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How To Clean A Memory Foam Pillow (+ Video Step-By-Step Guide)

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At the end of each day, the last thing you want to do is rest your head on a dirty pillow, no matter how comfortable it feels. Pillows get dirty fast, and memory foam pillows are no exception. This new age polyurethane material will be irreparably damaged if it is machine washed, so care needs to be taken to keep your comfy memory foam pillow in tip-top condition. 

There are several ways to clean a memory foam pillow.

  1. Wash only the outer cover
  2. Maintenance clean it
  3. Invest In A Pillow Protector
  4. Spot clean
  5. Deep clean
  6. Give it a basic refreshing
  7. Steam clean

The method you use to clean a memory foam pillow depends on how dirty it is or what was spilled.

If you have ever thought of stuffing your precious memory foam pillow into the washer, stop immediately! Memory foam pillows should never be machine washed. But don’t despair, you won’t have to buy a new pillow every month or give up your weekends to do hand washing. Keeping your memory foam pillow hygienically clean is easy if you know what to do.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow

Wash The Outer Cover Of The Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam pillows can be the traditional rectangular pillow shape, or they can be molded contour shapes. Before you decide to wash the entire pillow, check if your pillow doesn’t have a washable removable outer cover. 

Some types of memory foam pillows, like the ones from Royal Therapy, have removable covers. You may not notice them because they look like seamless parts of the pillow. However, the thick outer covering is removable and can be washed separately. The fabric dries quickly and can be replaced quickly. 

Use A Pillow Protector To Keep A Memory Foam Pillow Clean

If your memory foam pillow does not have a removable cover, you can purchase a pillow protector separately. Find the correct size so your pillow fits snuggly and isn’t floating about inside a giant pillowcase sack. 

Thick pillow protectors are especially useful if you know that you are a heavy night sweater and may need to wash your pillow more often. Selecting a quilted pillowcase protector like the one from Levinsohn will provide an additional soft removable covering to your pillow, which can be quickly removed and added to the regular washing. 

You can also add a pillowcase over the protector for an extra layer of protection or to match your room. Covering the inside memory foam with a few removable and washable layers can cut down the number of times you will need to deep wash the whole pillow. 

Maintenance Clean Your Memory Foam Pillow 

Each time you vacuum your room, grab your memory foam pillow and add some suction power. Much of the dirt that goes onto pillows is microscopic skin flakes, hair, and other dirt that can be lifted with a vacuum cleaner.

When you vacuum the pillow, be sure to run the vacuum nozzle over any areas where dirt could be hiding, like in the quilting design or along the side seams. For an extra level of freshness, try and place the pillow in the fresh air for a short while. A sunny window ledge is also fine.  

When you are ready to replace the memory foam pillow on your bed, give it a good shake in case any dust particles have settled on the pillow while it was outside. Then cover the pillow with a clean pillowslip, and your pillow will feel fresh and clean.  

Spot Cleaning A Memory Foam Pillow

If your memory foam pillow was soiled in just one place, then it is recommended just to spot clean the affected area. The cleaning agent that you use will depend on what you need to remove.

These are the two first steps that you should follow for any spill onto a memory foam pillow:

  1. Immediately remove the outer washable protective covering or pillow slip. This will prevent any additional soiling that may result from liquid soaking through the layers. 
  2. Use a sponge or absorbent cloth to quickly soak up as much of any liquid spill as possible. Dab and gently press directly on the spot to soak up any excess liquid.

Once you have applied these first two emergency measures, you can begin to gather your spot cleaning materials to clean your memory foam pillow completely. 

While it is impossible to guess what may accidentally soil your pillow, here is a list of some of the most common pillow culprits and what you can use to spot clean them. 

I wrote a detailed guide on how to remove saliva stains that may interest you.

How To Clean Black Coffee Off A Memory Foam Pillow

If you have dripped a few drops of your morning coffee onto your memory foam pillow, it can easily be spot cleaned. If there is milk in your coffee, it is recommended that you wash the entire pillow because milk spoils quickly, which will leave an unpleasant odor if you miss any.

If you have spilled back coffee on your memory foam pillow, quickly remove the outer cover and do the following:

  • Dab as much of the liquid off the pillow as you can. Do not rub a coffee spill as it may spread it around more. Just gently press on each spot using a dry cloth or sponge.
  • Place a dab of detergent directly onto a damp sponge and gently lift the stain out of the memory foam.
  • The stain should slowly fade as you repeatedly dab the area
  • If it is a really stubborn or old stain, try using a mixture of vinegar and lukewarm water to lift out the spot
  • Allow the memory foam pillow to dry completely before you replace the protective cover. 

How To Clean Urine Off A Memory Foam Pillow

Urine is a tricky liquid to remove from a pillow because unless it is entirely removed, the pillow will have an unpleasant odor. Usually, if a pillow has been soiled with urine, it is recommended to give it a deep wash. 

If you would rather try spot cleaning a small section, then this is what you need to do:

  • Mix 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 4 drops of dish soap.
  • Apply the solution to the stained area and allow it to soak in. 
  • Leave the pillow for a few hours so that the peroxide can neutralize any odor.  The baking soda will draw the urine up to the surface as the peroxide evaporates.
  • When the pillow has dried, you will notice that the baking soda has formed a crust or dry layer on the surface.
  • Thoroughly vacuum any baking soda from the item. Alternatively, you can take it outside and shake it. 
  • Ensure that the pillow is completely dry before you put on a clean cover or use it. 

