Here's How Often You Should Be Washing Your Pillows (And How to Do It)

There are numerous things lying around your home that are probably in need of a good wash. While most of us are good about washing our clothes and dishes on a semi-regular basis, many people forget to clean less obvious everyday items like makeup brushes, gloves, and fan vents as often as they should. Another item to add to your cleaning calendar? Pillows.

According to Apartment Therapy, you should throw your pillows in the washing machine twice a year, or more often if you live in a warm, humid climate. Doing so will not only cut down on the off-putting smells that result from months of nighttime drooling, but it will kill any dust mites that have gathered in there. (Dust mites thrive in tropical areas, which is why someone in Florida should wash their pillows once every few months or once per season, whereas someone in New Mexico doesn’t have to worry about doing it as often.)

Before you get out the laundry soap, make sure your pillows are worth washing. Goose down and feather pillows can last many years, but synthetic fibers don’t last as long. If the synthetic fibers in your pillow are clumping or have flattened out, that’s a good sign that it’s time to upgrade to a new pillow. To test your pillow’s viability, whether it’s down or synthetic, you should place it on a hard surface, fold it in half, and squish out the air. If it bounces back, it’s still got some life left, while a pillow that stays folded has reached the end of its life. (For more detailed instructions, the Pacific Coast Feather Company has a good primer.)

Now, you’re ready to wash. The best way to wash pillows is in a front-loading machine, because pillows can float to the top of a top-loading washer, where they don’t always get uniformly wet, Martha Stewart Living warns. You’ll want to check your pillow’s tag for the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure your pillow isn’t dry-clean only. If you cut off the tags long ago, don’t worry too much: As a rule of thumb, Good Housekeeping recommends washing in warm water on the gentle cycle with mild liquid detergent, then putting it through an extra rinse and spin cycle on cold to get out any remaining detergent. For feather pillows, though, you actually want to use powder detergent specifically designed for down because liquid soap can leave sticky residue.

To keep your synthetic pillows from getting mangled and clumped, Apartment Therapy recommends rolling them up like long sausages and securing the ends and middle with rubber bands. This will keep the material inside from sliding around too much. Try to wash two pillows at a time so that the washing machine stays balanced.

When it comes to drying pillows, the best method involves getting a little sporty: Unroll the pillow from its rubber bands and throw it in the dryer on moderate heat with tennis balls, which will help cut down on those clumps. If you add in a few dry towels, too, it will speed up the drying process. The automatic sensor on your dryer likely won't be able to tell that your pillows are still damp inside (since it measures exterior surface temperature) so you'll have to monitor the timing yourself.

If you use a memory foam pillow, however, you’re both lucky and unlucky. According to Consumer Reports, these can’t be washed or even steamed, and if you try to dry them, they’ll probably melt. On the one hand, you don’t have to wash your pillow. On the other hand, you can’t wash your pillow, so you should probably use a pillow cover to protect against your old sweat, oils, and grime.

[h/t Apartment Therapy]

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]