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How to Spot Clean a Pillow?

Most common synthetic pillows are washable, but some materials like latex and foam pillows require spot-cleaning to keep them looking their best, even after excessive use. Also, in a situation where you are unsure about the proper method of cleaning out those stains and spills from your pillow, it is better to choose a gentle approach like spot-cleaning to avoid permanent damage or discoloration.

What Does Spot Clean Only Mean on a Pillow?

Certain, fragile luxury pillows may say “spot clean only” on the care label. This means that your pillow is not washable and may be permanently damaged if not cleaned according to the precise instructions.

Throw pillows or pillows with special filling, embellishments such as beading, lace or sequins, or sensitive dyes usually come with spot clean only labels. These pillows cannot be hand washed, tossed in a washing machine, wet cleaned or dry cleaned.

The only correct way of getting rid of spots, stains and odors on these pillows is by gently removing them with specialized spotting agents, air drying or by using clean towels to carefully press and soak up unwanted spills.

Always read any labels or tags that come with your pillows to protect against permanent damage. If you find a spot clean only label on your pillow, avoid throwing your pillow in a washing machine.

Bear in mind that spot cleaning the pillows can be challenging depending on the fabric type and inner filling material as it might leave wet rings or circles around the spotted area. Always use a clean towel to absorb excess moisture before it interferes with the filling.

How to Spot Clean a Pillow?

Spot cleaning your special pillows is easy but time consuming. It requires patience and attention as you rid your pillows of spots and spills. If performed carefully, spot cleaning is incredibly effective and can increase the lifespan of your expensive pillows without risking any damage to the filling. Here is how you can spot clean your pillows by following some simple steps:

1. Brush Away Excess Dust

brushing dust off before spot cleaning a pillow

Start cleaning unwanted marks from your pillow by removing excess dust on the surface first! This step is crucial to avoid pushing dust into the fabric by applying moisture directly.

Wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth. Then take your pillow outside and smack it with your hands, each side at a time, to release clouds of dust and debris packed within the fabric and filling. Repeat this cleaning process before vacuuming your pillow using an upholstery brush attachment. This will suck out any debris that is glued inside the filling.

Remember to use a gentle hand with pillows decorated with lace, buttons and beads, or loose adornments that may break or rip during the vacuuming process.

2. Absorb Moisture from Stains or Spills

In case of recent spills, use a folded clean white cloth or a bunch of paper towels and press against the stain to remove as much moisture as possible. Absorbing the liquid from the spill immediately helps prevent permanent staining.

Ensure that you keep moving to a fresh and clean portion of the cloth or paper towels as you press gently against the spot. Remember not to press too hard as that might damage the delicate filling. Continue this process until remaining moisture transfers to the cloth or towel.

When using cloth, always use a white piece rather than dyed material as the latter may leave prints and traces of tint onto the clean surface of the pillow.

3. Use Mild Soapy Water

Dip a clean white cloth in warm water mixed with mild soap. Then squeeze the excess water from the cloth before gently pressing it against spots on your pillow. A great technique is to always wipe from the outside and gently make your way to the center of the stain to avoid spreading it.

This spot cleaning technique can eliminate tough and rough spots and stains from your expensive pillows. Remember to always test this on a small area or corner of the pillow in case the fabric’s care tag is missing. This is to ensure that the water will not affect any dye on the fabric.

Finally, use another clean damp cloth to remove soapy residue and dry your pillow thoroughly to wipe out traces of moisture.

4. Get Rid of Sticky Spots

Certain stains and spots are difficult to get rid of. Sticky syrups or juices, chewing gum, chocolate or cream are few examples of stains that are a struggle to deal with.

To rid your pillow of these sticky bits, simply stuff ice in a zip lock pouch or sandwich bag and place it over the spot until it begins to harden. Then gently remove the now solid substance using a plastic knife or spoon whilst pushing inwards from the outside of the spot.

In case the substance begins to loosen or liquify again, cover it with the ice bag until it is firm. Simply repeat the process until it scrapes off. For some pillows, you can even gently press or wiggle the pillow fabric under the hardened spillage to release it from the surface. Lastly, spot clean using a damp white cloth to clear any remaining stains on your pillow.

5. Erasing Ink Marks

If you spot an inky blot or a streak from a pen on your expensive pillow, remove the stain with rubbing alcohol. Mix same amounts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Dip a clean white cloth in this solution and gently dab the spot on the pillow. Use the fresh corners of the cloth with every few dabs to transfer the ink off the pillow. Repeat this process until the stain is cleared.

It is important to test this technique on the corner or edge of the pillow first to ensure colorfastness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I machine-wash spot-clean only pillows?

No, you cannot machine wash spot-clean only pillows. Bringing them in contact with water or other types of moisture will disintegrate the filling, effectively destroying your expensive pillow.

If the label on your pillow specifically mentions spot cleaning only, then it cannot be machine washed, hand washed, wet cleaned or dry cleaned. To clean these types of delicate pillows, it is best to smack out traces of dust with your hands first. Clean any tough and rough stains using a damp, clean white cloth dipped in mild soapy warm water and gently press against the stain until it is transferred to the cloth. Thoroughly air dry your pillow to remove remaining moisture.

How do you disinfect a spot-clean only pillow?

Spot-clean only pillows like throw pillows can be disinfected by placing them out in the sun on a warm, clear day. Leave them out on a flat surface for a few hours to help eliminate bacteria and stubborn smell.

Next, take the buttoned or zipped cover off the pillow and wash it using mild laundry detergent. Make sure to read any washing directions provided on the label first.

If the pillow cover is not washable, you can spray it with spray disinfectant or sanitize the pillow by sprinkling some borax on it and leave it for at least an hour. Gently vacuum it off using an upholstery attachment. Finally, fluff the pillow and zip the clean cover back on.

How do you wash throw pillows that cannot be washed?

Throw pillows or decorative pillows that cannot be washed should be spot cleaned and air dried instead. Firstly, always remember to read the care label for cleaning instructions. For throw pillows that cannot be washed, simply use the spot cleaning method. If you are unsure about the washing technique, then spot test the fabric for safety first.

To clean and sanitize throw pillows that cannot be washed, you can use a clean white cloth and dip it in mild soap. Then press it against the stain to soak it up and air dry your pillow completely to eliminate traces of moisture. If the throw pillow cover is not sewn to the filling and can be taken off, you can wash it in a washing machine.

Leave out the throw pillow in the sun for a few hours or in a well-ventilated room to remove odors and bacteria. Then slip the clean cover back on and sprinkle the pillow with some borax if needed. You can vacuum the powder off using an upholstery attachment, leaving your throw pillows sanitized and smelling fresh.

Kristina Vaughn
Kristina is an expert on effective and out-of-the-box cleaning methods that make life easier and less messy. She extensively researches on innovative new cleaning strategies that could save time and energy, especially when you have a tight schedule. Kristina reviews new products in the market and determines whether they are worth the money to make the shopping and cleaning experience completely worth it. Whether it is cleaning non-washable materials, getting rid of bed bugs, and making your bedding insect-proof, Kristina has just the concoction for you.
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