Can You Wash Orthopedic Pillows? (Complete Cleaning Guide)

   This post has been quality checked in line with our Editorial and Research Policy.

Can You Wash Orthopedic Foam Pillows?

Do you own an orthopedic pillow? If so, then this article is for you. Orthopedic pillows are great because they last much longer than traditional foam or down pillows and provide more support. However, like any other type of pillow, they need to be cleaned now and again to avoid bacteria buildup, which can cause odor or allergies. 

As a general rule, orthopedic pillows can NOT be washed in a washing machine without the risk of severely damaging the orthopedic foam. However, you can safely wash orthopedic foam pillows by using cold water and a mild detergent or isopropyl alcohol.

The rest of this article will explain each step you should take to clean your orthopedic pillow and some cleaning methods you should avoid.

How to Wash Orthopedic Pillows

* In general, you should always first check with the cleaning instructions on the label of your pillow cover.

If there are no cleaning instructions on your orthopedic pillows, you can also consider speaking with a cleaning company or dry cleaner for further guidance. Otherwise, continue following this guide.

Items You’ll Need To Clean Your Pillow

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Large basin or bowl
  • 4 to 6 drops of mild liquid dish detergent
  • Two cotton cloths
  • Two large bath towels
  • 70% concentration of Isopropyl alcohol

Guide to Washing Orthopedic Pillows

Here’s how to wash your orthopedic pillows without damaging them:

Spot Cleaning:

How to remove stains from your orthopedic pillow:

  • Dab away excess moisture – To remove any excess water from a freshly stained pillow, dab it with a clean, white cloth. Do not use colored clothes to avoid dye transfer. It is not advisable to rub the stain aggressively since this may damage the orthopedic foam/stuffing and increase the stain depth.
  • Apply the isopropyl alcohol –  Wet a clean white cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Apply the wet cloth to the stain gently. To prevent the stain from spreading, dab it from the outer edge towards the center.
  • Air dry – After removing the stain, let your pillow air dry completely before using it. It would help if you did not put the pillow in the dryer.


In most cases, isopropyl alcohol should be used, but mild detergent may be needed to remove more difficult stains. Be careful not to rub too hard because this can damage the orthopedic foam or filling and worsen the stain.

Rinsing Orthopedic Pillows:

  • Remove the pillow cover – If possible, unzip it and wash it according to the instructions on the label.
  • Rinse your pillow in the sink or bathtub – Using cold water, rinse the dirty part of the entire pillow. Don’t let the pillow sit in water for too long, as this can cause it to absorb too much water.
  • Prepare a mild detergent solution –  Pour a teaspoon of mild detergent (dishwashing liquid) per gallon of water into the large container to dissolve dirt and grease.
  • Submerge the pillow- By pushing the pillow into the detergent solution, the dirt and bacteria will be removed from the foam. You should avoid twisting, wringing, or pushing the pillow because it is made from orthopedic foam that can easily tear if wet.
  • Rinse out the detergent – Your container should be emptied, washed, filtered, and refilled with clear water. It would be best if you repeatedly pressed down on the pillow until all the soap has been expelled.
  • Press between towels – To wick up as much liquid as possible, the pillow should be pressed between two towels. As the liquid will be deeply embedded in the orthopedic foam/filling, repeat this process at least ten times.
  • Air out – The orthopedic foam pillow should be air-dried until it’s scorched before you put the pillowcase back on. Do not place the pillow in direct sunlight or the dryer.


Cleaning the orthopedic foam deeply can remove more deeply rooted dirt and bacteria.

Your orthopedic foam pillow should only be deep cleaned once a year. To prevent mold, mildew, odors, and material degradation, it would be best if you avoided moisture retention, which can be caused due to the cleaning process. It is also essential to prevent the detergents from damaging the foam or filler.

Moreover, some foams used in orthopedic pillows such as natural latex, are naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, which may reduce the frequency of deep cleaning.



What to Avoid When Cleaning Orthopedic Foam

You can prevent damage and extend the life of your pillow when washing your pillow by avoiding these things:

  • Avoid the washing machine – this can cause your pillow to tear and damage the foam.
  • Avoid baking soda – baking soda particles could become dislodged over time, leading to breathing irritation.
  • Avoid sun drying – orthopedic foam is highly sensitive to sunlight.
  • Avoid the dryer – the heat can cause the materials to melt and become distorted.
  • Avoid bleach – harsh chemicals like bleach can cause the foam to break down.
  • Avoid wring – twisting orthopedic foam can cause it to tear.
  • Avoid warm water –  warm water may help to increase bacteria and damage the foam. Using cold water can avoid these problems.
  • Avoid using damp foam pillows– a damp orthopedic foam pillow can produce mold if the pillowcase is placed on it.

If you accidentally wash a foam pillow in the washing machine, dry it with towels and let it air dry. Be careful not to twist the foam as this may cause it to tear.

Conclusion: Spot and Light Cleaning Is Best

The best way to clean orthopedic foam pillows is by using a solution of cold water and mild detergent or isopropyl alcohol. It would help if you rinsed the pillows without completely submerging them in the water. The full explanation for cleaning an orthopedic pillow is outlined above.

With a light clean, you will remove much of the surface dirt and grease without submerging the pillows so much that they become difficult to dry.

Therefore, deep cleaning should be applied sparingly – spot cleaning can be used as needed.

How do you dry orthopedic pillows?

Orthopedic pillows are designed to support the neck and spine, helping prevent poor posture and relieving pain. However, these pillows can be difficult to dry, as they are often made of materials that are not machine-washable. The best way to dry orthopedic pillows is to place them in a well-ventilated area, such as a sunny room or on a clothesline. It is essential to ensure that the pillows are not exposed to direct sunlight, as this can damage the material. Once the pillows are dry, they can be fluffed or shaken to restore their shape. With proper care, orthopedic pillows can provide years of support and comfort.

Is it OK to put a pillow in the washing machine?

If you’ve ever owned a pillow, you’ve wondered if it’s OK to put it in the washing machine. After all, pillows can get just as dirty as any other piece of bedding. However, before you toss your pillow in the wash, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, pads are generally not designed to withstand the rigors of the washing machine. The constant agitation can damage the filling, causing it to lose shape and become lumpy.

Additionally, pillows can take a long time to dry, which increases the risk of mold and mildew growth. As a result, it’s generally best to avoid putting pillows in the washing machine. If your pillow needs cleaning, follow our complete guide.

How long do Orthopaedic pillows last?

Many people don’t give much thought to their pillow, but it can significantly impact your health. If you suffer from poor posture, neck pain, or headaches, it might be time to invest in an orthopedic pillow. These pillows support the head and neck in a natural position, preventing pain and promoting proper alignment. But how long do they last?

Good orthopedic pillows are generally made from high-quality materials that can withstand regular use. With proper care, they can last for years. However, suppose you start to experience pain or discomfort. In that case, it’s essential to consult a doctor or physical therapist to see if your pillow is still providing the right level of support.


Dr Lawrence Woods

My name Dr Lawrence Woods DC and I have been designing mattresses, pillows, chairs and seat cushions for over 20 years. As a chiropractor, my goal has always focused on improving the health of my patients by optimizing how they sleep and sit. My designs have been nominated for numerous awards and I continue to be at the forefront of this industry, helping people get the best night’s sleep possible. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West, I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified and an OSHAcadenmy certified ergonomist.
**As a service to our readers, The Spinery provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

You May Also Like