How NOT to wash a down pillow plus the right way

March 27, 2016

Some people will not wash their down pillows forever. The up side of this, luckily down feather pillows still retain most of their shape, however, cleaning the feathers should be done at least twice a year.

Yet there is a certain panic which comes from standing in front of your washing machine with down pillow in-hand. The cautious self hesitates to follow-thru based on horror stories of warped, destroyed bedding.

Dry-cleaning thoughts only exasperates the anxiety-producing process for many reasons. One being, it can be expensive hauling in a copious amount of pillows if charged by weight. Add to this the rumors of carcinogenic chemicals leaving an aromatic residue, and you are still, standing in front of your washing machine, wondering what to do.

What Shouldn’t I Do?

Let’s talk about pillow health. What you shouldn’t do is avoid the inevitable task of washing them. Without washing your pillows regularly, a pillow which may weigh only around 10 ounces can weigh two times its weight in two years due to dust mite contamination. Sleeping is one-third of our lives, and bedding which isn’t cleaned retains body oils, bacteria, dust mites, and other undesirable entities.

If you are sensitive to allergies, the tiny carcasses of dust mites are going to trigger an allergic reaction sooner or later. The American College of Asthma, Allergies & Immunology reports that 10% of the population will have an allergic trigger to dust mites.

Symptoms of dust mites include: watery/itching/red eyes, runny nose, wheezing, sneezing, asthma, infantile eczema, nasal congestion, itchy mouth or throat, cough, facial pressure and pain, inability to sleep restfully, blue skin under eyes.

Down pillows will withstand more, while synthetic pillows need to be washed or replaced more often. The lifespan of a synthetic pillow is only around six months. The best way to extend this in either down or synthetic pillows is to encase them in a durable cover, then a pillowcase. An auto-locking zipper system and a fabric shield beneath the zipper serves as an additional barrier.

Carefree Clean-Up

A down pillow requires some attention, like regular plumping and shaking. When cared for properly, they will last a long time. Proper care of your feather pillows includes:

Be sure to read the cleaning label on your pillows and follow the recommended directions.

  • Always use a zippered pillow protector over the pillow, which is under the pillow case.
  • Before washing, check the pillow for tears along the seams, or any loose seams.
  • When washing, wash two at a time, and use a mild detergent. No bleach.
  • If you can, use a front-loading, non-agitating washer. Coin-operated Laundromats offer these as well.
  • Select warm water option and an extra rinse cycle.
  • When drying your down pillow, the heat should be set to medium or low. If you use a commercial Laundromat, always double check the dryer settings.
  • The drying process requires stopping the dryer a few times to fluff up the pillow and spread the feathers with your hands.
  • Down feather pillows take at least an hour to dry per pillow.
  • It is not recommended to air-dry down pillows due to the lack of adequate time for the pillows to dry. This encourages mold.

During the warmer months, and in-between washings, let your down pillows breathe by placing them out in the fresh air for a couple of hours.

When to Replace Your Pillow

Even the best pillows eventually have to be replaced. So, how do you know when it is time to replace your pillows? If you are unsure about this, grab the pillow and check to see if the form is losing shape. The pillow will feel lumpy and uneven. Does your down pillow require punching or fluffing for support? If you can fold your pillow in half, and it stays folded—replace the pillow. Pillows are relatively inexpensive; getting a new one is worth the peace. Nights spent wondering if you are sharing it with unwanted tenants is more of a frightening concept.

Did you know--

If you throw a couple tennis balls in the dryer with your down pillows, they will not clump or dry unevenly, and they will get super fluffy.

Cheryl Howard

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Cheryl Howard

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