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Can Memory Foam Pillows Grow Mold? And How to Avoid it!


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It starts as a foul smell then you notice the little black spots begin to grow, and within no time, your allergies are worse, or you have suddenly contracted allergies you had no idea existed.

Mold, a non-scientific term for fungi, usually manifests as black, green, brown, pink, fuzzy growth. Although countless fungi species are found indoors, the most common is black mold. Mold causes respiratory illnesses, headaches, and other physical symptoms. As dangerous as they are, can they grow on your memory foam pillow?

Can memory foam pillow grow? The simple answer is Yes. Mold thrives in wet, moist environments, so if your pillow is in such a state, it will get moldy.

Keep reading to learn some tips and trick to keep your pillows from molding and staying fresh!

How memory foam pillows get mold

1. Through washing

Unlike other types of pillows, memory foam pillows are generally resistant to dust mites and bacteria. Although they are hypoallergenic, they easily trap dead skin cells and sweat, which are also not safe for you when left for long. To keep you pillow clean and fresh, you need to wash it twice or thrice a year, and this is where mold gets a chance to grow and thrive.

Naturally, mold needs moisture, food, and optimum temperature to grow. When you wash your pillow, you get rid of dead skin and sweat, but when you fail to dry your pillow properly, you give mold the needed moisture, food, and temperature it needs.

That’s why you’ll notice the little black spots on your pillow a few days after washing it.

2. Through open windows and doorways

To keep your room fresh and clean, you need to open the windows to let in clean air. But, along with clean air comes mold and mildew, especially in rooms that don’t have enough ventilation and air condition systems.

Most of these rooms are usually full of moisture, are dump, and lack enough sunlight to keep the mold at bay. With such conditions, it’s only natural that mold will find its way to your pillow, mattress, and other things in the room.

3. Wet hair

We get it. Taking a shower before bedtime is the ultimate way to relax after a long day at work or school. Naturally, you may be tempted to ditch the hair drier and sleep with your wet hair.

Although it seems unharmful, the water on your hair slows accumulates and gives your pillow enough moisture and food to provide optimum conditions for mold to grow.

How to prevent mold from growing on your pillow

First, make sure you don’t store your pillow in a moist, damp environment. If your room doesn’t have enough natural light and windows to let in fresh air, invest in a ventilation system or an air conditioner. This will ensure the air in your room is cleaned.

Washing is the most common way your pillow will get a mold infestation. We don’t recommend using a lot of water to wash your pillow because it will damage the stuffing. Remove your pillow cover and clean it by tossing it into a washer and dryer. Next, sprinkle a little baking soda on one side of the pillow and make sure it’s adequately covered.

Leave it for about one hour and vacuum it using the upholstery brush on your vacuum. Air dry your pillow, preferably under direct sunlight, for a few hours. The hot sun kills microorganisms and leaves your pillow germ-free. Make sure your pillow is completely dry before you take it to the house.

If you prefer taking a bath before bed, ensure your hair is completely dry before you sleep. If it still has some water, place a towel on top of the pillow, so it absorbs the water instead of it sipping through your pillow.

What if your pillow has mold?

Preventing mold is usually the best option, but if your pillow is already infested, there are several things you can do.

1. Use sunlight

Sunrays naturally kill mildew and mold spores. In fact, if you don’t want to go through the hard process of cleaning your pillow, you can simply put it in the sun three to four times a year, and all germs will be killed.

To kill mold, take the affected pillow and put it under direct sunlight. Brush off the dried mold with a stiff brush. Repeat this until all mold is gone. Wash the pillow cover in warm water with vinegar or strong chemicals known to kill mold.

2. Use vinegar

Like the sun, vinegar also naturally kills mold and mildew. If the infestation is severe, use plain vinegar directly on the stain and sun-dry the pillow. If it’s not as severe, mix one-part vinegar and two-part water in a bowl and use a cloth to rub the mixture on your pillow. Add baking soda on the mixture to make a paste and tub it on the affected area.

Let it dry and scrub off the residue with a brush before vacuuming it with an upholstery brush and air dry the pillow. Vinegar has a strong smell, but it evaporates under the sun leaving your pillow smelling fresh.

3. Use borax

Borax, a laundry booster, kills is effective in killing mold and mildew. Take two cups of hot water and half a cup of borax and mix them in a bowl. Using a sponge, dampen, and saturate the mold stained area.

Let it sit for a few hours before you use clean water to remove the residue. Air-dry the pillow under direct sunlight for a few hours, or days, depending on how strong you feel the chemical smell is.

Safety precaution

Since mold is a health hazard, use best practices when handling it to prevent inhalation. First, ensure you have gloves for your hands, glasses for your eyes, and a KN95 mask for your face. Also, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to protect your skin. Once you are done, remove these clothes and leave them outside to prevent taking mold spores into the house and spreading them on other surfaces.

Pillows are vital in ensuring you get a good night’s sleep, but if you aren’t careful, they can also cause health complications, especially where mold, mildew, and dust mites are a concern. Preventing mold is the best option, so use the tips we’ve given to keep your pillow mold-free. 

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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