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How to Wash a Body Pillow – Dakimakura Cleaning Guide

Washing your body pillow the right way, without damaging it, might sound like a strenuous task. With all those indecipherable symbols on your pillow’s care label making you anxious, you might find it impossible to fully follow those instructions. However, you just can’t keep hugging an unclean and unhygienic pillow to sleep everyday; especially when the procedure is actually pretty simple and easy to follow.

Let’s put all your woes, surrounding the body pillow washing procedure, to rest.

Can You Wash a Body Pillow?

You can definitely wash a body pillow and in fact you should wash it every 3-6 months in order to keep it fresh and clean. The same however does not hold true for all types of body pillows. There are certain pillows that are not machine friendly and therefore require hand washing.

Body pillows tend to collect the dirt and allergens from their environment along with sweat and body oils from your body. The resulting pillow surface becomes unhygienic and unfit to rest your head on following regular use. You will have to ensure timely cleaning in order to reap the benefits of sleeping with a body pillow.

What you need to make sure is that the size of your body pillow does not exceed the capacity of your washing machine. In case it does, you might fail to stash in your pillow within the machine, or even if you do, the pillow will not move within the washer and thus will remain unclean. You would therefore either need to go over to a laundromat or hand wash the pillow.

You also need to check the material covering and filling of your pillow. Certain material fabrics tend to get damaged by a machine wash cycle and can therefore drastically decrease your body pillow’s life.

Once you make sure that your body pillow can be washed in a machine, follow the appropriate instructions to wash it thoroughly.

washing body pillows in a washing machine

How to Wash a Body Pillow (aka Dakimakura)

Body pillows, also known as Dakimakura in Japan, are generally pretty huge and therefore can seem difficult to wash at home. However, if you have the right sized washing machine, washing your body pillow can turn out to be a way easier task than you presumed.

You wouldn’t want your body pillow to lose its cushioning support and the incredibly soft feel that you bought it for. However, frequent and wrongfully performed washing techniques can damage you pillow filling and render it useless.

Since body pillows come in different sizes, shapes and materials, the washing technique for each differs. We have therefore compiled these instructions that can help guide you through the right procedures of washing your particular body pillow.

Identify the material of your body pillow

Identifying and finding out the material of your body pillow is essential to determine the right washing technique. Not all pillows can be machine washed, especially those containing a memory foam or latex filling.

Memory foam and latex filled pillows require hand washing. The process is fairly simple. All you need to do is to add a mild detergent in a tub full of cold water and immerse your pillow into the tub. To cleanse the pillow off the allergens and dirt, squeeze out the soapy water and then rinse the pillow using cold clean water. You can repeat the process to thoroughly clean your pillow before putting it out in the sun to dry.

Down, feather and down alternative pillows are generally machine friendly. However, they too require you to be careful while washing. You need to follow the instructions that come with the care label of your body pillow in order to prevent your pillow from damage. The same goes for cotton and cotton-poly blends.

Determine washing temperature

Even if it sounds appropriate to have your body pillow washed at a higher temperature in order to kill the dust mites, bacteria and allergens, doing so is essentially a bad idea.

Different materials used in the construction of your body pillow can withstand different temperatures. You need to identify the maximum water temperature that your particular body pillow can take without damaging the pillow fibers. For that you need to look into the care label that came along with your pillow. Most manufacturers mark the maximum temperature inside a washing machine symbol on the care label of their pillow.

Higher temperatures can even cause shrinkage in your pillow fabrics and ruin the overall shape of your pillow. It is therefore preferable that you wash your pillow with either cold water or warm water, but never hot water.

Choose an appropriate detergent depending on material

Different pillow filling materials react differently to the chemicals contained within the laundry detergents. Most manufacturers, through the pillow’s care label, explicitly forbid the use of certain chemicals or detergents they think might damage the pillow fibers.

Detergents are often designed keeping in mind the technique of washing you might require. For example down, feather and down alternative pillows require detergents that are specially synthesized to be used within a washing machine. The down and feather pillows in particular need to be washed with a mild powder laundry detergent. Liquid detergents can cause clumping of the pillow filling and can become difficult to thoroughly rinse out of the pillow.

The latex and memory foam pillows, on the other hand, should essentially utilize detergents that are made to be used for a hand-wash. These detergents are also mild and used in a small quantity to prevent the material from getting damaged.

A dishwasher detergent is recommended if your pillow has too much oils and grease accumulated.

Select a washing technique and wash

From what we have discussed so far, there are essentially two different ways you can wash your body pillow; hand washing or washing in a machine.

You need to hand-wash your memory foam or later body pillows in order to prevent them from clumping. For that, you typically need to dust off the accumulating debris and bacteria from your pillow and soak it in a tub filled with laundry detergent and water. You can even scrub off the dirt from your pillow, within the tub by kneading it using your hands. You can later rinse out the soapy water by passing the pillow through clean cold water, which acts a second rinse cycle.

For your down, feather and down alternative body pillows, you can wash them in a washing machine. This includes putting your pillow into an adequately sized laundry machine filled with laundry detergent and warm water. If your body pillow is slightly smaller, you can put two pillows in the washer together to ensure that the pillow does not excessively toss around within the machine. Make sure to also follow the instructions given on the care label of your pillow.

Dry the pillow

Have you ever washed your body pillow and found out a really bad smell lingering within it as you try to use it? This is a common problem associated with inappropriate drying process of your body pillow.

Once your pillow has been thoroughly washed, drying it completely is absolutely essential. Any moisture that gets trapped within the pillow will allow the growth of mold and mildew and its associated bad odor. Lingering moisture can even trap more dirt and dust particles from its surroundings as compared to a completely dried body pillow.

