How To Clean Throw Pillows Without Removable Cover

If you need to clean throw pillows that don't come with a removable cover and don't want to ruin them, you've come to the right place. I'll show you all my best tips for giving your throw pillows a thorough clean.

How To Clean Throw Pillows Without Removable Cover

I have such a vivid memory of the decorative throw pillows in our living room growing up. They were so tiny, yet one tap on them and you could see the dust flying in the air.

No one ever really gave them a deep clean because the one time we tried, the pillow's shape never recovered.

That's why I have created this detailed guide so that you can learn how to clean them with confidence and still have them hold their shape and look their best.

Or maybe after seeing all the work you have to do, this will inspire you to get throw pillows with removable covers next time. Hahah

Before You Clean

Before you even attempt cleaning your throw pillows, it's important to check for the following:

  1. 1
    Read the care instructions: If the care label is still attached, check it to make sure the pillow cover won't be damaged by the cleaning method you choose. Certain decorative pillows with fabrics like silk, wool, sequins, or embroidery may require dry cleaning.
  2. 2
    Examine the stuffing: The type of washing technique you use will depend a lot on the pillow insert. Some pillow inserts may not take well to a washing machine. 
    There are over 12 different types of pillow stuffings, and some, including memory foam pillows, may be destroyed by using a washing machine. 
    If there is no care label, you can make a judgment by examining the pillow. 
    A "choppable" throw pillow is likely made from down feathers or down alternative, while a pillow that feels stiff or is not "choppable" is likely made of cotton or polyester filling.
  3. 5
     Seal any holes: If the fabric on the seam has weakened and burst open, sew it shut before cleaning to prevent the stuffing from spilling out.

Method #1 - Machine Washing

Using a washing machine and dryer is one of my favourite ways to wash pillows, especially ones with non-removable covers. Here are some of the best tips for washing a throw pillow in the washing machine:

  1. 1
    Pre-treat any stubborn stains before washing (See stain removal methods below).
  2. 2
    Use a front-loading washing machine to fully submerge the pillow. A top-loading machine may make the pillow float, depending on the type of pillow insert.
  3. 3
    Fluff the pillow right out of the dryer in order to get it back to its original shape.
  4. 4
    Don't use fabric softener. It can coat the pillow filling (especially down feather pillows) and make them flat.
  5. 5
    Always have more than one pillow in at a time to balance the washing machine else it might not spin properly and will hold onto water.
unbalanced washing machine

Best Washing Machine Setting For Throw Pillows

Clean Throw Pillows Without Removable Cover In Washing Machine
  1. 1
    Wash on a gentle cycle with detergent and warm water (30-40°C / 86-104°F).
  2. 2
    Put on an extra rinse cycle with cold water.
  3. 3
    Repeat wash cycle with no soap to get all the soap residue out of the pillow.

Best Tumble Dryer Setting For Throw Pillows

Best Tumble Dryer Setting For Throw Pillows
  1. 1
    Dry on a delicate cycle at (51°C/125°F - 57°C/135°F) with a few dryer balls for 3-4 hours. I tried drying for less than 3 hours but it was still damp.
  2. 2
    When it is done, feel for clumps and separate them with your fingers.
  3. 3
    Check the corners and if they are still wet. Repeat the drying process if necessary.

This video illustrates how to wash pillows properly

Method #2 - Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning is one of the best ways to do a quick clean or remove small stains on throw pillows. There are different ways you can spot clean depending on the type and severity of the stain.

how to spot clean throw pillow without removable cover

Materials:

  • Vacuum Cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • Carpet cleaner e.g Folex
  • Dish soap and water
  • Steam Cleaner

Instructions:

  1. 1
    Switch out the vacuum attachment to an upholstery attachment and go over the throw pillow in a vertical and horizontal way.
  2. 2
    Put a tiny drop of hand washing laundry soap in warm water. You don't want the water to be too soapy.
  3. 3
    Dip a clean cloth or toothbrush into the soapy water. Go over the surface of the pillow in a circular motion. 
  4. 4
    Spray any lingering surface stains with a carpet cleaner like Folex and wipe with a damp cloth.
  5. 5
    If you have access to or can afford an upholstery steam cleaner, go over the surface with it. It shoots water and sucks it back up, making it really effective for cleaning the surface of your throw pillows.

Method #3 - Hand Washing

Hand washing is the best way to protect delicate throw pillow covers, especially if they cannot be removed.

