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Can You Wash Feather Pillows? How?

A collage of feather pillows.

Yes, you can wash feather pillows. It can seem like they are the impossible household chore because feather pillows are made of natural fibers, and it is always difficult to understand how to wash those.

However, you don’t want to avoid washing them because they can be prone to mites and bacteria more than other pillows can be. You can even wash feather pillows the same way you would wash almost anything in your standard or high efficiency washing machines.

You will want to take some extra care with your detergents and bleaches when you are washing feather pillows. You can also wash them by hand, but it will be safer, and better for both you and the pillow, if you use the machine to wash them.

Follow this guide to feather pillow washing, and you’ll never hold off on washing your favorite pillow again.

Related: Can You Wash Bamboo Pillows | Can You Wash Couch Pillows | Can You Wash Pillows in the Washing MachineTypes of PillowcasesTypes of Pillow Filling 

Follow these step-by-step instructions to wash a feather pillow

Pillows next to a washing machine.

Washing a feather pillow is as easy as washing a pillow stuffed with foam or another material. You won’t have to compromise on your favorite scents or products either, but you will need to take some extra care with them.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to wash your feather pillows, and you’ll always have fresh feather pillows to enjoy.

  1. Start by removing the pillowcases of the feather pillows.  You can wash those with your regular laundry.
  2. Once you have removed the pillowcase, inspect the pillow for any signs of damage. If you see any tears or rips in the pillow, you want to repair those. Sewing them with a needle and thread should be enough for the laundry. What you don’t want is a pillow that has a tear in the machine, or you may lose some feathers.
  3. You want to wash two pillows at a time. If you have a top-loading washer, put one pillow on either side of the rotator. If you have a front-loading washer, put one pillow on either side of the machine. If you don’t have more than one feather pillow, use another pillow or a large stuffed animal in its place. The pillows will need to be loaded vertically, from top to bottom and not side-to-side, so that the agitator in the machine is not interfered with.
  4. You can use any kind of detergent that you want. A low suds detergent is beneficial but not necessary. Skip the fabric softeners here because they will coat the feathers and will ruin the integrity of the pillows. You can use bleach if you want to, but non-chlorine bleach is recommended, as chlorine bleach will break down the fabrics of the pillow and some of the fibers inside.
  5. Choose the regular wash or even the power wash if you want to.  You don’t have to be gentle when it comes to cycle selection with your feather pillows. The pillows feel gentle and sweet when you are sleeping on them, so it is easy to assume they need to be managed gently in the wash. They don’t have to be. Remember that the fibers inside these pillows came from animals that lived water life through many storms, winds, and seasonal cycles of their own. These feathers can take the regular or power wash.
  6. On the same note, the pillows can take high-temperature water as well. Hot water is the best for these pillows. If there are any bacteria, dust, or mites in the pillows, the laundry cycle will take care of it. If you are really worried about water temperature, you can use a cooler water setting.
  7. Rinse and repeat. An extra rinse cycle with an additional spin cycle is a good idea when you have feather pillows. Feathers are good at retaining moisture, which is good for ducks and geese but not so good for your head when you are sleeping. Excess moisture in the pillows can also create mold and result in bacteria growth inside the pillows. Extra rinse and spins will help to squeeze this moisture out and ensure there is no soap retention inside the pillows. If you still smell suds after you wash the pillows, run it through an additional rinse and spin cycle.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to dry your feather pillows

White clean pillows in the bed.

You can dry your feather pillows in the dryer like you would any other pillow. It is very important to dry them in the dryer. Because they feel like a gentle product, you may be tempted to air dry them outside or in your home.

You don’t have to do that, though, and it isn’t recommended. Drying feather pillows in the dryer ensures that all of the feathers have excess moisture removed from them. You may even need to spend more time drying the pillows than you did washing them.

Follow these step-by-step instructions for drying your feather pillows.

  1. Start by attempting to squeeze as much excess moisture from the pillows when they come out of the washing machine. Place them between two towels and press down on them. Do this until water stops wringing out of the pillows. You don’t want to twist or wring the pillows, or you could damage the feathers.
  2. Put the pillows in the dryer and put them on the lowest heat, or even a no heat setting. Low heat is fine, but you may expect some fabric shrinkage.
  3. You may need to run them through multiple cycles. Your patience will pay off here!
  4. Use dryer balls or clean tennis balls with the pillows in the dryer, as this will help to fluff the pillows as they dry. Clean tennis shoes will do as well. There is no harm in using dryer sheets here if you want your pillows to come out a little softer with the scent of your choice.
  5. After the first dryer cycle, beat the pillows a little bit to fluff them yourself. If they seem fluffy as you punch the pillows down, they may be dry. You will know if the feathers feel soggy or if they feel too mushy to sleep on. You may also feel clumping when you try to manually fluff the pillows. If the pillow smells differently, that is not a good sign either.
  6. When there is no more clumping feeling or odor, the pillow is dry. Keep running them through the dryer with dryer balls or clean tennis balls until they feel fluffy when you bring them out of the dryer.

Now you know how to wash and dry feather pillows. It takes a little bit of time, even using the machines, but it pays off.

How often should feather pillows be cleaned?

Two white pillows in the bed.

Feather pillows should be cleaned as often as you want to clean them. It may be a full day’s job as you will be watching the dryer cycles a lot. However, if you wash feather pillows once a week or once a month would be in the average range.

When the weather gets a little more humid, even if you have air conditioning, you can wash them as frequently as you feel that you need to. You don’t have to clean them that often. An annual cleaning will work as well.

Many people will put a waterproof pillowcase over the pillow and then their own pillow case over that to help to keep the feather pillow clean if they don’t wash them often. Another good investment is an allergen-resistant pillowcase.

If you want to keep your feather pillows fresh but don’t want to wash them often, you can simply put them through the dryer to freshen them up. Follow the same instructions for drying your feather pillows, using dryer balls and scent sheets.

You won’t need multiple cycles here, though. You’ll just need to tumble the pillows for as long as you want, approximately 15 minutes, and they will come out fresh and fluffy. No excess water to remove here.

Is there a difference between feather and down pillows?

Amazon Basics Down Alternative Bed Pillows, Medium Density for Back and Side Sleepers - Standard, 2-Pack

Yes, there is a difference between feather and down pillows, but not by much. Feather and down are both different materials that come from the same animal. So you may have a goose feather pillow and a goose down pillow, and they would be two different things, but not by much.

The feel of the pillow is very similar as well. A down pillow is made from the fibers from underneath the feathers of the animal, whereas a feather pillow is made from the feathers of the animal.

The down of the bird insulates the bird while it is alive, while the feathers have a much different function. The down of birds in a pillow can be fluffier, while feathers tend to be flat and slightly heavier.

How are down pillows washed?

Down pillows are washed the same way that feather pillows are washed and can be machine washed and machine dried. You can use the same tips for detergents because the materials in the pillows are almost the same.