If your pillow can be washed, it should be washed at least twice a year. If you eat in bed, have pets, or sweat a lot, you should wash your pillows quarterly. Special pillows, such as body pillows or cushions, should be cleaned every 3 to 6 months. This depends on how, where, and how often they are used.
This is where things can get a little dangerous. Lazor says that different pillows require different washing techniques, so it's best to check the care label. Machine washing is best for some, while others (like Best Down Pillow, The Company Store's best seller) require dry cleaning. Consumer Reports recommends letting pillows ventilate every one to two months between washes.
This involves giving them a good fluff and hanging out outside in the sun on a clothesline. Alternatively, you can put them in the dryer on a non-heat cycle so that they get their best lint back. This process doesn't work for all types of pillows (again, check the care label), but it should work for most. Cleaning coach Leslie Reichert recommends cleaning pillows every three months.
While Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, suggests washing pillows at least twice a year, she says it's probably a good idea to clean them quarterly if you use the same pillows every night. An inexpensive, well-performing handheld vacuum is useful for cleaning all kinds of dirt, but it also works well for vacuuming pillows and cleaning some of the dust and dirt off the pillows.