Throw pillows come in all shapes and sizes and are used for numerous different reasons. Some are decorative, tossed on the couch for a pop of color during the holidays, others are functional as the provide lumbar support or a head rest on a favorite lounging spot. Even though they may get little use, they all need a little love now and then. I am talking about cleaning.
Often overlooked when we are doing our routine semi annual cleaning, these items suffer from neglect. While cleaning some of these may present a challenge, it is possible. Most fabrics on throw pillows is not really favorable to the washing process, but if you pay a decent amount of dough for them, they are worth the price of dry cleaning every few seasons. If you are lucky enough to have pillows with a convenient zipper closure, simply remove the pillow stuffing inside (usually incased in a tissue like enclosure), and take to the cleaners. Others that are simply sewn shut, take more care. In order to remove the stuffing, you have to find the seam in which they were sewn shut, and carefully open the seam with a seam ripper to remove filling. This is the point in which you must determine if they are worth it. You will ultimately have to sew them back together after the covers have been cleaned. They may be “throw” pillows in every sense of the word, you may just decide to throw them away when they look to poor to use anymore. You could take the whole pillow to the dry cleaners and have them do all the work, but it will come with a price. The reason these must be dry cleaned is two fold. The colors may run in the wash, and they will mostly likely shrink considerably. Most manufactures sizing creates a stiff backing to the material, and the water breaks down the fibers and allows the material to draw together, causing the shrinkage. It is up to you to decide if you think it is worth the time and expense.
If the covers are cotton or polyester though, they will benefit from a water bath on gentle cycle and always lay flat to dry. As usual, the heat from the dryer will cause shrinkage, and believe me, the filling will already be a struggle to get back in the case. Once the coverings have almost completely dried, you can toss them in a cool dryer to release the wrinkles in the fabric covers. Adding a few dryer balls or clean tennis balls to the dryer will help redistribute any pillow filling that may have clumped together during the washing cycle. I would be careful applying an iron to any fabrics that are not 100% cotton though. A steam iron may also help with wrinkles, just be careful to not place iron directly onto fabric. Instead, use the steam option and quickly swoop across the pillow without stopping to keep from scorching delicate materials. I have put the iron directly on cotton pillows, however I still used caution and only used the quick swooping motion as well.
When you do not want the hassle of cleaning the pillow covers you can settle for quick freshen up. For a quick freshen up of gently used throw pillows sprinkle them with baking soda and vacuum well. The baking soda will absorb any odors that may be clinging to the fabric, and the vacuum will lift any dust that may have collected. Another option is to spray your dryer balls with essential oils and toss the pillows in a cool dryer for a few minutes for a quick refresh. Simple enough for a few seasons at least.