How often should you wash or replace your pillows? When should you replace your mattress and can a soiled mattress be cleaned? After years of working closely with Head Housekeepers in some of the most luxurious hotels around the world, we have some of the answers to these questions, which we want to share with you.
Can I launder my bedding?
For the most part, sheets can be washed according to label instructions in your home washing machine and many washing machines have settings specifically for sheets. It is best to wash your sheets in a load by themselves. The fabric content of your sheets makes a difference: cotton might shrink in hot water; colors might bleed when washed with whites; or delicate fabrics like sateen could be damaged if not washed on a gentle setting. Generally speaking, though, the label will tell you how to proceed. Sheets should not be washed with other fabrics, particularly terry toweling, which can be rough on sheets and will likely have different drying times.
As for quilts and comforters, you'll probably want to take them to a laundromat or other laundry service unless you have a front-loading or high-capacity washer that can handle the increased load size. If you are washing these items, never use bleach unless specified on the label instructions, and always keep separate from clothing items.
How about drying bedding?
You might think this step is as simple as throwing everything in the dryer, but you need to be careful when it comes to drying your bedding. Bedding such as dust ruffles may be too delicate for the dryer. Cotton sheets can shrink when you wash them in hot water and then dry them on high heat. Comforters, particularly down and feather comforters, may require extra drying time to avoid mold and mildew issues. The addition of tennis balls or wool felt dryer balls to the dryer can aid in fluffing and ensure thorough drying. In certain cases, you may be better off taking comforters to a professional cleaner rather than trying to wash and dry them on your own, particularly if the fabric is embellished with embroidery or beading.
How should I care for pillows?
Select high quality sleeping pillows for durability. Look for details such as German piping, which creates a nice edge and strengthens seams. Always use pillow encasements. These will protect your pillows from the inevitable contaminants resulting from regular use. It is far easier to remove a protector for washing than it is to wash the pillow. When protectors become soiled, you should remove them from the pillows and wash them inside out so that any feathers inside are washed and removed in the dryer. If your protectors have zippers, close these before washing to avoid ripping.
Down and feather pillows themselves can be washed if your washer and dryer will accommodate their bulk; however, whether or not you wash them regular, pillows can quickly become soiled from regular use and environmental contaminants, making them lumpy or causing them to lose the loft that provides proper support for your head and neck. At the very least, you'll want to replace them annually. Check for fabric stains that won’t go away as these spots can weaken the fabric and ultimately lead to tearing. Loose seams and feathers that are escaping are signs of pillows in need of replacement. Never overload the washer or dryer. Pillows when wet take on weight and can stress the machine.
Decorative pillows should also be cleaned regularly, but caution is needed here. It’s probably best to dry clean these. If you remove the cover, you can check on the contents of the pillow itself. Polyester and other synthetics might not wash well and tend to clump. Down can be washed, but never while inside the cover. Fabrics embellished with embroidery or beading should not be washed, but dry cleaned only. If you have pulled the outside tag off your pillow and can’t remember the care required, be safe and dry clean.
Can a mattress be cleaned?
If you're like most people, you've probably never cleaned your mattress, or even considered it. The benchmark for mattress replacement is about 8-10 years. You have probably heard that flipping the mattress annually (provided it's not a pillow-top or other product that cannot be flipped), is recommended for even wearing. What you may not know is that there is more you can do to maintain the condition of your mattress.
We strongly suggest the use of a mattress encasement to protect your investment in a new mattress from contaminants, including bed bugs. We highly recommend our OnGuard! encasement, which fully protects the mattress and makes any bed bugs that attempt to reach the mattress easier to see. Use of an encasement on an existing mattress will also help in the elimination of a bed bug problem in that it will trap any existing bed bugs, which will then starve and die.
Next, you should protect the mattress with a mattress pad. If you have children or pets, we recommend a waterproof mattress pad. Down Etc's Lily Pads mattress pad is not only waterproof, but also motionless and silky soft, providing a perfect base for your bottom sheet. You can choose a mattress pad with elastic anchor bands or a fitted skirt to keep it in its proper place. The mattress pad should be laundered at least every other linen change or more often if it becomes soiled. If you have pets that like to lie on the bed and the mattress pads and sheets are in the laundry, lay a towel or sheet over the bed to avoid them shedding directly on your mattress.
In addition, we suggest you vacuum your mattress regularly, when you change your sheets or wash your mattress pad. After vacuuming, you can spot clean with appropriate products and sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the mattress to absorb oils, odors, and any wetness from spot cleaning. Let the baking soda sit for an hour or so while your linens are washing and then vacuum it up before you remake your bed. This should keep your mattress clean and smelling fresh for years.
What about the area around the bed?
Don't forget to clean the headboard, bed rails, and area underneath the bed frequently in order to keep your sleeping area free of dust, dander, and other allergens. This can be accomplished very easily with the right vacuum hose attachments and a dust cloth for hard surfaces. If you keep books, flowers, or creams and lotions on your bedside table, shake things out and vacuum and dust before stripping the bed so that the dust does not fall on your bare mattress or fresh bedding.
Can I achieve a clean bed while remaining green?
For households that value environmental protection, as well as those that are dealing with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, green cleaning options exist. Your linens are easy enough - there are plenty of non-toxic detergents on the market. You can even find eco-friendly dry cleaning services in many areas. If allergies are a problem, a HEPA filter vacuum should help you suck up even the most miniscule contaminants lurking in the creases of your mattress. Don't forget, you can start with organic cotton bedding, including sheets and pillows, to reduce allergens right off the bat. With proper effort and information, your bed and bedding can remain nearly as clean, safe, and comfortable as the day you bought it.
Updated August 3, 2022