No room is truly finished without the cozy touch of throw pillows maybe even a handful. Yet, the more cushions, the more laundry. While it might not be the first thing you think of tossing into the wash, cleaning your decorative throw pillows is just as crucial as laundering your bed pillows. It not only contributes to a pleasantly fragrant home but also ensures your living room sofa maintains its crisp appearance.

For those looking to uphold the pristine condition and delightful scent of their throw pillows, experts recommend adhering to some fundamental cleaning guidelines. These simple rules can be a game-changer in preserving the freshness and aesthetic appeal of your favorite decorative additions.

How to Wash Throw Pillows

Before embarking on the cleaning journey for your throw pillows, take a moment to consult the care tag for specific and detailed instructions.

Gentle Detergent: Opt for a mild detergent to ensure a gentle yet effective cleaning process.

Bucket: Have a bucket ready for the cleaning solution, providing a convenient and contained space for the pillow treatment.

Soft Cloth: Arm yourself with a soft cloth, the perfect companion for delicately addressing stains and spots without causing any damage.

Water: Ensure you have an ample supply of water, a key component in the cleaning mix for a thorough and refreshing result.

How to Machine Wash Throw Pillows

The majority of throw pillows come equipped with removable covers, often machine-washable. However, Kathy Cohoon, the director of franchise operations at Two Maids, emphasizes the significance of adhering to the laundering instructions specified on the care tag.

Remove the Cover: If your throw pillow is equipped with a removable cover, take it off before proceeding.

Pre-Treat Stains: Prioritize any stained areas by applying a pre-treatment, ensuring a more effective stain removal during the wash.

Shake It Out: Give both the pillow and its cover a good shake to loosen and eliminate any lingering debris or stray hairs.

Gentle Wash: Opt for the gentlest cycle on your washing machine, using warm water and a mild detergent to maintain the integrity of both the pillow and its cover.

How to Hand Wash Throw Pillows

For pillows that aren’t suitable for machine washing, a hand-cleaning approach can work wonders.

Remove the Cover: Take off the pillow cover if it’s detachable.

Pre-Treat Stains: Address any stains with a pre-treatment to enhance stain removal during the hand wash.

Shake It Out: Give the pillow and cover a good shake to dislodge any debris or stray hairs.

Prepare the Cleaning Solution: In a utility sink or clean bucket, mix lukewarm water with a few drops of gentle detergent.

Soak: Submerge both the pillow and cover in the cleaning solution, ensuring they are fully immersed. Allow them to soak for up to 10 minutes.

Gentle Scrub: With a soft cloth, gently scrub any stains or spots using circular motions.

Rinse: Drain the sink and rinse the pillows thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Remove Excess Moisture: Squeeze out any excess moisture from the pillows, aiding in faster drying.

How to Dry Throw Pillows

For many throw pillows, low-heat dryer treatment is an option, but it’s crucial to heed the laundering instructions on the care tag.

Check the Care Tag: Before heading to the dryer, make sure to consult the care tag for specific instructions.

Tennis Ball Trick: If the tag approves, add a few tennis balls to the dryer along with the pillow. This helps fluff and prevent clumping of the stuffing, as suggested by Marla Mock, president of Molly Maid.

No Dryer Option: If the pillow isn’t dryer-safe, an alternative method involves wrapping the wet pillow in a dry towel. Give it a good squeeze to eliminate excess moisture.

Air Dry: Once excess moisture is removed, allow the pillows to air dry. This ensures a thorough drying process and maintains the integrity of the pillow material.

How to Treat Stains on Throw Pillows

Before tackling any stains on your throw pillows, ensure you have the following items at your disposal:

OxiClean (or a similar product): This stain-fighting agent is instrumental in effectively treating stains.

Bucket: Have a bucket on hand for creating the stain-removing solution and soaking the pillow.

Water: Access to hot water is essential for the stain-treating process.

Remove the Cover: If your throw pillow has a removable cover, take it off before beginning the stain treatment.

Shake It Out: Give the pillow and cover a good shake to eliminate any loose debris or hair.

Prepare the Stain Solution: In a large bucket or utility sink, mix hot water with a scoop of OxiClean or a similar product.

Soak the Pillow: Immerse the pillow in the solution and let it soak for eight to 10 hours. This extended soaking time enhances the stain-removing effectiveness.

Squeeze Out Excess Liquid: After soaking, remove the pillow from the solution and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

Wash and Dry: Follow the washing and drying instructions provided above. Repeat the process if necessary to ensure thorough stain removal. Always remember to wash pillows regularly to prevent deep-set stains or permanent damage, and perform a color test before using any cleaning products or methods, as advised by Cohoon.

