No matter how carefully you treat your new couch cushions and throw pillows, there will come a time when they need a good washing.
When it comes time for a wash, follow our advice to guarantee a pillow that’s squeaky-clean, inside and out.
Here’s a comprehensive look at how to wash throw pillows without a removable cover. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it might seem.
Why Do I Need to Wash Throw Pillows?
Table of Contents
- Why Do I Need to Wash Throw Pillows?
- Guidelines for Washing Throw Pillows Without Removable Covers
- How to Get Rid of Stubborn Stains
- Washing Throw Pillows with a Removable Cover
- How to Keep Throw Pillows Clean
- Retiring a Much-Loved Throw Pillow
If you don’t remember when last you’ve washed your throw pillows, then you’d better get into action and start cleaning.
Dirty pillows are a breeding ground for all types of microorganisms and even insects!
How many people visited your home in the last day, month or year, and how much time have they spent in contact with your cushions?
We shed about 40,000 skin cells an hour, many of which collect and form the perfect breeding ground for dust mites.
Combine this with the fact that it’s estimated that a pillow that’s gone unwashed for two years contains ten percent of its weight in dust mites (and their feces!) and you’ll soon see why washing your throw pillows should be a top priority.
Guidelines for Washing Throw Pillows Without Removable Covers
The best way to wash your throw pillows depends on what they’re made of.
Here’s a few rules of thumb to keep in mind so that you never damage the fabric of your pillows & cushions, and always get the best results:
Spot Test Your Fabric
Unless you’re completely sure of the the fabric type, always perform a spot test.
If there are no care instructions listed on the label, do a spot test. Most of us will end up doing one for peace of mind alone.
Spot testing is also essential for any bright colored fabrics as these tend to run easily. Use whatever type of detergent you plan to clean your throw pillow with, and the same temperature water that you plan on using.
Start with a very small area of fabric, preferably somewhere that is out of direct sight in case things go wrong. If you don’t see an adverse reaction then clean a bigger space. You’ll soon see whether your choice of cleaning style suits your throw pillows.
From personal experience, I can tell you that it pays to perform a spot test – I have the stained couch cushion to prove it!
Consider Handwashing First
We recommend handwashing throw pillows that don’t have removable covers above all other methods of cleaning.
It is the safest way to guarantee that you won’t damage your pillows.
Follow these simple steps to hand wash your pillows:
- Fill a large container, bucket or washtub with lukewarm water
- Add in either a tablespoon of standard clothing detergent or a measure of upholstery shampoo
- Mix up your solution well before submerging your pillow in the water
- Make sure to clean not only the exterior of your pillow, but froth it around to get inside too
- Once you’re happy that it should be clean, run cold tap water over your pillow until the water runs clear (free from soap suds)
- Let your pillow dry until it is totally free from moisture/dampness
If something has spilled onto your throw pillows without a removable cover, don’t just sit there and bemoan your loss.
Grab a soft cloth and a little warm, soapy water and clean off any food, drink or debris. Soda water (club soda) should be your go to for any recent spills. Typically, you won’t even need anything else.
Make sure that you don’t saturate your pillow. You want to clean off the mark while keeping the surface as dry as possible.
Cotton Covered Throw Pillows
Throw pillows with non-removable cotton covers are safe for machine washing and tumble drying.
This natural fabric often covers pillows and cushions but it may shrink if washed incorrectly.
Always pay attention to any care instructions that may be present. If you’re not sure, run your throw pillow with a cotton cover through a cold-water cycle on delicate even though warm water is preferable.
Try to wash two throw pillows at a time to help balance out the washing machine’s drum. Remember, after washing it’s going to take an extensive amount of time for your pillow to dry.
Polyester Covered Throw Pillows
If your throw pillows have polyester covers then you can treat them the same as those with cotton covers.
Polyester is less susceptible to shrinkage, so a warm gentle cycle will leave them clean and damage free.
As always, take the time to let your throw pillows air out properly before use. Any dampness will result in a distinct odor growing stronger over time, as well as the unhealthy growth of mold and mildew within the throw cushion itself.
Also, do not machine wash throw pillows using covers made from materials other than cotton, linen and polyester or they’ll end up ruined. Instead, scroll down for our alternative cleaning methods.
Leather Covered Throw Pillows
While far less common than other types of material, leather throw pillows are elegant and durable.
They don’t require as frequent cleaning and you can’t treat them in the same way as other types.
All that you need to clean leather is some distilled water and a very soft cloth or towel.
Dampen your cloth and then buff any area of leather that needs a clean. Never use excess water, and always work carefully.
Leather can damage easily, especially if you apply any sort of detergent other than a proper leather cleaning agent.
After any cleaning, you should consider applying a leading leather conditioner such as Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. With 50-years worth of experience and loyal support, you can’t go wrong with this leather product conditioner.
Silk, Velvet, or Wool Throw Pillow Covers
Exotic, luxurious fabrics with a very high fine fiber count will need special treatment by dry cleaning only.
Silk, velvet, wool and upholstery will all need dry cleaning.
The best that you can do at home is to give them a regular wipe down, perhaps a mist of a good cleaning spray every now and then, and don’t forget some sun and fresh air.
Don’t take the risk of hand washing or machine washing your fine fabrics – dry cleaning is always the best and safest option.
Cleaning Suede Covered Throw Pillows
This one’s easy. Don’t ever wash pillows covered with suede.
Unfortunately, you can’t use any water or any liquid product to clean suede throw pillow covers. Rather, use a brush with soft bristles to gently work out any dirt. Make sure you go with the grain not against it.
