How Often Do You Clean Your Down Bed Pillows?

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Sleep better on a pristine pillow.

Caution: This information may send you rushing to your bed and then to your washing machine.  When was the last time you washed your down or feather bed pillows?  Consider the following information from Saatva, an innovative, leading mattress company:

“We’re so sorry to be the ones to share this gross information, but you’ll probably be glad we did. Here goes: After a couple of years of daily use, up to 30% of a pillow’s weight will be made up of dead skin cells, dust mites, and their feces, according to a study by a researcher at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

Dust mites—which love to dine on dead skin—can trigger breathing problems and asthma in people who are allergic to them. Skin oils, saliva, and sweat also build up in the cover and filling of your pillow, bringing stains and odors with them. No wonder allergists and cleaning experts recommend cleaning your pillows twice a year.” ~Saatva

Motivated to wash your pillows?  Me too.  The experts at our local bedding and linen shop advised me that washing down and feather pillows does not hurt them and you can safely launder your pillows weekly or monthly, especially during hot and humid seasons.  Be a considerate host and launder pillows in the room you use for guests between visitors.

Here are the instructions on how to care for and clean your down and feather pillows.


Stain solution for yellowing

Wash and Stain Bar for oil-based make-up and sunscreen stains

Down Wash Detergent

Dryer Balls

A white towel or one with dye that won’t transfer


Pre-treat Pillow Stains

    1. For oil-based stains like make-up, sunscreen and moisturizer, work a Laundress Stain Bar into a lather using cool water, then rub it into the stains.
    2. For yellowed stains, apply The Laundress Stain Solution directly to the stain before washing.
    3. Alternatively, for yellow patches, apply a solution of one cup of laundry detergent, ½ cup Borax and four cups of boing water.

Wash Pillows

    1. In a top load washing machine, load two pillows, one on either side of the agitator.
    2. In a front load washer, load one or two pillows and add a white (or colorfast) towel to balance the load.
    3. Set water temperature to cold or warm, NOT hot.
    4. Choose the gentle cycle.
    5. Use a low suds detergent, like the Downwash or The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, suggested below.
    6. Choose the option to add a second rinse cycle.

Fluff the damp pillows by hand to separate clumps of wet feathers before you place the pillows in the dryer.

Dry the pillows

    1. Choose medium heat
    2. Place pillow(s) in the dryer
    3. Add 2-3 wool dryer balls (see suggestions below)
    4. Check the pillow(s) after 15 minutes and re-fluff by hand if not dry. Repeat the 15-minute dryer cycle until dry.

Fluff Pillow between Washings by placing them into the dryer on the air cycle for ten minutes.

The Laundress Stain Solution targets tannin stains which include yellowing.   Stain Solution Spot Remover, Unscented, 2 oz, $8





The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar can be rubbed into oil-based stains like make-up, sunscreen and moisturizer.  Work the stain bar into a lather using cool water, then rub it into the stains.  Wash and Stain Bar, 2 oz, $6.50.






Downwash is a low suds laundry detergent for washing bed pillows.  It is also useful for down jackets and comforters.  Made by LeBlanc, this detergent comes in several light scents: Green Meadows, Lavender, Original.  I like the Green Meadows, because it is subtle.  LeBlanc Downwash.  64 oz.  $36.








The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo is a low suds detergent recommended for down and feather pillows.  It has a white cedar scent and is concentrated.  Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, 16 oz, $20.



Dryer Balls increase air circulation in your dryer. They fluff up down and feather pillows, speed up drying, reduce static and lint, and make your dryer load more evenly weighted.  I like the unscented dryer balls, but you can buy them scented or add essential oils like lavender.  Large balls are needed for your heavy loads like pillows and smaller balls are best for delicates.






This set of five large Dryer Balls from Food52 are made from nubby, hand-felted New Zealand Wool. Balls are 3.5 inches in diameter.  $36.









This set of three Blueland dryer balls are made from New Zealand Wool.  $18.







The Laundress offers a set of three, wool, medium size dryer balls.  $19




Washable Pillow Covers protect your pillows.  You can wash them more frequently than you wash the pillows.  If you are sleeping with down pillows, you have already made an investment.  Get pillow covers to extend the life of your pillows.







The long-staple cotton, sateen pillow protectors are from SFERRA.  A luxury at $50.






Coyuchi offers this 530 Thread count, organic cotton, sateen pillow protector.  $28-$38 depending on the size.



Make sure your sheets and towels are getting clean, too.

What is Laundry Stripping?

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