VANCOUVER -- When was the last time you took a good look at your pillow? Peek under the pillow case and chances are it looks a little dingy, smells a little funky, and needs a little TLC. From memory foam to feather and down, there are some things you can do to keep your pillows looking and smelling great.

Think about all the important work your bedroom pillows do every night. They prop you up and offer head and neck support, so Consumer Reports’ Haniya Rae suggests showing them a little love too.

“Pillows can harbour a lot of gross and icky things,” she says. “Over time a lot of gross stuff builds up. We’re talking about sweat, body oil, dirt, saliva. Even dust mites and mold.”

But there’s an easy fix to keep them fresh. Start by fluffing your pillows every day to get rid of dust and restore their shape. Every month, hang your pillows outdoors for a few hours. If you can’t do that, run them through the dryer on the no-heat cycle. Many pillows are washable, but first, take a careful look at the label.

“The agitators in traditional top loader machines can be a little bit rough on pillows,” Rae says. “Front-loading machines are a bit gentler. So you just want to leave it in there on the gentle cycle for just a few minutes or the shortest setting possible.”

If your washing machine is large enough, wash two pillows at a time. That will help balance the load, allowing the water and detergent to circulate more effectively.

And no matter which type of pillow you prefer, a pillow cover is a good idea. Wash that cover once a week, along with your pillowcases and sheets.

With files from Consumer Reports