Fluffy down-filled bed pillows provide plush comfort for sleep. But after months or years of use, even down pillows need freshening up through cleaning. Read on to learn specialized techniques for safely washing down pillows at home.

Why Down Pillows Require Special Care

The delicate structure of down makes it require more meticulous washing methods:

  • Down clusters are fluffy three dimensional pods that interconnect within pillows to create soft loft and airflow.
  • Agitation from home washing machines separates down clusters, causing clumping and loss of plushness.
  • Heat from dryers further strips down fibers of their natural oils leading to brittleness.
  • Detergents strip away down’s lanolin oils that protect from dust and allergens.
  • Bleach degrades down fibers and yellows them decreasing whiteness.

To avoid damage, down pillows cannot be machine washed and dried like regular bedding.

Supplies Needed

To properly hand wash down pillows at home, you’ll need:

  • Mild liquid detergent or down wash solution
  • Two large sinks/bathtubs for washing
  • Terry cloth towels
  • Zippered pillow protector or mesh bag
  • Clean tennis balls or dryer balls
  • Top loading washing machine (optional)
  • Clotheslines or drying rack

Gather the right supplies before getting started for smooth pillow washing.

Step-By-Step Washing Instructions

Follow this detailed process for cleaning down pillows:

  1. Strip pillowcases and discard any allergen coverings – they cannot be reused after washing.
  2. Check label specifications – some down pillows recommend dry clean only.
  3. Inspect for stains and treat any visible spots by dabbing gently with mild detergent. Avoid scrubbing.
  4. Place pillow in a mesh bag and zip closed – this prevents the down from escaping through the outer fabric layer.
  5. Fill sink with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Use a delicate soap or down-specific wash.
  6. Submerge pillow in wash solution and let soak for 15 minutes allowing detergent to fully penetrate inner down.
  7. Drain dirty water and gently press pillow to remove excess without wringing tightly. Refill sink with clean water.
  8. Rinse pillow thoroughly until water runs clear. Repeat rinse cycle if needed to fully remove all soap.

9._ Drain and lightly press_ to remove excess moisture.

  1. Transfer to dryer on low heat with clean tennis balls – balls separate and re-fluff down. Or tumble alone in washer.
  2. Air fluff outdoors after drying to fully freshen down before re-casing.

With the right steps and care, down pillows can be revitalized.

Drying Down Pillows Effectively

Proper drying is key to restoring down loft and softness after washing:

  • Avoid high heat – extreme temperatures damage delicate down proteins.
  • Use dryer balls/tennis balls – the balls gently separate down clumps.
  • Alternate cool air cycles – periodic cold air fluffs down pods back up.
  • Check frequently – pull pillows out periodically to check dryness and redistribute down before over-drying.
  • Air dry remainder – finish drying on a clothesline or rack if needed.
  • Let air thoroughly before re-casing – this fully deodorizes down.

Take steps to dry down pillows gradually and evenly for best results.

How Often Should Down Pillows Be Washed?

Only wash down pillows 1-2 times per year at maximum. Frequent washing damages down fibers leading to clumping, discoloration and brittleness. Stick to just occasional deeper cleaning cycles.

In between full washes, extend pillow freshness by:

  • Airing outdoors – sunlight and fresh air naturally deodorize
  • Spot treat stains – Catch any spills ASAP using a gentle soap solution on just the spot, not full pillow
  • Change pillowcases twice weekly – keeps oils and sweat from transferring to down
  • Use pillow protectors – adds a layer between your skin and pillow

Limit full washing and use interim freshening to minimize wear on delicate down.

Warning Signs It’s Time to Wash Down Pillows

Here are signs your down pillows are due for laundering:

  • Visible stains
  • Yellowed fibers
  • Lumpy, misshapen areas
  • Loss of loft and fluffiness
  • Strong musty odor
  • Increase in allergies
  • General sense of feeling “flat”

Periodically wash pillows before they show excess signs of wear.

Alternative Cleaning Options

While standard home washing works for many, you can also use these methods:

  • Dry cleaning – costlier but may be required for pillows where washing risks voiding the warranty
  • Professional wet cleaning – offered by some laundromats; gentler than home machines
  • Steam sanitization – steamers provide a less abrasive, chemical-free refresh between washes

Explore options beyond home washing based on your pillow’s specifics.

Down Pillow Washing FAQs

Here are some common questions about cleaning down bedding:

Can I put down pillows in the washing machine?

Only front-loading machines on gentle cycle using a mesh bag. Avoid top-loading agitator machines that can damage down.

How do you dry down pillows without a dryer?

Lay flat on a breathable surface out of sunlight. Prop up on ropes or racks to air fluff. Turn periodically until fully dried.

What happens if you don’t wash your down pillow?

Over time, body oils, sweat, dust mites, dead skin and mildew will accumulate degrading the down and creating unsanitary conditions.

How often should you wash down pillow protectors?

Every 1 to 2 weeks along with your pillowcases. Frequent protector washing keeps oils and allergens from penetrating the pillow itself between deep cleanings.

Can you put tennis balls in a hot dryer?

Yes, the heat resistance of tennis balls allows them to be safely dried on high heat to fluff down bedding. The balls should be dedicated only for use in dryers.

What temperature kills dust mites?

Temperatures over 130°F are needed to kill dust mites and sanitize bedding. Use hot water for washing and high heat drying.

Don’t let grime degrade your down! Bring your flat, stained down pillows into Laundry Pile in Austin, TX and let our experts revitalize them. We use professional grade cleaners and specialized equipment to wash down and feather bedding without damage. We’ll thoroughly restore loft and fluffiness to your pillows and improve allergy and asthma symptoms too. Trust Laundry Pile for down cleaning done right.

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