How Often Should I Change My Pillow?

Pillows are in contact with your body for nearly 3000 hours per year. While even the fanciest pillows will last for many years, at some point you will need to replace them. If a pillow is improperly cared for, the expected life can easily be cut in half. In this article, I’m going to go over why you should change your pillow, and how to tell if yours is ready to be replaced.

Why Should I Change My Pillow?

Pillows collect dead skin and oils from your face. In the summer, they are also privy to sweat and moisture from the atmosphere. Humidity creates a perfect environment for bacteria and allergens to spread. This can cause many health issues such as a stuffy nose, acne or a rash. Although proper pillow care can address these issues, if the pillow goes uncleaned for too long there may be no way to properly remove all of the gunk. 

How do I know when my Pillow is Ready to be Changed?

The easiest way to tell when a pillow is ready to be replaced is to smell it. If the pillow smells a little musty, consider giving it a wash first. Pillows can be washed in a standard home washing machine. Simply run it through the rinse cycle twice, and dry them in pairs in your dryer.

If the pillow still smells musty after a thorough washing, it probably needs to be replaced. Many pillows have a zippered enclosure. Open the zipper and inspect the filling. Is there any mold or residue that didn’t come out in the wash? This is a good indicator that the pillow is past its expiration date.

Another way to tell if your pillow is ready to be replaced is the feeling. Is your memory foam pillow flat in the middle? Memory foam can degrade after a few years. Solid units may become less supportive where your head rests. For a synthetic or down pillow, you can perform the fold test. Fold the pillow lengthwise and place your hand on top.

Hold it in this position for 30 seconds. When you release it, the pillow should go back to its regular shape. If the pillow remains folded or creased in the middle, the filling has lots some of its natural spring and will need to be replaced. 

How Long Should my Pillow Last?

Synthetic pillows should last 18 to 24 months. Naturally filled pillows such as down will last up to 36 months. Memory foam pillows can remain supportive and clean for up to 5 years. Remember that this timeline is only an estimate. Pillows that are not cleaned or maintained correctly will not last as long. Some luxury pillows are designed to last a lot longer. 

How Can I Extend the Life of my Pillow?

Always use your pillow with a pillow protector. This is a zippered cover that goes between your pillow case and the pillow itself. The protector is a non-porous cover that prevents the buildup of skin, oil and naturally occurring irritants. The cover should be washed every four to eight weeks.

Your pillow case should be washed every two weeks. With this protector in place, the pillow itself can go up to 6 months between washes. Make sure that when you do wash your pillow, you dry it immediately. Pillows should never be allowed to sit wet as this can allow mold to form. 

Do I Have to Replace the Entire Pillow?

With many high end pillows, you can simply replace the filling instead of replacing the entire thing. Shredded memory foam pillows are the best for this. Shredded memory foam can be purchased in bulk very inexpensively from amazon. Generally, down and polyester filling is not worth replacing. The cost of the stuffing in bulk is almost the same price as an entire new pillow. 

What Other Circumstances Would Warrant Changing a Pillow?

If the pillow accidentally has liquid spilled on it, you should replace it immediately. Any time you experience a contagious illness, the pillow should be immediately washed to prevent the spread of germs. Generally synthetic pillows can be cleaned to have all of the toxins removed. Natural pillows, however, can be an ideal breeding ground for germs. These pillows should be disposed of after any exposure to contagious illnesses. 

Are There any Ways to Breathe New Life into an Old Pillow?

Pillows that are tough to clean might benefit from a trip to the dry cleaner. Dry cleaners use a much more rigorous process to clean fibers than your standard home washing machine. For pillows that have simply lost their fluff, you can try to adjust them. Shake the pillow vigorously to distribute the filling evenly throughout.

You can also throw it in the dryer for a short cycle. The head from the dryer will kill any bacteria, and the rotating motion will thoroughly adjust the stuffing. Although pillow care can be a lot of work, taking the time to make sure your pillow is spic and span will extend the life for many years.

Because pillows wear out very gradually, it can be hard to remember how comfortable and soft it was new. Replacing an old one might seem like a pain, but the drastic improvements to your comfort and the quality of your sleep is well worth it.

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