How to Wash Throw Pillows Properly: Materials, Methods, and Maintenance Tips

How to Wash Throw Pillows Properly

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to wash throw pillows! Throw pillows are not just decorative accents; they also accumulate dust, allergens, and stains over time. In this concise yet comprehensive article, we will walk you through the essential steps to keep your throw pillows fresh and vibrant. From machine washing and handwashing techniques to stain treatment and fabric considerations, we’ve got you covered. Discover the key to maintaining a clean and inviting living space as we share expert tips and insights on the proper care of your beloved throw pillows. Let’s dive in and ensure your throw pillows stay as stylish as they are clean!

Preparation and Materials

Gathering Necessary Materials:

Before diving into the washing process, it’s crucial to gather the right materials to ensure a successful cleaning routine. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Mild Detergent: Choose a detergent suitable for delicate fabrics to preserve the quality of your throw pillow covers.
  • Stain Remover: Have a reliable stain remover on hand for treating any stubborn spots or marks.
  • Soft Brush or Cloth: A soft-bristled brush or a clean, soft cloth is essential for gentle scrubbing and spot cleaning.
  • Bucket or Basin: If you opt for handwashing, a bucket or basin large enough to accommodate your throw pillow is necessary.
  • Lint Roller: To remove any lint or pet hair that may have accumulated on the pillows.
  • Care Labels: Always check the care labels on your throw pillows for specific instructions and recommendations.

Checking Care Labels and Spot Testing:

Before proceeding with any cleaning method, carefully read the care labels attached to your throw pillows. These labels provide valuable information on recommended cleaning techniques and potential fabric restrictions.

Machine Washing Throw Pillows

Machine Washing Throw Pillows

Removing Covers and Washing:

  1. Zipper Closure: If your throw pillow covers have a zipper closure, unzip them and remove the covers. If there’s no zipper, check for any buttons or closures and undo them.
  2. Separate Covers and Inserts: It’s crucial to separate the covers from the pillow inserts. This allows for a more thorough cleaning of both components.
  3. Pre-Treating Stains: Before placing the covers in the washing machine, pre-treat any visible stains using a mild detergent or stain remover. Follow the product instructions for the best results.
  4. Choosing the Right Cycle: Select a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine. The goal is to clean the covers without subjecting them to harsh agitation that could damage delicate fabrics.
  5. Using a Mild Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using excessive detergent, as it can leave a residue on the fabric.

Drying the Interior Pillow:

  1. Air Drying: While the covers are being washed, it’s time to address the interior pillows. For most throw pillows, air drying is preferable to machine drying. This prevents potential damage from excessive heat.
  2. Fluffing and Reshaping: Before air drying, give the interior pillows a good fluff to maintain their shape. Reshape them as needed to ensure they return to their original form.
  3. Avoiding Direct Sunlight: When air-drying, keep the pillows away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. A well-ventilated area is ideal for promoting efficient drying.

Hand Washing Throw Pillows

Step-by-Step Hand Washing Process:

  1. Fill a Basin or Bucket: Start by filling a basin or bucket with lukewarm water. Ensure there’s enough water to submerge the throw pillow covers completely.
  2. Add Mild Detergent: Incorporate a small amount of mild detergent into the water. Mix it well to create a soapy solution.
  3. Submerge the Covers: Place the throw pillow covers into the soapy water, ensuring they are fully submerged. Gently agitate the water to encourage the detergent to penetrate the fabric.
  4. Gentle Scrubbing: Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the covers. Pay extra attention to stained or soiled areas, applying a bit more pressure if needed. Avoid aggressive scrubbing to prevent damage.
  5. Rinse Thoroughly: Once you’ve cleaned the covers, drain the soapy water and refill the basin with clean, lukewarm water. Rinse the covers thoroughly to remove any detergent residue.

Spot Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Identify Stains: Before submerging the covers, identify any specific stains. Different stains may require different treatments, so it’s essential to know what you’re dealing with.
  2. Stain-Specific Treatment: Put a stain remover or a mix of gentle soap and water right on the stained spots. Let it stay there for a bit before softly scrubbing with a soft brush or cloth.
  3. Rinse and Inspect: After spot cleaning, rinse the treated areas to remove any cleaning agents. Inspect the covers to ensure the stains are effectively treated before proceeding with the overall handwashing process.