Machine washing may damage some pillows with delicate material and some pillow inserts.

how to hand wash throw pillow without removable cover

You need:

  • Gentle detergent for hand washing
  • Oxygen Bleach for coloured clothes
  • Weights

Instructions:

  1. 1
    Pre-treat any surface stains but remember to spot test first.
  2. 2
    Fill a bathtub or bucket with warm, mild detergent and oxygen bleach.
  3. 3
    Swish it around till it's all dissolved in the water.Submerge the pillow in the water and place some weights on it so that it is fully submerged. (Don't use iron like I did, the rust will transfer)
  4. 4
    Let it sit in for a few hours or overnight. Gently swish it around. Rub your finger gently over the surface to get any stains out.
  5. 5
    Press down to squeeze out as much water as possible.
  6. 6
    Rinse multiple times until you squeeze and the water is clear.
  7. 7
    Squeeze again by pressing it firmly down, don't wring.
  8. 8
    Dry on a low to no heat setting in a tumble dryer.

TIP

Drying a pillow naturally can cause it to mould so be sure it's a very sunny day before you attempt air drying. It can take two-three full days of direct sunlight to fully air dry.

Common Stains And How To Remove Them

Here are some common stains that could be on your throw pillows and how to remove them:

Makeup: 

  • Dip a toothbrush into a mix of dish soap and oxygen bleach.
  • Rub over the stain in circular motions and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Repeat and leave to dry.

Wine:

  • Mix half a scoop of oxygen bleach and hot water.
  • Dip a cloth into the solution and go over the stain multiple times. 
  • Let it sit on the surface for 5 minutes, no longer else it might bleach the fabric.
  • Go over it multiple times with plain water and a soft cloth.
  • Repeat if stains persist.

Ink:

  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot with a paper towel and repeat till it comes off.
  • You can also try Dr. Beckmann's Stain Devils.

Drool stains:

  • To remove drool stains from pillows, dip a clean cloth into a solution of dish soap and water. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Go over the surface of the pillow in a circular motion. 
  • Go over again with clean water and allow to air dry.

Oil:

  • Mix baking soda and vinegar. Apply over stain and let it sit for 2-5 hours.
  • Go over and gently remove with water and a soft bristled brush.

Chewing Gum/ Glue:

  • Try pinching that portion of the fabric and pour some rubbing alcohol or acetone over it, rubbing your fingers back and forth till it comes off. Unfortunately the acetone might affect the fabric.
  • You can also try putting some ice over the stain and sometimes it comes off this way.

Blood:

  • Nothing works better for blood than oxygen bleach. You can also try vinegar.
  • Mix oxygen bleach in hot water and go over the stain with a cloth of soft bristled brush.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Repeat if necessary.
  • To remove drool stains from pillows, dip a clean cloth into a solution of dish soap and water. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Go over the surface of the pillow in a circular motion. 
  • Go over again with clean water and allow to air dry.

TIP

Buy a removable cover to cover the throw pillow if you can't get the stain off. If your throw pillow has a flat, smooth fabric with no embroidery, no one would know.

Additional Tips for Cleaning Throw Pillows Without Removable Covers

  • If you have a throw pillow without a cover, you can buy a separate cover for it, especially if you can't get the stains off. If the pillow doesn't have any texture or detail, no one will know you slipped a cover on it. 
  • Clean your throw pillows twice a year if you can. Throw pillows are a massive breeding ground for dust mites, dead skin cells, and other allergens.
  • When your pillows are no longer puffy, it's a tell tale sign that it's time to wash them.
  • Use a mild detergent that is designed for delicate fabrics.
  • Avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals for your throw pillows.
  • You can always take your pillows to the dry cleaner if you don't want to risk ruining them.
  • Buy throw pillows with removable covers on your next shopping trip😂

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Throw Pillows Without Removable Cover

If your throw pillows don't come with removable covers, don't panic.

There are ways to clean them without damaging them. Just be mindful of the fabric and filling type before attempting any kind of washing technique.

If you are not sure how to clean your throw pillows properly, you can always get them professionally dry cleaned. 

However, if you are feeling confident, you can try the methods I have mentioned above. Always spot test any cleaning product in an inconspicuous area before attempting to clean the entire pillow.

All the best with your cleaning, and I hope this post helps you do it properly.

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Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!