Can You Wash Outdoor Pillows In The Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Outdoor Pillows In The Washing Machine

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Yes, you can wash outdoor pillows in the washing machine, but it depends on the material of the pillows. Always check the care label or have them professionally cleaned if unsure. If machine-washing is recommended, follow these steps for optimal results.

Outdoor pillows are the perfect addition to your patio or deck, providing comfort and style to your outdoor living space. However, with exposure to the elements, they can accumulate dirt, stains, and odors over time. The question often arises: Can you wash outdoor pillows in the washing machine to give them a fresh start? The answer is a conditional yes.

It largely depends on the material of the pillows and their care instructions. Here’s how to determine whether your outdoor pillows are machine-washable and how to clean them properly.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Outdoor Pillows In The Washing Machine


  • Check the Care Label: Always start by checking the care label on your outdoor pillows. If it indicates that the fabric is machine-washable, you’re in the clear. If there are specific care instructions, follow them diligently.
  • Remove Pillow Covers: To ensure thorough cleaning and prevent damage to the pillow filling, remove the pillow covers before washing. This also allows for easier stain treatment.
  • Pre-Treat Stains: Examine the pillow covers for stains and pre-treat them with a stain remover suitable for the fabric. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before washing.
  • Use Mild Detergent: Opt for a mild detergent without bleach or harsh chemicals. These can harm the fabric and alter its color.
  • Gentle Cycle with Cold Water: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid hot water, as it can cause fading or shrinkage.
  • Air Dry: After washing, refrain from using a dryer, as high heat can damage the fabric and potentially melt off the UV protectant that prevents fading. Instead, air-dry the pillow covers.


  • Ignore Care Instructions: Never disregard care instructions provided on the pillow labels. Following these guidelines ensures you won’t damage the fabric or void any warranties.
  • Overload the Washing Machine: Avoid overloading the washing machine, as it can lead to incomplete cleaning and potential damage to the machine.
  • Fabric Softener or Bleach: Do not use fabric softener or bleach when washing outdoor pillow covers, as these can harm the fabric and its protective properties.
  • Hot Water: Steer clear of hot water for washing, as it can cause fabric damage and color alteration.
  • Dryer Use: Resist the temptation to use a dryer for outdoor pillow covers, even on a low setting. Air drying is the safest option.

Steps to Wash Outdoor Pillows in the Washing Machine:

Here’s a step-by-step guide to washing outdoor pillows in the washing machine:

Step 1

Remove Pillow Covers: Carefully unzip or unfasten the pillow covers from the pillows themselves.

Step 2

Inspect the Labels: Examine the care labels on the pillow covers to confirm they are machine-washable. If there are specific care instructions, follow them.

Step 3

Pre-Treat Stains: For any stains, use a fabric stain remover or a mixture of water and mild detergent to pre-treat them. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Step 4

Load the Washing Machine: Place the pillow covers in the washing machine, ensuring there is enough space for them to move freely. Add the mild detergent as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Step 5

Choose the Right Cycle: Opt for a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid hot water to prevent fabric damage.

Step 6

Start the Machine: Commence the washing cycle and allow it to run its course.

Step 7

Air Dry: Once the washing cycle is complete, remove the pillow covers and hang them up to air dry. Avoid using a dryer to maintain the fabric’s integrity and UV protectant.

Alternative Washing Methods for Outdoor Pillows:

If your outdoor pillows are not suitable for machine washing or if you prefer alternative cleaning methods, consider the following:

  • Hand Washing: Fill a basin or large sink with cold water and mild detergent. Gently hand wash the pillow covers, rinse thoroughly, and air dry.
  • Pressure Washing: For outdoor pillows with removable covers, a pressure washer can effectively remove dirt and grime. Adjust the pressure to a lower setting to avoid fabric damage.
  • Professional Cleaning: If you are uncertain about cleaning methods or have valuable or delicate outdoor pillows, consider professional cleaning services. They have the expertise and equipment to handle various materials.
  • Spot Cleaning: For minor stains or spills, spot clean with a mixture of water and mild detergent. Blot the stain rather than rubbing to prevent it from spreading.


Can I wash foam-filled outdoor pillows in the washing machine?

Answer: Foam-filled outdoor pillows are not typically machine-washable. It’s best to spot-clean them or consult the care label for specific instructions.

How often should I wash outdoor pillow covers?

Answer: The frequency of cleaning depends on usage and exposure to the elements. As a general guideline, wash them at the beginning and end of the outdoor season or as needed.

Can I use a fabric softener or bleach to clean outdoor pillow covers?

Answer: No, it is not advisable to use fabric softener or bleach, as they can damage the fabric and its protective properties.

What if my outdoor pillows have mold or mildew stains?

Answer: Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar to remove mold or mildew stains. Scrub the affected areas, rinse thoroughly, and air dry in direct sunlight.

Do I need to run an empty wash cycle in the washing machine after washing outdoor pillow covers with paint stains?

Answer: Running an empty hot wash cycle is recommended to clean the machine after washing pillow covers with paint stains. This helps prevent any paint residue from affecting future loads.

Final Words:

Maintaining the cleanliness of your outdoor pillows is essential for both their appearance and longevity. While washing them in a washing machine is possible for some materials, always check the care label and follow the recommended guidelines. By following the dos and don’ts of washing outdoor pillows, you can keep your outdoor space looking fresh and inviting season after season.

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