Suede and leather should not be washed. They can be cleaned with a damp cloth.

If there is no care label on the cover, identify the fabric yourself. When in doubt, dab a small portion of the blanket with light soapy water to see how the material behaves. Dab it with a clean white towel and let it dry. If the color does not change or the fabric shrinks, take the cover to the dry cleaner.

If your pillowcases are decorated, have them dry cleaned or hand wash them to protect the decorations.

To clean stains, simply use a damp, soapy cloth and dab the stain by working around it. Remove the soap scum by dabbing it off with a clean, damp cloth before letting it air dry.

If the pillowcases can be machine washed, use the delicate wash cycle in cold water. Add a mild detergent for delicate fabrics.

After washing in the machine, dry the cover with a clean white towel. If you plan to use a dryer, set the temperature to a low setting to prevent shrinkage. After removing the cover from the dryer, iron the fabric before placing it back on the pillow.

To cover pillows that are not suitable for machine washing, fill a sink or bathtub with cold water and add a mild detergent to the water. Gently soak the cover in soapy water, then rinse with clean, cold water. It may be necessary to rinse the cover several times until all soap is removed. Dry the cover outside or in a dryer.


With a little time and a little elbow-work on your part, you can have fresh-smelling pillows on your bed or sofa the next time you come home. To keep decorative pillows looking great, wash them at least once a month, or more often if you have pets. Washing your pillows often will prevent pet hair, dust and dirt from accumulating, prolonging their life. Read the care instructions on the label to avoid damaging the material.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I put my pillow in the washing machine?


How do you wash a pillow?

Set the machine on the mildest cycle with warm water; add a small amount of mild liquid detergent (detergent may leave residue), then loosely fill the tub with pads. Repeat the rinse cycle to completely remove the detergent.

Can we wash cushions without a removable cover?

Best Cleaning Method Throw away pillows without removable covers For machine washable pillows, wash in cold water on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. … For pillows made of silk, velvet or other delicate fabrics, or fabrics filled with memory foam or microbeads, use a chemical detergent if necessary to remove stains.

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