How To Wash A Pillow Without It Getting Lumpy

Pillows take a bashing every night on several fronts. The weight of your head can flatten them. The moisture from your body can make them damp and they can get stained from all sorts of oils, and fluids as we sleep.

Dirty pillows could be one of the reasons why your room smells bad when you wake up!

No wonder pillows need cleaning often. The recommendation is to wash them every three to six months to keep them sanitary and reduce allergens.

The problem is that machine washing them can make them lose their original fluffy feel. The inner material can clump together and they won’t be as comfortable to sleep on.

The good news is that there are some steps that you can take to ensure that your pillow doesn’t change its shape after you wash it.

To stop your pillow from getting lumpy in the wash always wash two pillows together plus some sheets or towels so that the load is balanced in the machine. Use a gentle cycle with a warm or cold washing temperature. Dry your pillow naturally or tumble dry with a couple of tennis balls.

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How to wash a pillow without it getting lumpy

First off, can you wash it?

Most pillows are machine washable even down-filled. But, you should always check the care label to make sure.

Here’s a handy guide:

Pillow Type Can It Be Machine Washed?
Feather Yes
Polyester Yes
Microfiber Yes
Foam including memory foam No
Buckwheat Hulls No
Gel No
Different types of towels and whether they can be washed

If your pillow cannot be washed I recommend that you always use a pillow protector to keep it fresh and wash that regularly instead.

Set of 2 Standard Size SureGuard Pillow Protectors - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic - Premium Zippered Cotton Terry Covers

Which washing cycle to choose?

So if you have decided that it is safe to wash your pillow, which cycle is best?

  1. Select a gentle washing cycle with warm or cold water.
  2. Choose washing powder for delicates.
  3. Add an extra rinse cycle.
  4. Avoid fabric conditioner.

Never use fabric softener when you wash pillows. I recommend using a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle instead. Vinegar acts as a natural softener plus it will help to kill germs. For added fragrance add a few drops of essential oils to the vinegar rinse.

For washing delicate items such as pillows I recommend Ecoegg. I have been using an Ecoegg for my laundry for several months now and love how clean and soft my washing comes out.

ecoegg Laundry Egg, Fresh Linen 720 Loads

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pillow being plumped up

Washing tips to prevent your pillow from getting lumpy in the wash

Here are some tips to help prevent clumps when you wash your pillows.

  • Sew some big stitches into the pillow. Take a large needle and sew big stitches in the pillow so that the filling stays in place as you wash it. You can remove it at the end.
  • Always wash two pillows. Two pillows will help to balance the machine.
  • Add towels. Add some extra towels or sheets between the pillows for extra cushioning.
  • Front-loading machines are best. The pillow outers can get damaged by the agitator in a top-loading machine. If you have a choice go for a front-loader.
  • The bigger the washing machine, the better. Take your pillows to a laundrette and use one of their big front-loading machines. The bigger drum will help to wash the pillows better and help to keep them fluffy.

Related reading:

How to wash pillows in a top-loading washer without it getting lumpy

Choose a gentle cycle with a warm or cold washing temperature.

Add your detergent to the drum and let the machine agitate before you add the pillows.

To avoid your pillows getting lumpy wash two together or add some sheets. You don’t want your pillow to be the only item in the drum because the drum will be unbalanced.

Check your pillows after a normal wash. If they aren’t starting to get lumpy they may withstand another spin to make them easier to dry.

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How to wash pillows in a front loading washer without it getting lumpy

If you have a choice, always wash your pillows in a front-loading washing machine because the central agitator can be damaging to the outer covers.

Choose a gentle warm or cool cycle.

Wash two pillows together along with some sheets or towels between them for extra cushioning.

Add some vinegar and a few drops of essential oil to the conditioner compartment instead of your regular fabric conditioner.

How to fix a lumpy pillow after washing

Pillows can get lumpy over time due to moisture from your body. Regularly shake out and fluff up your pillows to allow air to flow through the filling.

On a sunny breezy day put them outside to freshen up.

How to dry pillows without clumping

What causes a pillow to become clumpy when you dry it? Here are some tips to make sure your pillow dries perfectly without damaging it:

  1. Use a low drying temperature. High heat can damage the fibres inside the pillow and cause them to clump together. Always select a low or air-dry setting if your dryer has that mode.
  2. Dry naturally. If you can, dry your pillow naturally. It will take a long time (as long as 3 days) but can be worth doing if you have warm weather and enough time to spare.
  3. Dry thoroughly. Whether you dry in a dryer or naturally always make sure you thoroughly dry it.
  4. Add a tennis ball or something similar. When you tumble dry add wool dryer balls, tennis balls, or some Ecoegg Dryer balls. This has the effect of massaging your pillow as it dries.

Here are the steps to use when drying your pillow in the dryer:

Step 1 – Select the correct drying mode

Select the lowest heat setting or the air-dry setting.

Step 2 – Add tennis balls

Put one or two tennis balls into large socks and tie a knot in them. Or add two wool dryer balls or Ecoegg Dryer balls. This will help to fluff up the pillow as it dries.

Step 3 – Dry thoroughly

Allow your pillow to dry thoroughly. You may need to run a couple of drying cycles. If your pillow isn’t properly dry when you put it back on your bed you risk mould and mildew forming inside.

If your pillow is down-filled and still has clumps, it is a sign the pillow isn’t dry.

Step 4 – Finish with a bash

Give your pillow some pummeling and bashing to release any clumps.

Step 5

Air your pillow. Preferably outside in the sunshine, or in your airing cupboard if you have one.

How to fix a lumpy pillow in your dryer without tennis balls

If you need to get your pillow dry but you don’t have a tennis ball to hand, here are some alternatives for you:

  1. Use wool dryer balls.
  2. Scrunch up some aluminium foil into a ball and add to the dryer. It should help your pillow dry more quickly.
  3. Use Ecoegg Dryer Eggs. Dryer eggs will help your pillow dry quicker and fluff the pillows at the same time.
  4. Add another (dry) pillow to the dryer.
  5. Add some dry fluffy towels to the dryer.
ecoegg Dryer Egg Fresh Linen

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Wool Dryer Balls - Natural Fabric Softener, Reusable, Reduces Clothing Wrinkles and Saves Drying Time. The Large Dryer Ball is a Better Alternative to Plastic Balls and Liquid Softener. (Pack of 6)

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How to fix a lumpy pillow without a dryer

If your pillow is lumpy and you don’t have a dryer, first give the pillow a good bash to try to release the clumps.

If your pillow is still clumpy after you’ve bashed it your next option is to take out the stuffing so that you can redistribute it inside.

  1. Unpick a side seam.
  2. Remove the filling.
  3. Pull apart the clumps so you have lots of smaller balls.
  4. Restuff the pillow.
  5. Sew up the seam.
This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 1 November 2021.
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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.