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How to Wash and Clean Memory Foam Pillows

Cleaning memory foam pillows can be challenging, especially since it reacts negatively to moisture absorption. For this reason, spot cleaning methods are preferred over others. Their numerous benefits aside, cleaning memory foam pillows can be tedious if you are new to them. They require time, patience, and extra care to keep that supportive filling intact and last you a long time.

Can You Wash a Memory Foam Pillow?

Yes, you can wash a memory foam pillow by hand if it smells like sweat or has got any stains. However, you should always avoid putting memory foam in a washing machine.

The delicate, plush filling can easily lose its characteristic support due to water exposure and the rough thrashing that comes with washing a memory foam pillow in a washing machine. This constant agitation from the machine cycle or even rough hand washing can crack the foam and it will have gone to waste. Similarly, the extensive heat and thrashing from a tumble dryer may damage your memory foam pillow beyond repair.

Flexible, bouncy, and deliciously plush, memory foam pillows offer a range of benefits to the user, but they can be difficult to maintain since they washed or dried in the machine.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow?

While machine washing is not an option for memory foam pillows, they still need to be properly cleaned and sanitized to maintain freshness and keep them from becoming a health hazard. For this purpose, spot cleaning is a far better option that is foolproof if done properly and will protect your memory foam pillow’s malleability.

Spot cleaning may require a little more effort than machine washing but the more you do it, the more you get used to it and the easier it gets. All you need is a clean white cloth, towel, or paper towel that you can use to transfer any spills or stains from the pillow. Ensuring that correct cleaning solutions are used and that all moisture is removed from the pillow after cleaning is essential to maintain the loft and support of your memory foam pillow.

Cleaning a Spill

Spills and small stains on your solid memory foam pillow can easily be spot-cleaned by using the effective stain absorption method. Most liquid stains can be removed without much effort but in case of tougher stains from blood or wine spills, you may need to use extensive spot cleaning to get rid of the marks.

For small liquid stains, you can simply apply a small amount of an enzyme-based cleaner or even a mild detergent to the affected spot on the pillow. After application, gently press and massage the stain in an outward motion until it has significantly lightened and transferred to the cloth.

Once the stain is removed, turn the cloth and with the clean end, gently blot the excess liquid away until your memory foam pillow is completely dry. As an extra precaution, it is recommended to keep the pillow and the pillow case outside for a few hours to eliminate any remaining moisture to prevent mildew growth.

Deodorizing Your Foam Pillow

You may notice an odd smell from your brand-new memory foam pillow, and this is due to off-gassing which is quite common in memory foam products. Off-gassing occurs due to the harmful gas build-up during pillow packaging. If it is bothersome and affects your sleep quality, you can simply leave your memory foam pillow outside in the fresh air or near an open window for a few hours and this will get rid of all odors.

If you have been using your memory foam pillow for a while and you begin to notice an odd, musty smell wafting from the foam and cover, you can follow these cleaning tips to get rid of the smell and create a better sleeping environment.

Firstly, take off any protective covers from the pillow and toss the pillow casing in the washing machine. Next, put your pillow on a flat surface and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda over the pillow, leaving it to rest for two to three hours. Finally, use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to suck out the excess powder thoroughly.

This is an effective way to deodorize your pillow as the upholstery attachments also removes any hairs, dead skin cells, or invisible detritus that may be glued to the pillow.

Spot Cleaning

While mild spills and stains can be dabbed away easily, tougher stains can be trickier and require a more extensive spot cleaning method. Blood or wine stains, for instance, may require immediate attention as they might leave permanent marks.

To spot clean your memory foam pillow in case of a stronger spill, make sure to take off any protective cover or pillowcase that may get in the way. Next, use 3% hydrogen peroxide and dab it directly to the stained spot. Using a clean paper towel or white cloth, begin gently blotting until the peroxide stops reacting and bubbling. Now spray the stained spot with some cold water and you can even use an old toothbrush to clean away the mark. Make sure you use a gentle hand when rubbing with a toothbrush!

In case of other spills like pet urine, you can use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, one teaspoon of white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Apply the mixture on the stained spot and leave overnight to ensure that the stain is completely removed. Finally, blot the mixture away with cold water and leave your pillow out to dry completely.

When spot cleaning, it is essential to allow the pillow dry thoroughly as any remaining moisture may result in pungent odors and excessive bacteria growth.

How to Wash Your Memory Foam Pillow?

