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How To Clean A Body Pillow

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An extra-long pillow, also known as a body pillow, can be excellent for anyone who prefers to sleep on their side but is uncomfortable, pregnant women, or those with lower back problems. Because of the large size and length, you may not be able to clean it like a normal one. We can teach you how to clean a body pillow in a few quick steps.

How to Clean a Body Pillow

Since a body pillow receives constant use, and will most likely be used (at least partially) against bare skin, it may get dirty fairly quickly. Oils from your body, regular skin shedding, germs, dandruff, and hair products can all create buildup that makes your body pillow dirty. Knowing how to clean the pillow is important, but also consider using a pillow cover.

There are different types of body pillows, with different stuffing materials on the inside as well as covers on the outside. We will be mainly focusing on the stuffing of the pillows and interior construction in our cleaning instructions.

Pillows in a bed

While we can make general assumptions about how to clean body pillows, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions first. They will normally be found on the product packaging, or on a care tag on the actual pillow.

How to Clean a Feather, Down, or Feather Alternative Body Pillow

Most pillows made from fluffy, feathery material like goose down or duck feathers, and especially man-made down alternatives, should be able to be cleaned in a washing machine. The problems usually arise during the drying process, where too much heat, or incomplete drying, can ruin the padding.

  1. Set your washing machine to low or warm temperature, depending on what the body pillow manufacturer recommends. If in doubt, use low temperature.
  2. Use the “delicates” or other gentle setting.
  3. If available as one of the settings, have the washing machine go through a second rinse. Otherwise, after the cycle is complete, you should be able to run another rinse cycle manually without adding any more detergent.
  4. Place the body pillow inside the washing machine, with the length of it curved around the outside of the drum.
  5. If the length of the body pillow causes it to overlap too much within the washing machine, you may consider taking it to a laundromat that has larger washers.
  6. Use powdered laundry detergent instead of liquid detergent for down and feather body pillows. It rinses away much easier, helping to avoid clumps.
  7. When the washing machine cycle is complete, put the pillow in the dryer. Set the dryer to low heat and add either a few small towels or dryer balls. This will help with the drying process.
  8. Check the pillow at regular intervals and remove it when it is completely dry.
  9. Check for dryness by fluffing the pillow before putting a cover on it. If there is any clumping, that may be a sign that it is not finished drying. Remember, a body pillow is very large and may take a long time to dry.

How to Clean a Memory or Latex Foam Body Pillow

Man about to clean a body pillow

Foam body pillows are generally one large piece of foam, or multiple large pieces bound together, that would easily break down, crack, and tear if they were agitated in a washing machine. For this reason, a foam body pillow should be washed by hand and treated gently to avoid damage.

  1. Use a clean bathtub or another area that can hold water and is large enough to for the size of the body pillow.
  2. Remove the foam core of the pillow from the cover or case. Wash the cover separately with a washing machine.
  3. Add a mild dish detergent, about 3-4 squirts should be enough, but feel free to add or remove based on the size of the pillow. 
  4. Too much detergent will take a long time to rinse out of the foam.
  5. Fill the tub with room temperature water (or warmer if allowed by the manufacturer) just high enough to cover the body pillow.
  6. Submerge the pillow, saturate it with the soapy water, and squeeze it. Be gentle but thorough.
  7. After completing this process over the entire length of body pillow foam, flip it over and do the other side as well.
  8. To tell if the pillow is finally clean, try running some clean water over it and squeezing. If the water comes through clean, move to the next step.
  9. Drain the tub and rinse as much soap as possible from the bottom and edges.
  10. Fill the tub with clean water.
  11. Rinse the body pillow foam by saturating and squeezing, just as before.
  12. Once completely rinsed, wring as much water from the foam as possible.
  13. Dry the body pillow in the sun or next to a fan. Do not leave in the sun for more than a day, UV light can break down the foam material.

How to Spot Clean a Body Pillow

Sometimes only a small area of your body pillow will need to be cleaned, caused by spills or other mishaps. In these cases, it will probably be easier to just spot clean instead of going through the sometimes huge process of cleaning the entire pillow.

Clean white pillows

If you are using a waterproof or water-resistant pillow cover, you may be able to just remove the outer pillow case, wash that separately, and blot clean the part of the pillow cover with a little water or some mild detergent. Check that the stain has not worked its way all the way through to the main pillow though, sometimes leaks can occur at seams or zippers.

Otherwise, spot cleaning can be fairly simple. Use a bit of mild detergent and cool water on a clean white cloth and blot the area. Avoid scrubbing, since this can spread the stain around the material. Rinse out the cloth, or using another clean one, soak with water and wring it out to rinse the detergent away.

Be sure to dry the pillow thoroughly after any cleaning. For spot cleaning, placing in front of a fan should take care of it in a fairly short amount of time.

More Body Pillow Cleaning Tips

  • After drying, pillows made from down and other fluffy materials may still be lumpy. In these cases, fluff them as much as possible. Because of the large size of a body pillow, you may consider beating them with a clean broom, tennis racket, or other wide, flat tool, covered with a pillowcase.
  • If there is a large build-up of dust mites, or if you suspect bed bugs, you may need to use the dryer on high heat to kill them. Only run the dryer for around 20 minutes. While this may ruin a down body pillow, the other main option is to throw it away, so it is worth trying a hot dryer if you get to the point of infestation.
  • Laundromats have large washers and dryers that may accommodate a large body pillow better than your home appliances. With the larger space, they will also rinse and dry your pillows much thoroughly, and the dryers may also have a pillow setting.
  • Dry cleaning, while expensive, is another option to clean a body pillow if you are afraid of ruining it by washing with water at home.

Conclusion

Knowing how to clean a body pillow can save you money from dry cleaning, and also keep you more healthy. Be sure you know what type of filler your body pillow uses so you avoid any damage from improper cleaning or drying.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.