The viral pillow cleaning hack that has left experts puzzled

Bed experts have been left dazed and confused after seeing this new viral TikTok cleaning hack with a twist...

Picture of pillows on a bed to support the Tiktok viral pillow cleaning hack experts are puzzled by
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We rarely find ourselves shocked anymore when another crazy but creative TikTok cleaning hack goes viral. And yet, after finding one woman's take on a popular cleaning trend you can definitely consider us surprised and somewhat baffled. 

If you're familiar with the #CleanTok side of TikTok you may have already come across the trend of soaking pillows in bathtubs filled with chemical concoctions. Also known as ‘stripping’, this pillow cleaning technique involves submerging pillows into hot water that’s been mixed with household ingredients such as white vinegar, detergent and baking soda. 

Aside from cleaning with vinegar and other usual cleaning suspects, one user has added a rather unconventional ingredient to her pillow-cleaning bath solution. Her TikTok video, which has garnered a staggering 8.6 million views, has been met with a noticeable amount of backlash for more reasons than one. But it’s her addition of sliced citrus fruit that has left bed experts utterly confused.

Person slicing a lemon to try the TikTok viral pillow cleaning hack experts are puzzled by

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the video, Janelle, one-half of the food and home influencer duo @JanelleandKate, starts by removing the cover of her daughter's pillow. She proceeds to submerge the pillow in what she describes as “the hottest water” and then pours over large amounts of baking soda, clear detergent, stain-removing powder and finishes with lemon slices. 

Janelle leaves the pillows in the solution for a few hours before returning to the yellowed water. She then instructs users to put the pillow in the tumble dryer with clean tennis balls so it's fluffed back to its original shape.   

The yellow water that she claims is the dirt and “toxins” from the pillow is more likely a result of the lemons she’s left to soak in the tub for hours. 

Thousands of users have expressed their confusion and annoyance at the unconvincing cleaning hack, with one person commenting, “All that yellow came from the fruit you put in it.” 


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Nevertheless, bed experts from Bensons for Beds have caught wind of the hack and have quickly debunked it as both ineffective and even potentially damaging. “We’d always exercise caution when it comes to any excessive cleaning routines that use unnecessary ingredients in the process," warns Rachel Marshall, brand manager at Bensons for Beds.

Instead of giving your pillows a chemical bath, the bed experts suggest cleaning your pillow by following what the provided instructions tell you to do. “A pillow should last up to two years as long as they are well taken care of. This means taking note of the manufacturer's instructions when cleaning and being wary of any overly complicated methods which might actually damage the fibres.” Rachel explains. 

It's important to remember there are different types of pillows, that all require a different approach when it comes to cleaning.

Most pillows are made of synthetic or down materials and can be washed on a cool, gentle cycle in the washing machine. If the label says the pillow is dryer-safe then Janelle's trick with the tennis balls is legitimately helpful. For other pillows, such as memory foam and latex, Rachel suggests spot cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent. 

Whilst unusual hacks such as these mean well, it's always best to follow what the actual experts are recommending. Rachel adds, "If in doubt, always check the label or refer to trusted bed experts for advice on maintenance and cleaning. And yes - stay clear of adding any fruits to your bed cleaning routine.

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.