by C.M. Mackenzie
Part of keeping a clean house is making sure all of your decorative accessories are clean. Throw pillows covered in delicate fabrics, such as wool or silk, will have to be dry-cleaned, as will throw pillows stuffed with down or feathers. Foam-filled throw pillows with cotton covers or other washable materials, however, can be washed -- some even by machine. Nevertheless, even if a pillow appears washable, always consult the washing instruction label before attempting to wash a throw pillow -- or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when you remove the pillow from the washing machine.
Remove the throw pillow's cover, if it is removable. Wash the cover separately from the pillow.
Pre-treat badly soiled or stained areas on the pillow cover with a color-safe prewash spray. Rub the spray into the stain with a damp sponge.
Wash the pillow cover, or the whole pillow, on a gentle-wash cycle in warm water with a very mild detergent. Detergent for delicate fabrics or baby clothes is usually suitable.
Remove the pillow or pillow cover as soon as the washing machine has ended the cycle and has shut off. Hang the pillow or cover up to dry in a well-ventilated area. If the care label specifies that the item is dryer-safe, place the pillow or pillow cover in the dryer and tumble dry on low heat.
Fluff the pillow once it is dry in order to maintain its form. Don't use the pillow until it is completely dry. Damp pillows will attract dirt more easily.
If the pillow filler is a piece of solid foam, remove the cover and soak the foam in warm water with a small amount of mild detergent. It's easiest to do this in a bathtub or large sink. Rinse the foam clean and gently press out the excess water. Do not put the foam in the dryer; let it air-dry.
The stuffing in some pillows will clump if the pillow is washed. Spot-cleaning the covers and then airing the pillow out is a better way, short of having it dry-cleaned. Otherwise, the pillow will not retain its shape.
Do not wash suede, leather-trimmed, silk, or wool-covered pillows with water.
Dry the pillows as quickly as possible in well-ventilated areas. Wet pillow stuffing can develop a musty odor if it is damp for too long.
Worn stitching on pillows may burst in a washing machine. If your throw pillows are old or not in good shape, simply spot clean them instead of putting them through a washing machine.
Published April 29, 2010
Updated December 1, 2014