How Often Should I Wash My Pillow? And When to Replace It?

Washing your bedding is a process we all have to go through routinely and, although it is a hassle, doing it gives an ultimate sense of relaxation.

Many people make an event out of it as well, washing their bodies, putting on new pajamas, and then crawling into freshly washed bedding can truly feel like you've been blessed by the gods.

While we always wash the top part of a bed, we tend to forget about the other parts of the bed.

For some, this means forgetting to do the mattress protector every once in a while.

For others, this means neglecting almost everything on your bed bar the sheets and covers, including the pillow.

Yes, for all those people who have just moved out of home, your pillow needs washing as well.

Don't worry, we all had to learn this far too late as well.

This brings up an interesting question, though, as clearly we don't need to wash our pillows every day.

So, how often should we wash our pillows? That is the very question we seek to answer in this article.

Why Do You Need To Wash Your Pillows?

Why do you need to wash your pillow, washing machine with detergent and laundry basket for washing pillows

You may be wondering why you need to wash your pillow at all.

You may think that if you wash them regularly, they will smell bad or mildew will start growing on them.

Well, I am here to tell you that this isn't true.

In fact, there are many benefits to washing your pillows, and not just because it makes them smell better.

Here's what you get when you wash your pillows:

A Fresher Scent

When you first buy a set of fresh linens, whether it's your bedding, bath towels, or any other type of bedding, you want to give off a nice scent.

But sometimes, the scent fades over time. This is where washing your pillows comes in handy.

It will help bring back that initial aroma within days, if not hours.

They can absorb more of that clean, fresh smelling aroma from the wash, due to their higher density compared to sheets.

Cleaner Pillows

You may be thinking this has nothing to do with cleaning your pillows, but let me tell you something, one of the worst smells that lingers around a house is the smell of dust.

Dust doesn't only stick to furniture and walls but also gets stuck to objects such as clothing, books, shoes, etc.

If you are allergic to dust, this is likely what makes you sneeze at night. The same goes for pillows.

Pillow dust can cause allergies and even asthma. Washing pillows regularly helps get rid of these allergens.

More Comfortable Pillows

More Comfortable Pillows

If your pillows aren't comfortable anymore, try buying a new pillow case or washing your pillow.

Cotton and polyester pillow cases absorb moisture from your skin, whereas silk pillow cases allow air to circulate freely.

Washing pillows can also bring back this level of comfort, as suddenly all the gunk and muck that has been absorbed into the pillow over time would be washed away, leaving the bouncy cotton remaining.

If you think that your pillows can't possibly absorb dirt in your bed, think again.

No matter how clean we are as human beings, we still produce oils from our skin, dead skin, and sweat, which is absorbed by the pillow.

No Wrinkles

Since we've already established that pillows shouldn't be washed daily, you probably know by now that wrinkles aren't good for anything.

And especially when you're sleeping on them. Even the best pillowcases tend to wrinkle overtime due to their shape.

To avoid this problem, make sure you only use clean pillowcases every once in a while and clean your pillows when necessary.

This will avoid the dreaded wrinkles and the imprints that appear on our faces due to them.

Also, it would be wise to rotate your pillowcases so that you don't wear out one side before replacing it.

Better Value

Washing your pillows isn't just about making them look nicer. It also saves money.

Remember that there are different types of pillowcases available in stores today.

There are thin cotton pillowcases that cost less than $10 while thick silk pillow cases can cost up to $100 per pillowcase.

All of these pillowcases can be ruined really quick by a dirty, messy pillow.

Now imagine paying hundreds of dollars each month for pillows that haven't been washed in months.

Think about all the money you could save if you were to invest in something else instead.

So, How Often Should I Wash My Pillow?

How often should I wash my pillow, laundry basket full with pillows and bed sheets ready to be washed

As mentioned earlier, washing your pillows is important because they can easily trap bacteria and germs.

These germs can then come out later and infect you through your nose, mouth, eyes, or ears.

In addition, your body produces oil from your skin and sweat, which can build up in your pillows and eventually stain them.

So, it wouldn't hurt to keep your pillows clean. However, that doesn't mean you need to wash your pillows every day.

In fact, there is quite a range of opinions about how often people should wash their pillows.

According to some, pillows only need to be washed once a year, yet to others it is every few weeks.

While these recommendations are the greatest extent of how long pillows should go unwashed, we would recommend a more moderate approach.

Washing your pillows should be done between once every month to once every six months.

This is due to the seasonal weather changes.

In summer, pillows should be washed fairly frequently (once a month), due to the heat forcing your body to produce more oils and sweat, thus making your pillow dirtier.

However, in winter, when the weather is colder and your body is not producing as many byproducts, your pillow can wait a little while before being washed.

If you have a cheap cotton pillow, you should have no trouble throwing it in the wash with the rest of your clothes.

Yet, if you have a slightly more expensive pillow, you have to be wary.

Below, we have provided some tips to keep your expensive pillow clean without ruining it:

  1. Use mild soap. A mild soap won't leave too much residue on your pillow, but it's still effective at removing any kind of stains. Washing your pillows with dishwashing liquid might not do the job either. Using a mild soap with baking soda and vinegar is ideal.
  2. Wash your pillows using cold water. Cold water is great at cleaning fabrics without damaging them.
  3. Make sure your pillow covers are dry after you're done washing them. Moisture can cause mold growth and other nasty things.
  4. Also, make sure your pillow is completely dry for the same reason. Pillows are dense with fabric and dry slowly, sometimes having to dry overnight or over days. Place them in a clean, warm place and let them be until they are completely dry.
  5. Do NOT throw your used pillowcases in the trash. You may think this doesn't need to be said, but honestly, you'd be surprised. Sometimes, people think they need brand-new pillow cases to match their expensive pillows and to not spoil them after a wash. You don't. Just wash them and hand them up to dry.
  6. When you've finished washing your pillows, rinse them thoroughly under warm water. Let them air dry in a clean, warm place before putting them in your room.

When Should I Replace A Pillow?

You should replace your pillow regularly, woman shopping for pillows

In general, most people will tell you to replace your pillows every three years.

That's usually the recommended life span of a pillow.

This recommendation is based on the idea that you'll use one pillow per night for 10-15 years.

If so, it makes sense to buy two pillows during those years.

Over time, however, the average lifespan of your pillow decreases as you start sleeping in different positions.

For example, if you sleep on your side for an extended period of time, you are likely to develop what is known as “pillow sores”.

These sores form around the neck of your pillow and can become very painful.

The solution to this problem is simple – get a thicker pillow.

Yet, even if you sleep on your back, you'll eventually find yourself developing what are called “headaches” from sleeping on a thin pillow.

Your head gets heavy and aches because there isn't enough cushioning between your head and bed.

Again, the solution here is simple – get a thick pillow. So a pillow lasts for three years?

Well, yes and no, it kind of depends on a couple of things.

First, you must consider the type of material that is used to make the pillow.

Cotton pillows tend to last longer than synthetic ones. Second, you also need to take into account the thickness of your pillow.

A thicker pillow will last longer. But, again, it all comes down to personal preference.

Some prefer a soft, fluffy pillow, whereas others like a firmer, more supportive pillow.

Whatever you decide, remember once the pillow starts to become thin, and you can see the grooves of your body in it, it's time for a new pillow.


Pillows do need to be washed. Sorry, but it is the truth. How often you wash them is much more up for debate.

Between every month to every six months is the consensus, but if your pillow is starting to smell, maybe wash it that day for good measure.