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How to Clean/Wash a Memory Foam Pillow Properly

Memory foam pillows are great investments. They can ease your back pain, reduce snoring and help you sleep better by adapting to the contours of your neck and head. However, one of the biggest challenges with memory foam pillows is the cleaning process, as they tend to disintegrate when washed with water.

Considering we spend about 8 hours sleeping, a lot of our sweat, natural oil, and dead skin cells get accumulated on the bed pillow. These things further act as fodder for dust mites and microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria. Aside from increasing acne outbreak, sleeping on a dirty memory foam pillow can also trigger allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and breathing difficulties.

To avoid these problems, you have to clean your pillows regularly, but how can you wash them without interfering with their quality?

As you continue using your memory foam pillow, you should know how to keep it fresh and clean while keeping its quality intact, and this article will discuss all that in great detail. If you also want to learn about cleaning a memory foam topper, read this post.

Steps to Clean Your Memory Foam Pillow

While you can toss your pillow covers and bedsheets into the washing machine, you can’t clean your memory foam pillow the same way. This is because memory foam can easily get ripped or damaged in the washing machine. Depending on the condition of your pillow, you can use any of the following cleaning methods:

  • Deodorize the pillow
  • Spot cleaning
  • Deep cleaning

Let’s delve into each of these processes to understand when and how a specific method is used.

How to Deodorize Your Memory Foam Pillow

What you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Upholstery attachment
  • Vacuum cleaner

One of the easiest ways of cleaning your memory foam pillow is by using baking soda and a vacuum cleaner. Start by removing the protective pillow cover (if it’s removable) and the pillowcase, and then lay the pillow on a clean, flat surface. This will make it easier to reach all the corners.

Next, sprinkle one side of your pillow with baking soda while ensuring every pillow section is covered. You can also mix the baking soda with one drop of lavender essential oil to give it a pleasant smell. Now let the pillow sit in the sun for about 2 to 3 hours for odor removal.

Vacuum up the odor-absorbed baking soda with an upholstery attachment. Vacuuming will also remove skin cells, dust, and other particles from your pillow. Lastly, flip your memory foam pillow over and repeat this procedure on the other side.

After vacuuming, consider leaving your pillow outside in the sun for about one hour. Sunshine is a good tool for disinfecting pillows due to the ultraviolet radiation. As part of regular maintenance, it’s wise to vacuum your memory foam pillows once a week to prevent dust accumulation.

Also, it’s good to purchase an inexpensive handheld vacuum that you can only use for your pillow. This will prevent you from using the same tool for your floors and bedding.

How to Spot Clean your Memory Foam Pillow

What you need:

  • Cold water
  • Spray bottle
  • Mild detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Clean cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda

For removing everyday stains from your foam pillow, you can consider spot cleaning instead of washing it entirely. But remember, it’s best to get rid of the stains while they’re still fresh. Not spot cleaning the stains as soon as you notice them will make your task more laborious.

Also, make sure you use a light-colored clean cloth during the cleaning process as darker colors might bleed and further stain your pillow when dipped in the cleaning solution. While there are general rules on removing stains and spills, we recommend checking the guidelines on your memory foam pillow’s care label before using anything to clean it.

The Cleaning Process

Now to the cleaning procedure, start by removing all the coverings and washing them according to their care instructions. You can also soak them in cool water and then hand wash them or toss them in the washing machine (if they’re machine-washable).

With the pillowcase removed, use a paper towel or a dry, clean cloth to blot the stain. Try to pull out as much of the stain as possible. Instead of rubbing or hard scrabbing the stained section, consider using blotting motions with your hands.

Remember, rubbing won’t help remove the stain. In fact, it could end up causing more damage by spreading it across your pillow. Another thing to consider is that less gentle motions can ruin your pillow’s foam structure.

After removing excess moisture from your pillow, combine a gentle detergent with lukewarm water to form a stain remover solution (mix until the solution reaches a bubbly consistency). Avoid using hot water as it will cause the stain to set, making it harder to remove.

Dip a clean cloth into the cleaning solution and wring it out. Gently rub the stain in a circular motion from the outer section towards the center. As the stain attaches to your white cloth, switch to a clean area before rubbing the stain in circular motions. If you’re having trouble getting the spill out, squirt a drop of mild dish soap (alcohol-free) onto the cloth and use it to rub the spill area.

