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How to wash a memory foam pillow: Sleep soundly with our expert advice on pillow care

We explain how to keep your favourite memory foam pillows clean and at their soft, springy best

It’s the pillow filling of choice for many of us, but despite its popularity, many people remain confused over how to wash a memory foam pillow. Like all bedding, pillows need to be cleaned regularly for hygiene and to stay fresh.

Spot cleaning the occasional spill or stain will suffice on the most part, since your pillowcase offers some level of protection. Nevertheless, the fact remains that regular laundering is necessary to keep pillows clean.

Unfortunately, unlike washing most other types of pillow, memory foam isn’t usually suitable for cleaning in the washing machine. And with some memory foam pillows costing hundreds of pounds, improper washing could prove an expensive mistake.

Thankfully, with a bit of know-how keeping your pillows is simple enough. Below, you find all the advice you need to get your memory foam pillows back to their best.

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How often should you wash memory foam pillows?

All pillows suffer a build up of dead skin cells, dust mites, body oils and sweat, so should be washed regularly to keep them hygienic. Most experts recommend washing any kind of pillow every 4-6 months, but do take notice of any specific care instructions from the manufacturer.

Some of our favourite memory foam pillows include the Eve Memory Foam Pillow, the Otty Deluxe Pure Pillow and the Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow.

Why can’t you wash memory foam pillows in the washing machine?

The combination of water, agitation and temperature in the washing machine can serve to break down memory foam, ruining the pillow and leaving it lumpy and uncomfortable. Some memory foam pillows aren’t suitable for washing with water at all. For example, Tempur says its pillows can’t be washed or sponged since water can permanently damage the pillow’s structure.

You can find out more about memory foam’s makeup in our in-depth memory foam explainer.

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How to freshen up memory foam pillows

It’s possible to clean all pillows naturally without water. Simply sprinkle with baking soda and leave to absorb oils and odours for 30 minutes before vacuuming clean. Memory foam mattresses or memory foam mattress toppers can also be cleaned using this method. For an extra dose of freshness, you can spritz the pillow with diluted essential oils before leaving outside to dry; this will also enable you to take advantage of the natural bleaching power of the sun to eliminate any yellowing.

How to hand-wash memory foam pillows

Female hands on orthopedic pillow, closeupIf your memory foam pillow is safe to wash with water then you can do so by handwashing in the bath. Fill the tub with tepid water and use a mild detergent, dosing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Submerge the pillow in the soapy water and gently massage to release dirt, taking care not to overwork any areas. Do not wring out the pillow or squeeze too hard; this can disrupt the delicate foam structure. Leave to dry outside in the sun wherever possible, or in a warm, well ventilated place. Do not tumble dry.

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How long before a memory foam pillow needs replacing?

Even with careful care and cleaning, all pillows – including memory foam items – should be replaced after around three years of use for optimum hygiene, comfort and performance.

Looking for a new memory foam pillow? Read our guide to the best memory foam pillows here

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