ICYMI: Here's how to wash a throw pillow

Fluffy and fab!

Beige throw pillows on pink background
(Image credit: Future)

Spent an absolute fortune on some seriously cute throw pillows? Girl, we’ve all been there. I mean, if they’re cute and add a little extra style to your home, then they’re a worthwhile buy, right? (Brb, just daydreaming about the chic AF pillows I spotted on H&M Home the other day.)

Once you’ve treated yourself to the throw pillows of your dreams and adorned your couch with them (creating a Pinterest-worthy setup obvi), it’s easy to forget that they may need a little TLC from time to time. 

Spoiler alert: If you want to keep your cushions looking (and smelling) their best, you’re going to need to add them to the laundry pile every once in a while. Or else, they’re gonna get hella gross. 

You’ve probs spent a ton on your throw cushions, so the idea of washing them might be a little daunting. But, to make the process easier, I’ve broken it down for you —including how to wash both the outer cover and the insert. Honestly, it's easier than you think (and it's super unlikely that you're gonna ruin them). 

Good to know

Time: 60-minutes (potentially longer, depending on the wash cycle settings)

Difficulty: Easy 

Helpful hints: If a throw pillow does not have a removable case, then it’s best to refer to the care label on the pillow to see what washing settings are advised for washing the entire pillow. You may find that hand washing only is recommended. 

Here’s what you’ll need

How to clean throw pillows (including the covers and the insert)

When it comes to washing a throw pillow, it’s important to start by removing the cover from the insert (if you’re able to do so) and then follow the steps below for each part of the pillow washing process. 

How to clean throw pillow covers:

Step 1: Remove the cover 

The first step is to remove the cover from the pillow insert, putting the pillow insert to one side ready to wash separately. 

Step 2: Remove stains 

If the cover has any stains on it, the next step should be to focus on removing them. First, submerge the cover in cold water and leave to soak for 10-minutes — this should help to loosen any stains. Then, using a stain remover (like this Tide stain remover available at Amazon), spritz the stained areas and leave to sit for a further five minutes. 

Step 3: Put in the washing machine 

Next, place the pillow cover in the washing machine with a mild laundry detergent (our fave is this Tide detergent from Amazon) and wash according to the care label. 

Step 4: Air dry the cover 

Once the washing machine cycle has finished, remove the pillow cover and air dry. Avoid tumble drying unless the care instructions specifically say it’s safe to tumble dry. 

How to clean throw pillow inserts:

Now that you’ve cleaned the cover of your throw pillow, the next step is to clean the insert.  

Step 1: Read the care label 

This might sound basic but it’s worth noting, because different types of pillow inserts require different types of care. 

For instance, washing a feather pillow insert often requires a little more care than washing a synthetic fiber pillow, hence the need to always read the care instructions. 

Step 2: Put in the washing machine 

As long as the care label doesn’t say to hand wash only, then you’re good to put the pillow insert into the washing machine. Just make sure to wash the insert at the right temperature and to only use a mild detergent. 

Oh and, FYI, if you’re washing a feather pillow insert, it’s a good idea to add a couple of laundry balls or tennis balls to the drum to help fluff them up. 

Step 3: Allow to dry 

Once the wash has finished, remove the pillows and place them where they can air dry. 

Unless the care label specifically says that the insert can be tumble dried, it’s best to avoid tumble drying the insert. 

Step 4: Plump the insert and replace the cover  

Once completely dry, give the pillow a good plump and then add the clean, dry cover over the insert, before placing it back on the couch or bed. 


Do you need to wash throw pillows?

Just like normal pillows, throw pillows need to be cleaned regularly. Just make sure that you take note of the care label and follow the instructions for cleaning. 

Can you machine wash throw pillow covers?

Yes, it's fine to machine wash throw pillow covers, just make sure to follow the care instructions on the label. 

How long do throw pillows take to dry?

It depends on how and where you dry them. If you dry them outside on a sunny day, they should dry within an hour to two hours. However, if you're drying them on a cooler day, it may take a few hours for them to fully dry. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.