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How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

If you are like many people who value a good night's sleep, then there is a good chance you have invested in a high-quality mattress, pillows, and pillow protectors. However, ergonomic pillows aren't the cheapest. So, to get the best bang for your buck, you want to use it for as long as possible.


Indeed, most people hang on to pillows far longer than they should. Either because they have no idea how often they should replace their pillows or they are an afterthought for the bedroom.


But how often should you replace your pillows? Experts say you should replace your pillows every two to three years. So why this time span? And is it possible to make them last longer than that?

In this guide, we'll help you understand how to prolong the life of your pillows with simple tips. Read on to find out how!

How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

Pillow Lifespan


As with most things in life, pillows don’t last forever. After a couple of years of use, they lose their shape, fluffiness, and support, making them less and less comfortable and incapable of giving you a good night's sleep. Pillows used nightly, of course, wear out faster than those sitting around the house.

Ensure you choose a reputable pillow manufacturer to guarantee your pillows have a longer lifespan.

Pillow lifespan varies based on many factors - from the type of material to the type of usage. Down pillows, for example, can last five or even up to 10 years. Synthetic pillows, on the other hand, can only last up to 2 years.

Signs that it's Time to Replace Your Pillow


Not all pillows are made the same. In addition, the two-to-three-year timeframe is more of a general guideline than a rule. So how do you determine when your pillows’ time is up?


It is getting lumpy


Flattening of the pillow is the number one tell-tale sign that it needs to be replaced. Lumpy pillows can no longer hold their shape. Thus, they become uncomfortable to sleep on. If you insist on using them, you risk neck pain.


It has a funny smell


Pillows must be washed at least twice a year. In addition, they should always have a pillow protector under the pillowcase to protect them from dust, sweat, body oils, stains, etc. Your pillow shouldn’t smell after a thorough wash and with a pillow protector on.


Allergies or respiratory problems


If you suffer from allergies or any respiratory problems, there is a good chance your pillow is the culprit or, at least, plays a role in your allergy attacks. Over time, pillows accumulate allergens, such as dust mites and mould, that can trigger and worsen your symptoms.

How Often Should You Replace Pillows?


The recommended life span for most pillows is two to three years. But, of course, a lot of factors can change this. If you have allergies and respiratory problems, you must replace your pillows more frequently to prevent allergen buildup from triggering your symptoms.


  • Down pillows and natural feather pillows tend to last longer than bamboo.

  • Latex pillows are more durable and keep their shape longer than feather pillows.

  • Polyester pillows, however, have the shortest lifespan.


How Often Should You Replace Pillows?


Extend your pillow's lifespan with pillow protectors


The best way to extend the lifespan of your pillows is to protect them using pillow protectors.

Pillow protectors are extra pillow covers. But unlike pillowcases, they are specially designed to protect your pillows from absorbing and accumulating sweat, body oils, other bodily fluids, dust, and various allergens.


Pillow protectors are available in various materials (polyester, cotton, waterproof fabric, etc.). Some pillow protectors even have extra features, such as a temperature regulator (cooling properties), to keep you comfortable throughout your sleep.

How to Wash Pillows

Pillows complete the bedroom. They provide comfort and support for a good night's sleep. However, pillows collect allergens, dust mites, sweat, body oils, dead skin cells, and other debris. All these things result in bacteria, making them look dirty, smelly, and uncomfortable to sleep on.

Experts recommend washing your pillows at least twice a year and using a pillow protector to keep them fresh and clean for a long time.

How exactly do you wash your pillows? And why do you still need a pillow protector? This guide will discuss that in detail.

1. Before you wash your pillows

Determine the type of pillows you have: Different pillows require different washing methods, as with clothes and other fabrics. Thus, it is crucial to determine the type of pillow you have before you wash it. In addition, feather, memory foam, and synthetic materials require different cleaning and washing methods.

Feather, for example, requires gentle washing to prevent the materials from clumping inside. On the other hand, memory foam cannot be washed using a washing machine.

The easiest way to determine the type of material is to check its label and cleaning instructions. If the label is no longer available, search for the brand and style of your pillow online and look for the cleaning instructions set by the manufacturer.

If you are still unsure of the material, you can never go wrong by washing your pillows by hand. You can also, of course, take your pillows to a professional cleaner.

Wash the Pillow

Most pillows are safe to wash in the washing machine. But, again, if your pillows are made of delicate materials, it is best to wash them by hand.

For machine washing, here's how to do it:

  1. First step: Remove the pillowcase and pillow protectors (if there are any).

  2. Second step: Put the pillows inside the washing machine simultaneously. Balance the load if you can fit more than one pillow.

  3. Third step: Add mild detergent (laundry detergent) to the washing machine. Never use bleach or fabric softeners when washing your pillows, as these chemicals can destroy the pillow’s material.

  4. Fourth step: Always set your washing machine to a gentle or delicate wash setting. Use a warm water setting too.

  5. Fifth step: After completing the wash cycle, run an extra rinse cycle to ensure the pillows are rinsed thoroughly from the inside.

  6. Sixth step: Set the dryer at low heat to dry the pillows. To help keep the fluff off your pillows and prevent clumping, add a couple of dryer balls or tennis balls to the dryer.

Make sure you check the pillow's label for wash and care instructions. Unfortunately, materials like memory foam cannot be washed and dried in a washing machine.

Why you still need pillow protectors

You may wonder why you still need to wrap your pillows in pillow protectors even though you wash them twice a year and use a pillowcase. Well, it's for hygiene.

As said earlier, pillows accumulate dirt and various debris over time. They can double in weight by collecting and absorbing allergens such as dust, mould, sweat, body oils, dust mites, and dead skin. A pillow protector will protect you and your pillow from these particles between washes.

Pillow protectors are made up of soft and breathable materials like cotton. They are specifically designed for machine washing, and they are hypoallergenic.

Benefits of pillow protectors

Reduce allergens

By creating a soft and comfortable barrier between you and your pillow, pillow protectors can prevent pillows from accumulating and absorbing harmful allergens and particles.

Improve pillow lifespan

If you are like many people who care about your sleep quality and comfort, you most likely have invested in high-quality pillows, which are costly. Thus, you want these pillows to serve you for a long time. However, for that to happen, you must protect your pillows from problems like allergens, sweat, body oils, etc., which can cause discolouration, stains, and damage.

Improve the quality of sleep

Sleep quality plays a massive role in overall health. So the longer your pillows stay fresh, clean, and pristine, the better your sleep quality will be.

You must slide the pillow protectors over the pillow, but before the pillowcase, not the other way around. Also, make sure to wash your pillow protectors and pillowcases.

The Takeaway

Washing your pillows is essential in keeping them clean and hygienic. In most cases, however, washing is insufficient to keep them sanitary between washes. This is why you need pillow protectors.


Jenny Kakoudakis

Jenny Kakoudakis likes to blog about travel. She launched the award-winning Seasons in Colour in 2014. When she is not chasing criminals out of the financial system (her day job), she loves traveling around the world.

Read about her travel recommendations here.



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