How to Sanitize Pillows After Covid?

Hey there! Taking a moment to think about pillow sanitation, especially in the era post-Covid, is both smart and essential. Pillows, although fluffy and comforting, can sometimes be the hidden carriers of unwanted germs. Let’s ensure that every night’s sleep is not just comfortable but also safe. How to Sanitize Pillows After Covid?

The Importance of Sanitization During and After Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has revolutionized the way we perceive cleanliness. No longer is it just about surface cleaning; it’s about deep sanitization. During the height of the pandemic, we learned just how easily the virus could latch onto surfaces, leading to potential transmission. Now, as we transition to a post-Covid reality, it’s vital to maintain these high sanitization standards. We’ve changed our habits in public spaces, but we mustn’t neglect our homes, particularly our bedrooms.

Bedrooms are meant to be sanctuaries. Ensuring they’re free from harmful germs is more than just peace of mind; it’s an essential step towards overall health and well-being. Especially when it comes to bedding—sheets, blankets, and, most importantly, pillows—it’s crucial to keep them as clean as possible.

The Role of Pillows in Disease Transmission

Pillows come into direct contact with our faces for several hours every day. This close contact means that they can easily become carriers for bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19. Every night, as we sweat, drool, and shed skin cells, these elements seep into our pillows. But it’s not just natural secretions; if you’ve been out and about during the day, it’s possible you’ve come into contact with harmful pathogens, which can then be transferred to your pillow.

Such a prolonged exposure to these pathogens can increase the risk of disease transmission, especially if you share your pillow or bed with someone else. Therefore, while our pillows offer comfort, they can also harbor unseen threats. Recognizing the role pillows play in this chain of transmission is the first step in breaking it.

Why Regular Cleaning Isn’t Enough

It’s common to toss pillowcases into the laundry regularly. However, this is just the first line of defense. While washing your pillowcases removes the immediate surface dirt and grime, it doesn’t necessarily sanitize the pillow inside. Many pathogens, including the Covid-19 virus, can penetrate deeper, making them harder to remove with just a simple wash.

Moreover, over time, moisture from sweat and drool can penetrate pillow protectors and cases, reaching the pillow’s core. This damp environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Thus, relying solely on regular cleaning can give a false sense of security, potentially overlooking a hidden reservoir of germs.

Step-by-step Guide to Sanitizing Pillows

Taking a methodical approach ensures not just cleanliness, but true sanitization. Let’s delve into a comprehensive process to make your pillows as safe as possible.

Materials Needed

Before beginning, it’s essential to have the right materials. Your regular detergent is a must, but also consider adding white vinegar or baking soda to your arsenal. These natural ingredients can boost your detergent’s cleaning power. Additionally, a quality fabric disinfectant spray can be handy for materials that can’t be washed easily, such as memory foam.

Gather a couple of clean towels, too. These will aid in the drying process, helping to wick away moisture faster. Also, a gentle brush can be useful, especially if you’re dealing with stubborn stains or need to handwash your pillows.

Preliminary Preparations

First things first: check the care labels on your pillows. Different materials have different needs, and it’s crucial to follow manufacturer’s instructions. While many synthetic pillows can handle machine washing, others, like memory foam or down, require more delicate care.

Empty out the pillow protectors or pillowcases. If they’re machine washable, toss them in first. This not only cleans them but also warms up the washing machine for the pillow sanitization process that follows.

Sanitizing with Heat

Heat is an effective killer of most pathogens, including viruses. If your pillows are machine washable, use the hottest water setting allowed by the manufacturer’s care instructions. Adding your usual detergent along with half a cup of white vinegar or baking soda can enhance the cleaning power. For pillows that can’t handle machine washing, consider using steam. A handheld steam cleaner can penetrate the pillow’s surface, reaching and neutralizing germs without saturating the material.

Using Disinfectants Safely

The urge to eliminate every single germ might tempt you to drench your pillows in powerful chemical disinfectants. Resist this urge. Overuse can degrade the fabric and potentially introduce harmful chemicals to your sleeping environment. Instead, choose fabric-friendly disinfectants or sanitizing sprays. Ensure thorough drying after application, as even these can leave residues if not properly handled.

