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How to get rid of bad odor on feather pillows

Updated April 17, 2017

The delicate stuffing of feather pillows makes machine washing impossible without damaging your pillows and spot cleaning does little to remove strong odours, especially when dealing with stubborn or old smells. Spray fabric refreshers cannot remove persistent odours, only mask them for a short period of time. Fortunately, there is a simple and effective way to remove set-in smells without damaging the stuffing. This eco-friendly option harnesses the power of the sun, along with a few basic household items, to permanently remove unpleasant odours from your pillows.

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  1. Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves and the contents of one green tea bag in a small saucepan. Turn on medium to low heat and bring to a gentle simmer.

  2. Crush the basil and tea leaves as they simmer using the blunt end of a wooden spoon. This helps release the aroma of the leaves and speeds up the cooking process.

  3. Remove the mixture from heat when the water begins to take on a dark green hue. Let it sit for several minutes until the liquid is warm to the touch and strain with a cheesecloth or sieve to remove any solid chunks.

  4. Pour your mixture into a small, clean spray bottle using a funnel. Add 1/3 cup plain white vinegar to the solution and replace the top on your spray bottle. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.

  5. Spray both sides of your pillow with the vinegar and water combination until the entire pillow is slightly damp to the touch. Hang your pillow outside in direct sunlight. If you are unable to hang your pillow, place it on a cooling rack and flip it over several times during drying.

  6. Let it sit for several hours until your pillow is dry and warm to the touch. You may wish to leave your pillow outdoors for a few hours after drying to help get rid of the lingering vinegar scent.

  7. Tip

    For persistent odours, try adding 1 tsp of freshly ground fennel seeds or rosemary to the mixture and simmer for an additional five minutes. A drop or two of mint oil added to the finished product will have the same effect.


    Your pillow may smell lightly of vinegar for a day or two after cleaning. This will fade naturally and can be masked with a light spritz of your favourite fabric freshener. Be sure to strain your mixture well before adding to a spray bottle, as large chunks of herb can clog up the nozzle.

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Things You'll Need

  • Saucepan
  • Lemon juice
  • Basil leaves
  • Tea
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sieve or cheesecloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Funnel
  • Vinegar

About the Author

Danielle Hansen

Danielle Hansen began writing professionally in 2006. Her work can be found on various websites, specializing in home improvement, gardening, food and craft articles. Hansen is currently studying business administration at Globe University.

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