Final Steps:

  1. Air Drying: Once you’ve washed them, let the covers air-dry by laying them flat on a clean, dry towel. Don’t hang them to dry, as this can mess up their shape.
  2. Fluff and Reshape: During the drying process, periodically fluff and reshape the covers to prevent them from becoming misshapen.

Treating Stains on Throw Pillows

Identifying and Treating Stains:

  1. Prompt Identification: The key to successful stain removal is identifying and treating stains promptly. The longer a stain sits, the more challenging it can be to remove.
  2. Common Stains: Different stains require specific treatments. Here are some common types and their treatments:
  • Food and Beverage Stains: Blot with a clean cloth, then treat with a mixture of water and mild detergent.
  • Grease Stains: Absorb excess grease with a paper towel, then apply talcum powder or cornstarch to lift the remaining grease.
  1. Testing in an Inconspicuous Area: Before applying any cleaning solution, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.

Spot Cleaning Techniques:

  1. Stain Remover Application: Apply a small amount of stain remover directly to the stained area. Follow the product’s instructions regarding application and wait time.
  2. Gentle Blotting: Use a clean, white cloth to blot the stain gently. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the stain or damage the fabric fibers.
  3. Repeat as Necessary: For stubborn stains, you may need to repeat the process several times. Be patient and persistent, allowing each treatment to work before reapplying.
  4. Rinse Thoroughly: Once the stain is removed, rinse the treated area with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution.

Final Steps:

  1. Air Dry: After treating stains, allow the throw pillow covers to air dry. Avoid using heat sources, such as hairdryers, as they can set any remaining stains.
  2. Inspect Before Storage: Before storing or placing the covers back on the pillows, inspect them to ensure all stains are fully removed. This prevents setting any remaining residue during storage.

Dry Cleaning Throw Pillows

Dry Cleaning Throw Pillows

When to Opt for Dry Cleaning:

  1. Delicate Fabrics: If your throw pillows are made of delicate or intricate fabrics such as silk, wool, or embellished materials, dry cleaning may be the safest option.
  2. Persistent Stains: When stains prove resistant to home treatments, especially on valuable or sentimental throw pillows, professional dry cleaning can often provide effective solutions.

Professional Cleaning Considerations:

  1. Choose a Reputable Cleaner: Select a reputable dry cleaner experienced in handling delicate fabrics and decorative items. Seek recommendations or read reviews to ensure the cleaner is reliable.
  2. Communicate Stain Details: When delivering your throw pillows to the dry cleaner, provide detailed information about the stains. This helps the professionals choose the most suitable cleaning methods.
  3. Check for Special Instructions: Some throw pillows may have special embellishments or features that require specific cleaning approaches. Make sure the dry cleaner is aware of any such details.
  4. Inspect Before Taking Home: Upon receiving your cleaned throw pillows, inspect them thoroughly before leaving the dry cleaner’s premises. Address any concerns immediately to ensure satisfaction.

DIY Dry Cleaning Kits:

  1. For Light Cleaning: DIY dry cleaning kits are available for light cleaning needs. These kits typically include a cleaning solution and a special bag for use in a clothes dryer.
  2. Follow Kit Instructions: If opting for a DIY kit, carefully follow the instructions provided. These kits are suitable for refreshing and maintaining cleanliness but may not be as effective on stubborn stains.

Maintaining Throw Pillows

Fluffing and Reshaping:

  1. Regular Fluffing: To maintain the original shape and plumpness of your throw pillows, regularly fluff them. This is especially important for pillows that support your seating or bedding.
  2. Rotate and Flip: Rotate and flip your throw pillows periodically. This helps distribute the wear and prevents one side from becoming more compressed than the other.

