Favorite bed pillows get a lot of use every night. We keep clean pillowcases on them and don’t think much about the pillow inside until it’s time to change the bed linens. Have you looked lately?
WHAT ARE THOSE STAINS?
The culprit is sweat, the chemical composition of which varies from one person to the next depending on everything from what that person has been eating to what medications he or she is taking. Now add drool, body oils, makeup and hair products transferred to the pillow from lying down with wet hair; all of these things discolor pillows over time. But why not the pillowcase? Because we launder them frequently, so stains are banished quickly before they have a chance to become a problem.
If your pillow has a zippered pillow liner, remove it. You’re in luck if the stains are limited to just that protective cover (this is different from a pillowcase and often comes with the pillow). If the pillow itself has stains, it’s time to wash both the liner and the pillow.
WASHABLE PILLOWS ONLY
Check to make sure the pillow tag says that it is washable. Most pillows can be safely washed. (Do not attempt to wash memory foam pillows.) Wash only one large (king-size) pillow or two smaller pillows at a time for the best results.
You’ll need these ingredients:
Soilove (or your favorite laundry pretreatment stain remover)
1 cup powdered laundry detergent
1 cup powdered automatic dishwasher detergent
1/2 cup borax
1 cup bleach (or bleach alternative)
1 cup white vinegar
Treat the stains and allow them to sit for about 20 minutes.
Soak the pillows in a large container filled with hot water — the hottest you can manage from the tap. If your washing machine is a top-loader and has a soak function, use that. Fill the washer with hot water and then stop the cycle to allow the pillow(s) to soak. For front-loading machines, you’ll need to use a big basin or the bathtub.
While the pillows soak, pull out the biggest cooking pot you can find. Fill it with tap water, set it on a burner on high, and bring it to full boil. Turn the burner off, and pour in the laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and borax. Stir gently until the products dissolve in the boiling water.
Carefully pour the contents of your hot caldron into the washer, storage bin or tub — wherever your pillows are soaking. Carefully add and stir in the liquid bleach. Make sure the stained pillows are fully saturated by turning them over or moving them around. You may need to use a broom handle or similar to gently push them down in the washer, as pillows will tend to float. Allow soaking for at least one hour. Longer is fine.
After the soak, launder the pillow(s) using your machine’s longest hot wash cycle, with an extra rinse if you have that option. Add a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse by pouring it into the liquid softener reservoir. This will keep it separate from the bleach, as you do not want to mix bleach and vinegar.
Dry the pillows in the dryer in a medium heat cycle along with wool dryer balls if you have them. If not, throw a couple of tennis balls, each one tied into the toe of a sock, into the dryer to keep the pillows moving. For down pillows, use the air-only or fluff option. If the pillow is synthetic, use low heat.
KEEP THEM WHITE
Get some zippered pillow protectors. A great idea is to use two of these on each pillow — one to protect the pillow and one to act as a pillowcase. Now, as you change and launder your bed linens, peel off the pillowcase and do an inspection. If you see any spots on the top pillow protector, launder it, too. Inspect the second protector. If it’s white and pristine, you’re good to go. If not, into the laundry it goes.
Check your pillows routinely so you can deal with spots quickly. That’s the secret to keeping pillows white and pristine!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary a Question.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.