Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine? The Complete Guide

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Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine? We’ve all been there – you’re relaxing on the couch enjoying a glass of red wine when you notice a drop land right on one of your decorative throw pillows! As the stain sets in, you worry about ruining the pillow’s beautiful fabric and start wondering if you can just toss it in the washing machine.

The good news is, many throw pillows are totally machine washable if you follow some simple care instructions. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about safely washing throw pillows of various fabrics so they come out fresh, fluffy and looking like new again.

Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine? The Complete Guide

Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine
Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine?

We’ve all experienced it – you’re relaxed on the couch, enjoying a glass of red wine after a long day when you glance down and notice a rogue droplet has landed right on one of your decorative throw pillows! As the dark stain slowly starts to set into the fabric, you feel a pit grow in your stomach. How can you salvage your beautiful pillow? Can you even wash it safely or will it be ruined?

This common conundrum leads many people to wonder – can you really wash throw pillows in the washing machine or will it destroy them?

Below you’ll find absolutely everything you need to know about safely washing throw pillows of various fabrics and fills so they come out fresh, fluffy and looking their best without shrinking, tearing or falling apart on you.

Determining If Your Throw Pillows Are Machine Washable

With so many different materials used to create gorgeous throw pillow designs these days from smooth velvets to nubby linens and more, it’s crucial to start by determining if your specific pillows can safely go through the vigorous washing machine process.

Here are some tips on clues to look for when deciding if your throw pillows can handle getting sudsy:

  • Check fabric content labels – 100% cotton throw pillow inserts are almost always machine washable for example. But silk or viscose likely won’t be.
  • Consider fill material – For pillows stuffed with down/feathers washing might cause excessive clumping whereas polyfill would be safer.
  • Check size and shape – Large, overstuffed floor cushions may be too bulky for home machines whereas standard sized square/rectangular pillows should fit fine.
  • Assess overall construction – More structured pillows with heavy embellishments or glued on elements may not hold up whereas those with basic sewn seams likely can be washed.
  • Look for removal covers – Even if the pillow itself can’t be washed, sometimes the removable cover can if it’s a different more durable fabric than the insert.

This helpful table summarizes care recommendations for common throw pillow fabric types to reference when deciding if machine washing is safe:

Throw Pillow Fabric Machine Washable?
100% Cotton Yes
Polyester Yes
Olefin/Synthetic Blends Yes
Velvet/Velour No (spot clean only)
Linen/Flax Yes (gentle cycle)
Rayon from Bamboo Yes (gentle cycle)
Wool No (dry clean only)
Silk No (dry clean only)
Viscose/Rayon Sometimes (delicate cycle)

As a general rule of thumb, natural fiber fabrics like 100% cotton and linen blends can typically handle washing machines as long as gentle settings are used. More delicate materials like silk, velvet, wool or specialty fabrics with glued on embellishments could easily be damaged though so should only be professionally cleaned.

When in doubt – always defer to the actual fabric care label sewn onto your throw pillows by the manufacturer as that will provide definitive cleaning guidance you can trust.

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Prepping Decor Throw Pillows for a Successful Machine Wash

Can You Wash Throw Pillows in the Washing Machine

Alright, you’ve thoroughly inspected all your throw pillow’s care labels and construction and decided they should be able to withstand a spin cycle. Now what?

Before you toss them straight into the sudsy water there are some important prep steps take first for the best wash results:

  • Close any zippers, hooks or button closures – Zip up removable pillow covers completely and ensure any metal or plastic fastening elements are secured inside the lining or taped down so they cannot scratch the inside of your washing machine drum during cleaning. Use painters tape, masking tape or fabric tape to securely adhere the hook and loop closures down smoothly.
  • Check stuffing to ensure properly filled – Make sure pillow forms still feel evenly stuffed throughout. Refluff and redistribute polyfill if needed so wash cycles can permeate fabric completely and rinse out all soap.
  • Pre-treat any stubborn stains on removable covers before washing – Which stain removal technique you use depends on the fabric type. For cotton, try some diluted detergent, lemon juice or baking soda paste. For polyester, rubbing alcohol or vinegar work well. Make sure to dab gently and don’t over saturate area though. This pre-treating can help ensure stains actually lift rather than getting set in further during washing.
  • Consider professional cleaning for down/feather filled pillows – The thorough wash process needed to fully disinfect down and remove odor causing particles is best done by professional cleaner with specialized equipment that can properly agitate and fully dry these materials without clumping or damage.
  • Repair any holes or frays in seams so they don’t worsen during cleaning process.
  • Group same color and fabric type pillows so wash cycles and temperatures can be tailored to properly accommodate.