If you can get hold of a suede brush this is perfect, but unless you own a full suede furniture set, the cost may not be worth it.
Dampen your brush with a bit of white vinegar and gently work any stains away.
How to Get Rid of Stubborn Stains
There are lots of effective stain removal tricks. Remember to never use any harsh detergents, and if you’re using a commercial stain removal agent, always spot test first.
Deal with stains quickly. The more time a stain has to set in the harder it will be to get rid of.
Never lose hope – there are always ways to get rid of a stain. Very rarely will your cover be ruined. Pretreating is essential to stain removal. Follow our simple steps and you can get rid of just about any stain you can think of.
Here are some simple solutions for common stubborn stains:
Adhesives & Chewing Gum
Apply ice until substance hardens. Scrape off carefully, before washing, then rinsing and drying.
Sauces & Marinades
Flush the stain with cold water. Then work up a lather with warm water and laundry detergent, gentling cleaning the stain.
Rinse before sponging with white vinegar and then rinsing again. Wash and dry to finish cleaning.
Don’t apply any warm or hot water or it will make the stain set.
Soak your throw pillow in cold water beforehand or machine washing, and then allowing to dry. If the blood stain has set, pour white vinegar over it and let it soak for ten minutes before rinsing, washing, rinsing, and drying.
Get rid of an ink stain by applying rubbing alcohol using a soft cloth. Dab a little alcohol onto your rag and then dab away the stain.
Take care to only dab the stain. In most cases, you won’t even need to finish off with a light wash.
Anything that has left any oily residue is easily removable using a little cornstarch.
Sprinkle some over the stain and let it sit overnight. All it then takes the next morning is a little light cleaning with a brush to work off the mark and the cornstarch.
Washing Throw Pillows with a Removable Cover
If you’ve got a throw pillow with a removable cover, then washing becomes much easier.
Remove the cover and treat it according to its fabric type. Hash washing is always recommended over a machine wash but excessively dirty covers may need a thorough cycle.
With the cover removed, give the pillow a spray with a pillow and linen freshening spray before letting it air out.
Asutra Aromatherapy Room, Pillow & Linen Mist is perfect, leaving your throw pillow clean and fresh after nothing more than only a light spray.
Not everyone has the right climate to air dry, but if you do, it is a far safer option than tumble drying.
As always, check the care instructions if there are any. If your cover is cotton, polyester, or a good quality linen, tumble drying should be safe. However, for safety’s sake, if you are uncertain, air dry your pillows.
Once you’ve washed and rinsed your throw pillows properly making sure that all soap is gone, gently squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Find a place where they can hang undisturbed for up to two days. Good sunlight and a steady breeze are highly recommended to hasten the process. Once there is no feel or smell of moisture, they’re ready for use again.
If you decide to tumble dry your throw pillows instead of letting them air dry, then try to use as little heat as possible.
Regardless of whether you’re washing a cover or the whole throw pillow with a cover that can’t be removed, always avoid excessive heat when drying.
Use this quick tip to make sure that your pillows fluff up nicely, while drying much faster than normal at the same time. Stick two new, clean tennis balls each into a clean, plain white sock. Tie a knot and toss them in the dryer with your throw pillow or pillows. Remove and feel for dampness.
Another great way to check how dry they are is to smell the middle for any moisture. Don’t increase the heat if they’re still wet. Rather keep it low and allow them to dry for longer.
How to Keep Throw Pillows Clean
Maintaining good cleaning habits will save you from having to go through the hassle of washing your pillow frequently.
Here’s a few ways that you can maintain your throw pillows without removable covers to reduce dirt, debris and the buildup of grime:
Try Sponge Cleaning
Sponge clean your throw pillows regularly.
Get yourself a good quality sponge and some reliable mild upholstery shampoo. Work up a lather using shampoo and a little cold water, working out all excess moisture as you go using clean paper towels.
With attention to detail and care around places like the crevices, you’ll soon have a pillow that looks as good as new. Finish off your cleaning with a little sunlight in a good breeze, and your throw is ready for the couch again.
If you don’t give your throw pillows without removable covers the chance to amass dust and dirty, they’ll stay in great condition.
Use a vacuum cleaner regularly to thoroughly vacuum the whole throw pillow. Cover the vacuum cleaner’s suction hose with a soft piece of cotton cloth or something similar if you’re working with an extremely delicate fabric.
Reduce Airborne Particles
Looking for that extra boost to keep your pillows and couch feeling and smelling fresh?
Think about investing in an air purifier. Even a small air purifier can help to reduce dander, pollen, and airborne particles that can make your pillows feel dirty.
Getting Rid of Moisture
Stubborn marks and really dirty pillows can at times end up a bit too wet after cleaning.
While nowhere near wet enough to warrant a wash in the machine, one can’t always wait for it to air dry. Instead, use a good wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck up as much moisture as possible. Otherwise, your only real option is to dry the area using a hairdryer or heater, or pursue a path of patience and blot the dampness out until totally dry.
Be careful though, one needs to work with extreme care when using any type of direct heat on a throw pillow cover. Position your dryer far enough from the wet area for a gentle warm breeze to hit, nothing more.
Retiring a Much-Loved Throw Pillow
Don’t be discouraged if your pillow has seen better days and just can’t recover. There are tons of vibrant creative throw pillows both with and without removable covers readily available online.
After all, every time you lose something it’s an opportunity to find a better pillow.
Take good care of a new throw pillow and you’re sure to get many years worth of use, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t keep a few extra sets handy to suit a change of decor. This will also help your other pillows to last longer as well.