Can You Wash Your Feather Pillows?

Your feather pillows offer a restful and cozy slumber, creating a soft place to lay your head every evening. Over time, you might notice they become flat, or give off odors that are less than appealing. Your pillows see a lot of wear over time, and sweat, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and daily use can all contribute to making them dirty. But can you wash your pillows just as you would wash your pillowcase, or will it ruin them for good? Most feather pillows can last for ten years or more, according to Love To Know, which is why people tend to wonder if they can eventually clean them in a machine. This age-old question has plagued feather cushion lovers for years, but there is some good news on the horizon.

First thing first: You should not throw feather pillows into the wash every time they get a little soiled. Down & Feather Company explains that machine washing down is for catastrophes and extreme cases, like a pet having an accident on your bed or other undesirable substances seeping in. If spot treatment is out of the question, your favorite headrest is something you can clean in your washing machine, but there are some precautions to take before doing so. It would be a shame to ruin the pillows while trying to restore them, so keep the following tips in mind when cleaning.

Yes... but don't use detergent

Avoiding detergent is a key element in washing feather pillows, notes Down & Feather Company. One of the most fascinating things about the makeup of a feather is that the natural oils found on it are there to make it waterproof. According to Science Focus, birds have a gland known as the uropygial, which they use to collect oils on their beaks. Located near their tail, this preen gland helps their feathers stay waterproof, as the oil contained in it keeps out moisture once it's spread over the barbules of the feathers. We bring this up to note that, while feathers are meant to repel water, detergents can impede this ability by stripping away the oils.

When the feathers in your pillow lose this coating, Down & Feather Company says they will become brittle and eventually begin to snap. As you sleep, these sharp ends will poke out from the casing, making for an uncomfortable rest, to say the least. If they really need a machine wash, remove them from their cases and place the pillows in the machine to be run through a gentle cycle with only water.

Cycle options

One important thing to remember, according to Pacific Coast Feather Company, is to place two pillows in the machine together in order to avoid an uneven spin cycle. This will not only help to avoid the loud thumping that comes with items that have clumped together but will allow excess water to drain out of the pillows. Gentle or delicate cycles are the only options for pillows filled with feathers, but you can pick the water temperature you think is best. Warm or cold is less intense than hot and might be less wearing on the fabric.

After the wash is finished, Pacific Coast recommends running the pillows through your dryer on a low heat setting. Before throwing them in, try fluffing each one a little to separate the contents. Per Hunker, you have several options before starting the cycle, all of which will help them dry properly. You can either add two tennis balls or dryer balls. Hunker notes that both options will ensure the pillows come out fluffy and soft, making them feel just like new. Dryer sheets are fine to use, too, but the dryer balls offer the perks of both items combined, helping to absorb moisture more quickly and efficiently. You might need to run them through two cycles to ensure all the feathers are dry, so feel each pillow thoroughly before placing them back on the bed.