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How To Clean Throw Pillows

Just because your throw pillows don’t get as much use as your sleeping pillows doesn’t mean they don’t need to be cleaned. Throw pillows get moved around, dropped, and sat on, yet it’s not until there are visible signs of dirt do we consider cleaning them.

If you’ve discovered a stain on your throw pillow but aren’t sure how to clean it without making the problem worse, you’re already in the right place. In this guide, we’ll break down how to clean throw pillows step by step.

pillows - 1195589344_a1000888p-b3

Throw Pillow Preparation

Don’t just toss your throw pillow directly into the wash! Depending on the type of pillow you could do more harm than good. Follow these steps to clean throw pillows of every kind.


Read Care Label

When trying to clean your decorative pillows, the first thing you need to do is check the care label. This should provide clear instructions for both the cover and pillow. Your throw pillows may call for dry cleaning, hand washing, or spot cleaning. 

Of course, you’re bound to have a pillow with no instructions. To circumvent this hiccup, suggests first determining what fabric the pillows are made of. Then, searching for instructions on how to clean that fabric.


pillows - 1195589344_a1000900p-b3Separate Pillow Cover From Pillow

Next, separate the pillow cover from the pillow. Most decorative pillows consist of an inner pillow and a removable cover. recommends washing the cover separately from the pillow, as the two pieces are usually made of different materials.

From here, pre-treat any soiled or stained areas with a color-safe prewash spray. A damp sponge or cloth should do the trick. If you can’t separate the cover, you’ll need to wash the entire pillow.

Bonus Tip: If you can remove your covers, it’s good practice to get in the habit of washing them every few weeks.


pillows - 1195589344_a1000991p-b3Types of Cleaning suggests washing your throw pillow covers every two to four weeks, depending on how often you use them. The pillow itself should be washed at least every other month. How to clean throw pillows varies depending on the type of throw pillows you have.


Sponge Cleaning

If your throw pillows or covers aren’t machine washable, they might benefit from sponge cleaning. First, grab yourself some upholstery shampoo and a quality sponge. 

Then, work the cleaner into the pillow using a circular motion, cleaning the decorations, trim, and other accents. Now that you’ve finished working the stain, blot it with a clean towel until it’s dry.


pillows - 1195589344_a1000875p-b7Spot Cleaning

If a pillow is made from a delicate material like silk, wool, or velvet, or it’s decorated with a lot of trim, it will likely have to be dry cleaned or spot cleaned. If it’s a small stain, spot cleaning should be enough. 

Add a few drops of mild dish soap into a bowl of warm water and mix until sudsy. Dip a cloth in the water and blot any stains. Then, with a nonsoapy cloth, blot up any soap residue. Let the spots air dry before putting the pillow cover back on.


Machine Washing

With machine washable pillows and pillow covers, clean them on a gentle wash cycle in warm water and a mild detergent. Next, set your machine to run through two rinse cycles to ensure all the detergent and grime leave the pillow.

pillows - 1195589344_a1000953p-b3Post Throw Pillow Cleaning

A damp pillow is a dirt magnet. Don’t undo all of your hard work. Follow these steps to ensure your pillow is ready to return to its original spot.



Remove the pillow or pillow cover as soon as the washing machine has ended the cycle and has shut off. If the care label specifies that the item is dryer safe, place the pillow and/or pillow cover in the dryer and tumble dry on low heat. Otherwise, hang the pillow or cover it up to dry in a well-ventilated area.

Throw pillows have varying sensitivity to heat depending on their materials. Play it safe and adjust your dryer’s temperature to the low-heat cycle. suggests using the “no heat/fluff/air” setting for feather pillows and “low heat” for synthetic pillows (polyester fibers). Add a few dryer balls or tennis balls to the dryer along with the pillows to help them dry faster while fluffing them up.

Avoid putting foam pillows in the dryer, as heat can melt and ruin the foam. The safest option for this type of pillow is air-drying.


pillows - 1195589344_a1000454p-b3Fluffing To Reshape

Once your pillow is dry, fluff it to reshape it. Take it in your hands and squish it back and forth accordion style. Do this for both sides, the top and bottom. This will help return your pillow to its original shape. 

Bonus Tip: You can keep your pillows smelling fresh longer by fluffing them every day or two. This will help remove dust and prevent the musty smell.


Now It’s Your Turn

Different types of throw pillows each have their preferred cleaning method. Hopefully, the information we’ve shared will make keeping your pillows clean a less intimidating task. 

What tip helped you the most? Did we miss a throw pillow cleaning tip that works for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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