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Washing latex pillows 14 Jul 2013 08:31 #1

We have 10 year old Talalay latex pillows that we purchased directly from LI. They have held up well, but even though we have always kept pillow protectors on them they have slightly yellowed in the middle where your head rests. We have replaced the pillow protectors ~5 times but I think some moisture and body oils are getting through them.

Phoenix, I read your post on how to clean latex and this seems to be the consensus on other sites on how to wash latex pillows. I would use isopropyl alcohol sparingly or not at all. It can cause latex rubber to become hard and brittle.

The instructions for washing Talalay latex pillows on the Dunlopillo website is a bit different in the first step. "Hand wash gently in warm water (max 40 degrees) using mild detergent" I'm not sure if this means to totally immerse the pillow. A few years ago I read a post on the other mattress forum that they had washed their latex pillows in the bath tub using this method. They did not say how long it took to dry them.

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Last edit: by BobP.

Washing latex pillows 14 Jul 2013 17:12 #2

Hi BobP,

They have held up well, but even though we have always kept pillow protectors on them they have slightly yellowed in the middle where your head rests. We have replaced the pillow protectors ~5 times but I think some moisture and body oils are getting through them.


This could also be just from the oxidation that goes with aging and yellows or darkens the latex.

Phoenix, I read your post on how to clean latex and this seems to be the consensus on other sites on how to wash latex pillows. I would use isopropyl alcohol sparingly or not at all. It can cause latex rubber to become hard and brittle


There is an interesting site here which rates all the different substances that can degrade rubber and according to them the resistance of natural rubber to isopropyl alcohol is actually better (A- excellent) than to detergents (B- good). I would tend to use both (or any substance) sparingly as a spot cleaner though just to be on the safe side.

There are also some places on the internet that indicate that salt water (such as perspiration) can break down latex prematurely but this doesn't appear to be true and body oils would seem to have a greater effect (some fatty acids or oily substances are harmful to latex).

It was also interesting to see the effect of some fruit juices which are severe.

I can't validate from experience the correctness of every substance on the list but it appears that they have put some real thought and care into compiling it and the substances I've been able to confirm with other sources in my research seem to be correct.

The instructions for washing Talalay latex pillows on the Dunlopillo website is a bit different in the first step. "Hand wash gently in warm water (max 40 degrees) using mild detergent" I'm not sure if this means to totally immerse the pillow. A few years ago I read a post on the other mattress forum that they had washed their latex pillows in the bath tub using this method. They did not say how long it took to dry them.


The main difference is in the temperature of the water and they are probably a better authority than I am. Latex continues to cure over its lifetime so the rational for cold water was to prevent any chance of affecting the latex with a higher temperature although I'm sure that warm water (as opposed to hot) would be fine as well. I think they mean immersion yes and a bathtub would work fine (although it may not be as easy for a latex topper which wouldn't fit as well). Once you have washed it then you can squeeze the water out carefully and then use absorbent towels to squeeze out and absorb as much of the residual water as possible before letting them air out and dry. They also suggest not to do this too frequently perhaps because there could be some damage if it was exposed to detergents too often.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Washing latex pillows 14 Jul 2013 19:00 #3

Phoenix,
Good find on the what's compatible with natural latex tubing website. It's very comprehensive.

This was my go to site when I was still a chemist for checking chemical compatibility, Cole-Palmer Chemical Compatibility Database If you cross reference Natural rubber with Alcohols: Isopropyl it gets an A-Excellent rating.

I did find a 70% isopropyl alcohol MSDS that states in section 8 for Gloves: Latex rubber for limited contact. Butyl rubber or nitrile recommended for prolonged contact.

You can buy 91% and 70% isopropanol in Walmart. To be on the safe side I would use the 70% version and sparingly.

It's probably the acid in the fruit juices that makes them incompatible with natural latex rubber.

I might try the immersion method in my bathtub on 1 of the latex pillows with a small amount of dish detergent, i.e., Dawn.

Adding bleach is not a good idea, as this woman found out.

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Last edit: by BobP.

Washing latex pillows 14 Jul 2013 21:50 #4

Hi BobP,

This was my go to site when I was still a chemist for checking chemical compatibility, Cole-Palmer Chemical Compatibility Database If you cross reference Natural rubber with Alcohols: Isopropyl it gets an A-Excellent rating.


What a great reference source!

Thanks for sharing the link :)

Phoenix
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