The Ultimate Guide On How To Wash Dirty Pillows
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No matter which camp you belong to, one thing is certain, your pillows are dirty! You read that right. Pillows are dirtier than you can even imagine. You might be replacing your beddings and pillowcases regularly, but how often do you actually wash or even replace your pillows? The answer is: not enough! You won’t believe just how much dirt, grime, bacteria, and dead bugs a single pillow can accumulate. Consider how much time you spend asleep with your head on the pillow. The oil and sweat the pillow collects should be enough to make you squirm in disgust. When you think about how you put your face on it and even inhale through it every night, well, it’s enough to make you sick — and it actually can!
If you find yourself feeling fine throughout the day but suddenly when you go to bed, you start wheezing, sneezing, and your nose starts to run, your pillow just might be the culprit. This is especially true for children as they are more vulnerable to allergens in the environment. They might wake up in the middle of the night with difficulty breathing and watery eyes. The likely cause is dust mites. Decomposing dust mites and dust mite droppings are a trigger for those suffering from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, since dust mites feed on skin cells (and human skin cell turnover is pretty high), it means that the bed — especially the pillows on your bed — is the place to be for them. That’s where the food is. Research has shown that after two years of use, one-third of an average pillow’s weight is composed of dead skin cells. Imagine how much food that is for the dust mites! Creepy!
Other things that could contaminate your pillows are fungi, bodily fluids, oil, dandruff, and — brace yourselves — feces. Human beings track trace amounts of feces with them wherever they go, no matter how fastidious you think you are when it comes to cleanliness. It makes perfect sense, given the amount of time we spend in bed hugging our pillows, that our bed and pillows would have it on them.
How to wash pillows
Help prevent skin irritations and allergies that could keep you awake and sneezing all through the night by keeping your pillows clean and washing them regularly. First and foremost, check the label for care instructions. Most brands provide very detailed care instructions for their product. This is especially true for memory foam and latex. Washing and steaming are not advised. What you can do is spot clean. Baking soda is an effective way of removing stains. Follow care or washing instructions to the letter. They are there for a reason. You don’t want to risk damaging a perfectly good pillow with your good intentions. Some pillows are dry clean only. Others are not made to be tumble dried. If you can’t find any care labels, check the composition of the pillow to get an idea of what kind of washing is best suited for it. This should be done twice a year, at least.
How to machine wash pillows
Fortunately, most pillows are machine washable. A top loading machine might be trickier because your pillow will tend to float. It can still do the job. Nevertheless, a front loader is best. Remember to remove the cover or sham of the pillow before loading it into the washing machine. Load it one at a time, or two at a time if you have a bigger machine. Add your preferred detergent as per usual, preferably a mild detergent with antibacterial properties. Add warm water and start the wash cycle on a gentle setting. After rinsing, you may tumble dry the pillows. Make sure the dryer is on the lowest possible setting. Add two tennis balls into the mix. This simple hack will marginally decrease the drying time of your pillows. You may take them out from time to time to fluff them and to make sure they are drying evenly. This method is best for down, synthetic, and cotton pillows. For foam pillows, it’s quite similar except you have to keep spinning until the foam is no longer soaking wet.
How to hand wash pillows
If you prefer to be extra gentle with your pillow or if they won’t fit your washing machine, you can always opt to hand wash them instead. To begin, fill a tub with warm water. Choose a mild detergent and slowly mix it in. Use the least amount necessary or it will take you forever to rinse all the soap out of your pillows. Allow the pillow to soak for a time and then gently squeeze the pillow, making sure the soapy water goes through it. Repeat this until you are satisfied you have done a thorough enough job. Drain the soapy water and keep squeezing the pillow until all the soap and suds have been rinsed out. You may also run the pillows directly under the tap to make sure no trace of soap is left. Once done with that, drain the water once again. Squeeze out the excess water, as much as you can, but don’t wring the pillows. This will cause them to clump and lose their shape. To dry, you may hang it on a clothesline or lay it out on a flat, clean surface to flat dry. Remember to make sure that the pillow completely dries. A damp pillow is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Smell the pillow and check for dampness and moisture before slipping a fresh pillowcase on it and returning it to your bed.
How to keep pillows clean
The most obvious way to keep your pillow clean is to go to bed clean. Don’t track an entire day’s worth of dust, dirt, and grime into bed with you. Take a shower or wash your face and don’t lie down on your bed and pillow in your outside clothes. This will also soil the sheets and can cause skin irritation. You never know what you are bringing in from the outside! Use a pillow cover before the pillowcase for an added layer of protection. This will protect your pillow from stains, odors, and bodily fluids. A protective covering will also help prolong a pillow’s lifespan and help keep its shape. When you make your bed in the mornings, make sure to cover it up with a duvet to minimize the dust accumulating. Don’t share a pillow with your pet. If you really want your dog or cat to sleep with you, have them sleep on the foot of the bed. You have no idea what could be hiding in your pet’s fur.
When is it time to let go and to replace your pillows?
There will come a time where simply washing won’t cut it anymore. Pillows aren’t meant to be kept forever. They are supposed to be replaced regularly. Conventional wisdom seems to dictate replacing them every three years, but that is not a hard rule you need to follow. Use your best judgment when assessing the state of your pillows. One thing you can do is to fold your pillow in half. If it does not spring back to form then it definitely has to go. Check for misshapen lumps as well. This applies to bed pillows, as well as to throw pillows. A pillow that has lost its fluff also needs to go. If it’s flat as a pancake it will no longer be able to offer your neck and back the support it needs. Sniff your pillow and if it has that old, moldy smell even after having washed it, get rid of it. It has served its purpose.
Don’t scrimp when it comes to replacing new pillows. A good pillow can make a world of difference in your quality of sleep. A good quality pillow will offer ample support to your joints and neck, while a pillow that has seen better days might give you a crick in the neck, a bad back, or poor posture. Consider it as an investment.
Generally, synthetic pillows will have a shorter shelf life and will need to be changed more frequently. It tends to flatten and clump more easily. A feather or down pillow will last you longer. All it needs is a little shaking and fluffing to get it back in shape. I know we hug them every night, but don’t get too attached or sentimental about your pillows. Throw them away and buy new ones when you need to. Your health and well-being demands it. You’ll get a good night’s sleep and peace of mind knowing you aren’t hugging a dirty pillow to your face.
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