Can Memory Foam Pillows Be Washed?

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. [Read our full health disclaimer]

Updated on September 19, 2023

Most sleepers choose solid memory foam pillows due to their contouring and excellent pressure-relieving qualities. However, cleaning and maintaining your memory foam pillow properly is quite important.

All pillows—not just those made from memory foam—are easy targets for allergens and dust mites. The pillow is nearest to our face, and while we’re sleeping, we can end up breathing in microorganisms that can result in various medical conditions.

Now, can you wash memory foam pillows? Yes, spot cleaning and air drying are one of the most common ways to get a clean memory foam pillow.

There are a lot of assumptions and myths around cleaning techniques for memory foam pillows, but we’ll simplify the process by providing you with step-by-step instructions.

Can I Wash My Memory Foam Pillow in the Washing Machine?

No, you can’t. The reason why is quite simple: memory foam pillows cannot maintain and hold their shapes when they get wet, which makes the memory foam pillow brittle and crumbly later on.

white front load washing machine

Additionally, your memory foam pillow has many cell foam air pockets, and when washed in a washing machine, said pockets get filled with water. This will irrevocably damage the pillow and even impact its odor.

Another reason why laundering your memory foam pillow is a huge no-no is that the machine can tear the padding.

How Do You Clean A Memory Foam Pillow

As we previously said, you cannot wash memory foam pillows in the washing machine without risking the memory foam getting severely damaged. However, your memory foam pillow can be washed quite safely by hand using mild detergent and cold water.

In a nutshell, you can use the following cleaning methods to wash your memory foam pillow: spot cleaning, deep cleaning, and deodorizing.

Washing a Memory Foam Pillow Safely

In order to deep clean a memory foam pillow, you need to fill a large sink or bathtub with cooler water mixed with a tiny amount of gentle detergent. Dip your pillow fully, then squeeze the memory foam pillow gently to enable this soapy water to go deeply into the memory foam and get rid of the dirt. Don’t wring the pillow as this can damage it.

After performing the steps above, drain the large sink or bathtub of water and refill it with cold, clean water. Dip the memory foam pillow again and squeeze your pillow gently until the water becomes clear. Remember – never use hot water, as it can make things worse.

Laundry basket filled with blanket and linen with detergent

Put your pillow on a dry, clean cloth, roll the pillow up, and squeeze gently in order to get rid of the excess liquid. You might need to repeat this step a couple of times.

Take out the memory foam pillow of the damp cloth and place it on a dry, clean cloth. Let your pillow air dry, and don’t use it before it’s completely dried. This process of drying can take up to a day or two. However, you can try speeding up the drying process by utilizing a hair dryer put on the cold setting.

Deodorize Your Memory Foam Pillow

Even new memory foam pillows can have an off-gassing odor. It’s not comfortable sleeping with your head resting on a surface that smells. Sometimes your memory foam pillow can have other off-gassing odors for unknown reasons.

Therefore, we’ll explain to you how to get rid of these smells in just a few steps. Although this isn’t a laundering method for pillows made from memory foam, using this method, you’ll keep your memory foam mattress or pillow hygienic.

  • Remove the pillowcase and pillow protective cover. Put your pillow on a flat surface.
  • Sprinkle the surface of the memory foam pillow with baking soda generously. In addition, you can put some essential oil from lavender in the baking soda giving it a beautiful scent. Lavender essential oil will help you get a better good night’s sleep as well.
  • Leave your memory foam pillow in direct sunlight for two to three hours. It’s essential to leave the memory foam pillow for some period of time to enable the baking soda to remove the smell from your pillow.
  • Finally, using an upholstery attachment, vacuum your memory foam pillow. This way you’ll remove not only the residue of the baking soda but also hairs and dead skin cells.

Spot Cleaning a Memory Foam Pillow

First, you need to take off the pillow cover and the pillowcase. Using a clean, dry cloth or a paper towel, blot the excess moisture from the stain. Always use white cloth because if you use dark-colored cloth, some of the dark colors can bleed onto your pillow and make an even bigger mess.

person holding yellow plastic spray bottle

Proceed until most of the excess water is removed. After that, mix lukewarm water and some mild liquid laundry detergent to make a mixture for removing the stain, or use hydrogen peroxide.

