Can You Tumble Dry A Pillow? (is it safe or will it damage it)

Most pillows can be dried in a tumble dryer on a low heat setting. However, you’ll need to check the care label to be sure what your pillow is made from and whether it can be tumble dried. 

It’s important to wash your pillows regularly to prevent dust mites nesting in them and mould from forming. Most of us wash and dry our sheets, pillowcases and duvets regularly but often ignore the actual pillows.

To be fair, there can be some confusion on how to wash and dry pillows due to the fact that there are several different types of filling used in pillows. With each type having a different level of care when washing and drying.

Common types of pillows include;

  • Feather (or down) Pillows
  • Polyester (or microfibre) Pillows
  • Memory Foam (or latex/viscose) Pillows

Caring for each type of filling is different which is why you should always consult the care label. 

Below is a general drying guide for each type of pillow.

Can You Tumble Dry A Feather (or Down) Pillow?

In most cases you can wash feather or down pillows in the washing machine. Unless otherwise stated on the care label feather pillows can be washed at 60 C in the washing machine using the delicate/wool programme and a mild non-biological detergent.

Feather pillows can be tumble dried on a low heat setting subject to the instructions on label. 

We have found that adding a couple of tennis balls to the drum will help to prevent the feathers from clumping or sticking together as they dry.

Can You Tumble Dry A Polyester (or Microfibre) Pillow?

As always, we recommend checking the care label on your pillow but as a general rule, microfibre pillows can be washed in the washing machine at low to normal temperatures using a normal detergent.

Never add fabric softener as this can cause the fibres to become congealed. 

Polyester or microfibre pillows can be tumble dried on a no heat or low heat setting. Be mindful of the fact that polyester dries pretty quickly which means polyester pillows won’t take as long in the tumble dryer.

Can You Tumble Dry A Memory Foam Pillow?

You should never wash memory foam/latex pillows because washing them can damage the internal structure of the memory foam. 

The best way to clean a memory foam pillow is using a vacuum cleaner with the upholstery brush attachment on both sides of the pillow.

Any stains can be spot cleaned using a cloth dipped in a mild detergent.

Memory foam pillows shouldn’t be tumble dried either. Instead, place them in front of a window in sunlight or hang on a washing line.

It is good practice to expose memory foam pillows to sunlight every 3-6 months for a few hours to kill off any germs or microorganisms.

What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On A Pillow

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes

As there are several different types of pillows, you should always read the care label before attempting to wash or dry your pillow. Below we have listed all of the symbols that pertain to tumble dryers. 

There will be some that you will never find on pillows and these are included for informational purposes.

  • Square With Black Circle – This is the symbol which indicates the item can be dried in a tumble dryer using no heat.
  • Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top – This is the symbol which indicates DO NOT TUMBLE DRY this is the symbol you’re likely to find on memory foam or latex pillows.
  • Square With White Circle – This symbol indicates that the item can be tumble dried.
  • Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle – This symbol indicates that the item can be dried in a tumble dryer on a low heat. This is the symbol most commonly found on pillows.
  • Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle – This is the symbol that indicates the item can be dried in a tumble dryer using medium heat.
  • Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle – This symbol indicates that the item can be dried using high heat.

How To Dry Pillows Without A Tumble Dryer

If you don’t have a tumble dryer, or the care label on your pillows says do not tumble dry, you do have other options. 

The first step is to lay the wet pillow on a dry towel and cover with another towel. Then gently press down to remove some of the excess moisture. Then do one of the following;

Air Drying Your Pillow On A Washing Line

The best way to do this is to lay the pillow flat in direct sunshine outdoors. Or hang it on a washing line using as many pegs as are needed to secure it in place.

Every 30-40 minutes you should massage the pillow and hang from a different point to help it keep its shape. It is best to air dry your pillow on a warm, sunny day with a gentle breeze.

Using A Retractable Clothesline To Dry Your Pillows Indoors Or Outdoors 

If space is tight, a retractable clothesline is a great washday solution. The wall mounted box is attached to one wall and the nylon braided line can then be extended across the room/garden.

After your pillows are dry, the line can be retracted and you have your space back again.

SEE ALSO: Our Recommended Retractable Clotheslines

Airing Cupboards Are Great For Drying Pillows

If you’re fortunate enough to have an airing cupboard, you can place your pillows in the airing cupboard to allow them to fully dry.

If the cupboard is large enough, you could set up an airer in the cupboard. If not just place the pillows on any available space remembering to turn them occasionally until they’re dry.

Drying Your Pillow On An Airer

Using an airer or clothes horse is a good way of drying your pillows indoors. Simply place the pillow on the airer and turn every so often until it’s dry.

You can position the airer in front of a sunny window or a warm radiator to speed up the drying process.

An Electric Fan Can Speed Up Drying Times

Setting an electric fan close to the pillows as they dry can help to simulate a gentle breeze. 

This method works best if you open a window to allow the moisture to escape.

SEE ALSO: The Best Bladeless Fans On The Market Today

Using A Dehumidifier To Decrease Indoor Drying Times

Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the room which will speed up your pillow’s drying time substantially. 

Simply place the dehumidifier in the same room as the drying pillow and remember to empty the dehumidifier’s reservoir once it fills up.

SEE ALSO: The Best Dehumidifiers For Drying Pillows

Why You Should Always Read The Wash Care Label On A Pillow

Always check the wash care labels

As we said earlier, you should always read the care label on your pillows to ensure they don’t get damaged when drying. If you don’t take the care advice given on the label, your pillow could;

Destroy The Structure Of The Pillow

If you were to wash or tumble dry a memory foam or latex pillow, it could be damaged either by tearing as it becomes full of water or melted out of shape due to the heat of the tumble dryer.

Cause The Pillow Filling To Melt

polyester pillows exposed to too much heat could melt. This could cause damage to not only the pillow, but also your tumble dryer.

Cause The Pillow To Rot

With some pillows, feather or down pillows for example, the feathers could rot if they’re not dried properly. Which is why the care label on feather pillows shows that they should be tumble dried on a low heat setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to put a pillow in a tumble dryer?

It is usually safe to put a pillow in a tumble dryer as long as it is not a memory foam or latex pillow as these should never be tumble dried. Polyester or feather pillows can be tumble dried on low heat to dry.

How can I dry a pillow without a tumble dryer?

There are several ways to dry a pillow without using a tumble dryer. These include; hanging the pillow on the washing line, using an airer, retractable clothesline or an airing cupboard.

How long do pillows take to dry in a tumble dryer?

 Pillows will take around 2 hours to dry in a tumble dryer on a delicate/low heat cycle.

Do you need dryer balls to dry pillows?

You can use dryer balls or clean tennis balls to prevent the feathers clumping together whilst drying the pillow in the tumble dryer.

How long does it take pillows to dry?

Pillows will take around 2 hours to dry in a tumble dryer and around 4-6 hours on a washing line or airer. To speed up indoor drying times you should place a dehumidifier in the room with the pillow.

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