Down pillows are typically made with the feathers of geese, which can sometimes have an unpleasant odour. Down pillows may have a slight bird smell when purchased, but strong odour is often the result of improper cleaning methods. If down is washed or dried at high temperatures, or if it remains wet for too long, the smell may get stronger. One or two proper cleaning cycles should take care of any bad odours in a down pillow.
Wash the pillow with a mild washing powder in a front-loading washer. Set the washer to its most gentle setting, and use cold water. Washers with vertical barrels may be too rough for down pillows and tear them.
Put the pillow through two additional rinse cycles to ensure all the detergent is removed. Use cold water with a gentle setting.
After it is washed, put the pillow in the dryer. Put two clean tennis balls in the dryer with the pillow. If you're not sure the tennis balls are clean, put them inside clean socks.
Dry the pillow on low heat. As the pillow tumbles, the tennis balls will break up any clumps inside the pillow.
Remove the pillow from the dryer every 20 minutes to fluff it. The pillow should be dry after three hours. You can tell the pillow is dry when there are no clumps of feathers inside.
Repeat the process if the smell doesn't go away after the first wash.
If you're washing the pillow on a sunny, warm day, you may let it air-dry outdoors.