How To Get Your Throw Pillows Wonderfully Clean And Fresh

How To Wash Throw Pillows- bed with white bedding and two floral throw pillows; woman taking the cover off a throw pillow in the laundry room.

Start Every Season With Fresh, Clean Throw Pillows

The changing of the seasons has a way of inspiring me to refresh my home decor, and switching up the throw pillows in my living room and bedroom is an easy and affordable way to do that. After a long, snowy winter, I’m more than ready to see a little more color and brightness in my surroundings!

In addition to being a great candidate for simple seasonal decor updates, there’s a lot of other reasons to love throw pillows too. (And I don’t just say that to justify the size of my collection!) ;-) They make lounging on the couch a lot comfier, and honestly, they make a great little “table” to rest a bowl of popcorn on, too!

But it’s important to acknowledge that the things we love about throw pillows are the same things that get them dirty — dirtier even than the furniture you put them on! It’s not always obvious how often you should wash throw pillows, or even how to clean throw pillows more generally, but I aim to clear all that up (and more) in this post!

Below, you’ll find my complete guide to keeping throw pillows clean, starting with how to clean throw pillows (without ruining them, of course!), then moving on to a few tips that will help you keep your throw pillows in good shape.

How To Wash Throw Pillows - bed with white bedding and two floral throw pillows

How Often Should You Wash Throw Pillows?

How often you should wash your decorative pillows depends on how, and how often, the pillows are used. The throw pillows on your couch, sofa, or bed should be washed a minimum of once a month.

Throw pillows in less frequently used areas, like guest rooms, don’t need to be cleaned quite as often. Every other month should be fine, or anytime you notice stains or smells.

How To Wash Throw Pillows - woman in laundry room removing pillow form from cover of throw pillow

How To Wash Throw Pillows

Many throw pillows have machine washable covers, which makes them quick and easy to clean. If yours do, follow these instructions to get your pillows clean without ruining them.

You’ll need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Stain remover spray (if needed)


Remove the cover from the pillow. If there are any noticable stains on it, apply your stain remover of choice (I recommend my ultimate stain remover spray) and let it sit on the stain(s) for at least a few minutes, or an hour or two, before proceeding.

Next, zip the cover closed and put it in your washing machine. Select a gentle cycle with cold water, and add the recommended amount of a mild laundry detergent. When the wash cycle is done, hang the pillow cover or lay it flat to dry. (I suggest avoiding drying throw pillows in your dryer, as it may warp them out of shape.)

BONUS: Fluff Up The Pillow Inserts

While the covers of your throw pillows are air drying, toss the pillow inserts into your dryer on the air fluff (or no heat) cycle and add a few dryer balls. It’s an easy way to restore your throw pillows to a light and fluffy state! Once the clean covers are back on, they’ll be good as new!

Note: If your throw pillow inserts need to be washed, check out my go-to method for getting pillows really clean.

How To Wash Throw Pillows - woman's hand cleaning a sofa arm with a microfiber cloth

How To Spot Clean Throw Pillows

Spot cleaning is a good way to clean throw pillows without removable covers, or pillows with tags that say “spot clean only.” It’s also useful for treating small stains if the rest of the pillow is relatively clean.

You’ll need:

  • Clean microfiber cloth
  • Dish soap or upholstery shampoo


Dampen a clean cloth, then add a drop of dish soap or shampoo. Using the soapy area of the cloth, gently dab at the affected area of the pillow, letting it lather up a bit as you work.

Let the soap sit on the stain for a minute or so, then blot it with a clean corner of the damp cloth to “rinse.” Continue blotting until you’ve gotten all the soap or shampoo out, let it air dry, and check to see if the spot is gone. (If not, you may need to repeat the process, especially if it’s a stubborn stain.)

How To Wash Throw Pillows - end of a leather sofa with two throw pillows on it, one white and one blue

When To Dry Clean Throw Pillows

Dry cleaning can be pricey, which is why I always try to choose throw pillows that are machine washable. But if the pillows you can’t live without are of the “dry clean only” variety, you still have a couple of options.

You can spot clean the pillow covers as necessary and freshen the pillow forms in the dryer as detailed above, or you can take them in to have them professionally dry cleaned about once per season (especially if you’re planning to put them in storage — you don’t want to store dirty throw pillows!)

Most dry cleaners can clean pillows without a problem, and it’s the safest option if the tag indicates that it’s dry clean only. (Or, if you’re willing to risk it, you can always try this method: How To Wash Dry-Clean-Only Clothes)

How To Wash Throw Pillows - woman using a hand vacuum to clean upholstery on a sofa

Tips For Keeping Your Throw Pillows In Good Shape

  • Vacuum your upholstery regularly to prevent dirt and debris from transferring to your throw pillows.
  • When you vacuum your upholstery, vacuum your throw pillows too, and make it part of your regular cleaning routine. (You can keep them fresh between washes with my DIY Lavender Linen Spray too!)
  • Be extra careful with throw pillows with beads, loops, or sequins, which can be ruined by an overly enthusiastic vacuum. If your pillows are embellished, use the lowest setting on your vacuum when cleaning them.
  • When you buy new throw pillows, check to ensure the covers are machine washable!

How often do you change out or clean your throw pillows?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


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