Despite its unmatched luxury and comfort, memory foam pillows can be a hassle especially because they are not machine washable. Pillow care for memory foam pillows can take time and effort but once you get used to it, the process becomes easier.

So, if you cannot wash or dry it in the machine, how do you clean it? When it is time for a thorough pillow cleaning, fill up a bucket, bathtub or your sink with lukewarm water and sprinkle a small amount of mild detergent. You can even add a drop or two of lavender oil for that delicious scent! Once done, submerge your pillow into the water mixture and gently squeeze it so the water can reach beneath the surface. Repeat this process twice or thrice.

Once this step is complete, you can begin draining the soapy water and refill with clean lukewarm water. With your fingers or your palms, gently squeeze the pillow several times, removing the soapy residue and allowing the clean water to wash away remaining dirt or soap. Do this until the water runs clear.

Now gently squeeze your pillow and remove all excess water, but avoid thrashing, twisting, or pressing down with all your strength as this might crumble the tender filling completely. Finally, leave your memory foam pillow to air dry in the sunlight, or a well-ventilated room, near a fan. Make sure that every drop of moisture has been thoroughly dried before you slip the pillowcase on and begin to use your pillow again.

washing memory foam pillow

Frequently Asked Questions

Can memory foam pillows be washed in the washing machine?

Whether it is a solid memory foam pillow or a shredded memory foam pillow, you should avoid putting your memory foam pillow in a washing machine or dryer at all costs. This is not only harmful for the filling, but it almost always renders the pillow useless because it crumbles the memory foam completely requiring you to replace your memory foam pillow.

Memory foam is basically polyurethane foam with some added chemicals. The aggressive thrashing and spinning of the washing cycle can rip apart the tender filling. Furthermore, a washing machine will also not thoroughly clean the pillow as well as the steps mentioned above. For memory foam pillows, it is crucial to squeeze and wash away the dirt and germs inside the foam for the pillow to be perfectly clean again.

Can you steam clean a memory foam pillow?

Steam cleaning your memory foam pillow is not recommended. This is because it risks excess moisture penetrating the layers of the memory foam filling. The chances of ruining your pillow are very high if you take the risk and steam clean the pillow. In fact, most memory foam pillow manufacturers also specifically discourage and warn against steam cleaning. Spot cleaning is the ideal method to effectively clean your memory foam pillows.

Can memory foam pillows grow mold?

Memory foam pillows can develop mold and mildew, especially if they are not properly dried after washing. These moist and damp environments are ideal for bacteria to grow and thrive. You can avoid this by cleaning or washing your pillow according to the instructions provided on the label and ensuring that your memory foam pillow is properly dried before you slip the cover back on and begin using it again.

It is true that unlike other pillows, memory foam pillows are generally resistant to dust mites and bacteria, but can still trap dead skin cells, swear, skin oils, and makeup products which may result in mold if not cleaned properly. To avoid this, it is important to wash your memory foam pillow twice or thrice a year. However, washing is not the only solution for this problem.

Proper drying methods must be used to avoid feeding bacteria with moisture, food, and the temperature it needs to grow. Air drying is a better option – let the pillow rest outside under the sun and wait a few hours until all traces of moisture are removed. You can also use a hair dryer or place it under a fan to speed up the drying process.

Sleeping with a wet head can also cause this, so be sure to always dry your hair before heading to bed.

Can bed bugs live in memory foam pillows?

Though memory foam is naturally hypoallergenic, bed bugs can still survive and thrive on your memory foam pillow. While many manufacturers will ensure that their memory foam products can keep bed bugs out, there is still always a possibility that you may build the right environment for them to live on your pillow.

Bed bugs do not actually live inside the foam or the filling of the pillow. In fact, they harbor at edges and other hidden nooks and crannies on the surface of the pillow or memory foam mattress. They crawl and may survive at the edge areas or beneath your pillow and will crawl out when you are sleeping. This can be a serious health hazard, so it is important to keep your pillows tidy, fresh, and clean.

Instead of washing the entire memory foam pillow, it would be better to use a pillow cover which can be washed weekly to ensure that you have a healthy sleep environment and there are no bed bugs or their feces littering around your pillow.

How do you disinfect a memory foam pillow?

The most effective way to disinfect a memory foam pillow is by sprinkling a small amount of baking soda over your pillow and letting it rest for around thirty minutes to an hour. Once done, simply use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment and clean the powder from the pillow. This will also suck out any dead skin cells, hair, or other impurities that are invisible to the naked eye.

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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