3 Ways to Remove Bad Smell from Your Goose Down Pillow

3 Ways to Remove Bad Smell from Your Goose Down Pillow

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Down pillows are prized for their soft, fluffy comfort. The down filling comes from ducks or geese and provides a luxurious feel that can't be replicated with synthetic fibers. However, down pillows are also notorious for developing an unpleasant odor over time.

This odor occurs due to a buildup of body oils, sweat, and humidity inside the pillow. The down filling is very absorbent and traps these contaminants. Bacteria then feed on the oils and sweat, producing smelly compounds. You may notice the odor is strongest when you press down into the pillow, releasing the trapped air that contains the smells.

It's important to get rid of odors in your down pillow for a few reasons:

  • The smell can be quite off-putting and make it difficult to sleep well. Waking up to a funky odor isn't very pleasant.

  • Odors indicate your pillow needs cleaning. Getting rid of the smell helps freshen up the pillow and remove contaminants.

  • Lingering odors may indicate the growth of mold or mildew if moisture was trapped in the pillow. This could pose a health hazard.

  • A clean, fresh pillow will simply be much more comfortable to sleep on night after night.

The good news is that musty down pillows can be refreshed and deodorized using various cleaning methods and odor absorbers. With some time and effort, you can reclaim your pillow's original fluffiness and pleasant, clean scent.

Assess Severity of Odor

The first step in removing odor from your goose down pillow is to assess how bad the smell is. This will help determine the best method for eliminating it.

Mild Odor

If there is just a faint or musty smell, this is considered a mild odor. It may have developed over time from sweat, humidity, or dust. A mild odor can often be removed by simply airing out the pillow or using baking soda.

Moderate Odor

A moderate odor is more pronounced and noticeable. You can clearly smell it when putting your face near the pillow. The smell may be stronger in certain spots. Moderate odors usually require more intensive cleaning methods like vinegar or washing.

Severe Odor

A severe odor means the smell is very strong and unpleasant. It's immediately noticeable when entering the room. You may be able to smell it from a distance. Severe odors tend to linger and penetrate deep into the pillow. They typically require thorough washing, activated charcoal, or professional cleaning to eliminate.

Identifying Odor Source

Take note of where the odor is strongest. This can help pinpoint the source. For example, odors near the middle may be from drool or facial products. Odors at the edges could be from humidity or dust. Any visible stains may also indicate the source of the smell.

Try Airing out the Pillow

One of the easiest ways to try getting rid of a bad smell from your goose down pillow is simply airing it out. Here are some tips for airing out your pillow:

  • Take the pillow outside and leave it in direct sunlight. The UV rays in sunlight act as natural deodorizers and can help break down odor molecules in the pillow. Leave the pillow outside for several hours, flipping it over halfway through.

  • You can also leave the pillow near an open window inside your home. The fresh airflow will help carry away odor molecules trapped in the pillow.

  • Make sure to fluff and shake the pillow frequently as you air it out to release the odor from the filling.

  • Don't air out the pillow on a humid or rainy day. Moisture in the air can make smells worse. Opt for a dry, sunny day.

  • Airing out the pillow for a full day or longer provides the best results. The longer the pillow is exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the more odor molecules can dissipate.

Airing out the pillow is an easy, natural way to make it smell fresh again. Just be patient and give it plenty of time to work. If the smell persists, you may need to try a different method.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is a simple and effective way to remove odors from your down pillow. It works by absorbing and neutralizing odor molecules.

Start by vacuum sealing your pillow to compress it and force out any air. This will make the baking soda more effective.

Then, make a baking soda paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. The texture should be thick but still spreadable.

Spread the baking soda paste thoroughly all over the pillow, working it deep into the down filling. Make sure to coat both sides.

Seal the pillow in a plastic bag and leave it to sit for several hours or preferably overnight. This gives the baking soda time to fully absorb odors.

Once the time is up, take the pillow out of the bag and shake off the excess baking soda. You can use a towel to wipe away any remaining paste if needed.

Vacuum the pillow well to remove all baking soda residue. The baking soda will have absorbed the odors, leaving your pillow fresh smelling again.

Baking soda is safe, natural, and non-toxic. It's also very affordable and easy to find. Just a simple paste and wait is all it takes to refresh a smelly down pillow with this home staple.

Clean with Vinegar

Vinegar is a powerful odor eliminator that can help remove bad smells from your goose down pillow. Make a cleaning solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water. Submerge the pillow in the solution or spot clean heavily soiled areas. Let it soak for at least an hour. The vinegar will help kill bacteria and break down odor molecules.

After soaking, rinse the pillow thoroughly with clean water to remove all vinegar residue. Make sure to rinse several times until the smell of vinegar is completely gone. You don't want your pillow to smell like vinegar either!

Squeeze or press pillow gently to remove excess moisture. Lay flat and allow to air dry completely before returning the pillow to its case. The vinegar smell should be completely gone once dry.

Repeat this process as needed for tough odors. Vinegar is safe for regular use on down pillows. Its acidic properties help sanitize and brighten the down feathers.

