Stacked pillows(Photo:  Philip Friedman\Studio D)

DOWN AND FIBERFILL PILLOWS are a cinch to care for as most are machine washable. For best results, we recommend washing two pillows at a time (to help keep the washer balanced) and using a front or top-loading machine without an agitator. If an agitator-style top loader is your only option, place the pillows in the tub vertically, so it's less likely they'll get wrapped around and damaged by the agitator. If your pillow has a care label, it's best to follow it. If not, use warm water and select the gentle cycle. We also think it's a good idea to add on an extra cold-water rinse and spin. Tumble dry the pillows on low heat, fluffing and turning them often. In our Home Appliances and Textiles Labs, we toss in a few rubber dryer balls, like Nellie's, to help plump the filling and keep it from clumping as it dries.

FOAM PILLOWS can't be machine washed, but if there's a removable cover it's safe to launder it according to the care instructions on the tag. To remove dust from a foam pillow, vacuum both sides with your vacuum's upholstery tool. If possible, dial down the suction level to make the job a bit easier to do. Or, tumble the pillow in the dryer on the no heat or air-only cycle for 20 minutes. Spot-clean any soiled areas with a cloth dipped in a mild sudsy solution. Rinse with a damp cloth. Allow the pillow to air dry completely before putting it back on the bed. Some foam pillows include instructions for hand washing. If you choose to follow them, be very gentle. Wet foam is heavy and tears easily. To help pillows stay cleaner longer, use liners under pillowcases and wash them monthly.