To dry your pillow, you once again need to head to the care label to find out if your particular pillow can withstand higher temperatures to dry. Most pillows are to be dried using only the air-dry settings, for any amount of heat can prove to be damaging to the pillow fabric. For some pillows, on the other hand, you can tumble dry them using a lower heat setting.

While a high heat setting can complete the job in less time, it can also cause your pillow to disfigure. So instead, increase the number of drying cycles for your pillow instead of increasing the temperature.

Memory foam and latex pillows should never be put in the dryer. Instead, simply let them dry in open air or sun.

How Do You Wash a Body Pillow Cover?

Washing a body pillow cover is essentially the same procedure as washing the pillow itself. Once you have removed the pillowcase from the body pillow, you simply need to start off by reading the care instructions stated in the label of your body pillow. There are certain considerations that you need to follow when washing the pillow cover, and which are mostly mentioned on the care label. These include:

  1. Make sure to use the right washing technique depending on material. Similar to what we discussed about washing the pillows, not all pillow covers can be machine washed. Some should rather be hand-washed instead to prevent damage. As a general rule of thumb, here are some commonly used materials for body pillow covers and the right techniques to wash them:
    • Cotton- machine/ hand washable
    • Polyester – Machine and Hand Washable
    • Acetate – hand wash or a very gentle machine wash cycle
    • Linen- Machine and Hand washable
    • Polyester – Machine and Hand Washable
    • Silk – Hand wash only
    • Wool – Hand wash only
  2. Wash separately or with similar colored fabrics. For the most part, there is rarely any need to wash your pillowcase separately. It is however advisable not to wash light colored covers with darker colored fabrics so as not to stain the former.
  3. Make sure to opt for appropriate water temperature as stated on the care label. Avoid using very hot water as it may damage the fabric.

Spot Cleaning a Body Pillow

Imagine staining your pillow right after you washed it; do you give it another wash or live with the stained pillow until the time to wash it again comes up?

Since body pillows tend to easily get damaged with frequent washing, washing it again is out of question especially if it’s just a small stain. This is where spot cleaning comes in handy since it allows you to clean up only the stained area.

Before starting the spot cleaning process, you need to identify the kind of stain your pillow got. There are different detergents that work for any particular type of stain and so finding the right one for your pillow’s present condition becomes crucial. For a blood stain, you can use a mild detergent, whereas for a stain as stubborn as that of red wine, you shall need a stronger one.

The identified detergent should then be used to spot clean the stain on your pillow. Once done, you however need to make sure that you remove all the detergent using a water soaked sponge or cloth. Residual detergent can actually cause health and safety concerns, especially for pregnant women. You might also need to remove the soap spots left by your detergent or water, using a clean sponge soaked in more water.

Once you have cleaned the stain, air dry it before you use it again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a body pillow fluffy again?

There are in fact plenty of ways to do exactly that. Your pillows would need regular fluffing and the process isn’t half as difficult as it sounds. You can start off by squeezing in and out the corners of your body pillow in a way that redistributes the filling inside. Squeeze it fastly, first from one side to the other and then top to bottom. Hitting the pillow lightly with your hands or whacking it on your bed to even it out can also do the trick.

Apart from the daily routine, you would need to put your pillow out in the sun to make it fluffy again. All it takes is three to four hours for the sun to dry up any moisture and rejuvenate the pillow’s volume.

If that fails to do the trick, you should try putting your body pillow within a dryer. It’s fairly simple; secure a tennis ball within a sock and throw it inside the dryer. If tennis balls are not available, you can also use dryer balls. Using a low heat setting or preferably the air setting, give your pillow a 20 minutes cycle before taking it out.

Can you put a body pillow in the washing machine?

Ideally, you can wash your body pillow in a washing machine. There are however certain factors you need to consider before you do so. First off, you need to check whether or not your body pillow filling material is machine friendly. Some pillows such as the down and feather fillings are not very machine friendly and need to be dry cleaned instead. Putting them in the washing machine may end up destroying the internal stuffing.

The decision to machine-wash your body pillow also depends upon the size of the pillow. Body pillows are often larger than what regular sized washing machines can accommodate and can therefore may not fit into one. In case it fits and you go on to stuff your pillow into a washing machine, try and make sure there is enough space left in the machine to allow your pillow to move.

How long do body pillows last?

The lifespan of a body pillow depends on the materials used. As a general rule of thumb, your body pillows last for anywhere between one to two years, after which they start deteriorating.

There are certain ways you can increase the life of your body pillow. It includes washing your pillow regularly every 3-6 months using the right technique. You should also put your body pillow in a protective casing in order to keep it clean for a longer period.

It is however advised to replace your body pillow after a maximum of 2 years. With regular use, the pillow starts absorbing and accumulating your body oils, sweat, dust mites and various allergens. These not only make your pillow unhygienic but also deteriorates the pillow’s filling. With more frequent washes, your pillow can lose its fluff and support ending up unfit for continuous use.

Can I put a body pillow in the dryer?

Yes, you definitely can put a body pillow in a dryer, however certain considerations need to be taken into account as you start the drying process. Just as with washing the pillow, you need to check the care labels to see whether or not the materials used are dryer friendly. Once the care label gives you a go ahead, you can then toss your pillow into the dryer.

It is recommended that you add two to three dryer balls or tennis balls wrapped within separate socks or wool caps, within your dryer along with the pillows. The beating of these tennis balls helps improve the fluffiness of your body pillow.

You would also need to keep the dryer setting in check. Pillows with feather and down fillings, for example, do not fare well with high heat settings and would therefore need to be air dried. Most other body pillows would need very low heat settings to prevent their fibers from getting damaged.

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