How to Maintain Throw Pillows

Maintaining the freshness of your throw pillows requires regular care. Kathy Cohoon advises, “When tidying up your living room or the area where your throws reside, give them a good shake and, if possible, vacuum the surface. Promptly treat any stains or marks to prevent deep-set dirt from compromising your pillows.”

Incorporating a weekly routine adds an extra layer of freshness. Kadi Dulude, owner of Wizard of Homes, suggests, “Spray them down with vinegar and toss them into your dryer. This not only keeps them smelling fresh but also eliminates dust mites and allergens.”

It’s essential to acknowledge that throw pillows have a lifespan, even with diligent maintenance. According to Dulude, “If you notice rips and seams falling apart, it’s likely time to invest in a fresh piece unless you happen to have a skilled seamstress who can work their magic.” Regular care coupled with timely interventions ensures that your throw pillows maintain their charm and comfort for as long as possible.

Know Your Pillow Fabrics

The success of any cleaning method hinges on understanding the fabric you’re dealing with to ensure a thorough cleanse without causing damage or shrinkage. Typically, fabric content and cleaning instructions can be found on an online vendor’s description page or printed on a care tag. However, it’s not uncommon to find throw pillows without care tags, requiring individuals to use their judgment in determining the fabric.

Acrylic: A soft and durable synthetic, generally machine washable in cold water. Line drying or using the “air fluff” (no heat) setting is recommended.

Polyester: Another durable synthetic, often machine washable in cold water. Tumble dry on low heat.

Cotton: A breathable and comfortable natural fiber, usually safe for a warm-water machine wash. Tumble dry on low heat to prevent shrinking.

Linen: A high-end natural option that is prone to warping and wrinkling if washed. Spot treating or dry cleaning is recommended. Lay flat on a towel to dry.

Satin: Woven from various fibers, it can handle a cold-water machine wash. Line drying or tumble drying on low heat is safest.

Silk: A more delicate natural choice that can be hand washed in cold water with mild soap. Avoid scrubbing or wringing, gently press out excess water, and air dry by laying flat on a towel.

Velvet: A lush weave that may be natural or synthetic. If the fiber content is unknown, spot cleaning is advised. For a full wash, a cold-water hand wash is recommended. Lay flat on a towel to dry to prevent fabric marring.

Velour: Whether made of cotton or synthetic, velour is more forgiving than velvet. Usually fine for a cold-water machine wash; tumble dry on low or no heat.

Wool: A warm natural fiber, often embellished with needlepoint or embroidery. While stain-resistant, spot treating or dry cleaning is preferred. If hand washing, use cool water with a wool-specific detergent, and lay flat to dry.

How to Keep Your Throw Pillows Clean Longer

Maintaining the cleanliness of your throw pillows can be made more manageable with a few proactive measures. Regular dusting or vacuuming, integrated into your upholstery cleaning routine, helps to extend the time between thorough cleanings. Additionally, using throw pillow covers in coordinating colors not only adds a decorative touch but also simplifies the cleaning process, especially when they are machine-washable. This eliminates concerns about dark dyes mixing with lighter shades.

Furthermore, strategic placement plays a role in the longevity of your throw pillows. Consider keeping harder-to-clean pillows in elevated and less accessible locations. This precautionary step ensures that they remain free from frequent soiling by pets, children, or accidental foot traffic. By incorporating these practical tips into your pillow care routine, you can enjoy a fresher and more visually appealing living space for an extended period.

Tips for Cleaning Pillow Inserts

Maintaining the freshness of pillow inserts is crucial, even if they are less prone to visible stains. Dust can accumulate over time, permeating the fabric of the cover.

Vacuuming or Shaking: Pillow inserts can be vacuumed on both sides or shaken vigorously outdoors to remove dust and freshen them up.

Washing Polyester Inserts: Most inserts are made of polyester. In case of a major spill that penetrates the cover, toss the insert into a cold- or warm-water gentle cycle wash with minimal detergent. Tumble dry on low heat, using dryer balls to restore fluffiness and shape. Ensure the insert is completely dry before returning it to the cover.

Cleaning Foam or Memory Foam Inserts: If your inserts are made of foam, spot-treat spills with cold water and a small amount of detergent. Avoid machine washing, as the spin cycle could damage the foam. Refrain from squeezing or wringing the foam while wet. Let it air-dry completely in a well-ventilated area before putting it back in the cover.

Dealing with Non-Removable Covers: For pillows with non-removable covers, such as vintage or handmade pieces, start by gently vacuuming both sides with an upholstery attachment to remove surface dirt, hair, and debris. Spot-treat stains as needed. Avoid fully submerging such pillows in water, as a wet-in-the-center insert can invite mildew. This method helps maintain the cleanliness of the pillow without risking damage to non-removable covers.