How to Clean Memory Foam Pillows (Plus 4 Things to Avoid)

by maru | Last Updated: February 10, 2018

Have you had your memory foam pillow for more than 6 months now? Is it starting to smell or was it left too long on the shelf? Or worse, did you spill food or liquid onto it?

Cleaning a memory foam pillow isn’t as simple as cleaning regular pillows. You can just throw the latter in the wash and leave it out during very warm days. Memory foam pillows require a different set of procedures for cleaning. Once you know what you’re doing though, it’s a walk in the park.

2 Ways to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow

There are two ways you can clean your memory foam pillow — light cleaning and deep cleaning. Lightly clean your memory foam pillow every month or two by sprinkling it with baking soda and then vacuuming it. Then, deep clean your foam pillow once or twice a year by submerging and rinsing it in a tub.

1 – Light Cleaning

Step One:
The first thing you have to do is remove your memory pillow’s protective case so you can throw the cloth casing in the wash.

(I initially thought the protective case was part of the foam pillow and un-removable but turns out I was wrong. You can regularly wash this casing like any cloth item.)

Step Two:
The next step is to get a package of baking soda and sprinkle the powder liberally all over the outside of your pillow. Don’t scrub it in, and just let it sit for at least an hour.

Once it has sat for at least an hour, vacuum your memory foam pillow with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. The baking soda will neutralize any odors, and vacuuming it will remove any pet dander or dust.

Flip your pillow over and repeat the process for the other side.

Step Three:
If you find stains on your pillow, mix a bowl of lukewarm water with a wool or silk detergent. This is a more gentle formula, and you need it for your pillow.

Next, dip a cloth in your mixture and gently spot clean your pillow. Start by rubbing from the outside of the stain and work your way in.

As the stain lifts, use clean parts of your cloth. Once the stain is gone, get a clean cloth and gently dab at the area to remove any excess soap.

Step Four:
The final step is allowing your pillow to dry. You want to place it on a flat surface and allow it to air dry completely.

If it’s nice outside, you can set it outside. You can also place a fan on it for a faster drying process.

2 – Deep Cleaning

Step One:
To deep clean, your memory foam pillow, fill a large container or your bathtub with lukewarm water and your wool or silk-grade detergent. Submerge your pillow in the mixture completely and gently squeeze it once it’s under the water to get the detergent mixture through the memory foam.

Step Two:
Once it’s soaked through, rinse it off in warm water. You’ll want to rinse it several times until the water runs clear. This will ensure that all of the soap mixtures is out of your pillow.

You may want to gently squeeze your pillow while you’re rinsing it as well.

Step Three:
When you’re sure the soap is completely out of your pillow, you want to leave it out to air dry. Lay it on a flat surface in a well-ventilated room.

You can aim a fan at it to speed up the drying process, but it may take up to 24 hours to completely dry.

4 Things You Should Never Do with Your Memory Foam

There are several things you shouldn’t do with your memory foam pillow (to ensure that it lasts and doesn’t get damaged).

  1. Don’t put your memory foam pillow in the washer. When it agitates, it could shred the foam in your pillow.
  2. Don’t put your memory foam pillow on or in a dryer. The higher heat can easily melt your pillow, and this makes it useless as well as a fire hazard.
  3. Don’t use harsh detergents or hydrogen peroxide to clean your pillow as it can destroy the texture and the color of your memory foam.
  4. Don’t use your pillow when it isn’t completely dry because mold and mildew can form very quickly.

What Makes Memory Foam So Weird and Squishy

Cleaning a memory foam anything – be it a pillow or a mattress – is drastically different from cleaning any other regular cloth material simply because it’s made of entirely different materials. The give, the texture, and even the smell is a dead giveaway. It kinda reminds me actually of alien technology.

I’m not too far off because NASA created memory foam in 1966 by combining a mix of chemicals and polyurethane. Since then, memory foam has gone through several evolutions to make it the product we know and love today.

It has undergone changes that were designed to improve its breathability, odor control, and temperature. Its weird texture and squishiness is exactly what makes a memory foam pillow contour to your head and holds its shape, and this reduces the number of pressure points you have as a result.

I have a soft spot for memory foam because it helped me get rid of my chronic pain caused by cervical spondylosis. If you’re still on the fence about memory foam pillows and haven’t actually bought one, check out my write-up HERE.