If any odor persists, you can also try mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar to neutralize the smell.

How To Clean Blood Off A Memory Foam Pillow

Blood can use permanent stains if you don’t act quickly. 

  • Apply undiluted hydrogen peroxide directly to the spot
  • Use a clean cloth to blot the spot. It will bubble but continue dabbing to remove as much of the blood as possible.
  • Next, spray the spot with some clean water.
  • Brush over the spot using a small brush.
  • Repeat the process if necessary.
  • Allow the pillow to completely dry before replacing the clean cover. 
How to Clean Mattress Stains (Method that Actually Works)
I also made a video on how I cleaned stains like blood and red wine off a mattress here if you want to see

How To Clean Vomit Off A Memory Foam Pillow

Vomit is disgusting, but life happens, and we all know the feeling of needing to clean up after being sick. The recommended cleaning method to remove any amount of vomit from a memory foam pillow is to wash the whole thing.

However, if you had a thick pillow protector on your memory foam pillow and you managed to whip it off quickly, there may only have been minimal seepage into the actual pillow. In that case, here is what to do:

  • Apply a layer of dry baking soda over the wet area
  • Gently brush it onto the surface so that it begins to absorb moisture immediately
  • Leave it for a few hours
  • Shake or vacuum your pillow thoroughly
  • If there is still an odor, reapply a layer of baking soda
  • Now pour on a small amount of white vinegar, which will cause the baking soda to bubble
  • Rub the surface gently with a small brush to ensure that the vinegar mix has worked its way through the entire area
  • Let the pillow dry completely, and then vacuum the baking soda residue off before replacing the protective cover

Get well soon!

Deep Cleaning A Memory Foam Pillow

Washing your memory foam pillow can give it a new lease on life and make it feel fresh and new. Giving it a regular good wash is important, especially if you are a heavy night sweater or have been ill. Fortunately, washing memory foam is simple so long as it is treated gently.

How To Wash A Memory Foam Pillow

One important consideration when you wash your memory foam pillow is that you will need to set aside enough time for it to dry thoroughly before it can be used again. Putting a pillow cover onto a damp pillow will cause bacteria and mold to develop inside the material. Plan to wash the pillow early in the morning, so it can be placed in a sunny spot to dry. 

Step 1: Prepare a washtub that is large enough to hold the entire pillow.

Memory foam is fabulous and comfortable precisely because it retains shapes. It is important not to fold or crumple up the pillow to make it fit in a basin that is too small. Use the bathtub or a large washbasin.

Step 2: Prepare the water.

Fill your basin with enough water so that the entire pillow can be completely submerged. Add a small amount of mild detergent. Don’t use anything harsh as it could damage your pillow.

Step 3: Wash the memory foam pillow.

Gently lay the entire pillow on the surface of the water and press it down. This may take a few presses as the pillow needs to absorb water before it sinks below the surface. Now gentle agitate and move the pillow up and down to encourage water to filter through it.

After a few moments, you will be amazed to see how cloudy the water starts to become. When it becomes murky, then drain the water and fill it again with clean water. Repeat the process until the wash water stays clean.

Step 4: Rinse the memory foam pillow.

After you have washed the memory foam cushion, give it a final rinse in clean water. I like to add a few drops of my favorite smelling fabric softener or a citrus-scented essential oil just to add some extra freshness. 

Once you have drained all the rinsing water, gently squeeze it. Do not bend or wring your memory foam pillow.

Step 5: Dry the memory foam pillow

Air drying is best for a memory foam pillow, and it will add another level of freshness. Lay the pillow flat over the top of a drying stand or something that will allow air to flow all around it. Place it in a sunny position, and the pillow should dry quickly.

If you leave your memory foam pillow out to dry during the day and find it still slightly damp in the evening, you can use a hairdryer to dry it completely. Never put a cover onto a damp memory foam pillow. 

If it is a wet day and you need to use a drier, put it on the lowest possible heat, or preferably no-heat, setting. This should only be used as a last resort if you can’t get your pillow to dry. Ensure that there are no other garments in the dryer at the same time with zippers or buttons that could rip bits out of your memory foam pillow.  

Refreshing A Memory Foam Pillow

Instead of washing the pillow each time you remove the cover, you can just refresh the memory foam. This can make the pillow smell and feel clean and fresh when replacing the cover. 

  • Cover the surface of the memory foam pillow with baking soda
  • Leave it for a few hours. This will work even better if left in an airy, sunny spot.
  • Vacuum the pillow thoroughly before replacing the cover

Steam Cleaning A Memory Foam Pillow

One of the best ways to clean a memory foam pillow is to steam clean it. Using a steam cleaner will ensure that your pillow retains its shape while still getting a deep clean.  If you have a handheld steaming machine, this is an excellent way to clean your memory foam pillow.


Memory foam pillows provide softness and support. This smart-foam molds and contours perfectly around our heads while we sleep. Cleaning your memory foam cushion regularly will keep it feeling fresh, and it will last longer. The method you choose to clean your pillow should depend on how dirty it is, and you should always be as gentle as possible to prevent damaging this amazing material.

Next, you can learn if you should your clothes inside-out, or how to fold your clothes fast and neatly.


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