How to Wash Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

polyester bed pillows

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If you like a soft, squishy pillow at night but can't afford 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 easy care. You'll find them in a number of thicknesses and 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. 

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

Project Metrics

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.

Working Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

What You'll Need


  • High-efficiency laundry detergent
  • Water
  • Baking soda


  • Washer
  • Dryer
  • Wool dryer balls
  • Vacuum (optional)


  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 pretreat the area. Work in the stain remover with a soft brush and allow to work for at least fifteen minutes before washing the entire pillow.

  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.

  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.

  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. 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.


    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 dry.


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.


Pillows can rip along the seams but repairs can be made by hand or machine-sewing using a matching thread.

How to Freshen and Spot Clean Polyester-Filled Bed Pillows

If the pillow just needs to be freshened, begin by removing the protective cover and tossing it in the wash. You can spritz the pillow with a fabric refresher like Febreze or sprinkle the entire pillow with baking soda, covering it well. Allow the baking soda to sit on the surface for at least an hour and then vacuum it away using the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum. This will help absorb odors and the vacuum will remove any dust mites or pet hair that might be on the pillow. Flip the pillow over and repeat.

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 hairdryer set on cool to dry the cleaned area or place in a clothes dryer on low heat. 


Your bed pillow is used every night and should be cleaned regularly. One way to help maintain a clean pillow is to use a removable pillow cover made from a breathable fiber that is machine washable. The cover should be washed at least once per month using hot water and more often during hot weather or if someone is ill. The cover is used in addition to your regular pillowcase which should be washed weekly or more often. 

Article Sources
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  1. When Should You Replace Your Pillow? National Sleep Foundation

  2. Bredenberg, Jeff. 2,001 Amazing Cleaning Secrets. Reader's Digest, 2004