How to wash down pillows

I'm in spring cleaning mode, and one of the things I'm doing as part of the process is laundering my down pillows. It's an easy enough ritual, and should be embarked upon annually to keep them fresh (though washing them any more than that can actually shorten their lifespan). You can do it right at home with your own washing machine, but it's a little bit more labor intensive than taking care of a regular load of clothes. Check out step-by-step instructions after the jump.

1. Inspect the fabric for any tears or rips-the last thing you want is a bunch of loose feathers clogging up your machine.
2. Treat any spots with your usual stain remover.
3. To keep things balanced, wash pillows two at a time. Use the delicate setting, with cold water and a small amount of mild detergent.
4. Give them a second rinse in the machine to make sure they're spic-and-span.
5. Gently wring out any excess water.
6. Put them in the dryer with a couple clean tennis balls (some people recommend using clean tennis shoes instead, though personally I'm wary of sneakers touching my pillows, even "clean" ones), which help them get nice and fluffy, and set the dryer on low heat.
7. Check on the pillows periodically and fluff them up with your hands, using your fingers to break up any clusters of feathers. Be prepared to wait-they can take a couple hours to dry.