How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

When was the last time you replaced your pillows? If you can’t remember, it’s probably a good time to do it. A lot of people don’t think about it but they do have an expiration date. And if you continue using a pillow past its prime, it can impact the quality of provided neck support and the comfort of your sleep. So how often should you replace pillows?

There’s no exact science telling how often to replace them. However, as a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to do it at least once a year or two. But it also depends on the quality and material of the pillow. And like most other things in life, higher quality pillows will last longer, while cheaper materials will wear out faster.

How Often Should Your Replace a Pillow Depending on Its Type

how often should you replace pillows
  • Memory foam pillows with time tend to sag and lose their shape. That’s why they should be replaced once every 18-36 months.
  • Latex pillows are more durable with an average lifespan of about 3-4 years.
  • Feather and down pillows can also last longer but only if you regularly wash them and air them in the sun (every 6 months). This will keep the filling in good condition longer and then the pillow can last 5-7 years.
  • Buckwheat pillows can also last for many years. With proper care and if your regularly replace the hulls in the pillow, it can last up to 10 years.
  • Bamboo pillows should be changed once every 12-18 months.
  • Polyester pillows have the shortest lifespan of only 6-12 months.

Why Replace Your Pillows?

Keeping Away the Germs

why replace your pillows

While you sleep, your body sheds dead skin, hair and body oil. Add to that also sweating. And all this gets absorbed by your pillow. As a result, with time, it will cause your pillow to smell.

On top of that, pillows can be a breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria. They are not usually dangerous. They just feed on your dead skin that your body sheds. But it is unpleasant to think about the millions of tiny creatures that you can’t see, though you know that they’re constantly present in the pillow you lay your head on.

Moreover, dust mites can cause unpleasant reactions in people who are allergic to bugs. So, if you wake up with very strong symptoms every morning, it can be a sign that the problem is your pillow.

Better Sleep

how to prolong your pillows lifespan

The pillows are supposed to support our head and neck for proper spinal alignment. However, bearing the weight of your head will eventually wear the pillow out. It can flatten in spots and lose its original shape and with that also lose its ability to provide the necessary amount of support.

Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Pillow

The Pillow Doesn’t Pass the Fold Test

You can test your pillow to see if it’s lost its material quality. Just fold it in half and then let go. If it doesn’t bounce back into its original shape, it’s time to get a new pillow.

You Wake Up Sore

When a pillow is new, it provides the necessary padding to support your head and keep you comfortable all night. With time, that padding wears out and it doesn’t have the same level of support any more. As a result, in the mornings, you might feel neck and shoulder pain.

You Wake Up Feeling Tired

A worn out pillow can cause a less restful night, which happens due to the aches and pains caused by the lack of support.

You Wake Up With a Headache

An unsupportive pillow puts your body into a misaligned position and this can create tension in your upper body. Eventually, that tension can turn into a headache.

Pillow Is Out of Shape

All pillows eventually break down and lose their shape. They can start to fall apart, fray at the edges and lose their filling. Some materials can also get lumpy.

You Wake Up With Allergy Symptoms

If you wake up sneezing and have noticeable allergy symptoms, consider getting a new pillow.

Permanent Odor or Stains

A dirty and smelly pillow is just not very hygienic. So if you notice a permanent odor or stains that are not washing off, it might be a good time to find a replacement for your old pillow.

You’ve Changed Sleeping Positions

This reason to get a new pillow is not because of the old age of your previous pillow. If you switched to a new sleeping position, you might just need a different type of pillow. It can be a pillow of a different height or of a different firmness.

How To Prolong Your Pillows’ Lifespan?

Regularly Wash Your Pillow

reasons to replace your pillow

To prolong the lifespan of your pillow, it’s important to regularly wash it. This will help to get rid of any odor, stains, dust mites and dead skin cells.

Keep in mind that not all pillows are washable. Some require dry cleaning or spot cleaning. So, check the label on your pillow. If the pillow is washable, wash it every 6 months. On the label, you can also find the instructions on how to wash it. Typically, pillows are washed with mild liquid detergent and warm water. However, your pillow might be different.

You can air dry the pillow or do it on the low-heat setting. Make sure to fully dry the pillow. A damp pillow can result in mold growth.

Use Pillow Covers

signs that it's time for a new pillow

If you use a pillow cover, it will protect your pillow’s material from absorbing your body oils, your sweat and your excess skin. On top of that, you can also use a pillow protector as an extra layer of protection from the dead skin cells, body oil and sweat. Using a pillow cover and a protective case can double the lifespan of your pillow.

Bottom Line

If you feel like your pillow is not that supportive or comfortable any more or if you wake up feeling sore and with allergy symptoms, it’s probably time for a pillow replacement. And if you decided to get a new pillow but not sure how to choose the right one, we’ve prepared pillow reviews where you can find an in-depth buying guide.

If you want to also learn how often you should replace your mattress, check out our guide here.

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