Tips for Keeping Throw Pillows Fresh:

  1. Use Pillow Protectors: Consider using pillow protectors underneath your decorative pillow covers. These act as a barrier against dust, allergens, and spills, prolonging the cleanliness of your throw pillows.
  2. Wash Covers Periodically: Even if your throw pillows don’t have visible stains, washing the covers periodically helps prevent the accumulation of dust and odors. Follow the recommended cleaning frequency for your specific pillows.
  3. Avoid Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight can fade and damage fabrics. Keep throw pillows away from prolonged exposure to sunlight, especially if they are in vibrant or delicate materials.
  4. Vacuum Regularly: If your throw pillows are in high-traffic areas, vacuum them regularly using a soft brush attachment. This helps remove surface dust and prevents it from settling into the fabric.
  5. Store Properly: When not in use, store throw pillows in a cool, dry place. Avoid plastic covers, as they can trap moisture. Instead, use breathable fabric covers to protect against dust.

Special Cases: Pillows Without Removable Covers

Checking Manufacturer’s Label:

  1. Care Instructions: The manufacturer’s label provides valuable information about the recommended cleaning methods for your throw pillows. Check for any specific instructions regarding washing or cleaning.
  2. Material Specifications: Understand the materials used in your throw pillows. Some fabrics may be more sensitive to water, requiring alternative cleaning methods.

Handwashing and Machine Washing Methods:

How to Handwash Your Throw Pillow Without Removable Covers

  1. Care Label Check: Verify the care label on your throw pillows to confirm if handwashing is recommended. Proceed only if the care label permits this method.
  2. Cleaning Solution Preparation: Create a solution by mixing mild detergent with lukewarm water in a basin or bucket. Ensure thorough mixing before proceeding.
  3. Stain Spot-Cleaning: Identify any stains on the throw pillows and treat them using the appropriate stain removal method. Gently scrub stained areas with a soft brush or cloth.
  4. Pillow Submersion: Immerse the entire pillow into the prepared cleaning solution, making sure it is fully submerged. Gently agitate the water to allow the detergent to penetrate the fabric.
  5. Cleaning and Rinsing: With a soft brush, delicately clean the entire surface of the pillow. Follow up by rinsing thoroughly with clean water to eliminate any detergent residue.
  6. Air-Drying Process: Lay the cleaned pillow flat on a clean, dry towel to air dry. Periodically fluff and reshape the pillow during the drying process to maintain its form.

Machine Washing Your Throw Pillow Without Removable Covers

  1. Read the Care Label: Confirm that machine washing is suitable for your throw pillows. If the care label allows, follow these steps.
  2. Spot Clean If Needed: Before placing the pillow in the washing machine, spot clean any visible stains using a mild detergent or stain remover.
  3. Prepare the Pillow: Ensure the pillow is properly prepared for the washing machine. If it contains any delicate embellishments, consider placing it inside a pillowcase for added protection.
  4. Select the Appropriate Cycle: Choose a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to avoid excessive agitation.
  5. Use a Mild Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using too much detergent to prevent residue buildup.
  6. Balance the Load: If washing multiple pillows, balance the load to prevent the washing machine from becoming unbalanced during the cycle.
  7. Wash and Rinse: Allow the machine to complete the wash and rinse cycles. Ensure thorough rinsing to remove all detergent.

Drying the Pillow

  1. Fluffing and Reshaping: After washing, fluff and reshape the pillow to maintain its original form.
  2. Air-Dry: Lay the pillow flat on a clean, dry towel or hang it to air dry. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading.


Mastering the art of washing throw pillows is a simple yet essential skill for maintaining the vibrancy and cleanliness of these decorative elements. Whether you opt for machine washing, handwashing, or, in specific cases, professional dry cleaning, understanding the unique needs of your throw pillows is paramount. Regular maintenance, stain treatment, and proper storage further contribute to the longevity of these cherished accessories. By incorporating the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you ensure that your throw pillows not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your living spaces but also provide a fresh and inviting atmosphere. Remember to check care labels, perform spot tests, and tailor your approach to the specific fabrics and features of your throw pillows. With these insights, you can confidently embark on a cleaning routine that preserves the beauty of your throw pillows for years to come.