Remember, the aim is to create a safe, clean environment. Using chemicals judiciously and wisely will ensure that you do more good than harm in the sanitization process.

Additional Tips for Safe and Effective Sanitization

When it comes to sanitizing pillows, every detail matters. To complement the primary sanitization techniques, consider exposing your pillows to direct sunlight. UV rays from the sun have natural disinfecting properties, which can help eliminate lingering germs. Moreover, giving your pillows a good shake and fluff can help dislodge debris, dust mites, and bacteria. If you’re using a vacuum, attach a HEPA filter to ensure that you’re capturing the smallest of contaminants, ensuring the pillows are clean to the microscopic level.

Choosing the Right Pillow Protectors

Pillow protectors are your first line of defense against contaminants. When selecting one, prioritize materials that are both breathable and impermeable. Breathability ensures your pillow remains cool and comfortable, while an impermeable nature ensures no contaminants can penetrate. Consider protectors with zippers, as they offer a snug fit and prevent any accidental exposure. It’s also beneficial to invest in hypoallergenic protectors, especially if you’re prone to allergies. These not only block contaminants but also reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

The Role of Detergents and Fabric Softeners

The detergent you use can make a significant difference in the sanitization process. While most commercial detergents are designed to tackle common household dirt, some are specifically formulated to handle pathogens. Research and choose detergents that have antibacterial or antiviral properties for an extra layer of protection. On the other hand, while fabric softeners can give a luxurious feel to your pillows, they can sometimes reduce the efficacy of your detergent. If you’re sanitizing post an illness or exposure, it might be best to skip the softener for a cycle or two.

Storing Pillows After Sanitization

Once you’ve sanitized your pillows, storing them properly can prolong their cleanliness. Firstly, avoid stacking too many pillows on top of one another. Overstacking can trap moisture, leading to mold and mildew. Instead, place them in a dry, cool place. If you have spare pillowcases, consider double casing them. This offers an additional layer of protection from dust and contaminants. Always store pillows away from direct sunlight to prevent them from yellowing or deteriorating due to prolonged UV exposure.

Ensure Complete Drying

Ensuring that your pillows are thoroughly dried post-sanitization is crucial. Moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. If you’re air-drying, ensure you flip and rotate the pillows multiple times for even drying. If using a dryer, opt for a gentle cycle with dryer balls or clean tennis balls. These help fluff the pillows, ensuring they retain their shape. Also, avoid the urge to rush the drying process. While it might be tempting to ramp up the heat, too much can damage the pillow’s fibers, reducing its lifespan.

Protecting Pillows in Storage

If you’re storing pillows for an extended period, consider vacuum sealing them. This removes air, and consequently, the potential for moisture or mold build-up. Always store pillows in a cool, dry place. Avoid basements or attics that are prone to humidity fluctuations. If vacuum sealing isn’t an option, a breathable storage bag can also work. This allows the pillow to breathe while also offering protection against dust, pests, and other contaminants. Regularly check on stored pillows to ensure no mold or mustiness has developed.


In the post-Covid era, being diligent and attentive to every detail, no matter how small, can be the difference between health and illness. Your pillows, as mundane as they might seem, are no exception. So, happy cleaning and sweet, sanitized dreams!


How often should I sanitize my pillows?
Aim for every 2-3 weeks or immediately after any illness.

Can UV light be used for sanitization?
Yes, UV-C light has germicidal properties, but ensure safe usage.

Is airing out pillows in the sun effective?
Sunlight can act as a natural disinfectant and also helps to freshen pillows.

Are there any natural disinfectants I can use?
Apart from white vinegar, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil have antimicrobial properties.

How do I sanitize memory foam pillows?
These can’t be machine washed. Instead, spot clean and ensure thorough drying. UV sanitization is also a viable option.


I'm Martina, your guide through the complex world of sleep. As a sleep specialist and a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, my mission is to provide you with practical and motivational insights into improving sleep for all ages. From children's sleep training to adult sleep hygiene, and even finding the best sleep aids on the market, I've got you covered.So join me as we journey together towards better sleep and brighter days!

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