Decorative pillows are one of the easier ways to change up the look of any of the rooms in our homes. Gracing beds, sofas, love seats, chairs, and benches, they add pops of color and an abundance of comfort most anywhere they are placed.
As with anything made of fabric, these pillows become dirty or soiled from time to time. While some people throw their pillows out when this happens, it’s definitely not necessary. You can clean your decorative pillows. You—or any maid service you employ—must simply determine the right way to do so.
In most cases, you will remove the pillow cover from the pillow itself. Some pillow inserts may simply be thrown into your washing machine and washed per manufacturer’s instructions. You will then clean the cover by hand and reshape the insert when you replace the cover onto it.
Items Needed for Cleaning Decorative Pillows:
- Dry cleaning fluid
- Bucket or basin
- New sponge
- Soft cleaning cloths or clean rags
- Liquid dish soap
- Clean, white towels
Decorative Pillows: What Kind of Fabric?
Most decorative pillows fall into one of three fabric categories. They are typically made of velvet, silk, or other kinds of fabric. Yes, “other” is rather broad, but you’ll soon see where we’re going with this.
Always check your pillows for a manufacturer’s tag. If you have a maid service that performs these household tasks, that too will be their standard process. This will determine whether the pillow should be dry cleaned or wet cleaned. Don’t fear a large dry cleaning bill in your immediate future. If dry cleaning is required, you can do this yourself at home.
Silk and Velvet Decorative Pillows
Silk pillows are identified by their smooth and shiny look. A silk pillow cover must be cleaned using dry cleaning fluid.
Velvet decorative pillows are identified by their soft feel, as well as by their nap. When brushed back and forth velvet’s nap changes color a bit. Velvet also has a plush, soft feel. It, too, must be cleaned using dry cleaning fluid.
Most other decorative pillows will fall under the category of wet cleaning. Steps for this process will follow.
Dry Cleaning Decorative Pillows at Home
Most people don’t even realize they can buy dry cleaning fluid and dry clean their items—like pillows or articles of clothing—at home. As with any “chemical”, you should always take precautions. Dry cleaning fluid may emit fumes. Make sure you are cleaning your pillows or clothing in a well-ventilated area. Wear a mask if you suffer from breathing problems, or leave this chore for a maid service to perform, as they will no doubt be well trained in using such products.
Always test the fabric of your decorative pillow cover before cleaning the entire thing with the dry cleaning fluid. This may be done by applying the fluid onto a small, rather inconspicuous area on the back of the pillow before proceeding. Simply dampen a clean white towel with a bit of the fluid, and then blot the inconspicuous area a few times. Check the towel to see if the fluid is removing any of the color from the pillow cover. Allow the test spot to dry, and then check for water spots or fading. If none of this occurs, you are ready to dry clean the pillow.
Pour the dry cleaning fluid into a clean bucket or basin. Dip a clean (new is best) sponge and wring it out. Dry cleaning fluid won’t create any suds, so don’t worry when you don’t see any. Cleaning the pillow in areas, work the dry cleaning solution into it. Blot each area with a clean, white towel after cleaning it. Dip the sponge into the dry cleaning fluid frequently, wringing it out each time. Follow this process until the pillow has been completely clean. Be mindful of areas where folds, trim, or piping are present.
Once the entire pillow—or the pillow cover—is clean, lay it on a clean, white towel until all of the dry cleaning fluid has evaporated. This could take a few hours.
Wet Cleaning Decorative Pillows
If you’re not dry cleaning, you’re wet cleaning—at least with regard to your decorative pillows. The process really isn’t all that different either. Mix a few drops of liquid dish soap with cool water in a clean basin or bucket. Use your hand to create foamy bubbles. Dip a clean sponge into the foamy mixture and wring it out. Cleaning the pillow in segments, rub the sponge onto the fabric and scrub gently. Scoop up some of the foam created with the soap and water and scrub that onto each segment as well.
Keeping a clean, white towel handy, blot each segment after it has been scrubbed. Repeat this process until all areas of the decorative pillow—including piping, trim, and folds—have been thoroughly cleaned. Lay the pillow or pillow cover onto a clean, white towel until it is dry. This will take several hours–or as much as an entire day for the pillow to completely dry.
Replace and Fluff Your Decorative Pillows
Regardless of the method used for cleaning your decorative pillows or their covers, your next step will be to replace the covers onto the pillow inserts. Sometimes you’ll find the pillow or its cover seems too big or too small following the cleaning process. This is usually only due to the shifting around of the filling during the laundering process.
Squeeze the pillow insert into the decorative pillow cover and then maneuver the filling with your hands so the pillow is back to its original shape. Your pillows will be fresh and clean and ready to light up your rooms with their various colors and textures–and you won’t have a dry cleaning bill.
Great article, I have a ton of decorative pillows around my condo and have noticed that they started to show dirt and grime. I have cleaned them a couple of times, but I believe now that it may be a great time to exchange these pillows out for new ones.