How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows

By McKenzie Hyde
Last Updated On June 5th, 2020

Replacing your pillows regularly not only prevents allergen build-up, but it also enhances your sleep quality. You may be wondering how you should replace your pillows. A general rule of…

How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows

Replacing your pillows regularly not only prevents allergen build-up, but it also enhances your sleep quality. You may be wondering how you should replace your pillows. A general rule of thumb is to replace your pillows once every 1-2 years. You’ll know it’s time for a replacement when your pillows don’t provide enough support.

Washing your pillows frequently can prolong their life but there is a limit to how long your pillows can support you. Keeping your pillows for longer than 1 or 2 years may affect your health and cause sleep disruptions.

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Why You Should Replace Your 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 every 1 to 2 years.

Promotes Hygiene

Your sweat, hair, saliva, body oil, and dead skin cells are all absorbed by your pillows. Even if you have a pillowcase, it may not provide enough protection. All these fluids and flakes may cause mold, mildew, and other allergens to accumulate and cause a bad odor. Washing your pillows and pillow covers can get rid of the odor, but not always the allergens.

Reduces Allergies

Our bed 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.

Dust mites are not dangerous, but they can trigger watery eyes, itchy throat, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, and breathing difficulties in people who are prone to allergies. Over time these symptoms can worsen, leading to poor sleep quality.

A 2005 study by the University of Manchester found 16 varieties of fungi in a single pillow. Your pillows don’t just invite dust mites, but there may be a host of other microorganisms thriving there. Replacing your pillows regularly may prevent allergen build-up.

Prevents  Pain

Along with your mattress, your pillows should keep your spine neutral. Your pillow ensures that your head and neck are supported while being aligned with your spine. Your head is heavy, and bearing the weight of your head each night gradually wears out your pillows.

Our pillows flatten and develop soft spots over time. A worn-out, flat pillow can’t provide support to your head and neck, leading to neck pain.

When to Replace Your Pillow

Now that you know why you should replace your pillows, you should know when to change them. You’ll know it’s time to change them when you notice any of the following signs:

  • You wake up with neck pain frequently
  • Your shoulder muscles feel cramped in the mornings
  • You can’t sleep well due to headaches
  • Allergy symptoms, such as itchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes, or breathing difficulties bother you all night
  • You notice tiny yellow spots or stains on your pillows despite washing. The marks could be from sweat, body oil, or dust mite droppings
  • You feel lumps in your pillow
  • Your pillow feels flat
  • When you can easily fold your pillows in half

How To Maintain Your Pillows

Like all other bedding accessories, your pillows need care. Proper maintenance can extend your pillow’s life by a few years. You can check the instructions on the care label of your pillows to ensure you don’t ruin it while washing or drying. Not all pillows can be machine washed or hand washed. Some need spot cleaning or dry cleaning.

Washing

If your pillows can be machine washed, it’s best to wash them once every four to six months in hot water. The high water temperature kills allergens breeding in your pillows. Usually, pillows with down or down alternate synthetic stuffing can be machine washed.

Try using a mild liquid detergent to wash your pillows. Avoid washing your pillows with any other clothes or bed linens. Putting two pillows at a time inside the washing machine eliminates the risk of overloading your machine.

Drying

You can tumble dry your pillows on a low heat setting in your dryer, or leave them out on a clothesline to air-dry. Once the pillows are completely dry and have no traces of moisture in them, you can put them inside your pillow covers. Moisture can be dangerous for your pillows because it encourages mold growth.

Pillow Cases

Pillowcases provide a layer of protection to your pillows while making them look decorative. Usually, they come along with your bedsheets as a set. You can use pillow protectors made of waterproofing fabric for extra protection.

The pillow protectors can be used underneath your pillowcases. While your pillowcases match your sheets, making your bed look visually appealing, the pillow protector underneath prevents moisture absorption. You can wash your pillowcases and protectors once every three to four weeks unless mentioned otherwise on the care label.

Different Types of Pillow Stuffing

Your pillow’s lifespan can also depend on the type and amount of stuffing inside. The type of stuffing determines how long your pillows can effectively support you. Here we list some of the common types of pillow stuffings and how long they may last.

Synthetic Down Alternative or Polyester

Pillows filled with synthetic polyester, also known as down alternative pillows, are the most common and inexpensive pillows on the market. Depending on how you maintain them, polyester pillows may last from 6 months to 2 years. These pillows are hypoallergenic and can be machine-washed easily.

Down Pillows

Feather and down from ducks and geese are used as stuffing inside some pillows. Down describes the soft feathers found near the bird’s belly. Down pillows can last from 1 to 3 years, depending on how well you maintain them.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows contain a block of memory foam or shredded memory foam stuffing. These pillows conform to the curves of your neck and shoulders and can last 3 to 4 years or more depending on how well they’re maintained.

Latex Pillows

Latex is made from rubber tree sap and used to make mattresses as well as pillows. Latex pillows feel bouncy and supportive and can last 3 to 4 years or more. They are naturally hypoallergenic, resisting dust mites, molds, and spores.

Our Amerisleep Pillows

Our Comfort Classic Pillows have a soft and breathable cover with a zipper. The breathable fabric keeps you cool as you sleep, and it can be easily removed for washing. Apart from the pillowcase with your sheet set, the removable covers on our pillows provide an extra layer of protection.

Beneath the removable cover lies our responsive Bio-Pur® material, providing enhanced neck support. Our pillows have a 6-inch loft, the perfect height for aligning your head, neck, and spine as you sleep.

Cost of Amerisleep Pillows

Our pillows are made in the United States and are available in two sizes, queen and king. They are certified by CertiPUR-US®, making them free from formaldehyde, PBDEs, VOCs, and other harmful chemicals. All our pillows come with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial.

Pillow SizePrice
Queen$90
King$115

FAQs

Can you hand wash a pillow?

Yes, you can hand wash any pillow as long as the care label doesn’t mention dry cleaning. Most down or down alternative pillows can be hand washed or machine washed. Memory foam and latex pillows should be spot cleaned since machine washing them can damage the foam.

How do I kill the dust mites in my pillow?

You can wash your pillows in hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If your pillows are not washable, you can put them in a dryer at 130 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 minutes to kill all microorganisms. Before doing any of these, it’s good to check the instructions on the care label.

How to fluff pillows?

You can fluff your pillows by keeping them out on a sunny day for three to four hours. Usually, moisture or unevenly distributed fiberfill flattens your pillow. When you dry out your pillows in the sun, the moisture evaporates leaving a nice fluffy pillow. You can pull the pillow from both ends and shake it up to adjust the fiberfill inside. Keeping your pillow inside the dryer for 45 to 60 minutes on a low heat setting also does the trick.

Conclusion

When we think of quality sleep, we usually consider our mattress and bedding accessories. Our pillows often get overlooked, but they play an equally important role in boosting our sleep quality. Keeping them clean and supportive is essential for a restful sleep. It’s good to be on the lookout for signs of wear on our pillows and replacing them as soon as possible.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

McKenzie Hyde is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and a full-time writer focused on sleep health and the mattress industry. She currently writes articles on a variety of topics, ranging from sleep hygiene to the newest trends in the mattress and bedding industry. Just some of the topics she has covered include best sleep practices for students, the consequences of going without sleep, and choosing the right bed if you suffer from back pain. McKenzie Hyde holds a Master of Arts degree from Utah State University where she studied literature and writing. While there, she taught argumentative writing and wrote a variety of articles and analyses for literary and academic journals.

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