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Tired of waking up with a sore neck and severe acne, you’ve purchased a memory foam pillow. But now you wonder, “can you wash memory foam pillows?”
Since pillows, even memory foam pillows, accumulate bacteria, body fluid, and dead skin, everyone should know the answer to this question.
Can You Wash Memory Foam Pillows?
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Knowing the answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” might very well influence whether or not you purchase one.
Never, ever use a washing machine to clean a memory foam pillow. If you chuck a memory foam pillow inside a washing machine, it’ll be tossed around carelessly in the water. On top of that, the pillow is likely to wind up pushed against the machine’s agitator.
At best, machine washing a memory foam pillow will alter the memory of foam, rendering it completely useless. At worst, it will shred the foam into tiny pieces.
Similarly, you should never put your memory foam pillow inside a dryer. The tumbling action can permanently damage the foam, even if you set the dryer on low heat.
Consequently, the answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” depends on your meaning of the word “wash.” You can’t machine wash your memory foam pillow, but you can certainly hand wash it.
What’s The Deal With Memory Foam Pillows?
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The year was 1966. Batman debuted on ABC, the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was still on, and girls flaunted their long legs in miniskirts.
It was also the year NASA contracted Charles Yost, an aeronautical engineer, to improve airline seating in case of accidents.
Yost did a superb job. His invention, an open-cell, polymeric “memory foam” material, also known as “temper foam” or “slow spring back foam,” offered greater impact protection. It also increased passenger comfort on flights.
More than half a decade has passed since Yost was struck with his ingenious idea. Since then, memory foam has invaded all areas of our life, including our bedrooms.
Memory foam pillows are primarily made up of memory foam, a polyurethane material that is sensitive both to temperature and pressure. When exposed to body heat, memory foam pillows mold to the shape of your head and shoulders, thus adapting to your sleeping style.
Other benefits of memory foam pillows include:
- Pain relief
- Spinal alignment
- Reduced respiratory issues
- Improved hygiene
The only real downside to memory foam pillows is that some people might experience an allergic reaction to the material (although these reactions are very, very rare).
When it comes to memory foam pillows, there’s more than just one option:
- Shredded (filled with shredded bits of memory foam)
- Contoured (features two ridges on the lower and upper part of the pillow)
- Wedge (shaped like a wedge, great for medical applications)
- Traditional style (effectively contoured memory foam pillows but without the contours)
Memory foam pillows were once extraordinarily expensive. Today, there are plenty of affordable options, all thanks to continually improving manufacturing techniques.
How To Clean A Memory Foam Pillow
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Just because you can’t machine wash a memory foam pillow doesn’t mean that you should never clean it.
Indeed, while it is true that memory foam pillows don’t get as dirty as polyester pillows or feather-filled pillows, saliva, sweat, and dead skin cells still find their way inside the foam, thus compromising your health.
For this reason, knowing the answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” and how to go about doing so is very important.
Get Rid Of That Tea Stain
If your mornings start with breakfast in bed or if you sip on a cup of tea as you lose yourself in a good book right before drifting off, you’ve probably had to deal with your fair share of stains.
Stains are not a big deal for regular pillow users. And they shouldn’t be an issue for those who choose memory foam pillows either.
Here’s how to tackle a stain:
- Take off the pillow cover.
- Pat the pillow with a towel to absorb excess liquid.
- Mix water with a few drops of mild detergent (ideally one that is suitable for hand washing silk or wool) until it becomes bubbly. Then, dip a cloth in the soapy mixture and rub the spill in a circular motion until it disappears. Don’t forget to keep switching to a clean part of the fabric (the stain should be shifting from your pillow and onto your cloth).
- Air dry your pillow if you’re in no rush. Use a hair dryer (set to cool) if you need to use your pillow immediately.
You Probably Shouldn’t Be Drinking Wine In Bed
Some stains are worse than others. For example, wine stains and blood stains are much harder to take out than say ginger tea stains. But don’t immediately assume that a pillow with a difficult stain should be thrown away.
For wine and blood stains:
- Remove the pillow cover.
