How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

Replacing your bed pillows timely is a good practice that will keep allergens and bacteria away. If your sleep is troubled and you wake up sick and cramped , there is a chance your old pillow may be the culprit. Changing your dusty and rough pillows with new pillows will not only improve your sleep quality but has great benefits for your well-being as well.

A good pillow is also necessary for your spinal alignment and maintaining the correct head and neck posture. If you don’t replace your pillows as often as you should, you might experience body aches and disturbance in sleep, leading to sleep apnea and insomnia in the long run.

How to Tell it’s Time to Replace Your Pillow With a New One

If you notice any of the following signs, it means it’s time you buy a new pillow.

  • You suffer from constant nasal congestion and allergies
  • You sneeze a lot due to dust mites during the night and after waking up
  • There is frequent irritation and breakouts on your face and neck
  • You are constantly waking up with shoulder or neck pain
  • You are experiencing headaches and disturbance in sleep
  • The filling material of your pillow has balled up in grey lumps
  • There is a nasty smell coming from the pillow
  • You find yellowish stains on your pillow even after washing pillow in a washing machine
  • The pillow does not fuzz up and looks like a pancake
  • When you fold the pillow in half, it doesn’t spring back

How Often Should Pillows Be Replaced?

How Often Should You Replace Pillows

There are different pillow materials that demand for a pillow replacement at difference times according to their lifespan. The basic principle to go by is to replace your bed pillows every 1-2 years, or as soon as you find any of the tell-tale signs. The longer you keep a pillow, the higher the chances of it being a health threat sitting in your bedroom.

The most commonly used pillow fillings include the synthetic polyester and down alternative. These have to be replaced every 6-12 months depending on the type and quality of filling material. The cheaper synthetic material may contain toxic chemicals and isn’t breathable; harboring more dust mites and needing frequent replacement.

There are down and feather pillows too that are much different from the down alternative ones. Depending on how well they are maintained, they can last for as long as 12 months. Down pillows also form lumps and require frequently re-fluffing so it’s recommended that you change them once every year. If you want to choose between down and feather, you can refer to this comparison guide between down vs. feather pillows here.

If you are not a fan of polyester or feather pillows, you can start using the memory foam pillows for great head and neck alignment. These last longer than the other options discussed above and can be changed every 18-24 months. The only downside to using memory foam pillows is that they retain body heat and you may end up sleeping hot. However, this can vary as there are different pillow manufacturers but make sure to consider the breathability factor when buying a memory foam pillow.

Lastly, latex pillows, made from the sap of a rubber tree are more durable as compared to memory foam and may last 2 years or more, depending on how you use.

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Rid Of Your Old Pillows

Pillows are an important part of your bedding hygiene and great sleeping routine. If not taken good care of, they can cause various health issues and skin problems. Some people tend to undermine the repercussions and may keep using an old, dust filled pillow for years.

Here are some potential problems associated with old pillows and why you need to buy a new pillow:

1. Dirty pillows can give you acne

The years of build up of dead skin and face oils is already a disgusting prospect. Your pillow is something that stays in contact with your face for about 8 to 9 hours a day.

Old pillows can give you awful breakouts and blemishes. The often sighted acne caused by dirty pillows is acne Mechanica, a type of breakout that happens when your face touches a dirty or oily surface which transfers to your skin and clogs the pores. To avoid any of such skin problems, it is important to change your pillows and pillow cases regularly.

2. Safe Haven for Dust Mites

dust mites

A dirty pillow harbors inconspicuous dust mites that will crawl on your skin and cause infections. These are 0.4 millimetres in size and thrive on the peelings of your skin. Their faces contain a strong allergen called DerP1, which can trigger worst sinus allergies and asthma attacks.

Even as much as one gram of dust can contain hundreds of dust mites. This is why an old pillow needs urgent replacement because the older it is, the more dust mites are feasting upon your skin.

3. Allergies

Allergies and old pillows are closely linked. The unnoticed dust mites and mold spores are one of the common culprits for allergies like sinus and rhinitis.

Adding to that is undetected pollen caught in your hair that might settle inside your pillows, causing you to sneeze, giving you a runny nose and watery eyes. Sometimes there are viruses and bacteria of various fungal diseases like dermatitis thriving on your old pillows which you can only stay away from by changing your pillows, sheets and mattress frequently.

4. Flat Pillows Don’t Offer the Right Support for Your Head and Neck

It’s a popular myth that flat pillows offer any aid in aligning your head and neck. In reality they only make your head stiff as your spine is not properly aligned and your pillow does not shift to accommodate the structure of the head and neck. Instead, it deforms your spine, leading to bad neck and back pains in the long run.

For a resting spine, it is important that your pillows are properly fluffed up to support your head and neck.

5. You could have a way better pillow

Like most of the bedding products in the market, pillows are technologically evolving too. There are pillows that have durable filling and also don’t contain harmful toxins. They are environmental friendly and help you save money in the long run.

For example, Coop Home Goods pillow is a popular product. These come with a filling of memory foam that adjusts with your head size, shape and sleeping posture. Coop pillows are also free of chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, mercury, ozone depleters, TCEP flame retardants, PBDEs and phthalates. These pillows are dust mite resistant and completely hypoallergenic.

Then, if you are living in hot areas or you just sleep hot, you can get yourself a pillow with cooling gel that helps you sleep cool. It will provide cooling comfort to your head and neck and encourage a restful sleep.

So next time when you try to find a reason to ditch your old pillows, you may actually just consider it as an upgrade and invest in a new pillow.

What To Do With Old Pillows?

As much as old pillows can be problematic, you shouldn’t simply throw them away unless they look hopelessly decayed.

Recycling an old pillow is not only a creative thing to do but also environment friendly. You can simply repurpose your old pillows and make some wonderful floor cushions. Buy a new floor cushion cover, or stitch one from an extra piece of cloth at home and use the filling from the old pillow to fluff it up.

You can also use the filling material for packing fragile items. A protective layer of pillow filling will make sure that your precious items do not break while being transported.

Need more inspiration? Check out these 13 creative ways to reuse and recycle your old pillows.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you replace memory foam pillows?

A memory foam pillow should be replaced every 2-3 years. The replacement also depends on how well you have maintained the memory foam pillow. Keeping it clean and not using harsh cleaning agents will help increase the lifespan.

Can old pillows make you sick?

Old pillows have the ability to make you sick if you are particularly prone to allergies. Worn out pillows are often housed by dust mites, mold spores and various other bacteria that can lead to throat congestion, asthma issues, chronic headaches and sinus allergies.

Do pillows hold germs?

Pillows hold as much 350,000 live bacteria. Some of them may not be harmful but others like mites and fungi such as Aspergillus fumigatus can post a serious health risk for some individuals.  As revealed in one study, an old pillow on average contains as much as 1 million fungal spores which are enough to give you some very serious health issues.

Are old pillows unhealthy?

Old pillows are quite unhealthy. The inner filling of the pillow is a breeding ground for several types of bacteria, mildew, dust mites and mite feces. Also old pillows can deform your spinal alignment, leading to back pains and muscular cramps.

Can mold grow in pillows?

Mold can grow on pillows if left in a damp atmosphere for a long time. If they are shut in a storage space, there is a chance that even the newest pillows will grow mold from the dampness around the walls. Put your pillow in direct sunshine to dry them completely and use home remedies like vinegar and lemon to get rid of the bacteria.

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