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Household Hints & HELP!

Bedding Care
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

This article appeared in the August 25 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

As fall approaches, it is time to revitalize bedding, especially the pillows, blankets and mattress and get ready for winter. Care of these items need not be a difficult task. Here are some helpful suggestions for care that will make the task of cleaning and caring for them easier.

Pillow Care

Protect pillow from soil. A ticking cover will help protect the ticking and filler.

Occasionally place feather and down pillows in the dryer on low heat for ten minutes to remove humidity and help keep them resilient and fresh. Polyester fiber-fill pillows may also be freshened in the dryer on low heat. Foam rubber pillows should not be placed in the dryer.

Follow the manufacturers’ cleaning directions. If none are present, the following guidelines may be helpful. Although down-filled products are hand or machine washable, some manufacturers recommend dry-cleaning.

If dry-cleaning down, select a reliable dry-cleaner with experience in cleaning down. Afterward, thoroughly air bedding products to dispel lingering fumes from the cleaning agent.

Pillows filled with down, feathers or polyester fiber-fill may be washed in the washer on the gentle cycle with warm water and a mild detergent. Check the ticking to be sure it is strong and that the seams are firmly sewn. Wash no more than two pillows at a time. Fill washer, then submerge pillows and wash four to eight minutes. Rinse in warm water three times to be sure that all detergent is removed. Thoroughly dry pillows in the dryer at low heat on the gentle cycle. This may take three to six hours for down; less for polyester. Placing a tennis shoe or a few tennis balls in the dryer will help fluff feather pillows. Polyester fillings may need to be pulled apart to fluff after drying. Some manufacturers recommend high temperatures for drying polyester pillows. Consult the label.

Foam pillows can be washed by hand if cleaning is necessary. Remove the cover and wash it separately. Place the pillow in warm, mild detergent suds and squeeze the suds through thoroughly. Rinse several times, removing all detergent residue. Blot well with a towel. Dry flat at room temperatures, reversing positions occasionally. Drying may take several days. Do not use a dryer because of the danger of combustion.


Most cotton and synthetic blankets also can be washed or dry-cleaned. Washing may result in more shrinkage than dry-cleaning. Follow label directions. Some wool blankets can be washed, check directions. Polyurethane foam should be washed as you would a wool blanket in cool temperatures with little or no agitation. Higher temperatures and agitation can cause polyurethane blankets to become “bald” and shrink.

To launder blankets, fill washer with warm water. Add detergent and dissolve by agitation if needed. Add blankets, let soak for 10 to 15 minutes, then agitate for one to two minutes. Rinse twice in cool water, briefly agitating. Dry a synthetic fiber blanket in the dryer at low temperatures. Remove as soon as dry.

Mattress Care

Mattresses should be covered with a well-fitting mattress pad which can be laundered frequently.

Innerspring and foam mattresses should be aired routinely. Ends and sides of innerspring mattresses should be turned about every six months; the foundation at least once a year. New mattresses should be turned more frequently for the first six months. Mattresses and box springs occasionally should be vacuumed; use low suction.

Stains should be removed promptly. A disinfecting or deodorizing spray is recommended for odor problems. Check product labels for appropriate use on fabrics and safety suggestions. Persons with allergies should use caution.

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