While an expensive bed is a great investment and a good step to ensuring you have a great night sleep, without a pillow it’s incomplete. It actually surprises me how an impressive amount of people overlook the benefits of a good pillow. You never know, the lack of a good pillow (among other reasons of course), might be the cause of your insomnia– sounds farfetched but it’s true. But if you are reading this, albeit you’ve already shopped for one and now the washing is the issue.

This being a free-judgment zone, I’ll admit that washing pillows were not a thing I was keen on as long as the dirt is not showing. Who washes pillows? Come on, for me it was an annual event, which I could just get new ones. As long as I dutifully launder my pillowcases, I’m more than set for life. That is what I previously thought until I knew the consequences of a filthy one. The grossness of dead skin and dust mites aside, there are legitimate health ramifications as well.

Studies show that troubled sleepers (can be caused by your dirty pillow) are 6 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and the dreaded flu too. Did you know that your pillow doubles in weight after a period of time because of dirt accumulation? Oh boy….. But at least you have the question answered. Unless you are filthy rich, it is not exactly a financially sound decision to buy new pillows after every week. Here are tips that have been used and tested to clean your pillows.

Laundering Instructions

Frankly, one in ten people starts by checking the label for any laundering instructions as long as they have an idea of what the fabric might be. While most of us have gotten away with this, it is essential that you read it and follow the instructions. Cloth manufacturers are required by the law to have a fabric care label attached to each cloth. Care labels have the information that will help you take care of your pillow in the best way possible. Most down pillows can be tossed in the washing machine while some only have to be dry-cleaned.

Using The Washer

Good news! You can actually use the washer for your pillows. It is recommended you wash two at a time to keep the washer balanced. You can also use either the top- or front- loading machine as long as it doesn’t have an agitator (the large swaddle found in the middle of the machine, designed to rotates water and clothes). To avoid damage, if you only have a top launder with an agitator, then place the pillow vertical. Additionally, if you don’t have specific instructions, you can use warm water and a gentle cycle.

The pillow filers are determiners of whether machine wash is suitable or not. Feather is machine-friendly filler as long as there are no tears in the pillow cover. It is critical to use a small amount of detergent, and mild liquid is preferred to powder for easier rinsing. With foam fillers, it is unfortunate that a machine can’t be used. To remove dust from foam pillows, vacuum with a dialed down the suction level if possible for both sides with the upholstery tool. Another option is to tumble the pillow in the dryer set at an air-only cycle for around 15 minutes.

In Drying

Dry according to the care label on the pillow. If you get the pillows for drying, place them with a few tennis balls which will help in the fluffing process while also preventing the down from clumping and drying unevenly. You can also consider taking them out periodically and fluff by hand, using your fingers to break up any clumps. As much as using the tennis ball will reduce their dying period, pillows will definitely take longer to dry than another load of clothes. Therefore, if you smell a musty smell, set them in the sun for a while. In feather pillows, drying is the most time-consuming part because the feathers must be completely dry or they’ll clump together, mildew or fall apart. Therefore ensure to be patient enough and use low heat on them to prevent damage. Just a tip: fluff down your pillows in the dryer between washings for 10 minutes. A short time in the dryer prevents moisture from building up in the down so they remain fresher and require less frequent washing.

Spot Clean

Whether you have seen the ‘spot clean only’ label on the care label of the pillow, or you are not up for washing the entire pillow, spot cleaning works. A ‘spot cleaning‘ label means you can only clean where there is visible stain by hand without subjecting it a washing machine, wet cleaning, dry cleaning or/and any restoration process. It important to take extra care if you have a spot cleaning pillow-like foam pillows. Ensure that it is not heavily soiled by having pillowcases plus ensuring your hair is clean.

Use Vodka

Vodka is not just for cocktails anymore, it is a versatile product with potent cleaning powers. The grain-based liquor can perform many of the same tasks as vinegar but without any odor.  It is actually a quick-drying sanitizer. Add vodka to a spray bottle and spritz on your pillow and let them dry. You won’t be washing the pillow every week when doing the sheets, therefore, use vodka to freshen them up.  Add a ½ mixture of vodka and water to a spray bottle and spritz on your pillow and let them dry. You can also add up 30 to 40 drops of lavender essential oils for nice fragrance.

Wash Pillowcase

While we are happy to fork out hundreds on swanky bed linen, all too often the humble pillow draws a short straw. Regardless of the pillow you use, you should get a pillow protector or case and wash it weekly. They help keep your pillow clean for longer and prevent heavy soiling.

The type of pillow you use totally depends on you. While good quality pillows help in having a good night sleep, you should always keep them clean to prevent allergies and other distresses caused by a dirty pillow.