Do Cotton Pillows Flatten Over Time? How to Fluff a Pillow – The Bedding Planet

Do Cotton Pillows Flatten Over Time? How to Fluff a Pillow

This post is part of the complete cotton pillow buyers guide

When you’re tired, there’s nothing more relaxing than having a nice, fluffy pillow under your head.

Having the right pillow is not only comforting, but it plays an important role in the intricate structures of your total sleep alignment — head, neck, shoulders, hips, and spine.

If and when your pillow flattens, not only is it the most uncomfortable feeling ever, it throws everything else that causes that much-needed support of your neck and head out of alignment, making for an irritable night of unrest.

Perhaps you’re wondering whether or not cotton pillows flatten over time? Cotton pillows do flatten over time. They naturally do so because of the pressure your head puts on it. There are three ways to fluff a cotton pillow — by hand, by drying, and by adjusting the filling.

Pillows that can revert to their original shape when the pressure is lifted off of them generally have the ability to keep their shape for a long period of time, and cotton is not that type of pillow.

Why Do Pillows Go Flat?

When you first get your new pillow, it may be just what you need to have that deep, quality sleep you’ve been craving.

If you’re not paying attention to your pillow, it may not be long before it seems like out of nowhere, it went limp on you and is no longer producing the quality sleep you need.

Yes, your cotton pillow went flat. It happens. There are several reasons why a cotton pillow will go flat.

1. Head Weight

One of the most common reasons a pillow will go flat is because, after laying your head on it over a period of time, the weight of your head (regardless of the size), will eventually cause it to lose its fluffiness.

Pillows have a lifespan, and it’s only a matter of time before a cotton-filled pillow will go flat due to a head being on it for so long, repeatedly. 

2. Natural Elements


Even with use of a pillowcase or pillow cover, a pillow can still be exposed to moisture. During the night, our body sweats, and some of that sweat is going to get through the pillow.

That moisture penetrates into the cotton filling of your pillow causing it to separate. Sweating during the night is natural, so there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Just know that it will eventually contribute to needing a new pillow.

Skin and Hair

Your body sheds skin and hair while sleeping. Again, this is something you can’t control. Unfortunately, this shedding produces other elements that can cause your pillow to flatten, like dust mites.

When you put the shedding and the dust mites together on a regular basis, you have a remedy for eventually eliminating the fluffiness of your pillow. 

Why Use a Cotton Pillow?

You may be wondering why even use a cotton pillow since they will eventually flatten. There are many reasons to use a cotton pillow:

  • Cotton pillows are naturally absorbent. Cotton is not an oil-based synthetic fabric. So it can absorb one-fifth of its weight in water before it even feels damp.
  • Cotton pillows are all-natural. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, cotton pillows are a great option. Cotton’s all-natural properties also mean there are no animal products. 
  • Cotton pillows sleep comfortably. Before they flatten, cotton pillows are nice and fluffy and actually make for a nice, comfy sleep. Also, the fibers in cotton trap air between you and the cotton, allowing the layer of air to warm you up or keep you nice and warm, whichever is needed. 
  • Cotton pillows are odor-free. Unlike most pillows, you don’t have to spend days trying to remove the powerful smell when you unpack them. The new smell of an all-natural pillow is much more bearable.
  • Cotton pillows are easy to clean. Cotton pillows are machine-washable, which makes them easy to clean, unlike many pillows.
  • Cotton pillows are adjustable. Most cotton pillows come in fabric cases with zippered openings. That means you can easily remove cotton filling or add filling if needed. This makes it easy to adjust the loft or thickness of the pillow to better meet your physical needs.

How To Fluff a Cotton Pillow

There are three ways to fix a flat pillow:

Fluff by Hand 

  • Grab the pillow on each end by the hand. Push the ends of the pillow in and out the same way you would play an accordion, but faster. Then reshape the pillow with your hands to lay correctly on the bed. 
  • You can hit the sides of the pillow simultaneously with your fists if it’s not too moisture-laden. Or you could whack it on your bed a few times to even it out.
  • You can also squeeze the pillow. Hold the pillow the long way, not the way you would lay on it. Move your hands down to a little above the center of the pillow and quickly squeeze, let go, and catch the pillow. Do this about five times. After squeezing, shake the pillow strongly, and put it on your bed again. Beat the pillow with your flat hand on both sides.

Dry the Pillow

  • Put the pillow in the dryer. Put a tennis ball in a sock, tied at the end, and throw the tennis ball in the dryer with the pillow. Put the dryer on low for 20 minutes. Use a low heat or air setting. The pillow should be fluffy when you take it out. If you don’t have a tennis ball, use any item that can be rolled into a sock. The most important thing is that the item is dryer safe.
  • Sometimes pillows lose their volume because of moisture. The sun can help dry them and increase fluffiness. You could leave the dryer in the sun for a couple of hours. Hang it from a clothesline. After a few hours, check it to see if the sun has absorbed the moisture. 

Adjust the Pillow Stuffing

  • Most cotton pillows come in fabric cases with zippered openings. That means you can easily remove cotton filling or add cotton filling, if needed. That makes it easy to adjust the loft or thickness of the pillow to better meet your physical needs. So, if your cotton pillow is flat, add more stuffing to your liking.

How To Keep a Pillow From Flattening

At some point, all pillows will need to be replaced. But the best way to maintain your pillow so that it stays fluffy as long as possible is to fluff your pillow every morning.

Also, avoid washing your pillow too frequently. If washed too much, it will flatten the pillow sooner. It’s best to refer to the care instructions to determine how often you should wash your cotton pillow.

Cotton Pillows: A Complete Buyers Guide – Parts:

1. Why Use a Cotton Pillow? The Benefits & Drawbacks
2. Cotton vs. Microfiber Pillows: Differences, And is One Better?
3. How Long do Cotton Pillows Last? This is The Replacement Time
4. Why Do Cotton Pillows Get Lumpy? How to “Unlump” Your Pillow
5. Do Cotton Pillows Flatten Over Time? How to Fluff a Pillow
6. Best Cotton Pillows of 2022 – Complete Review
7. How to Wash And Dry a Cotton Pillow: Step by Step

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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