How do you deodorize pillows without washing them?

A good night's sleep is crucial, and a key factor contributing to this is the cleanliness and freshness of our pillows. Over time, pillows can accumulate sweat, oil, and dust, resulting in an unpleasant odor. This problem is common, especially in warmer climates or for individuals who sweat excessively during sleep.

The Need for Deodorizing Pillows

Why Pillows Develop an Unpleasant Smell

Pillows can develop an unpleasant smell for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is the accumulation of sweat and oil from our skin. These substances can seep into the pillow filling, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which are often the source of the odor. Other factors, such as drooling during sleep or the presence of pets on the bed, can also contribute to this issue.

Why Washing Pillows Frequently is Not Always Practical

While washing pillows can help remove the odor, it is not always a practical solution. Frequent washing can damage the pillow filling, especially if it’s made of delicate materials like down or memory foam. Moreover, washing and drying pillows can be a time-consuming process. For these reasons, finding ways to deodorize pillows without washing them becomes essential.

How to Deodorize Pillows Without Washing Them

1. Air Out Your Pillows

One of the simplest ways to deodorize pillows is by airing them out. This method works by allowing fresh air and sunlight to naturally eliminate odors. To do this, remove the pillowcases and place your pillows in a sunny, well-ventilated area for a few hours. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can kill bacteria and mold, while the fresh air can help remove the trapped odors.

2. Use of Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a common household item that can effectively absorb odors. To use baking soda for deodorizing your pillows, sprinkle a generous amount on both sides of the pillow and let it sit for at least an hour. Afterward, simply vacuum the baking soda off using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

3. Use of Essential Oils

Essential oils are another great option for deodorizing pillows. They not only help to eliminate unpleasant smells but also add a pleasant aroma to your pillows. To use essential oils, add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and lightly mist your pillows. Be sure to let the pillows dry completely before using them. Some popular choices for this purpose include lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil.

4. Use of Fabric Refreshers

Fabric refreshers are specially designed to neutralize and eliminate odors on fabrics. They can be a quick and convenient solution for deodorizing pillows. Simply spray the fabric refresher onto your pillows according to the instructions on the bottle. However, it’s important to choose a fabric refresher that is safe for the material of your pillows and choose your pillow.

5. Use of Pillow Protectors

Pillow protectors are covers that are used to protect pillows from dust, sweat, and other substances that can cause odors. They are usually made of tightly woven fabric and come with a zipper for easy use. By using pillow protectors, you can prevent odors from seeping into the pillow in the first place. They are also easy to remove and wash, making them a practical solution for maintaining fresh-smelling pillows.

6. Use of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal can be used to deodorize pillows by placing a bag of it in the same area as the pillows. The charcoal will absorb unpleasant odors, leaving the gel pillows smelling fresh. This method is non-invasive and doesn't require direct application, making it suitable for delicate materials. It's important to ensure the charcoal is kept in a bag to prevent mess. Remember to replace the charcoal every few months for the best results.

7. Use of Vinegar

Vinegar can be used as a natural deodorizer for pillows. The acetic acid in vinegar neutralizes odors, leaving pillows smelling fresh. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist pillows with the solution. Let the solution air dry. This method is natural, effective, and uses items commonly found at home. However, vinegar has a strong smell that will dissipate as it dries. Always test a small area of the pillow before using vinegar to ensure it does not discolor the fabric.


To maintain fresh-smelling pillows, washing them isn't always feasible. Instead, several effective methods can be used to deodorize pillows without washing. These methods include airing out the pillows, using baking soda or essential oils, applying fabric refreshers, and utilizing pillow protectors. Regular maintenance and timely deodorization are the keys to fresh-smelling pillows. Incorporating these methods into a regular routine can ensure comfortable and clean pillows for a good night's sleep and overall well-being.


  1. Why do pillows develop an unpleasant smell?
    Pillows can accumulate sweat, oil, and dust over time, which can lead to an unpleasant odor. These substances can seep into the pillow filling, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which are often the source of the odor.
  2. Can I use any type of essential oil to deodorize my pillows?
    Yes, you can use any type of essential oil that you prefer. However, some popular choices for deodorizing pillows include lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil due to their pleasant aroma and antibacterial properties.
  3. How often should I deodorize my pillows?
    The frequency of deodorizing your pillows can depend on several factors such as your personal preference, the climate, and how much you sweat during sleep. However, a general rule of thumb is to deodorize your pillows once every two weeks to keep them fresh.
  4. Are fabric refreshers safe for all types of pillow materials?
    Fabric refreshers are generally safe for most fabrics, but checking the product label for specific instructions or warnings is recommended. If unsure, test the refresher on a small, inconspicuous area of the pillow first.
  5. What are pillow protectors and how do they help in deodorizing pillows?
    Pillow protectors are covers made from tightly woven fabric with a zipper for easy use, designed to protect pillows from dust, sweat, and odors. They prevent odors from seeping into the pillow and are easily removable and washable, making them a practical solution for maintaining fresh-smelling pillows.