- Dip a cloth in three percent hydrogen peroxide and blot the stain until the peroxide ceases bubbling.
- Spray the stain, or what remains of the stain, with cold water and scrub it gently with an old toothbrush.
- Allow your memory foam pillow to air dry.
For pet urine:
- Strip the pillow bare.
- Then, mix one teaspoon of white vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, and one cup of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the solution to the problematic stain.
- Leave the mixture on the pillow overnight and repeat the process if the color, or the odor, remains.
- Blot the stain with water.
- Air dry the pillow.
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Do This When Your Pillow Smells Funky
Many people search for an answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” immediately after purchasing one. The reason for that is simple. New memory foam pillows often smell a little weird, usually as a result of off-gassing.
If you’ve ever smelled the interior of a new car or fresh paint, you already know what off-gassing is. Off-gassing occurs when volatile organic compounds or VOCs break down, forming gasses in the process.
Generally, off-gassing isn’t harmful, although a small percentage of people report symptoms such as headaches and difficulty breathing when exposed to it.
To get rid of the smell created by off-gassing, leave your pillow near an open window or outdoors.
On the other hand, if your pillow is not new and yet smells strange nonetheless:
- Remove the cover.
- Cover the pillow in a light layer of baking soda.
- Leave the pillow in direct sunlight for a couple of hours.
- Using an upholstery attachment, vacuum the pillow scrupulously.
When All Else Fails, Use Your Hands!
When your memory foam pillow gets so filthy you can no longer stand sleeping on it, you might find yourself more than a little tempted to throw it inside the washing machine, come what may.
Resist the urge to take the easy (but ultimately, the worst) option. Instead, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty.
Hand washing a memory foam pillow is easier than it sounds:
- Fill a sink (or bathtub) with lukewarm water and add several drops of mild detergent.
- Submerge your memory foam pillow under the water. Then, squeeze the pillow gently to shift the soapy water throughout the pillow. Repeat this step twice.
- Drain your sink and refill it with clean water. Squeeze the pillow a few times to wash away any remaining soap or dirt. Repeat this step until the water runs clear.
- Remove excess water from your pillow by squeezing it gently. Whatever you do, don’t wring it!
- Leave the pillow to air dry. Make sure your pillow is dry on both sides before you use it.
Or Go For The Easy Option
If you have access to a steam cleaner, cleaning your memory foam pillow couldn’t be easier:
- Check your user guide to make sure that your memory foam pillow is safe to steam clean.
- Vacuum the pillow to remove dust, dirt, and hair particles.
- Add water to your steam cleaner, allow it to heat up, and steam clean your pillow.
- Depending on the weather conditions and the thickness of the foam, your pillow should be as good as new in two to six hours.
Don’t Be A Slob
By now we’ve determined that the answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” is yes — just don’t do it in the washing machine. Furthermore, we’ve outlined the best methods for doing so. But just how often should you be washing your pillow?
Cleaning experts believe that every few months should do the trick, especially if you change your pillow cover or pillowcase every second day or so.
However, keep in mind that just because the question “can you wash memory foam pillows?” can be answered in the affirmative, pillows are not meant to last forever. While polyester pillows should be replaced every six months, memory foam pillows tend to last longer.
Nonetheless, the foam will break down with time, no matter how carefully you’re looking after your pillow. Err on the side of caution and replace your memory foam pillow every 18 to 36 months.
A Clean Pillow Equals Better Sleep
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The answer to “can you wash memory foam pillows?” is a resounding yes. However, that doesn’t mean that you can chuck your memory foam pillow inside a washing machine and then forget about it.
Memory foam pillows are far more delicate than regular pillows. As such, they require special care and attention.
Moreover, keep in mind that cleaning your pillow is not enough. You’ll need to replace it once in a while too. Luckily, memory foam pillows last longer than most polyester or feather pillows.
Consequently, a memory foam pillow will not only lead to better sleep, clearer skin, and the elimination of inexplicable body aches but will also save you money in the long run. And if hand washing your pillow is the price you have to pay for that, then it’s probably worth it.
Are you a memory foam pillow user? Or are you thinking of getting one? Let us know in the comments below!