Can you wash memory foam? 3 expert rules on cleaning mattresses, pillows, and more

 Mattress on neutral bed frame with bedside tables and pillows
Mattress on neutral bed frame with bedside tables and pillows

Memory foam is loved for its sink-in properties that mold to your body as you sleep. Made from, mainly, polyurethane, often referred to as 'viscoelastic', it's soft, dense, and comfortable to lay on. But its high viscosity also means memory foam is super absorbent – making it difficult to clean.

So can you wash memory foam? With a tendency to trap liquid, cleaning your memory foam mattress, topper or pillow isn't as simple as putting it in the machine with the rest of your laundry. Get it too wet, and you could ruin its cushioned composition. However, you can, and should, still spot-clean all of your foam bedding.

To make sure you don't damage your mattress in the process, we've spoken to the experts for their advice on washing memory foam. Follow these three rules to have your bedding cleaned, dried, and back on your bed. Because no one should have to sleep without their favorite memory foam pillow.

Can you wash memory foam?

Coop home goods pillow open with memory foam
Coop home goods pillow open with memory foam

In general, washing a solid block of memory foam is not recommended. Jin Chon, the founder of memory-foam bedding brand, Coop, explains 'Memory foam is a high-density foam that can be sensitive to moisture, and washing it in a block form can create an environment for mold and mildew to grow.'

3 rules to follow when washing memory foam

Whether you're washing memory foam pillows, removing stains from your mattress topper, or doing your annual mattress clean, using the correct methods, products, and processes is key to keeping your bedding in its best condition.

1. Does your foam bedding come with a cover?

First, check to see if your memory foam mattress, bedding, or pillow has an outer shell. Chon says 'Most foam bedding products will come with a removable cover' that can be cleaned in the machine, the same way as washing your bed sheets.

2. Spot-clean only with natural detergent

When it comes to spot-cleaning, you should only use gentle, natural cleaning products, or at-home remedies, you can create using a few pantry staples, such as baking soda and vinegar.

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3. Avoid drying memory foam in the dryer

You shouldn't put memory foam in the dryer, as the motion can damage the material's construction. If you're washing 'smaller cross-cut foam, you can tumble dry on low (though this will take a very long time)' explains Chon. Instead, she recommends 'to gently press out the excess water and then let it air dry in a well-ventilated area.' You should also make sure your bedding is completely dry before using or storing it away.


Is memory foam ruined if it gets wet?

Short answer: yes. You should always avoid getting your mattress wet. Moisture in memory foam will weaken its viscosity. The adhesive holding the layers of foam together will break down, ruining its sink-in, cushioned quality. Excess water will also speed up the deterioration of memory foam. Trapped liquids will also lead to mold and mildew build-up.

Of course, the occasional spill can't be helped, but it is important to treat any liquid spills as quickly as possible with a clean dry cloth and a swift blotting motion.

How long does memory foam take to dry?

Memory foam dries slowly. Depending on its density and how wet your memory foam gets, it can take quite a while to dry – up to a few days in fact. It's best to avoid getting your memory foam mattress, pillow, or topper wet at all, and you should ensure your bedding is completely dry before putting it back on your bed or storing away.

With memory foam, the biggest challenge you'll face is cleaning it. Consider adding 'washing your memory foam bedding' to your seasonal cleaning checklist. Not only will your mattress, pillows, or topper last longer, but you'll ensure a healthy (and comfortable) night's sleep.