Choosing Washing Machine Settings For Throw Pillows

How to Wash Pillows in the Washing Machine

The actual washing part itself is straightforward – it’s mostly just a matter of choosing the right settings and using proper techniques to ensure a gentle wash that cleans without inflicting excess wear and tear:

  • Wash just 2 to 3 similarly sized throw pillows at a time so they have plenty of room to circulate rather than bunching up which can lead to uneven wear and cleaning.
  • Use a mild detergent, no bleach or fabric softener which could leave problematic residue. Liquid detergents tend to work better than powder on home washers too and won’t clump up. Something specifically formulated for delicates would be ideal to start.
  • Go with a warm or cold water wash setting depending on fabric and stain removal power needed. Hot water can cause fading on fabrics like linen or rayon over time with repeated washing.
  • Choose the delicate or gentle cycle if possible based on your machine options to reduce agitation intensity. Or at minimum opt for the permanent press setting rather than regular or heavy duty.
  • Set wash machine spin speed to low or medium intensity – high spinning can damage fabrics by pulling or stressing seams over time even if pillows seem fine initially.
  • Wash pillows alone without any other items like towels or jeans with metal buttons, rivets buttons or zippers that could snag fabric during cycle.
  • Consider stopping the wash cycle intermittently to redistribute pillows if you hear any thumping or imbalance noises indicating they’ve become uneven.
  • Add an extra rinse cycle after detergent is added to fully remove residue that can cause buildup stains over time with repeated washing.

How to Safely Dry Throw Pillows After Washing

How to Safely Dry Throw Pillows After Washing

It’s just as crucial to properly dry your throw pillows after washing as it is to clean them gently in machines. Skipping directly to the dryer without a plan can spell disaster with excessive heat damage. Here are some tips:

  • Whenever possible, air dry throw pillows rather than subjecting delicate fabrics to thermal stress. Lay cotton and polyester pillow inserts flat on top of towels and reshape or fluff them up as they dry. For silk, linen or velvet pillow covers that can’t go in machines, line dry them out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • If air drying isn’t an option due to climate or drying time constraints, machine drying must only be done on an air fluff or no heat cycle (basically cold air blowing only to circulate moisture).
  • Where low heat machine drying is unavoidable, maintain vigilance checking fabrics every 20-30 minutes until fully dry, particularly with fabrics like linen that can unexpectedly shrink up when heat is introduced.
  • For any machine drying, use low heat only and remove items promptly before the cycle ends to avoid over-drying which can deteriorate fabrics over time.
  • Stuff polyester or foam pillow forms with old towels or t-shirts while drying to better retain shape.
  • Massage and reshape down/feather filled pillows frequently during drying process to prevent interior clumping.
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Take things slow and low when it comes to drying – high temperatures can end up damaging many fabrics causing premature aging, fraying, holes or warped shape issues over time so it’s really best avoided whenever possible.

Storing Machine Washable Throw Pillows Between Cleanings

Caring for your throw pillows in between washing is just as critical as properly cleaning them. Here are some handy storage and maintenance tips to help keep them looking beautiful wash after wash:

