How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows? - And How Can You Tell Its Time for Kicking Out the Old Ones?

An average person spends about 26 years of his/her life sleeping and seven years trying to fall asleep. Given how much time we give into our beddings, a fully optimized bedroom environment becomes necessary.

Pillows are an integral component of your bedroom; not only do they keep your spine in a neutral position, but they also keep your neck in line with the rest of your body. This facilitates good posture. Due to frequent usage, items such as fungus, dust mites, dead skin cells, etcetera often seep their way into the surface of our pillows. This is detrimental to our general hygiene. This article will tell you more about the connection between pillows & sleep quality and also guide you on replacing your pillows. Let us dig in!

Changing your pillow for a good night's sleep

Changing your pillow for a good night's sleep, bed with several pillows arranged on top

As hectic as replacing pillows may seem, it can relieve you of problems such as skin breakouts, sore muscles, allergic reactions, etc. Pillows also alleviate neck pain by supporting it and decreasing muscle tension when you sleep.

Promotes hygiene

A person sheds enough skin every day that it can feed a million dust mites. Dust mites can cause various allergies and even asthma in some cases. Your body dissipates various waste products such as body oil, dead skin cells, hair, saliva, sweat, etc. Even a pillow cover cannot shield your face from all this dirt after a point of time. Washing your pillows frequently may help you get rid of the foul odor, but it, not the allergens contained in the fabric strands. Other chronic illnesses such as back pain and headache can also be prevented by replacing a flat pillow.

Reduces allergies

Your pillow can manifest up to sixteen different types of fungi. The dust mites present in it also pose a significant threat. Itchy throat, watery eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion are some allergies caused by dust mites.

Prevents pain

A worn-out and flat pillow will not be able to provide the same support to your neck as a new pillow does. They keep our spine in a neutral position and prevent neck pain.

a new pillow gives support and avoids neck pain, woman sitting on bed having neck pain

Signs that you need to replace pillows

  • You feel neck pain when you wake up
  • Lumps in pillow
  • Pillow feels flat
  • Cramped up shoulder muscles in the morning
  • Headaches
  • Persistent stains on your pillow despite washing
  • Pillow can easily be folded in half

Pillow's lifespan and changing frequency

Many sleep specialists say that a pillow Should be changed once every eighteen months. But it also comes to the quality of your pillow. A better fabric will last longer without showing the signs listed above. Also, keep in mind that you should wash your pillowcases every time you wash your sheets in a washing machine to maintain that extra layer of protection. Here are some pillow varieties and their life and spans :

  • Latex pillows 3-4 years
  • Buckwheat 3 years
  • Feather pillows 18-36 months
  • Memory foam pillows 18-36 months
  • Down 2+ years
  • Synthetic down/down alternative 18-24 months
  • Polyester 6-24 months

Types of pillow stuffing

Memory foam pillows

Memory foam is manufactured from polyurethane which is also used to make sofas and mattresses. These pillows give you the best sleeping position and can alter their shape under pressure. After you lift your head, they return to their original shape without any soft side formation. They support the natural curve in your cervical spine.

Washing machine cleaning is not recommended for this pillow. You can spot clean them using a mild detergent every 2-3 months. They should be replaced every 2-3 years.

Polyfoam pillows

These shredded foam pillows can mold themselves as per the shape of your head to provide good flexibility and excellent sleep position. You can even reshape them to your liking. Even though they are made of the same material as memory foam pillows, they are usually more springy than them.

Air dry them after spot washing every three months. They can last up to three years before needing to be replaced.

Feather pillows

They contain wings from the back of a goose or duck. Due to their composition, they will give you a soft feeling. One downside is that they contain quills that can come out of these pillows occasionally. They should be machine washed every 3-5 months and then air-dried for half an hour. Feather pillows are incredibly soft and always spring back when you fold them in half. Once they stop doing so, you know it's time to replace them.

Polyester pillows

They are pretty inexpensive and are available in various levels of firmness. One downside is that these pillows may sometimes feel lumpy. They can be washed on a gentle cycle in a washing machine and last up to two years.

Latex pillows

These naturally derived pillows contain hypoallergenic properties, which help them stay allergen-free and maintain an ideal sleeping temperature. They provide the best cushioning among all the pillows available in the market. You should avoid washing them in a machine. They last up to four years and can be cleaned via beating and drying.

Buckwheat pillows

Buckwheat pillow, buckwheat stuffing of a pillow

This pillow encases buckwheat seeds and originated in Japan. They have a minimalistic design and provide great muscular support, keeping you at bay from having cramped shoulders. They do not do well with water and should always be used with a water repellent case. They last up to three years.

Bamboo Pillows

These pillows are highly breathable and come with a bamboo fragrance which makes people feel calm. Machine washing can ruin its internal foam. They last up to two years on regular usage.

Maintaining your pillows


Before washing, one should check the label on the pillow for instructions that vary from fabric to fabric. Common ways of washing are dry wash and running them through your machine under a gentle cycle. Washing your pillows with hot water can cause the dust particles to fluff out and fall quickly. Most people wash their pillows at least twice a year. Be sure to use a mild detergent and run two cycles: one without detergent and one with it.


Putting them out on a clothesline to air dry or tumble drying them under low heat is yet another option to keep your pillow clean. Ensure to remove all the moisture and wetness before usage as it may lead to fungal formations on the surface.

Using pillowcases

Using pillowcases puts an extra layer in between your skin and the pillow's surface. They also help enhance the look of your house. Some covers are also made up of waterproof materials for giving extra protection to the stuffing.

Things you can do with an old pillow

Instead of throwing out your old pillows, you can also donate them to non-profit organizations and shelters and be a part of a good cause. Other than that, they can be reused in your household in the following manners as well :

Floor cushions

You can sew decorative covers onto your pillow and use them as floor cushions. This opens endless possibilities in regard to home decor and can also help style your home. These cushions can also serve as great props for games during family get-togethers.

Pet beds

Your four-legged fluff balls will love jumping on these pillows and be able to get a night of better sleep as compared to sleeping on a flat surface.

Using them as moving materials

They can also be used to cushion breakables when moving from one house to another or storing items in your storeroom.

Frequently asked questions

Which pillow is best for you?

Choosing your best pillow comes down to your personal needs and budget. Whatever you do, you shouldn't compromise with quality on pillows to save money, as treating the side effects will probably cost you more. Your sleeping position (back, stomach or side) is also a factor that should be weighed in.

How to hand wash a pillow?

Applying some soap in the dirty areas and then spot cleaning by rubbing gently will do the job. Check the label before using any product or exposing your pillow to water.

How to remove dust mites from a pillow?

Keep your pillow in hot water ( above 130F) for 15 minutes. This should help you get rid of all the microorganisms.

How can I fluff my pillow?

Air drying them under the sun will cause all the moisture to seep out and give your pillow its fluffiness back. If there is some lump formation inside, you can hold your pillow from both ends and shake it gently to distribute the stuffing evenly.