House Cleaning Tips > Bedrooms > How to Clean Memory Foam Pillows

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How to Clean and Deodorize Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows are so soft and snugly.

They cradle and support your head and neck and most people agree that they provide a better night's rest.

What's the secret behind this cushy pillow? Memory foam is made from polyurethane. It's very comfortable because it softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold perfectly to a warm body (or head) in just a few minutes, and then snap back to it's original shape just a few minutes after the warm body has moved elsewhere.

Because of the support memory foam provides, these pillows are growing in popularity, especially among those who have neck and back problems. I am in that category and use one too!

Even though memory foam has the ability to quickly whisk you off to la-la land, it's not so fun in the land of stain-removal.

Follow these tips to clean and refresh your prized and comfy pillow.

Cleaning Precautions

Memory foam is very delicate: traditional stain removers, scrubbing, rubbing or agitating in the washer will break down the material. Use a light touch when cleaning and removing stains & always use gentle cleaners.

Use as little liquid as possible: Moisture gets trapped in these types of pillows and adding more liquid (or any cleaning agent) it will only compound your problem. Damp pillows can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, not to mention start releasing foul odors.

What To Avoid

Memory foam is not made to get wet and if it does get wet, it doesn't release the moisture easily. Any liquid can create a serious problem rather quickly...but before you go into panic mode, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don't put the pillow in the washer.
  • Don't put the pillow in the dryer.
  • Don't use hot or warm water to clean the pillow.
  • Don't scrub the pillow or treat the surface harshly.

DON'T Wash the Pillow in the Washing Machine, We really mean this!

The foam will rip into little chunks and fragments when subjected to the the pounding and rolling of the agitators.

Cleaning General Spills

Even though we know we shouldn't drink liquids in bed, we do. And if you act fast, your pillow will most likely be saved with hardly a scratch (or a stain!).

  1. Quickly grab clean bath towels
  2. Press the towel into the spill to soak up as much liquid as possible.
  3. Use as many clean towels as needed to in order to blot up as much liquid as possible.
  4. Set the pillow aside to completely air dry and remove all traces of moisture.
  5. If need be, move the pillow into a room that gets more air circulation or place a fan near it.
  6. Make sure the pillow is completely dry before putting a pillowcase back on the pillow.

Removing Surface Stains

If there's an odor on the pillow from the spill, there are some solutions below. As I've stated, any stain that has saturated memory foam cannot be safely removed without ruining the pillow. But rather than toss the pillow, you can try the solution below.

  1. Mix cold water and a small amount of mild soap in a container.
  2. Use a clean cotton or terry towel and dip it in the mixture.
  3. Wring out excess moisture
  4. Apply the cleaning solution gently and sparingly by dabbing the pillow surface - start from the outside of the stain and work inward.
  5. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.
  6. Put the pillow in an area with good air circulation to dry completely.

If the stain doesn't come out, a fresh pillow case can hide the stain very nicely. If there is no odor caused by the stain, you won't even notice it.

Removing Odor

Any remaining odor or general freshening CAN be treated successfully. Try one of the solutions below.

Baking Soda

If your pillow smells funky, sprinkle a little baking soda on it and let it stand for a day or so. Then shake or gently vacuum the pillow with the brush attachment. Once all of the baking soda has been vacuumed up, you can put the pillowcase back on.

Sunlight

If it's warm outside, sunlight and a warm breeze is very effective at removing and neutralizing odor. If you can do without it, take it outside for a day or two and place it in the sun. It should smell as fresh as new.

Heavy Duty Odor Removal

As I mentioned, memory foam pillows aren't made to get wet. However, the best way to clean memory foam of pet urine is to use a liquid enzymatic cleaner or vinegar.

Spray the enzymatic cleaner as per the manufacturers instructions, or use a 50/50 vinegar and water mix. Don't saturate the pillow, just use enough liquid to effectively clean and deodorize the urine.

  1. Add the enzymatic cleaner or vinegar to a small spray bottle
  2. Spray the pillow lightly and let the cleaner stand on the area for five minutes
  3. Blot the area with a clean towel until the surface feels dry
  4. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire area
  5. Vacuum the baking soda up after it has be left on it overnight

If necessary, move the pillow to a room that has good air circulation or set up a fan near it if the enzymatic cleaner or vinegar hasn't dried yet. If you use a fan, set it on the lowest possible setting to avoid blowing the baking soda around the room. Once the pillow is dry, vacuum it thoroughly.

If you need still need an extra deodorizing boost, the baking soda and sun methods above will work really well at removing urine odors.

I recommend it as a very effective finishing touch.

Keeping Your Memory Foam Pillow Clean

Preventative measures are your best insurance to protect your pillow for years to come!

The very best advice:

Purchase a liquid resistant pillow cover. This will not only keep spills from saturating into the foam, but it will help keep out odors and body oils as well.

Image courtesy of Serge Melki, CC BY.


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Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Mrs Clean (Corina Wilson) is not only the owner of the company, but a very busy mother of 3 children.

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Mrs Clean realized long ago, that a clean home is a necessity, not a luxury when we are struggling to find the time in our day to cover the very basic levels of work and/or family obligations. The battle seems to never end... (but that's why we're here to help!)

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