Can you wash a feather pillow? Your questions answered

Can you wash a feather pillow? Discover how to care for it with our expert guide

Can you wash a feather pillow – Pillows on bed
(Image credit: The Secret Linen Store)

Can you wash a feather pillow? While you might be sure about washing the pillowcase that protects it, what’s required to clean the feather pillow inside can be more of a puzzle.

The bulk of a feather pillow and its weight when wet might also make you wonder if it can be safely washed in a machine, or if there are other methods you should use to keep it hygienic.

We’ve put together a complete guide to answer your questions about cleaning feather pillows so you can include them among your laundry room ideas.

Can you wash a feather pillow?

Washing pillows doesn’t need to take place as often as washing the pillowcases used to protect them, but it should nevertheless be a regular job to maintain good hygiene standards. 

The good news about feather pillows is that it’s often possible to wash them. ‘While you should always follow your pillow’s care instructions on its tag, you can typically wash a feather pillow,’ says Brianna Auray of Mattress Clarity

The label’s laundry symbols will let you know which cleaning methods are possible, and provide the details of whether you can wash a feather pillow. 

How to wash a feather pillow in the washing machine

Can you wash pillows in a washing machine if they’re filled with feathers? Unless the label specifies otherwise, you can.

Before putting a feather pillow into the washing machine remove any pillow protector along with the pillowcase, which can be cleaned when washing bed sheets.

Then check the fabric of the pillow itself for tears that would let the feather filling escape in the wash. Repair these before putting the pillow into the washing machine.

As for the wash program? ‘Gentle cycles are best but full extract is necessary to remove the most moisture,’ says Wayne Edelman CEO of high end dry-cleaning service Meurice Garment Care, which specializes in interior and wardrobe cleaning services. ‘We recommend a neutral detergent and use sparingly. Never use fabric softeners.’

A front-loading washing machine is gentler on pillows, and if yours is a top-loading version with an agitator, consider washing feather pillows in the front-loading machines at the laundromat to maximize their lifespan.

Protecting the machine itself is also important because wet feather pillows are heavy. ‘Washing two pillows at the same time will balance the load and allow better circulation of the water and detergent,’ says Drew Miller, VP and sleep specialist at Sit 'n Sleep.

How to hand wash a feather pillow

You can hand wash a feather pillow as an alternative to putting it into the washing machine, but it’s the cover of the pillow that should be washed rather than the feathers, says Wayne Edelman.

‘You should not saturate the feathers while hand washing,’ he explains. ‘Lightly sponge on a mild detergent/water mixture and sponge with clean cool water to remove soap.’

Can you put a feather pillow in the dryer?

You can put a feather pillow in the dryer as a rule, but do check the manufacturer’s instructions on the tag. Note that it is absolutely crucial to dry a feather pillow thoroughly to avoid mold and mildew developing. 

‘Pillows should be dried on medium to high heat,’ says Wayne Edelman. ‘Best practice is to use tennis balls (we use lacrosse balls) to help break up the feather clumps. Open multiple times during the cycle and manually break up the feather clumps.’

Always dry a feather pillow completely before replacing any pillow protector, and the pillowcase, and putting it back on a bed.

How do you fluff feather pillows?

Fluff a feather pillow by hand. All that’s required is to take the short ends of the pillow in either hand and push them in and out – as if you’re playing an accordion. You can also turn it round, grab the long sides and repeat the in and out motion to fluff it up some more.

An alternative is to put the pillow in the dryer with some dryer balls or tennis balls and use a low setting.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.