The City Mattress Blog

sleep tips

Why, When, and How to Replace Old Pillows


How Often Should You Replace Pillows

Your pillows are not meant to last forever. With time, even the best pillows wear out and also become a breeding ground for allergens. To support your head and neck properly and maintain good sleep hygiene, it’s better to replace your pillows when the time comes. How will you know it’s time? How often should you replace pillows? Plus, what should you do with old pillows? We’ll answer all of these questions right now!

How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

While this probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, the true answer is “it depends.” What does it depend on? First and foremost, cheaply-made pillows will need to be replaced more often than high-quality products, a rule that applies to just about everything. As well, the material of your pillow is another big factor.

A general rule of thumb is to replace your pillows once every one to two years. The most common and inexpensive pillows on the market, those made with synthetic polyester, could possibly only last six months. Down pillows can last from one to three years, as long as you care for them properly. Memory foam pillows and latex pillows can last three or even four years or more depending on how well they’re maintained.

How to Know Your Pillow is Too Old

Experts agree that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Replacing your pillows prevents allergen build-up, ensures you won’t wake up with aches and pains, and enhances your overall sleep quality.

Even with a pillowcase, saliva, oils, hair, skin cells, and sweat seep into your pillow. All this nasty stuff may cause mold, mildew, and other allergens to accumulate. An old pillow is the perfect environment for dust mites to grow and multiply because they feed on our dead skin cells and thrive in a warm, humid atmosphere. While they are not dangerous, they can trigger watery eyes, itchy throat, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, and breathing difficulties in people who are prone to allergies. Over time, all of this will lead to poor sleep quality.

We haven’t even yet mentioned the support you need from your pillow! You’ll know it’s time for a replacement when your pillows don’t provide enough support. Along with a high-quality mattress, your pillows keep your spine in a neutral position as you sleep. This means it ensures that your head and neck are supported while being aligned with your spine. Your head is heavy! Bearing the weight of your head each night gradually wears out your pillows. That is why pillows flatten and develop soft spots over time. A worn-out, flat pillow can’t provide your head and neck the support you need, eventually leading to morning neck pain.

Do you wake up with neck pain frequently? Do your shoulder muscles feel cramped in the mornings? Perhaps allergy symptoms, such as itchy throat and watery eyes, are making it difficult to sleep. All of these are signs it is time to buy a new pillow. As well, if you notice tiny yellow spots or stains on your pillows, the marks could be from sweat, body oil, or dust mite droppings. If you feel lumps in your pillow, your pillow feels flat, or if you can easily fold your pillows in half, it’s definitely time to go pillow shopping!

Choosing Your Next Pillow

You’ve now realized it is time for a new pillow. Which one? Here at City Mattress, we have dozens to choose from! Take your time and shop for one that meets your exact sleep needs and comfort preferences. For example, if you’re currently suffering with allergies you should look into latex pillows. This material is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it is resistant to dust mites, mold, and spores.

We carry a number of different materials, like down and feather pillows, memory foam pillows, and more. Beyond the material itself, you also have a choice in the shape, size, and exact design. Perhaps you need a cooling gel pillow to help you with night sweats. Maybe you need a pillow made for people who sleep on their side. We offer top name brands in the industry, like Casper, Malouf, and Martha Stewart. Once you begin shopping, you will see that there is no such thing as “just a pillow!”

We highly recommend that your next pillow be one that is washable! This will keep nasty allergens and stains away much longer. Washing your pillows frequently can prolong their life but know that there is a limit to how long your pillows can support you. Even with proper care and washing, a pillow won’t last forever.

What to do with Old Pillows

You know you need new pillows. You’ve either ordered new pillows online or visited a City Mattress store and bought them in person. What do you do with the old pillow? Does Goodwill take pillows? 

We don’t recommend donating old pillows to a thrift store or place like the Goodwill. They’re already lumpy and unsupportive, plus filled dust mites and allergens. That being said, a local animal shelter may take them. They may be able to use the old pillows as animal beds. You could also repurpose them around your home. You could cover the pillows with vinyl casing and use them as knee protectors when you pull weeds or work in your garden. If you’re a handy DIYer, you can reupholster your old pillows with a more weather resistant fabric to use out on the deck or porch for outdoor seating. Throw the pillows in the garbage if you're unable to reuse them around your home or donate them to needy animals. 

When we talk of quality sleep, we may automatically think of our mattress. Our pillows often get overlooked, but they play an equally important role in helping or harming our sleep quality! If you’re waking up with a sore neck, it might mean that your pillow is no longer providing the support you need. Just like a mattress, you should replace pillows when they start sagging or developing lumps. Sleeping on a pillow that is both clean and supportive is essential for a restful sleep. That is why we recommend you be on the lookout for signs your pillow has reached the end of its useful life and replace them as soon as it is needed.