  • Fluff and rotate – Just like regularly rotating mattresses, you should fluff and rotate throw pillows to maintain even wear and filling distribution. Foam and down pillows tend to develop body indentations and hollow spots over time with use which can lead to misshapen appearancel. So about once per month, manually redistribute and shake up clumped fills and switch the orientation or location of the pillows.
  • Vacuum regularly using a soft brush attachment and low suction power to gently remove surface dirt, dust and pet hair that inevitably collects on home goods to prevent embedded stains over time.
  • Spot clean spills and stains quickly using previously mentioned pre-treatment methods safe for that fabric when possible instead of waiting until items are fully laundered again. This prevents buildup.
  • Store pillows flat or upright without folding – Don’t bunch throw pillows up tightly jammed into a shelf or box long term which can lead to creasing, crushing and misshaping. If possible keep on beds or shelve vertically leaning against wall if decorative pillows are rotated out seasonally.
  • Use light fabric protectant spray like Scotchguard to offer a buffer against future stains. Just check first it won’t negatively impact breathability or dry rate for that fabric.
  • Keep away from direct sunlight exposure areas like windowsills which could fade colors over time – especially with more fragile materials like linen, velvet and silk even if they seem resistant initially.
  • Consider added pillow shams or removable covers as an extra layer of protection between uses if you want to safegaurd pillow quality so decorative covers don’t have direct contact with oils from skin and hair leading to build up stains and wear from use.
  • For delicate fabrics marked dry clean only, use at-home gentle hand washing for maintenance cleaning between trips to professional specialty cleaner to minimize chemical processing when possible. Limit this to just once or twice per year though.

Proper storage and regular simple maintenance is truly key when it comes to caring for all fabrics, but especially more delicate throw pillows that cannot withstand frequent machine laundering. A little bit of effort goes a long way towards safegaurding your pillow quality and investment long term!

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Best Practices For Washing Throw Pillows

Best Practices For Washing Throw Pillows
Best Practices For Washing Throw Pillows

Let’s do a quick recap of the top tips for safely washing throw pillows at home:

  • Inspect care labels to confirm machine washing is allowed for that fabric and construction style
  • Secure closures like zippers, buttons or hooks tightly before washing
  • Pre-treat stained areas as needed based on fabric type
  • Wash just 2-3 similarly sized pillows at once with room to circulate
  • Use a gentle cycle, delicate detergent and low heat
  • Add an extra rinse cycle to fully eliminate detergent residue
  • Reshape and air dry pillows whenever possible to prevent heat damage
  • Dry foam inserts fully before re-stuffing covers
  • Store pillows properly between washes.

Follow those simple guidelines and your treasured throw pillows will thrive for years to come looking great wash after wash. Never let a red wine spill or messy toddler scare you away from breaking out your finest accent pillows again!

FAQs: Your Most Common Questions On Cleaning Throw Pillows Answered

We get lots of questions on the nuances of safely washing throw pillows while maximizing quality and appearance over time. Here are some of the most common inquiries:

What temperature water should I wash throw pillows in?

As noted above, stick with cool or warm water in most cases, only opting for hot if attempting to sanitize down/feathers or if dealing with severe, heavy stains on durable fabrics specifically noted to withstand it per care instructions.

How often can I wash throw pillows?

It depends entirely on the fabric but as a general rule wash removable covers ever 2-3 months and full pillow inserts 1-2 times per year max. Frequent washing and drying will wear down integrity – spot clean stains between washes instead with gentle techniques.

Should throw pillows be washed before first use?

If purchased new, washing before initial use isn’t strictly necessary though some people prefer to wash off any residual production chemicals. Check fill levels after initial wash and restuff if needed before covers are dried or reused.

What kind of detergent works best?

Choose mild liquid detergents labeled for delicates that are fragrance and dye free whenever possible, non-bio options tend to be lower residue. Powders can clump. And always skip the fabric softener!

How do you dry foam throw pillow inserts?

It’s critical to completely dry foam before reinserting into covers or placing back inside pillow shams. Air dry flat or tumble dry low removing promptly then finish by letting inserts stand solo 24-48 hours to confirm no hidden inner moisture remains.

Help, my pillows are misshapen after washing!

Don’t panic – as soon as covers are fully dried re-shape the inserts by hand, smooth out seams and stuff evenly then allow 24 hours resting to see if they recover original form. Avoid over-stuffing. If too lumpy or uneven still, covers likely need replacement.

Can I steam velvet throw pillows?

Best not to ever steam velvet pillows as the intense direct heat and moisture under pressure can damage delicate fibers leading them to flatten over time with a shiny worn appearance instead of a plush vibrant nap. For wrinkles, try gently easing them out by hand or use a cool iron dry or barely steam setting at most.

So, can you wash throw pillows in the washing machine? We hope these tips inspire you to feel confident washing most machine washable throw pillows at home with great success keeping them looking vibrant for years of enjoyment! Always defer to manufacturer guidance of course, and exercise extra caution with more delicate materials like silk, velvet and feathers using professional specialty cleaning providers whenever needed.

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