There’s nothing worse than laying your head on your camp pillow and realizing that you didn’t properly clean it the last time that you went camping. Properly caring for your camping pillow will eliminate odors, stains, and prolong the life of your camping pillow!
So how do you clean a camping pillow?
The easiest way to wash your camping pillow is to throw it in the washer and wash on warm. If your camping pillow is a feather pillow you will want to hand wash it with warm water and soap. Just fill a tub with water, put your pillow in the water and gently rub with soap. The final step is to let the pillow air dry and then fluff once completely dry.
Different Methods for Cleaning
There are several methods for cleaning your camping pillow, and it’s all up to you and your preferences as to which method you choose. Some of these methods are easier, while others are better for getting tough stains and odors out of the pillow.
While these are the most common methods, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some camping pillows cannot be machine washed, and some perform better if they are machine washed. All camping pillows are different and will come with recommended cleaning instructions!
- Machine Washing
Machine washing is the easiest way to clean your camping pillow. Always check the directions on the tag, as this method can cause damage to some camping pillows.
The camping pillows that can be machine washed usually require a little preparation before throwing them in the washing machine. If your pillow is inflatable, you may be required to take the inflatable bladder out of the pillow before washing.
These bladders are often made of plastic or rubber, and the washing machine can cause future leaks. This is also true in a dryer. Many pillows are not intended to withstand the heat of a dryer, especially if they’re inflatable.
The inflatable bladder is usually removed by opening a Velcro pouch or zipper at the bottom of the pillow and pulling the inflatable portion of the pillow out. If you can’t figure out how to remove this part of the pillow, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or check the manufacturer’s website.
If you can’t find a way to remove the inflatable portion, hand wash your pillow. While many pillows have the removable feature, others don’t and must be hand washed to avoid damage to the inflatable components.
In addition to removing the inflatable bladder, some camp pillows, such as the Nemo Fillo, also feature a memory foam pad that adds comfort. If you machine wash this memory foam, it can cause issues with the foam holding its shape.
If your camping pillow is machine washable, be sure to follow the specific instructions on the tag. It is typical to wash your camp pillow in a front-loading washer, while the settings are set to cold/moderate wash.
When drying your pillow, you may use the dryer (for some pillows) on a low tumble setting. If you run the dryer on high, it could cause damage to the pillow. If you’re in doubt of whether you can or cannot use a dryer, always hang your pillow to dry just to be on the safe side. It may take a little longer to air dry, but better to be safe than sorry.
- Hand wash and dry
Hand washing is one of the most common methods for washing your camping pillow. There are several ways to hand wash, like submerging the pillow in soapy water and using a wet sponge to spot clean the pillow.
One reason that hand washing is so common is because it’s safe. If there are no instructions on the tag for cleaning, hand washing is always the most reliable option.
If you have deep stains in the pillow, you can use a mild non-abrasive brush to scrub the stain out. You can use a non-harsh laundry stain remover for this, but no harsh chemicals. Once you scrub the stains out, merely submerge the pillow in water and rinse until all of the soap is gone.
To dry your pillow, hang it on a clothesline, over your shower, or somewhere similar that has good airflow. Try and avoid direct sunlight for too long, as the rays of the sun can fade the colors of your pillow.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning a Camping Pillow
When cleaning your camping pillow, there are several things that you want to avoid, as they can damage your pillow.
- Trying new things. While being daring and trying new things is often good, it’s not a good thing when it comes to cleaning your camp pillow. Always stick with the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. If you avoid these guidelines, you could shorten the lifespan of the pillow, or even render it unusable on the first try.
- Using harsh cleaners or chemicals. As there are many types of camping pillows, and even travel pillows, there are many cleaning chemicals that can ruin your camping pillow. Many camping pillows are soft on top just like a normal pillow would be. These types of pillows can be cleaned with a mile stain remover or laundry detergent if needed. Any chemicals harsher than that can eat away at the fabric, which will rapidly destroy your pillow.
- Never scrub your pillow too hard. Using an abrasive sponge, a bristle brush, or merely scrubbing too hard can cause long term damage to your camping pillow, especially if it’s inflatable. Always use a non-abrasive sponge and scrub lightly if you’re fighting tough stains.
- Never wash the pillow in the washing machine with the inflatable bladder. This inflatable portion of the pillow is usually made of a plastic or rubber material that is not designed to handle the spin cycles of a washing machine or the heat of a dryer.
If the inflatable portion of the pillow needs to be washed, hand wash it only with mild detergent and a non-abrasive sponge. To dry this part of the pillow, you can either air dry it or even use a dry cloth, as it is typically not made from any type of fabric.
How to Store Your Camping Pillow Once it’s Clean
Storing your camping pillow properly is just as important as cleaning it properly. An improperly stored camping pillow can cause unwanted odors, deterioration of fabric, and loss of its shape.
Once you return from a camping trip, even if your camping pillow doesn’t need to be cleaned, always be sure to hang the pillow from a clothesline or somewhere with plenty of airflow. Although it may seem clean and dry, it’s still good to be sure that there’s no moisture on the pillow at all.
When you’re done cleaning and drying the pillow, store the pillow loosely. If you keep the pillow compressed, it can take the shape of the way that it was compressed. When this happens, the pillow will be uncomfortable to use.
If you know how to store your tent or sleeping bag properly, you’ll understand how to store your camping pillow. The main rule is to store it loosely. Hang it, unfold it, and unbag it. The same rule applies to your camping pillow.
Hang your camping pillow in your gear room, throw it in the pillowcase with your sleeping bag, or even partially inflate it and set it on a shelf! Properly storing your camping pillow will keep it comfortable for use, keep it clean, and extend its lifespan!
Keeping Your Camping Pillow Clean
Keeping your camping pillow clean is the easiest step in taking care of your camping pillow. The very simple following steps assure that you know how to keep your pillow clean and ready to hit the trail, whenever the outdoors call you!
- Always clean the pillow properly immediately when you return from a trip. If you leave the pillow in poor condition when you store it, it will be in the same, if not worse condition when you get it out for your next trip.
- If the pillow seems clean, be sure and let it air dry for twenty-four hours before storing, regardless. There can be just a little bit of moisture in the pillow that is unnoticed. If this moisture remains in the pillow, it can cause foul odors and stains.
- Whichever method you choose to clean your pillow, make sure it’s dry before storage. Even clean water fresh from the washing machine can cause a moldy pillow.
- If you’re camping pillow doesn’t include or have a built-in pillowcase, use a pillowcase every time you use the pillow. This method will often allow you only to have to wash the pillowcase. The more you wash the camping pillow, the shorter its lifespan becomes. On the other hand, if it gets dirty and is not cleaned correctly, that will also shorten its lifespan. By using a pillowcase, you’ve possibly eliminated having to wash the pillow or getting it dirty!
No matter what type of camping you’re doing, there’s always the possibility that you’ll need to wash your camping pillow. Always remember to take the proper steps to take care of your pillow before you use it. Cleaning the pillow, storage, and even keeping it clean are all significant factors that will determine the lifespan of your pillow, and it’s up to you to take action!