The pillows on your sofa see a lot of action. Here are some ways to keep them fresh.

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Throw pillows add a little extra support to your sofa and up its wow factor. They're an essential part of this piece of furniture, which means they experience regular wear and tear and are likely in need of a good cleaning. And since pet dander, stains, and even dust mites can build up on and inside the pillows you keep on your couch, regular maintenance is key. Ahead, an expert shares how and when to wash these pieces.

Start with the right pillows.

According to Kadi Dulude, the owner of Wizard of Homes, the best way to keep your sofa's throw pillows clean is selecting the correct iterations in the first place; these poufs should be able to withstand your lifestyle. "If you have a busy home with pets and kids, it's not wise to choose pillows that are high maintenance," she says. That means nixing any dry-clean-only fabrics, she adds.

Stay on top of maintenance.

Regular spot cleaning will keep your pillows looking fresher for longer and allow you to extend the period in between full-blown washes, which is why Dulude recommends treating any stains as soon as you find them. As for when to tackle that deep clean? Time washes with seasonal changes, roughly every three months. "Spot clean first, then wash according to instructions," she adds.

No instructions? Use your best judgement.

If you have had your pillows for a while, or if you were quick to snip off those bothersome tags when you added these supports to your sofa, you might not know exactly how to launder them. Don't fret, says Dulude. Simply use your best judgement, instead. "Try your best to identify the pillow's fabric type and wash it like you normally would," she says. "If you're not entirely sure, then just clean one pillow first—not all at once." To be extra safe, she suggests using cold water and switching on the delicate cycle, as well. And if you simply don't want to tackle this process yourself? "Another idea is to search for an upholstery cleaner and get the couch and pillows shampooed by a professional," she says.

Spray them down weekly.

Another way to keep your non-dry-clean-only pillows looking their best? Get into a weekly habit of spraying them down with vinegar and tossing them into your dryer, notes Dulude: "This helps keep them smelling fresh and removes all sorts of dust mites and allergens."

Know when it's time to replace these pillows.

Even with proper upkeep, your throw pillows won't last forever. "If there are rips and the seams are falling apart, then it's likely time to get a fresh piece—unless you know a great seamstress who can fix it for you," Dulude concludes.

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