Claudia Winkleman admits she's never washed her pillows – and honestly, we can relate

Experts warn, however, that the consequences are 'significant'

Claudia Winkleman
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the weekend on BBC Radio 2, Claudia Winkleman admitted that she's never washed her pillows – a task that we can't judge her for having neglected – given she never knew you could even do such a thing! Relatable.

It's no secret that the best pillow is your one-way ticket to answering the age-old question of how to sleep better. In many cases, pillows aren't a 'one size fits all' and we'll all vary in our preferences.

But of course, if you're going to go through all the trouble of securing your perfect fit, it pays to know how to wash pillows correctly to extend their lifespan – better yet, knowing exactly how often you should be washing your pillows.

Now, don't get it twisted: we do wash our pillowcases in the same fashion and frequency we do with our bedding on (what should be) a weekly basis, but admittedly, we may not be able to say the same about the actual pillow itself. But surprisingly, Claudia didn't even know washing your pillow was an option in the first place.

In fact, she even admits that she got bugs in her eyes once as a result. Yes, really...

Double bed with grey headboard, grey, orange and cream bedding and throws, painted floorboard, natural rug and walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

How often should you *really* be washing your pillows?

During Claudia Winkleman's segment on BBC Radio 2 over the weekend, she spoke with traffic news reporter, Sally Boazman, where the pair got onto the topical debate of how often you should wash bedding.

'I made a discovery this week,' started Sally. 'I've started washing my bedsheets every three days. I just think that washing your sheets very frequently gives you a better night's sleep.' Claudia responded by saying that it's 'quite a lot of work though' and that 'once a week is absolutely fine'.

However, Sally continued the debate by warning Claudia further.

'You don't want to know what's in your pillows, you really don't. There's a lot of bad stuff in your pillows,' warned Sally.

Claudia remarked back saying that there are 'little animals and bugs' nestling in pillows and joked that she 'welcomes all' as 'they've got to live somewhere'. She then reveals that she 'got bugs in [her] eyes once' from her pillows.

Navy painted bedroom, wooden headboard with pink and blue bedding, bedside table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Kasia Fiszer)

This led Sally to question Claudia on whether she washes her pillows, to which Claudia responded back curiously: 'What do you mean, the actual pillows? No, how you do that?'

Sally then explained to her that you could put them in the washing machine or drop them off at the dry cleaners. Or, even suggested buying 'really thick covers to put over your pillows that stop those little things from either going in or coming out'.

But, what do the experts have to say on the matter?

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Kristy Noble)

'Pillows should be washed every 4-6 months as per the care label instructions – these will differ depending on the type of pillow you own, with different materials requiring different approaches,' starts Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, sleep specialist and sleep counsellor at TEMPUR.

He continues, 'The average adult loses 285ml of fluid each night and sheds 454g of dead skin over the course of a year – think dead skin cells, body oils, sweat and general dirt all accumulating in your pillows.'

In fact, Rex Isap, CEO of Happy Beds adds that 'as evidenced by a 2022 study where volunteers swabbed their pillowcases, it was revealed that there is 39 times more bacteria than a pet bowl'. So, imagine never having washed your pillow at all since getting it. Yep...

'The consequences of neglecting the cleaning mark are significant,' warns Rex.

Neutral painted bedroom with black headboard and neutral bedding, navy armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Most pillows can be cleaned with a gentle cycle and mild detergent in a washing machine, while some are vacuumed or spot-cleaned. But of course, the best practice would be to follow the care label instructions on your specific pillow.

That being said, they should last you 1-3 years (depending on its type) with proper care and maintenance. However, pillows should be replaced every so often to ensure it's still working its magic in the sleep department.

In the meantime, to keep your pillows fresh, Lucy Ackroyd, head of design for bedding and towel experts, Christy, recommends using a pillow protector (as Sally suggested to Claudia). 'These zip-on covers help to keep allergies away and protect your pillows from hair and body oils.'

Well, you learn something new every day... This one goes out to all of us who can admittedly relate to Claudia Winkleman (you're not alone, trust us).

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.