Monday, 13 August 2012

I washed my pillows!

Yes seriously, I washed my pillows.

Now some of you will probably be thinking "Euh, you washed your pillows?"

The rest of you will probably be going 'and you didn't wash them before? Yuk!"

Yes people do seem to be fairly divided on this topic.

I had never thought of this until recently. My Mum is a great believer in the powers of UV, so the only thing I've ever done with my pillows is pop them outside in bright sunshine several times a year. Now this does work wonders, and they always smell better, but my pillows were yellow. In fact so yellow I am ashamed to show them to you, so I didn't take a picture of them before they went in the wash. My pillows were about 15 years old, so I figured that a bit of yellow wasn't so bad. But we have a major damp problem in our house (a problem that my landlord is desperately trying to fix but doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast). I am now getting worried about mould, and yes I read that mould can grow in pillows. Aside from the euugghhhhh factor I was also quite worried about health. Now Mr PTC and I are fairly young and healthy, but mould in pillows is still a big no no.

Of course, once I started reading about washing pillows I also started reading about why you should wash pillows. I'm a bit of an obsessive about clean bedding... washing weekly like it is a religion and making sure we go to bed clean. I mean, come on, you sleep in your bed everyday for a week without washing the sheets, but you change your clothes daily? So yes, you should go to bed freshly showered/bathed!

But back to the point... pillows are not immune to what you would otherwise launder out or vacuum up. Why wouldn't they be after all? If you have ever looked under your bed after not vacuuming for 6 months you know the type of thing I'm talking about. Yes that dust is mainly human debris (dead skin cells, hair etc.).... euhhhh. And that can be in your pillow as well. Lets just say, dead skin cells, hair fibres, dust, dustmites and everything else you can think about are probably happily living in your pillow. Anyway, I'll stop creeping everyone out right now.

So after all that, and having damp issues I've taken steps.

Channel four's guide to cleaning of many resources out there!

Now there are lots of helpful websites out there telling you what to do. They all vary, but basically stick them in the washing machine and pray that they don't get ruined seems to be the general rule of thumb. The care label on my pillows (yup believe it or not it was still readable), suggested that I should 'commerical wash only' whatever that means. Basically use a big washer right? 15 years old and yellow? I'm not paying for a commercial wash when I have a perfectly good washing machine in the utility room. I figured if worse came to worst I think we could afford a couple of new pillows.

So here is what I did (bare in mind I wanted to remove any trace of mould, remove the yellowing and have them smelling wonderful and fresh).
Disclaimer: I've only tried this with synthetic pillows not down. It may not work for all pillows, so if in doubt please get the pillow cleaned professionally. I take no responsibility for people ruining their own pillows!! 

1. Beat your pillows (preferably outside so that you don't fill your bedroom with dust), and then vacuum. This will hopefully release a lot of the debris that you hope washing the pillow will then fully remove.
2. Place one pillow in the machine at a time. Fold it so it ends up follow the curves of the drum of the machine (i.e. try to avoid folding and squishing it too much). You should end up with one of the sides that you sleep in facing the edges of the drum, with the other side you could sleep on facing inwards. I so need to drawer a diagram or something for this!
3. Add the tiniest amount of liquid laundry liquid (I use a super-concentrated version so I really did use a small amount, dabbed onto the pillow itself).
4. Add a half-cap of bleach (about 100ml) into the machine to. I have a dosing ball so it went straight in, but I guess you could put it in the drawer.
5. Turn the machine onto a delicate cycle at no more than 30C (87F).
6. At the rinse cycle add one cap (about 200ml) of vinegar into the softener drawer.
7. Once finished take the pillow out and turn it round so that the side of the pillow that was against the drum is now pointing inwards.
8. Put on for another rinse with another cap of vinegar.
9. Dry on the line on a sunny day (ok so you could put it in the dryer but we don't have one and I still advocate UV as a great way to kill bugs).
10. Repeat for the rest of your pillows.

So to sum up wash one pillow at a time and give each one an extra rinse.

The verdict: they turned up pretty near perfect! I was quite surprised. They still don't look brand spanking new, but after 15 years I'm not going to complain and they smell wonderful too. No bleach or vinegar residue at all, and basically perfectly white! They did take 24 hours on the line to dry, but we haven't had anything above 20C outside recently, so warmer weather would probably get them drier quicker. I didn't know that cleaning pillows would make me so happy! So go on, clean a pillow or two this weekend.

So my next plan is to do this 3 to 4 times a year. Too much or too little? Hmmm I'm not sure. Anyone got any advice?

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

1 comment:

  1. Vinegar and bleach (even slightly) mixed produce chemical gas that can kill you.