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How to clean pillows with baking soda

One of the best feelings in the world has got to be slipping into a clean and cozy bed at the end of a long day. 

But what you might not always think about are the germs that may be calling your pillows home. When we walk into the kitchen, we see a messy counter and know to tidy up. When we see a full laundry basket, we toss our clothes into the washer machine. But since our pillows are often clad in decorative colorful or patterned cases, sometimes it’s all too easy to forget to regularly clean them. 

Your pillow is a catch-all for dust mites, oils and sweat your body produces, and general bacteria from the environment. Due to the powerful odor and stain removing abilities of baking soda, it’s perfect for this job! Let’s get into it. 

Why use baking soda to clean pillows?

Baking soda is great for cleaning and great for deoderizing.  Considering our oily faces rest on our pillows, they can get pretty dirty and smelly quickly.  You can clean your pillows by puting them in the washing machine along with laundry detergent, baking soda, and vinegar.

1. Preparing to clean your pillows

Gather your pillows and determine if they’re machine washable. Most pillows are, however you should check the care instructions to be sure. Down or feather-filled pillows are often “wash by hand” only. Either of these is fine to use with baking soda, but you just should know which to prepare for.  

Then, check to see if there are any areas that area extra stained or yellowed. If so, these can be spot-treated. If not, you can skin the spot-treatment step. 

2. Materials needed to clean pillows

For the spot treatment step, you’ll need: 

  • baking soda (the star of the show)
  • water
  • a small or medium sized bowl and a spoon
  • a small brush or washcloth 
  • vinegar (optional)

Mix up the baking soda and water until it reaches a paste-like consistency. You can add a few spoonfuls of vinegar as well (get ready for possible some science fair style fizzing from the reaction). The vinegar is totally optional but it can enhance the stain removing properties of the mixture. 

For the overall washing (by hand or machine) you’ll need: 

  • ¾ cup – 1 cup baking soda (the star of the show)
  • ¼ – ½ a cap of your usual laundry detergent 
  • ¼ – ½ cup vinegar (optional)
  • dish detergent or dish soap (optional)

Actually, it’s not necessary to mix these ingredients up beforehand. Instead, you can just add them to your washing machine one at a time before you add in your pillows (or basin if you’ll be hand-washing your pillows). 

Optional ingredients: If, after the first stain treatment with the baking soda paste, there are still some stains visible, you may want to add in a bit of vinegar and/or dish soap to the general wash. These have grease-fighting agents which may help. 

3. Cleaning Stains on Pillows

Use your brush or wash cloth to gently dab the baking soda and water (and vinegar) paste onto the yellowed or stained areas of your pillow. You don’t need to add heaps of it, just enough to cover the area. Let this sit for at least half an hour, but much longer than that isn’t necessary. 

You also don’t need to do much scrubbing. Dabbing the solution on should be more than enough. Let the mighty baking soda do the heavy lifting! 

When half an hour is up, you can brush off the baking soda residue. 

4. General Washing 

The steps for washing by machine versus by hand are similar, but let’s break it down. 

Baking soda on pillows

How to wash pillows in washing machine 

First add the ingredients listed earlier: baking soda, laundry detergent, vinegar (if you want), and dish soap (if it’s needed. 

As a reminder, you may want to consider adding the vinegar and/or dish soap for one last shop at removing any remaining stains. 

Toss your pillow or pillows into the machine and run the wash on a gentle mode with cool or warm water . Avoid hot as this could damage the filaments in your pillows. Once this first cycle finishes, you can run one more with only a bit of detergent OR a ¼ – ½ cup of vinegar once more. 

How to wash pillows by hand

Just add some cool or warm water to a basin. Then add your baking soda, laundry detergent, vinegar, and dish soap. You can mix these up a bit with your hands. Then, submerge your pillow and gently squeeze it. Repeat this motion serval times until the water which runs from it is as clear or clean looking as possible. 

Dump out the dirty water, and add just a bit of laundry detergent or vinegar for a final wash. Repeat the same washing motions, and then remove the pillow from the basin, making sure you’ve squeezed out excess water.  

5. Drying wet pillows

Similarly to the washing steps, you should check your pillow for special drying care instructions. If your pillow is able to be dried in a machine, perfect! Toss it in and dry on a gently, low heat mode. 

If your pillow needs to air dry, no problem. It’s preferable to let it dry in the sun or even hanging outside if possible. 


Bedtime should be the most relaxing part of the day. It’s not the time for cozying up to mites or bacteria. By using baking soda to thoroughly clean your pillows, you’ll be able to snuggle up in peace. You might even see improvements in your skin if you sleep on your side. 

Take a moment now and think: when’s the last time you washed your pillow? If it’s due for a washing, then go ahead and use this guide to get amazing results. 

Have you ever used baking soda for washing pillows or blankets before? Let us know how that went for you and if you found anything in this article helpful today! 

Why is baking soda such a powerful cleaning agent? 

First of all, it’s natural and non toxic, which makes it an incredible alternative to other house-hold cleaning agent. It is a great balance of being gentle yet powerful enough to break down particles. It also absorbs odors. 

Is cleaning with vinegar stinky? 

When combined, baking soda and vinegar have a chemical reaction which targets stains incredibly effectively. Yes, vinegar can be stinky. But this smell will wash out. If you’re nervous about that, you can absolutely add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the final washing step. 

How often should I wash my pillows? 

It’s recommended to wash 2 – 3 times a year, or more. This really is personal and depends on what your pillow is exposed to. Are you a night time drooler? Do you have very oily skin or use lots of facial creams at night? Do you live in a very humid area? If so, you can wash it according to your situation. 

How do you get the yellow out of pillows?

If your pillows are machine-washable, you can remove the yellow stains by running it in the washing machine along with detergent, baking soda, and vinegar.  The yellow stains on your bed pillows generally come from sweat and oil on your face.

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