How to Clean Feather & Down Pillow Forms

By Jordan Sotto’s guide to washing & cleaning your down/feather pillow form.

First, do a test run with one pillow form, as each washing machine may work differently. As these pillow forms are more expensive than synthetic pillow forms, it is important to make sure you do not ruin your pillow insert.

Second, inspect the outer cover of your pillow form to make sure that the fabric is not worn down from use or previous washings. Most down/feather pillow forms are manufactured with a high thread count cover to ensure that the feathers and down inside do not leak out. Over time and with heavy use, the fabric can wear down (especially after multiple washings). It is important to look over the entire pillow before putting it through a wash cycle since if there is a hole or a weak spot anywhere in the fabric it can leak all over the washing machine.

Down & feathers are rather absorbent. If you do not have a high capacity washing machine, make sure to put in fewer pillow forms than you would otherwise. Front loading washing machines clean better and are usually have a gentler cycle. Make sure to use only gentle liquid detergents, or specialty laundry detergent made for washing down feather pillow forms. DO NOT use bleach under any circumstances as this will damage the feathers and down inside. Harsh detergents may also damage the feathers, so as mentioned above, use only purpose-specific detergents or mild detergents.

In an effort not to overload your washer, wash the pillows two or three at a time depending on their size and fill weight. Start your washer before loading the pillows and set the washer on pre-soak and extra rinse cycles. As the machine fills, add about one-half cup of detergent, wait for the machine to fill and mix fully with the detergent. Once the water & detergent have mixed, stop the machine and place the pillows inside. Down and feathers float so you will have to push the pillows under water and squeeze out as much air as possible. Leave the forms to soak for up to a few hours. Remove the air again and start the machine on the wash cycle.

Once the cycle has finished, put the pillow forms through another spin cycle in order to remove as much of the water as possible – it is better to get rid of the water first in order to reduce the drying time required. Put the pillows in the dryer right away and take out as soon as they are dry. It is absolutely essential that the pillow forms are completely dry, otherwise bacteria and mold will grow inside.

Spot Cleaning your Down/Feather Pillow Forms:

Use a spray bottle filled with soapwater (baking soda can be added for extra cleaning power). Spray the dirty area. Try to avoid saturating the pillow, it should be a light spray. Use a tooth brush and gently scrub the dirt away. Absorb the suds with paper towels (Bounty should be good for this). Wipe it clean with a damp cloth and stick in the dryer for a couple of minutes. Make sure the pillow form is completely dry to prevent any mold and bacteria build-ups that may ensue.

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