Wash the Pillow

Washing your down pillow in the washing machine is an effective way to remove odors and refresh it. Make sure to use a front-loading washing machine, as the agitator in a top-loading machine can damage the down feathers.

First, check the care label on your pillow to see if machine washing is recommended. If so, you'll want to use a mild detergent that is safe for down material. Avoid regular detergents, as they can strip the natural oils from the down. A down-specific wash or mild baby detergent works well.

Place your pillow in the washing machine by itself. Use cold water on a gentle cycle setting. It's important not to overload the machine or use hot water, as this can compress and damage the down. Let the machine run through the full wash and rinse cycle.

When done washing, avoid putting the pillow in the dryer. The heat can damage the feathers. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water and let air dry completely before putting the pillow back on your bed. Make sure it's fully dried to avoid mildew.

Washing about twice per year will help keep your down pillow fresh and odor-free. Be sure to follow these tips to properly clean it without causing damage. With the right wash method, your pillow will come out clean, fluffy and good as new!

Use Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is very effective at absorbing odors. You can purchase charcoal odor absorbers or make your own by placing activated charcoal inside a small fabric pouch.

To use charcoal to remove odor from your pillow:

  • Purchase activated charcoal packs from a store or online retailer. Look for ones marketed as odor eliminating.

  • You can also fill a small fabric pouch with activated charcoal. Use a natural material like cotton or muslin - avoid plastics which the charcoal can degrade.

  • Place the charcoal packs or pouches in the pillowcase along with the pillow. Distribute them evenly to absorb odor all throughout.

  • Seal or zip the pillowcase closed so the charcoal is contained right next to the pillow.

  • Let the charcoal sit inside the sealed pillow for 24-48 hours. The charcoal will absorb odor molecules and moisture that leads to mildew smells.

  • After 1-2 days, remove the charcoal packs and air out the pillow. The odor should be greatly reduced or eliminated.

  • For severe odors, repeat the process replacing with fresh charcoal packs. The activated charcoal can be reused until it's fully saturated.

The porous nature of activated charcoal makes it excellent at trapping odor molecules. Just placing the charcoal inside the pillow allows it to passively absorb bad smells for cleaner air and a fresher pillow. It's a simple and effective odor removal solution.

Consider a Professional Cleaning

If the pillow smells are particularly stubborn or unpleasant, professional cleaning may be required. Severe odors often need a deeper clean to fully remove.

Many dry cleaners offer pillow cleaning services. Check for local cleaners that can handle down pillows. They have commercial machines and cleaning agents specifically for delicate fabrics like down.

The pillows are placed in large commercial dry cleaning machines. These use gentle tumbling and cleaning solvents like perchloroethylene to lift stains and odors from the down. Soft detergents may also be used. The pillows are then dried thoroughly at moderate temperatures.

This process can effectively eliminate tough odors that you can't remove at home. The powerful solvents penetrate deep into the down to lift out odors. The machines also fully rinse away any cleaning residue.

Professional cleaning is more expensive than home methods but can be worthwhile for severe pillow odors. Expect to pay anywhere from $15-$30 per pillow. But this deep clean should restore the fluffiness and scent of your pillows.

Prevent Future Odors

There are a few things you can do to prevent your goose down pillow from developing bad odors in the future:

  • Use a pillow protector - Pillow protectors create a barrier between your skin and the pillow, preventing body oils, drool, sweat, and dirt from soaking into the pillow and causing odors. Look for protectors specifically designed for down that are breathable to allow airflow.

  • Wash pillowcases frequently - Dirt, sweat, and oils can build up on your pillowcases and transfer to the pillow. Wash pillowcases at least once a week, or more if needed.

  • Air out the pillow regularly - Take your pillows outside on sunny days and allow them to air out for a few hours. The sunlight and fresh air will help dissipate odors.

  • Consider antimicrobial covers - Some pillow protectors contain antimicrobial properties that inhibit bacterial growth and odor. These can provide extra protection.

  • Replace pillows regularly - Pillows wear out over time. Plan to replace your down pillows every 2-3 years for optimal comfort and cleanliness.

Following these tips can help keep your pillows fresh and odor-free for longer!

When to Replace Your Pillow

Down pillows can last a long time if properly cared for. However, there comes a point when no amount of cleaning can eliminate odors or restore loft.

Consider replacing your pillow if:

  • It's over 5 years old. Natural materials like down break down over time.

  • The odor remains after thorough cleanings. Bad smells indicate the down is deteriorating.

  • It becomes flat and loses loft. Flattening occurs as the feathers shift and clump.

  • You see visible staining that doesn't come out. Stains also signal declining quality.

  • It causes allergies. Dust and particles accumulate, triggering reactions.

  • You simply want a fresher, fluffier feel. New pillows provide better sleep comfort.

The lifespan of a down pillow depends on frequency of use and care. With proper maintenance, you may get over 5 years of use before needing a replacement. But if odors or flatness happen earlier, it's best to invest in a new pillow for optimal comfort and hygiene.