How to Wash Feather and Down Pillows – What Steps You Need to Follow?

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Throughout history, soft pillows made from feathers have been seen as a status symbol. Wealthy Greeks and Romans used them, while regular folks slept on bedding made of straw, cotton, or reeds.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, these pillows were still seen as a sign of wealth that only a few could afford, and eventually, King Henry VIII reportedly declared that only pregnant women were allowed to use them.

The world has come a long way since, but this type of bedding remains a luxury, which is why properly maintaining such products is important. We’ll show you how to wash your feather pillows so that you can embrace your inner royal.

Feather Pillows Are Here to Stay

In modern society, feather and down pillows continue to be highly sought after for their soft feel and high-end look. They can easily spruce up a bedroom and improve your quality of sleep at the same time.

Purchasing a luxury bedding item, though, means you’ll be spending more money, so you want to be sure the product will last for a long time. This is why washing your expensive bed materials is worth it. Soft pillows, however, require a particular cleaning method to make sure they stay looking and feeling nice for years to come.

Want to see more? Check out our full review for best down pillows.

What's the Difference?

The down material in this bedding product consists of a plush grouping of fibers made from a bird’s undercoating, while a feather pillow is constructed using feathers from a bird’s wings and back. The two main birds used to make these products are ducks and geese, and goose-feather bedding tends to be more expensive than duck products.

Find Out More: Down vs. Feather Pillows

illustration of feather pillows

How to Wash Down and Feather Pillows

Protectors can only do so much and eventually you need to wash the pillow itself. While you should clean your pillows at least once a year, the recommended amount of washes is once every six months. However, if life gets extra messy, you can opt to clean them once every three months instead.

  • Remove the Covers – The first step is to take off any cases or protectors covering them.

  • Examine for Tears – Next, check to make sure the items don’t have any rips or tears that could cause the filling to get out, and if there are any, repair them before washing.

  • Maintain Balance – It’s important to wash both pillows together since this will balance out your washer and improve performance. Load your pillows vertically if your machine has an agitator in the middle. A machine with a front-load and no agitator works best, but as long as the items fit properly, any machine will work.

  • Keep It Gentle – Use a low-sudsing laundry detergent to prevent residue and feathers clumping together. You should also put in less soap than you normally would and select the delicate cleaning cycle.

  • Warm or Cool Water Temperature – Hot water might seem like a smart idea for getting rid of germs, but you run the risk of damaging the feathers. Rather, choose warm or cold water to avoid this issue.

  • Rinse and Repeat – When you wash these bedding items, it’s a good idea to take the time to do an extra rinse and spin cycle to remove any excess soap residue and moisture.

How to Dry Down and Feather Pillows

Protectors can only do so much and eventually you need to wash the pillow itself. While you should clean your pillows at least once a year, the recommended amount of washes is once every six months. However, if life gets extra messy, you can opt to clean them once every three months instead.

Illustration of a Man Putting Stuff in the Washing Machine
  • Remove Excess Water – Once you take out the bedding from the washer machine, remove as much excess water as possible. You can do this by placing each pillow between two towels and pressing down. Do not twist or wring out water from the pillows, though, as this could cause damage to the filling.

  • Low or No Heat – When you put each pillow in the dryer, you’ll either choose the low heat setting or no heat. While no heat may take longer, it’s the best option to keep your bedding in good condition and prevent damage. For those who choose to use low heat, continually check on your items while they dry.

  • Fluff Between Cycles – To prevent clumping, you should regularly fluff your bedding between drying cycles.

  • Dryer Balls – Consider placing dryer balls in the machine too, as these are considered a great way to maintain fluffiness.

  • Fluff, Massage, and Shake – Once fully dry, you’ll fluff the bedding and massage out any clumps. Holding the pillow by the corners and shaking it out is also a good way to remove any clumping. Once complete, double-check to be sure your pillow is completely dry so that you avoid any mold or mildew growth from excess moisture.

Freshen Your Pillows Between Washing

Freshening your bedding materials between washes is also an excellent method of keeping them in mint condition. There are several easy steps you can take to maintain the quality of your bedding, which can be done as regularly as needed.

woman sleeping on a pile of pillows

Air Out

While some odor from a new pillow or one made with down and feathers is normal, it can still be a nuisance. A tip for minimizing odor is to sprinkle some baking soda on your pillows and air them outside now and then.

Sunbathing

For those who live in sunnier locales, you can put that sunshine to good use for your sleep space as well. An easy home remedy for freshening up your pillows is to lay them in the sun. You’ll lay each side in direct sunlight for about 30 minutes before bringing them back inside.

Fluffing

Keeping your pillow fluffy is good for overall softness. A quick method to fluff up your pillow is to take a damp washcloth, three dryer balls, and a fabric softener sheet and put them in with your pillow in the dryer machine. Then, select tumble dry on low heat and let it run for 15-20 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I replace my pillow?

Even the most well-maintained bedding eventually needs to be replaced, and that’s when it's time to purchase your next top-quality pillow. Most feather and down pillows should last you 7-10 years, however, when the product no longer provides the support you need, that’s when you should replace your pillows.

person changing duvet cover

What can I do to extend the life of my feather pillow?

There are other ways to extend the life of your pillow as well. Pillowcases and protectors help guard your bedding against sweat, drool, and natural body oils that over time can turn a pillow yellow. For those who shower at night, your wet hair can also contribute to staining, so you should dry your hair before you go to sleep.

View Our Guide: Top Rated Pillow Casses

Conclusion

A feather and down pillow provides consumers with a luxurious addition to their sleep space with both high-quality comfort and a sleek look. Top-rated bedding, however, requires the correct care to ensure your investment goes the distance and lasts you a long time. Although you have to follow specific guidelines for cleaning and drying these products, they can be conveniently maintained in the comfort of your home, and by taking other precautions to extend the duration of your bedding, you’ll be living the glamorous sleep life for years to come.

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Content Writer | + posts

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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