How to Clean Pillows That Can't Be Washed

Every now and then your pillows could use a good cleaning. The best way to clean your pillows is to wash them, but what if your pillows can’t be washed?

Even if your pillows can’t be washed, there are ways to clean them and cleaning them properly will keep them looking great for years. Read our article and learn how to clean pillows that can’t be washed without damaging them. Last updated Jun 20, 2020 @ 10:38 pm

Cleaning Your Pillows Without Washing Them

The first thing you should do is to determine the right cleaning method for the type of pillows you have. To do this, you will need to check the care tag on your pillows to see what are manufacturer’s recommendations. While some pillows can be only dry cleaned or vacuumed, others needs to be spot-cleaned.

If your pillows don’t have a care label, you should determine what would be the best for them by observing the fabric type used in their construction.

Vacuuming and Dry Cleaning

Regularly vacuuming or dusting pillows that can’t be washed such as throw pillows will keep them clean for a longer period of time.

Pillows that are marked “dry clean only” such as some of the feather and down pillows can’t be washed as this will damage them. Also some down pillows have covers that contain natural starches that can cause the down to come out while being washed.

The best way to keep them clean is to put them in the dryer set at low heat for some 10 minutes. This will freshen them and help remove dander and dust. You can also freshen these types of pillows by bringing them outside and leaving them in the shade for some time.

Also, if dry cleaning is indicated, you can use a clean and dry sponge, dip it into the dry cleaning solution and use circular movements to clean the fabric and then blot it with a clean white towel.

Spot Cleaning Your Pillows

If your pillows can be spot cleaned, you should do the spot test first before you proceed to clean them. There are different ways to spot clean pillows and regardless of which method you decide to use, you should always do the spot test and test a small area of your pillows first to see what will happen.

This test will show you whether the cleaning method you intend to use is a good choice for the materials used in the construction of your pillows.

How to Spot Clean Leather and Suede Pillows

You can spot clean leather pillows by using a solution of water mixed with a few drops of mild dish soap. Use a clean white towel to blot the stains and let the spots air dry. You can also apply the leather upholstery conditioner if you want.

If you want to spot clean suede pillows, you should never do this using water as it can cause discoloration.

Use a bristled brush to loosen dirt and brush it away and only then you can spot clean the pillows. Moisten the brush with white vinegar and gently brush the stained area until you completely remove the stains.

How to Clean Microfiber Pillows

There are various ways how you can clean microfiber pillows and sometimes they are listed on the label by code letter. While S code means you can use an alcohol-based cleaner, W code means you can use water based cleaning solution such as water and soap.

S-W code means you can use both water-based and alcohol cleaners and X code means you must vacuum your pillows.

Sponge Cleaning

Sponge cleaning is also possible for some types of throw pillows. You can use a good upholstery shampoo and a high quality sponge to clean such pillows.

Use circular movements to work the foam shampoo into the pillows and pay special attention to crevices. After you finish this, you can use a clean white towel to blot the excess moisture and shampoo.


As the time passes, pillows will accumulate dust, dust mites, body oils, dirt and other debris and will eventually need cleaning.

There are various ways to clean pillows and the cleaning method you will use will depend on what’s mentioned on the care tag of your pillows or the type of materials used in their construction.

While some pillows can be washed, others cannot and here we gave some of the most effective cleaning methods for pillows that can’t be washed. We hope they will be helpful to you.

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