How often you should really be washing your pillows - get ready for a shock

Get ready for a figure that will shock you out of slumber

Bed with pillows, blue and white striped bedding and flowers on nightstand
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

How often do you wash the pillows on your bed? If you’re anything like us, it’s probably not that often – in fact, it might be that it’s only recently (or just now) that you’ve learnt that you *actually* need to wash your best pillows, and not just your pillowcases. 

It’s a household task that many of us forget about, or push to the side for another day – largely because we’re often not entirely sure how to actually do it. But experts have revealed that how to wash a pillow is a cleaning chore you absolutely shouldn’t be skipping in order to maintain a healthy bedroom.

Whether you’re someone who washes them often, rarely, or never at all, how often should we actually be washing our pillows then – and why?

 How often should you wash your pillows? 

Pillows hung on the wall to make a headboard

(Image credit: Future Plc/Carolyn Barber)

Should we be throwing our pillows into the washing machine with the rest of our bedding? It turns out, we don’t need to wash our pillows as often as our best duvets, sheets and pillowcases – but we do need to wash them more regularly than you might think.

'I recommend washing pillows as frequently as every 3 months, especially if you have allergies such as asthma, or if the pillow has been exposed to sweat, oils, or other contaminants,' Emily Barron, cleaning expert at Property Rescue said. 'Pillows should be washed every 4-6 months as per the care label instructions,' Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, sleep specialist and sleep counsellor at TEMPUR agreed.

Why is it so important to do this regularly? 'Not only does regular washing of pillows help to remove dirt, dust, allergens, and other contaminants, but it creates a clean and healthy sleeping environment too,' Emily said.

bedroom with double bed and bedding

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

How should you wash your pillows? 

The frequency with which you wash your pillows, and how you wash then, also depends on their filling, Emily said. She told us, 'Synthetic pillows made from polyester can be washed more frequently and can withstand higher temperatures in the washing machine, but natural down or feather pillows may require more delicate care, such as dry cleaning or hand-washing, and should be washed less frequently.'

Thomas agreed that a washing machine is usually a sufficient cleaning method, but explained that it may not be suitable for some pillows. Advising that it’s best to look at the washing instructions on the label of your specific pillow.

He explained, 'Use the hottest wash setting that the product label lists – cotton can be cleaned on a hot wash (60 degrees), whereas some other materials like polyester can only be washed in warm water, rather than hot.'

To ensure your pillow is ready for you to sleep on once more, Hayley Thistleton, bedding and sleep expert at Sleepseeker, also suggests checking that there is no remaining soap residue on it. 'If there is, you will need to put it through another cycle. 

neutral bed with blue and white striped bedding and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

'Your pillow really needs to be completely free of any soap whatsoever before it's dried, so you may want to try using a wash setting with an extra spin cycle, just to make sure.'

Despite this, no amount of cleaning will eventually be enough to give you a pillow that will last for years and years. Because of the nature of the product, and how often we use it (and how sweaty, grubby, and dirty it can get), you still need to replace your pillows more often than you might think.

Rhiannon Johns, interior designer and head of brand at Piglet in Bed, said, 'To ensure your pillow remains supportive and to minimise the allergens held in the stuffing, you should aim to replace your pillows every 18-24 months.'