Cleaning 101: How To Clean Your Memory Foam Pillow

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How to Clean Memory Foam Pillows

Pillows play a vital role in getting a good night of sleep. Everyone has their pillow preference – some like it firm, some like it fluffy. While there is no right or wrong answer to the pillow preference debate, one thing is undeniably true: memory foam pillows are the gold standard when it comes to longevity.

Using cleaning techniques targeted towards memory foam pillows is one of the best ways to extend its life. Think about it. We spend nearly one-third of our lives sleeping. Your pillow gets a lot of use, but how often do you clean it? The answer is probably not enough. Frequent usage causes build-ups of sweat, dead skin cells, personal care products, and saliva.

Your pillow is also subject to spills, stains, odours, allergens, and mould/mildew growth outside of regular wear and tear. Frequent cleanings help maximise the lifespan of your memory foam pillow.

If you have never cleaned your pillow, you may frantically be wondering how to clean the foam. The good news is that the process is not as complicated as you think.

Let’s find out how!

How Long Do Memory Foam Pillows Last?

Memory foam pillows typically last anywhere from 3 to 4 years with proper care and storage. One of the best ways to protect your pillow is with a pillowcase. It acts as a barrier between your pillow, saliva, spills, sweat, oils, allergens, and other bodily fluids. You should wash your pillowcase once a month, if not more.

You need to wash your pillow at least once a year. Other people recommend washing pillows every other month. You have to do what works best for your schedule, but frequently washing your pillow helps maximise its life.

To get the most bang for your buck, take care of your pillow following the steps below.

How Do I Clean A Memory Foam Pillow?

Read Care Label

Refer to Manufacturer Instructions

Since every pillow is different, the best way to care for yours is by following the manufacturer’s washing instructions. In the case of the Koala and Ecosa memory foam pillows, the respective brands only recommend cleaning the outer cover of the pillow and not the inside core.

If you do not have them or need a deeper clean, wash your memory foam pillow by hand.

memory foam pillow damage due to washing machine
Memory foam pillow damage in the washing machine

Do Not Use A Washing Machine or Dryer

Whatever you do, do NOT put your pillow in the washing machine. The wash cycle breaks down the foam. The damage from the washing machine may cause the foam to crack or tear. You will need to replace your pillow a lot sooner than anticipated.

It is important to note that memory foam pillows can get wet. Water in the washing machine does not damage the foam. The automated washing cycle causes damage as it is too rough for the foam to handle. Your best option is to wash your pillow by hand.

Once you clean the pillow, it must completely dry to avoid mould growth. You cannot use a dryer on your pillow, either. The heat can melt the foam. Placing your pillow outside on a warm day in the shade is your best option. You can also put it on a drying rack and place it next to a heat source. If none of those options work, you can use a hairdryer on the cool setting or a portable fan to dry the pillow.

Vacuum the pillow

Regular Cleaning (two to three weeks)

It’s a good practice to fluff your pillow every night to aerate the memory foam core and keep it in shape. Furthermore, every two to three weeks, you should vacuum the pillow to suck out any loose debris, dust, hair and dead blood cells. 

memory foam-pillow-washing in tub

Deep Cleaning (Every other month to once a year)

The easiest place to clean your memory foam pillow is in the bathtub. Start by completely submerging it in the water. Put soap (like castile soap) or a gentle detergent in the water. You can put extra soap directly on the pillow and rub it in to maximise your wash. Press the pillow flat against the bottom of the tub with your hands.

Drain the tub and refill it with clean water once you feel the pillow is clean enough. Squeeze the excess soap out by pressing the pillow flat against the bottom of the tub again. Do NOT wring it. Wringing may cause the foam to crack or tear.

Once your pillow is clean, make sure it is completely dry. You can start this process in your bathtub. Move it as far away as possible from the bathtub drain. Press the pillow flat against the bottom of the tub to remove excess water. Finish drying the pillow with one of the methods mentioned above.

Spot Treatment (As Needed)

Stains and Spills

Get a bowl full of lukewarm water and a clean sponge or brush. Add a gentle detergent, enzyme-based cleaner (specifically for urine), or dish soap to the water. Avoid any cleaners that contain bleach. Dip your sponge or brush in the water.

Gently rub the spot in a circular motion. You can add hydrogen peroxide to remove red stains, such as blood or wine. Once you cannot see the spot, take a clean sponge with water, and wash away the excess soap. Dry the memory foam pillow completely.

Discolouration From Sweat

Most pillows turn yellow over time from sweat. The discolouration is normal, so you do not need to toss your pillow in the bin just yet.

Instead, completely cover both sides of the pillow with baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a vacuum to remove the excess powder, and your pillow should be as good as new!

Sprinkle baking soda
Use baking soda to deodorise the memory foam pillow.

Deodorising Your Pillow (As Needed)

Your memory foam pillow may develop an unpleasant odour over time. Just like treating discolouration, you can also use baking soda to get rid of any smells emanating from your pillow.

Cover your pillow with baking powder and allow the powder to sit for at least one hour. Gently vacuum up the leftover powder. Your pillow should no longer smell bad, so you can continue to use it for a while longer.

Bottom Line

Caring for memory foam pillows may seem intimidating. They have special washing and drying instructions that many are not aware of. Researching the best methods is the first step.

Your memory foam pillow can last for 3-4 years when using a combination of regular cleanings, spot treatments, and protective covers. Considering memory foam pillows are quite expensive, it’s prudent to take proper care of them to ensure longevity.

Ask yourself when you last washed your pillow. If your answer is not within the past 2-3 months, it is time to give it a proper wash!

Emma Bethany

Emma Bethany

Emma is a wellness writer who has shared her knowledge for over three years. Her Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes means Emma approaches each topic with compassion and gentle curiosity. She wants everyone to be as passionate about taking care of their body as she is. That’s why Emma believes investing in your sleep is an investment in yourself. She wants to create a loving space to learn self-care and build a beautiful bedtime routine to soothe the soul. She loves to discover new ways to enhance sleep and embraces a holistic lifestyle. She enjoys settling down in the evening with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea.

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