How to Wash Throw Pillows

Colorful patterned and striped throw pillows on white couch

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 5 mins - 1 hr
  • Estimated Cost: $10-15

Nothing spices up a space like some fun throw pillows. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and fabrics. While that can be fun for your inner interior decorator, it’s equally as stressful for your inner housekeeper.

There are a million different ways to clean throw pillows depending on the pillow’s structure, fabric, and washing instructions. Make sure to always check the tags on whatever pillow you’re cleaning, but below, we’ll outline a few common ways to clean throw pillows.

How Often Should You Wash Your Throw Pillows?

How often you wash your decorative pillows really depends on how often the pillows are used. If the throw pillows you're thinking about washing are on an often-full couch in the middle of your living room or in your bedroom, then you'll likely need to wash them on a monthly basis at the very minimum.

However, if the pillows are found in an area of your home you don't usually frequent, you can hold off on washing them a bit longer. Bimonthly should be fine, or as needed.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Cleaning Tools

  • 1 Washing machine
  • 1 Soft sponge


Cleaning Products

  • 1 Mild laundry detergent
  • 1 Mild dish soap or upholstery shampoo
  • 1 Dry cleaning solution


Materials and tools to wash throw pillows

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Machine-Wash a Throw Pillow

Many throw pillows have covers with fabric that is durable enough to toss in the washing machine. If this is the case with your pillows, then follow the below instructions.

  1. Remove the Cover and Wash

    Remove the cover from the pillow and place it in the washing machine. Use mild detergent and cold water on the gentle cycle.

    Patterned throw pillow cover placed inside washing machine

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Treat for Stains

    If you’re trying to remove a stubborn spot, opt for treating it with a natural stain remover before washing. It’s always best to avoid harsh chemicals, as they might damage the fabric.

    Patterned throw pillow sprayed with stain remove in brown spray bottle

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Hang-Dry the Cover

    Once the wash cycle is done, remove the cover and hang it to dry. No dryer here—it might misshape the cover.

    Patterned throw pillow cover clipped to drying rack with clothes pins

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Machine-Dry the Interior Pillow

    While the cover is drying, throw the pillow into the dryer on the low or air fluff cycle and add a few dryer balls to get the pillow nice and fluffed up. Replace the dried cover, and your pillow will be good as new.

    White interior pillow placed in washing machine

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Spot Clean a Throw Pillow

If the tag on your throw pillow says spot clean, grab a sponge and some mild soap.


Be careful when selecting your products, as the choice of sponge here is especially critical. Make sure you’re not using a coarse scrubber sponge, or you’ll almost certainly damage your pillow. Instead, opt for a gentle soft sponge.

  1. Get the Sponge Soapy

    Get the sponge slightly damp, and add a drop of mild soap. Dish soap works wonders here. Upholstery shampoo is great, too, if you happen to have that handy.

    Soap suds on yellow sponge in front of striped throw pillow

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Work Into the Fabric

    Work the soap or shampoo into a small lather, letting it sud up ever so slightly.

    Soapy sponge lathering over striped throw pillow

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Blot and Let Dry

    Let the soap sit for a few minutes, then blot it up with a damp towel and let it air dry. You may have to repeat this process a few times to work out an especially stubborn stain.

    Striped throw pillow wiped with clean and damp cloth for rinsing

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

When to Dry Clean Your Throw Pillows

The last possibility when it comes to cleaning your decorative and throw pillows is dry cleaning. Most dry cleaners can clean pillows without a problem.

Tips For Keeping Your Throw Pillows Clean Longer

  • Vacuum your upholstery regularly. This will keep dirt and debris from smearing on your pillows and will help minimize stains setting in. Grab a canister vacuum with a hose and upholstery attachment, and make vacuuming your pillows part of your standard cleaning routine. Be careful though—pillows with beads, loops, or sequins can get ruined with a vacuum that's too powerful. If your pillows are embellished, make sure your vacuum has a very low setting you can use.
  • Look for pillow covers that are machine-washable, as these are the easiest to clean on a regular basis.
  • Keep your pillows in spots that are far away from the hands of little ones or the paws of furry friends. Those two are usually the greatest culprits when it comes to dirty furniture.