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How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows?

We get it – you love your pillow. You two have been through a lot together, but you can’t keep it forever. If you can’t remember the last time you changed out your pillows, you’re due for an upgrade. While some pillows are more durable than others, all pillows experience wear and tear. In general, your pillow will usually give you a few clues that your relationship is over.


5 Signs You Should Replace Your Pillow

  • It looks like it’s been in a bar fight – stained, dingy and generally beat-up, full of lumps and bumps.
  • It’s a pain in the neck – you wake up every morning with a stiff and aching neck.
  • It’s giving you a headache – you wake up with a throbbing skull every morning.
  • It just feels flat – you’re not getting appropriate support and might as well be sleeping flat on your mattress.
  • You wake up congested or sneezing throughout the night – you may be allergic to your pillow.

Saying goodbye to your favorite pillow or bed sheets can feel traumatic, but regularly replacing the pillow you’re sleeping on can greatly improve your sleep. To get the best night’s rest, you need a pillow that maintains its structural integrity. If your pillow is anything but foam, try folding it in half to see if it springs back to its original flat position. If it doesn’t, that’s a pretty good sign that your pillow should be on its way out.

Your pillow is important – don’t spend hours of effort picking out a fantastic mattress only to neglect your pillow. It needs to be replaced regularly or it could start interfering with your sleep. Unfortunately, most of us hang on to our pillows and bedding way longer than we reasonably should.

Why You Should Replace Your Pillows

Why can’t we leave you in peace and let you enjoy your favorite pillow, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s gross to sleep on the same pillow indefinitely. Do you know what’s in there? We’re guessing you don’t, because you might not lay your head on it, otherwise. After many nights of putting your head on your pillow, you leave behind some pretty grisly stuff – sweat, skin cells, oils, dust, dust mites, drool, makeup and other facial products, hair, all kinds of allergens, and more.

Your pillow soaks up all of it. Yes, you can toss your pillow in the washing machine with your sheets and linens, but you won’t be able to prevent some of the unwanted materials from sticking around. That explains the stains. Over time, you can develop skin irritations and allergies. Studies show that dirty pillows can even cause acne. So, regularly replacing your pillow can mean you’ll get a healthier night’s sleep every night, rather than breathing in dirt and germs.


woman blowing nose due to allergies

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, every one of us sheds enough skin every day to feed a million dust mites – so just think about that dead skin buffet going on inside your pillow. Gross! It’s possible that dust mites are the No. 1 trigger of year-round asthma and allergy problems. Even if you regularly wash your pillows, many allergens can still stick around.

Your pillow plays a key role – along with your mattress – in supporting your neck, head, and spine so that you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Our heads are actually heavy. Eventually, your pillow will flatten out and stop providing proper support. A brand new pillow offers the greatest level of support and comfort. It keeps your spine aligned and helps you get a full night’s rest.

If you’re suffering from headaches, neck pain, chronic snoring, or sleep apnea, a new pillow may go a long way toward improving your night’s sleep. The structural integrity of your pillow is one of the key factors in determining the quality of your sleep.

How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your pillow every one to two years. But that can vary a bit depending on the material of your pillow. If you have allergies, you’ll want to wash and replace your pillows more frequently to avoid buildup of common allergens. Here are general guidelines for how to sleep better by replacing your pillows:

  • Foam Pillows: Replace every one to three years
  • Polyester Pillows: Replace every six months to two years
  • Feather Pillows: Replace every 18 months to three years
  • Latex Pillows: Replace every two to four years
  • Bamboo Pillows: Replace every two to three years
  • Down Pillows: Replace every two years
  • Down Alternative Pillows: Replace every 18 months to two years
  • Buckwheat Pillows: Replace every three years

If you want to make sure your pillow lasts all the way through its expected useful life, make sure you’re covering it with a pillow cover and pillow case and that you wash it on a regular basis. As a rule of thumb, higher quality pillows will last longer.

What to Do with Old Pillows

Just because you’re sleeping on a new pillow doesn’t mean your old friend has no value anymore. Your first thought might be to donate old pillows to a local non-profit – but they may not take them for hygiene reasons. Remember all those dust mites partying in there?

Many animal shelters and other wildlife nonprofit organizations may be thankful for your old pillows, but if you want to keep yours close, there are also several ways to repurpose and reuse them around your home. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do.

Make Floor Cushions or Throw Pillows – Floor cushions are always great for casual get-togethers and you can find pre-made covers designed to repurpose bed pillows into floor cushions. Or, if you’re crafty, you can choose a material you love and sew your own. You have almost limitless options for making throw pillows – you can find plenty of store-bought covers or DIY ideas for square throw pillows, travel pillows, or oblong bolster pillows.

Make Pet Beds – Old bed pillows make great beds for your favorite companions. They’ll love their new bed because it smells like you and feels safe and familiar. A quick online search can show you plenty of no-sew patterns and ideas for using your old pillows to make a pet bed. Or, you can use the stuffing from your old pillow to restuff an existing pet bed.

Use Them as Moving Materials – If you’re moving to a new house in the near future, keep your old pillows on hand to cushion breakables. This is especially good for latex or memory foam pillows since you can cut them to the exact size you need.

Seal Out Drafts – Another easy DIY product is a draft stopper. You can make them by repurposing some pillow stuffing and an old sock, or you can be super creative and crafty – whatever works for you.

Which Pillow is Best?

As with most things sleep-related, what determines the best pillow is specific to the individual– but we’re partial to the Purple line of pillows. Purple® Pillows have the same patented Purple Grid™ as the famous Purple® Mattress. It’s a breathable, supportive surface that’s responsive and comfortable. Purple® Pillows perfectly conform to your neck and head without losing their shape. It’s a little bit like magic – and we think you’ll agree. The Purple® Pillow gently cradles your head and provides neck support, especially if you’re a back sleeper.

The new kid in town is the fully hypoallergenic Purple® Harmony Pillow. It features a soft and responsive Talalay latex pillow core wrapped up in the Hyper-Elastic Polymer™ material of the Purple Grid™. It’s the ultimate balance of soft, cool, and responsive.

There are many other types of pillows available, although they don’t have the open cell technology of the Purple Grid™. Below are some common categories of polyurethane, latex and memory foam fillings:

  • Molded – These pillows offer tremendous support and contouring. They’re often good options for people who suffer from back and neck pain. Molded pillows are often made of memory foam or other types of foam.
  • Shredded – This option allows you to adjust the pillow loft to the desired comfort level. These pillows are usually more breathable than the molded versions and feature shredded pieces of memory foam or other foam.
  • Noodle – Just as breathable as shredded versions, noodle pillows can also be adjusted. It’s usually good for every type of sleeping position, too.

There are also various types of fill for pillows, each with their own pros and cons. Some materials are hypoallergenic, and some are heat-retaining.  When deciding on the material for your new pillow, consider what is important to you.

You should also think about whether you sleep on your stomach, back, or side. Your sleeping position influences the kind of pillow you need. Side sleepers need to be able to adjust the loft of their pillows to allow for spine and neck alignment. Back sleepers, on the other hand, should look for a low or medium loft to make sure the spine stays in a neutral position all night. And stomach sleepers should sleep on a pillow with the lowest loft of all to keep the neck from curving during sleep, which can lead to chronic neck pain.

How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

Even if you’re emotionally attached to your favorite old pillow, it may be time to let it go. The quality of your sleep and overall health is far more important. Keep your bedding and duvet cover clean and change your pillow regularly – you’ll find yourself waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and well-rested.

So happy pillow shopping! Once your new pillow is helping you sleep great every night, you’ll be glad you made the change.