How to Clean and Care for Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

pillows on a bed

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

If you like a soft, squishy pillow at night but can't afford it or are allergic to down, a polyester fiber-filled bed pillow may be your best choice. Polyester-filled pillows are less expensive, hypo-allergenic, and are easy to care for. You'll find them in many thicknesses, degrees of firmness, and covered with a variety of breathable fabrics from cotton to linen to bamboo

In addition to the traditional rectangular shape of a bed pillow, you can find square, round, and rolled polyester-filled inserts for decorative pillows that can be washed using the same steps. 

If you use a pillow cover and pillowcase and wash them regularly, a polyester-filled bed pillow should only need to be washed once or twice a year unless there is a spill or accident. Before you begin the washing process, check the pillow carefully for rips and tears and mend them or you'll have a washer tub full of fluff.

How to Wash Polyester-Filled Pillows
Detergent Regular low-sudsing laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold to warm
Cycle Type Gentle
Drying Cycle Type Medium-heat
Special Treatments Dry with dryer balls
Iron Settings Do not iron

Project Metrics

Working Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • High-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent
  • Water
  • Stain remover
  • Baking soda (optional, for freshening only)

Tools

  • Washer
  • Dryer
  • Soft brush (optional)
  • Wool dryer balls
  • Towels (to balance load)
  • Vacuum (optional)
ingredients for washing pillows

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Instructions

  1. Treat Obvious Stains

    Check for any specific stains that will need extra attention. Treat them with a stain remover or use a bit of liquid heavy-duty HE laundry detergent (Tide and Persil have enough enzymes to remove almost all stains) to pre-treat the area. Work in the stain remover with a soft brush and allow it to work for at least fifteen minutes before washing the entire pillow.

    pretreating pillows with stain remover

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Set the Washer Water Temperature and Cycle

    Use cold or warm water, only a small amount of detergent (one to two teaspoons), and select the gentle cycle. When the cycle is complete, run the pillows through an extra rinse cycle to ensure that all of the detergent is rinsed away.

    pouring a small amount of detergent out to wash pillows

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Load the Washer Correctly

    If you have a standard top-load washer with a center agitator, it is important to load two pillows into your washer to balance the machine. You may also need to add some towels to keep the washer operating smoothly and prevent it from becoming off-balance. For front-load washers and high-efficiency top-load washers, adding a couple of towels will help balance the load but one pillow can be washed alone successfully.

    loading the washer

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Use the Best Drying Techniques

    Fluff the filling before you put the pillows in the dryer. Add wool dryer balls, clean tennis balls, or clean canvas shoes to help break any clumps in the filling. The dryer should be set on low- to medium-heat. Stop the dryer every 15 minutes and re-fluff the pillows by hand. It will take longer than a normal load to get the pillows completely dry.

    placing wool dryer balls in with the pillows

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Storing Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

When not in use, store polyester-filled bed pillows in a plastic storage tub or a cotton bag. While polyester is resistant to mildew and insect activity, be sure to wash the pillows before storing to remove body soil from the outer fabric which can attract insects and are completely dry before storing.

Repairs

Pillows can rip along the seams. Repairs can easily be made by hand- or machine-sewing using a matching color thread. If your pillow is torn and you don't want to replace it, try a liquid fabric adhesive sold at craft and fabric stores, which should hold the pillow's rip closed so filling stays inside.

Treating Stains on Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

Between washings, check for any specific stains that need a quick spot cleaning. To treat small stains, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap in two cups of lukewarm water. Dip a clean white cloth into the solution and gently blot from the outside of the stain toward the center. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. 

Once the stain is gone, dip a clean white cloth in plain water and blot to remove any remaining soap. Allow the pillow to air-dry completely. If you must speed the drying process, use a blow-dryer set on cool to dry the cleaned area or place it in a clothes dryer on low heat. 

Tips for Washing Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

  • It is a good idea to pick a sunny, breezy day to wash polyester-filled pillows so that you can put them outside in the sun for a final air-drying.
  • Help maintain a clean pillow by using a removable pillow cover made from a washable, breathable fiber. The cover is used in addition to your regular pillowcase which should be washed weekly or more often
  • Wash the pillow cover at least once per month using hot water and more often during hot weather or if someone is ill.
  • To only freshen a pillow, remove and wash the protective cover. Spritz the pillow with a fabric refresher like Febreze or sprinkle the entire pillow well with baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit for at least an hour and then vacuum it away using the upholstery brush attachment. This absorbs odors and vacuuming removes dust mites or pet hair. Flip the pillow over and repeat.