If you own any feather pillows, you most probably have asked yourself, ‘Why do feather pillows smell?’ it is not an uncommon thing for feather pillows to produce a bad odor, even when they are brand new! And the unpleasant smell usually gets worse as you use the pillow over time.

Feather Pillow


According to different studies, any scent in your bedroom can affect the quality of your sleep; good scent makes sleep much more comfortable while bad scent reduces the quality of your sleep. Therefore, to ensure that you sleep well every night, you need to use clean pillows and avoid feather pillows that smell. However, to avoid smelly feather pillows, you first need to understand what causes the bad odor.

In this article, we discuss reasons why feather pillows smell, as well as practical things you can do to prevent your pillows from developing bad smell in the first place. Let’s dive in!


Why Do Feather Pillows Smell?

The most common reason feather pillows smell is damp feathers (or feathers that have not yet dried completely). After washing your pillows, the feathers get wet and tend to stick together. This makes it harder for the feathers within the clumps to dry completely, such that they develop musty odors. Also, the damp environment encourages the growth of mold and mildew, in turn causing the pillow to start smelling. Besides, saliva, sweat and other bodily fluids may make their way via the pillowcase to the feather stuffing, leading to the pillow producing bad odor.

To prevent your feather pillows from smelling, air dry them outside in the sun. The heat from the sun penetrates through the pillow, reaching between the clumps and removing any residual moisture which would’ve contributed to bad odors. And to remove any odors caused by sweat, saliva and bodily fluids, wash the feather pillows with baking soda and vinegar, then allow it to air dry in the sun.

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How Do You Dry a Feather Pillow?

As mentioned before, the leading cause for smelly feather pillows is dampness. When pillows are not dried completely after washing, they develop mold and bad odors. Therefore, it is crucial that you dry your feather pillows thoroughly to keep them smelling clean and fresh every time.

Here are four simple steps that can help you dry your feather pillows effectively:


1. Squeeze Water Out of the Pillow

Place one feather pillow between two clean, dry towels. Then, press down on the pillow gently, to squeeze water out of it. The two towels should soak up excess water from the pillow. Repeat this process with all the other pillows.


2. Put the Pillow in the Dryer

Put the feather pillows into the dryer. Adjust the settings of the washing machine to both low- or no-heat to delicate cycle. It is recommended that you use the no-heat setting since it doesn’t cause any damage to the feathers. However, the disadvantage about this setting is that it requires multiple drying cycles to completely dry the feathers.


On the other hand, while the low-heat setting may speed up the process of drying, it might be too hot for the delicate feathers, making them prone to damage. To determine the best setting for your pillows, use your judgement; after all, only you know best how your washer and dryer works. However, if you decide to use the low-heat cycle, make sure that you use the air-dry setting at the final stages of the drying cycle to ensure that the feathers do not get too hot.


If your feather pillows require more than one drying cycle to dry completely, fluff the pillows by hand in-between the drying cycles. Doing so helps to rearrange the feathers, ensuring that they do not clump up or form lumps. More so, it fastens the process of drying the pillows. You can also add a damp towel to the drying cycle to soak up excess water and dry the pillows. Alternatively, you can put several tennis balls or dryer balls in a sock, then put these in the dryer. Just like the damp towel, the balls help to fluff and dry the pillows.

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3. Fluff the pillows Once Dry

After drying your feather pillows in the dryer, takes these then fluff them, one by one, to rearrange the feathers and remove any clumps. Shake each pillow gently for a few minutes to remove any noticeable clumps. When you can’t see any clumps of feathers, turn the pillow over and fluff the other side gently until you can’t see any clumps. Also, if the pillow has any residual musty odors or still feels wet, return it in the dryer and carry out another cycle, repeating the process until the pillow is completely dry.


4. Replace the Pillowcase or Pillow Protector

Pillowcases and pillow protectors play a key role in keeping your feather pillows clean and ensuring that they last longer. Therefore, after cleaning and drying your pillows, the next thing you should do is to replace the pillowcase or pillow protector.

However, you should only use freshly-cleaned pillowcases on your pillows. Otherwise, the sweat, dust and dampness from dirty pillowcases may penetrate into the pillow, causing the bad-odor situation from your feather pillows to become even worse! To avoid such a situation, it is always recommended that you wash all your pillowcases when you wash your pillows.

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How Often Should You Wash Feather Pillows?

Even after washing your feather pillows, they will collect dust, sweat, mites or bacteria after some time. To prevent this, it is crucial that you wash the pillows regularly. Experts recommend washing feather pillows at least 1-2 times every year (or approximately every 6 months or so). Avoid washing the pillows too frequently as this could lead to the feathers getting damaged, reducing the overall lifespan of the pillows.



Feather pillows can offer you the greatest comfort at night. Still, these same pillows can offer you the greatest discomfort at night, especially when they become smelly. Thankfully, now you know why do feather pillows smell. Therefore, take the necessary steps to prevent your pillows from smelling; clean these at least once or twice a year and follow through on the drying process. When you do so, you will ensure that your feather pillows remain clean and fresh-smelling, giving you the maximum comfort you deserve!

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