How to Wash Latex and Memory Foam Bed Pillows

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Choosing a bed pillow is a very personal thing. For some, a solid foam pillow is a good choice because it offers neck support while others prefer a shredded foam pillow that is soft and squishy. Whichever type you choose, your bed pillow is one of the most often used pieces in your home and should be cleaned regularly. 

Latex Foam vs Memory Foam Pillows

When shopping for a foam pillow, you'll discover two types of foam: latex foam and memory foam. Latex foam has been manufactured since 1929. It is often called foam rubber because it is made from the sap of rubber trees. Latex foam is naturally hypoallergenic and antifungal. Pillows can be a solid block of latex foam or filled with shredded latex foam.

Memory foam was created in 1966 in a NASA lab from polyurethane and other chemicals. Memory foam has gone through three generations of development to improve breathability, temperature, and odor control. The appeal of a memory foam pillow is that it molds to the contours of the head and holds that shape, reducing pressure points. The foam can be used for solid or shred-filled pillows. 

Protect Your Foam Pillow

Whether you have a latex or memory foam pillow, the best thing you can do to help maintain a clean pillow is to use a removable pillow cover that is machine washable. The cover should be made from a breathable natural fiber like cotton, bamboo, or linen and always used in addition to your regular pillowcase. Wash it at least monthly using hot water and more often during hot weather or if someone is ill.

By using a pillow cover, your foam pillow should only need to be thoroughly cleaned once or twice a year unless there is a spill or accident. The same steps can be used for cleaning latex foam, regular memory foam, gel-infused memory foam, or memory foam with gel inserts pillows. 

How to Wash Foam Bed Pillows

It is best to select a breezy, warm day to clean foam pillows to hasten the drying. To deep clean, the pillows should be hand-washed. Remove the protective outer cover and handwash or toss in a washer. Fill a large sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and a small amount of a gentle detergent used for handwashing delicate items. Use about one teaspoon of detergent per gallon of water. Completely submerge the pillow and squeeze gently to move the cleaning solution through the foam for about ten minutes.

Drain the soapy water and rinse the pillow several times with clean water until the water runs clear. Gently squeeze to remove the water, no wringing! Allow the pillow to air dry on a flat, ventilated surface away from direct heat and sunlight. Do not use a clothes dryer because the high heat can cause damage and cause the foam to crumble. To speed drying, use a portable fan to circulate air. Depending on the thickness of the foam, it can take up to 24 hours for a pillow to dry completely.

NEVER place a solid foam pillow in a washer, even in a front load washer or top load washer with no center agitator. The movement, especially the final spin, is too harsh and can cause the foam to break.

How to Spot Clean and Freshen a Foam Pillow

Check for any specific stains that need spot cleaning. 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 hair dryer set on cool to dry the cleaned area.

If the foam pillow just needs to be freshened, begin by removing the protective cover and tossing it in the wash. 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 remove any dust mites or pet hair that might be on the pillow. Flip the pillow over and repeat.