Soak a clean, dry towel into the cleaning mixture, and squeeze it out. Softly rub the yellow stain areas by using circular movements towards the middle of the stained area. Because the stain transfers to the towel, use a clean towel before you continue rubbing.

Deep Cleaning Memory Foam Pillow

Deep cleaning a solid memory foam pillow can be a tricky process. It is not recommended to wash it in the traditional sense, as this can cause the pillow to absorb too much water and ruin its quality.

Instead, regular and spot cleaning are considered the best methods for maintaining the quality of your pillow. Spot cleaning involves using a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dirt or stains from the surface of your pillow. This should be done regularly to keep your pillow fresh.

For more extreme cases, you may need to deep clean your solid memory foam pillow. This process should involve vacuuming the surface of the pillow with an upholstery attachment, followed by wiping down with a damp cloth or sponge.

You should avoid letting your pillow absorb too much water during this process as this could damage its structure and reduce its lifespan. After deep cleaning, make sure you allow your pillow plenty of time to dry before using it again.

How Often to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow?

Just like with memory foam mattresses, a memory foam pillow needs to be washed at least once every month or two. It’s also an excellent idea to deep clean your memory foam pillow if you have recently been ill.

Memory Foam Pillow Care Tips

Bedroom interior with bed near table under lamps

Every now and then, you can also sprinkle some baking soda on your memory foam pillow when cleaning your bedsheets. After that, leave it in direct sunlight for a couple of hours. Then, you can just vacuum the baking soda, and your memory foam pillow will be free of dust mites and will smell much better.

In order to maximize the lifespan of your memory foam pillow, it’s also a good idea to wash the pillowcases at least once a week. They play the role of a barrier, collecting dead skin cells and dust mites, too. Luckily, pillowcases aren’t as hard to clean because they are machine washable. So, you can just put them in the washer and dryer, and they’ll be spotless.

Some memory foam pillows come with a pillow protector. In order to clean it, make sure to closely follow the care instructions if you’re to keep it in good shape.

How To Clean A Smelly Memory Foam Pillow?

If your memory foam pillow has an odor, it can be easily deodorized. Start by sprinkling baking soda over the entire surface of the pillow and let it sit for one hour.

This will absorb any odors that may be present. After an hour, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to lift away hair and dust from the pillow. This will help remove any lingering odors.

If you just purchased a new memory foam pillow, you may notice a slight odor after removing it from the package. This is called off-gassing and is perfectly normal. To let your pillow “air out” before sleeping on it, place it in a well-ventilated area or outside for up to twenty-four hours.

white and brown throw pillow on white couch

This will allow any odors to dissipate before using your new pillow. With proper care and maintenance, you can keep your memory foam pillow smelling fresh and clean for years to come!

How Frequently Should You Replace Your Memory Foam Pillow?

While traditional pillows should be replaced roughly every six months, memory foam pillows have a much longer lifespan. Don’t get us wrong—memory foam pillows need to be replaced too every now and then. For a hygienic sleeping environment, you should replace your memory foam pillow every two years.

Just like every material, memory foam will break down eventually. Even if you maintain your memory foam pillow well, keep in mind that the more you use your memory foam pillow, the more it’ll disintegrate.


A Few Words Before You Go…

Taking good care of your memory pillow will ensure that it lasts you much longer than traditional pillows while also retaining its utmost comfort. Moreover, the hygienic and health benefits are manifold, so regularly washing pillows shouldn’t be overlooked.

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that your solid memory foam pillow should be 100% dry before sleeping on it. A damp memory foam pillow can harbor mildew, which can cause allergies, throat irritation, coughing, and even skin irritation.

Although some cleaning methods can be time-consuming, a clean and fresh pillow is a real treat and definitely worth the effort.

Bree Taylor - Lead Editor

Lead Editor

Bree is an interior designer with a passion for helping people improve their sleep quality.

She specializes in creating comfortable and functional bedroom spaces that promote a good night’s rest.

When she’s not testing mattresses or helping people get the best rest possible, Bree loves to travel and explore new cultures.

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