Repeat this procedure until the stain is removed. After cleaning up the spill, dip a new clean white cloth into lukewarm water and wring it out to remove excess water. Now dab the previously stained section of the pillow to remove any soap residue before blotting the area with a dry towel.

How to Handle Dark-colored Beverages and Urine

If you’re dealing with blood or dark-colored beverages, pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stained section. Allow the peroxide to bubble as it breaks down the stain. Next, lightly spray the stained section with cold water and scrub the stain using an old toothbrush. Lastly, blot the stain away with a paper towel.

For urine stains, combine one tablespoon of white vinegar, one cup of hydrogen peroxide, and two tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Then spray the cleaning solution directly onto the stain and let it sit for a night. Blot the area with a damp cloth in the morning. If the odor persists, repeat the process.

Once you’ve cleaned up the stain, air dry the pillow completely before replacing the pillowcase. You can place it in direct sunlight or under the fan to speed up the drying process.

How to Deep Clean Your Memory Foam Pillow

What you need:

  • Large tub
  • Cool water
  • Gentle detergent

In extreme cases (when treating tough stains), you might have to deep clean your memory foam pillow. But be warned that this method can ultimately ruin your pillow’s quality. So, we don’t recommend deep cleaning as much. For memory foam pillows, regular spot cleaning and deodorizing them are considered the best methods.

Before soaking your pillow, read the care label for specific directions on cleaning the pillow. Fill a large tub or sink with cold or lukewarm water and then add a small amount of mild detergent. Agitate the cold water to form suds. You can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your solution to enhance the pillow's scent and help you sleep more peacefully.

The Cleaning Process

Remove the coverings, and then submerge your pillow entirely in soapy water. Squeeze the foam in the water to allow the solution to penetrate your pillow’s materials. Avoid wringing as this can damage the memory foam.

Empty the soapy solution from the sink/tab once the stain is removed before refilling it with cold water. Let the clean water run over your memory foam pillow for extra rinsing. Gently squeeze the pillow in the water to flush out the soapy residue. Consider doing this several times until the water runs clear.

Remove your pillow from the tub, then press it gently to remove the excess liquid. Continue squeezing the foam pillow to get as much water as possible before placing it on a dry towel for air drying. The drying process should take about 12 to 24 hours. However, you can use a hairdryer (on the cool setting) to speed up the process.

If it’s a warm day outside, place your pillow in direct sunlight and flip it occasionally to air dry completely. Besides damaging the foam, using your pillow while still wet could encourage mold growth.

General Care Instructions for Memory Foam Pillows

Remember, the manufacturer’s instructions are your best bet to washing memory foam pillows. So, one of the first actions any sleeper can take toward caring for their pillow is to read the instructions and stick to them.

Other care tips that can help you keep your memory foam pillow fresh include:

  • Vacuum clean the pillow surface at least once a week
  • Spot clean the pillow once a month
  • Change out the pillow casing at least once a week for a good night’s sleep
  • Wash pillow covers and protectors once a month
  • Do your pillow cleaning on a warm sunny day to speed up drying

What Should You Avoid When Cleaning a Memory Foam Pillow?

While washing your memory foam pillow is a straightforward process, there are certain things that you should avoid to help extend your pillow’s lifespan and ensure it performs as effectively as it did before you cleaned it. These include:

  • Don’t wring the pillow
  • Never place it in the dryer unless specified
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach to prevent the foam from breaking down
  • Avoid using hot water to clean the pillow as it will set the stain
  • Don’t place it in your washing machine unless specified
  • Never use the pillow until it’s completely dry

Remember, memory foam is a delicate material, so if you don’t handle it with care, you could end up damaging your pillow.

Closing Thoughts

Memory foam pillows play a crucial role in enhancing our comfort in bed, but keeping them clean can be quite a challenge without proper knowledge. Once you’re conversant with the general rules of cleaning memory foam pillows, you’ll have an easy time keeping them fresh and germ-free while you enjoy that good night’s sleep you so deserve!

As always, make sure you check the pillow’s cleaning guidelines before you clean it using the above methods.

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