Ankara bed pillows image courtesy: Etsy.
Bed pillows gather so much sweat, oil from our hair and bodies, moisture from saliva and tears  that drip down while sleeping, dust that gathers while sweeping the floors and dusting the furniture and even extra dust that gathers during harmattan when the family is away celebrating Christmas and New year in a different city. Only few families truly care for or wash their bed pillows. Some people do not even know that pillows can be washed, some try at least by removing the covers alone and washing. Washing covers is done weekly especially on weekends in most homes. Covers are removed and washed together with dirty bed sheets and then these crisp clean, ironed covers are put back on the dirty pillow lying helplessly on a clean bed.

 Do you know that when a pillow is very dirty, it causes embarrassment? Imagine drying a pillow or airing it outside with the covers/pillow cases on to prevent others seeing what has become of the longsuffering pillow. Pillowcases should not cover dirty pillows. Their job is to beautify and to protect the feathers or whatever that is used in making our soft pillows but not to hide changing colour of the fabric due to neglect and not to hide duurty. 

Please, do not sew another cover on top a dirty pillow, how many layers will you make in 2o years, if every time the pillow looks disgusting, another fabric is sewn on to cover the torn, dirty one? Sha, sha, If you live alone, your pillow may never need that spring cleaning but, if you have kids, you sweat a lot, you experience harmattan dust the type we see in the North, your pillow will sure need washing and drying. When a pillow is dirty, even with ten covers on top, it cannot smell fresh. Most people can smell clean pillows or clean fabric even with eyes closed, there are people who just with feel and sense of smell, can tell that a fabric is squeaky clean, not very clean or dirty. A well washed pillow smells really good, helps you sleep well and dream better. 


Not just the covers or pillow cases. You can wash your bed pillows at home with a washing machine. They can be washed even without machines, only challenge will be how to spin the water out and dry. Without a washing machine, the best time to wash a pillow in Nigeria should be during the Harmattan, between November and March as that's the driest period of the year here and even without sunlight, the harmattan breeze alone is enough to dry the pillows of every moisture and keep your bed smelling fresh.

1. Take off the pillow case and wash separately.
2. Check the label to see if that pillow can be washed or not. Some materials cannot be soaked in water, in that case, get a pair of scissors or razor blade, cut the sewn part open, empty the feathers or whatever content that fills the pillow up, empty into a bag, tie and keep away because you do not want to see feathers or cotton wool flying all over the place. Tie securely, keep in a safe place and then wash the covers with the pillow cases, bed sheets and other beddings using the Gentle Button of the machine and detergents, spin out the water completely and dry using a dryer or spread out on the line. Let the hot sun help in drying them completely. 
Now, If the contents allow for washing... Then...
3. Drop a pillow into the machine, the number of pillows depend on the size of your washing machine. If it's a small sized machine, you can wash one pillow at at a time using enough detergents, not mild liquids. Use good detergents that can both wash and deodorize at the same time.
3. Drain
4. Remove from the machine
5.Spin and dry. with a dryer or in the sun.
6. When the pillow is dry, dress your beautiful bed. However, if you took out the contents before washing the cloth fabric, when laundry is dry, return the feathers or cotton wool, sew back along where you cut, with needle and thread or your sewing machine.
7. Put on the pillow case and dress your comfy, sweet smelling bed.
8. Enjoy sweet dreams and repeat again when pillow begins to feel damp or dirty. 

How often you wash a pillow depends on how it is being used. While pillow cases are washed weekly, pillows should be washed at least twice or even thrice yearly. If you have blankets and duvets on the bed, those can be washed two to three times yearly if you do  not have kids jumping and playing on them, if it's a bed that has kids on it always, you can wash quarterly if nothing is soiled by some sweet bedwetting toddlers. If they get soiled, wash immediately, try not to dry soiled beddings whether blankets or duvets without proper cleaning. Kids urine if left unwashed can change the smell of a room even when the strongest deodorants and air fresheners are used. 

NOTE that pillows can be put in the washing machine and in the dryer. While pillows can be washed, feather pillows should be dry cleaned because you do not want to put feathers in a washing machine. 
When do you think is the best time to replace a pillow, blanket or mattress?