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How Long Do Cotton Pillows Last? This is the replacement time


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When buying a cotton pillow, your biggest worry is how long you will use it before tossing it in the trash bin.

Cotton pillows are long-lasting, but this does not mean that you will use them forever. Your pillow is subject to deterioration every time you use it, and this diminishes its value. With that said, how long do cotton pillows last?

Like regular pillows, cotton pillows should last you between 18 and 36 months, as confirmed by manufacturing experts. If you take care of your pillow properly, you can use it for an extra year or two.

You can keep your pillow valuable and long-lasting by maintaining its quality while using it. Equally, you need to know your pillow’s lifetime to know when you will be heading to the store to buy one.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about maintaining and replacing your cotton pillow.

What is a Cotton Pillow?

Cotton pillows are comfortable, fluffy, and durable, owing to their cotton fillings. Cotton is loosely packed, allowing for breathability and air circulation that keeps you cool every night.

As good as they are, you need to have your budget before buying cotton pillows because they are more expensive than fiber pillows. However, you will enjoy the softness and quality of rare organic cotton, so the price may just be worth it.

How Long Should Cotton Pillows Last?

Organic cotton is durable and keeps a pillow fluffy and loft for many years. Different grades of cotton determine the longevity of pillows because they are grown in other conditions and go through various manufacturing processes.

If you frequently use your pillow, then you will need to replace it sooner. Most manufacturers usually state that a cotton pillow should last about 18-36 months depending on usage factors.

How to Maintain a Cotton Pillow to Make it Last Longer

Once you buy a cotton pillow, you need to treat it as your bedsheets and blankets. Here are a few things you can do.

1. Put it in a pillowcase

When you buy a pillow, it comes with its cover, either in cotton or polyester material. While you can use it directly, getting a pillowcase is a much better idea.

Most pillowcases are made with high-quality materials that can prevent sweat and dust from penetrating deeper into your pillow. Dust mites and bacteria can breed in your pillow, exposing you to diseases and infection.

The pillow’s cotton fill may also get ruined if these microorganisms stay within for long, lowering its quality.

Washing your pillow also affects its longevity, and once you have a pillowcase, you will not have to clean it often.

2. Change your pillowcases

If you keep one pillowcase over your pillow for a long time, you will have to deal with the sweat odor accumulated over time. Such smells attract bacteria and mites that infect your cotton, leaving them discolored and flattened.

You need to change your pillows and clean them to clear off any stains and odors that would affect your pillow. You may also need to have pillowcases with different materials to use at different times.

3. Wash your pillow often

You are advised to wash your pillow three to four times a year to keep it clean and get rid of any substances that might ruin your pillow.

Before you throw your pillow in the washing machine, you need to read the tag for more instructions from the manufacturer.

A cotton pillow should be washed gently in the washing machine and with warm water to avoid shrinkage. The gentle spin is recommended because it keeps your pillow fluffy and the loft intact.

You can add a stuffed doll or tennis balls to beat your pillow and re-fluff it. You should not leave any detergents in your pillow hence the need to rinse thoroughly.

4. Re-fluff your pillow

Re-fluffing your pillow is one step towards prolonging your pillow’s life. Re-fluffing by hand is the simplest way to do this, to keep your pillow comfortable and soft. Place your pillow on the floor or bed, then grab both sides of its width.

Once the pillow is inflated, press it on the sides to deflate and repeat the process for more than 30 seconds. Do this for the long sides as well to cover all angles.

If you are satisfied with the fluffiness, you can hit the pillow in repeated motion to separate pillow materials sticking together.

When to Replace a Cotton Pillow?

Keeping track of your pillow’s expiry date is tedious, and you may end up using your pillow beyond the allowed time.

Instead of waiting for your pillow to be entirely run down, here are a few things you can check to determine whether you deserve a new pillow or not.

1. Pillow is not as firm as before

When you realize your pillow is not as firm as when you first bought it, you should be thinking about buying a new one.

When purchasing a pillow, you always look at its firmness levels to determine whether it will be comfortable and relieve your pressure points.

If your pillow is no longer fluffy, you will keep waking up with a painful neck, head, and back. You will not get the same performance and support, which means you need to change the pillow.

2. When it is stained

Your pillow absorbs sweat when you sleep on it, and it can seep through your pillowcase and stain your covers and the cotton inside.

When you take out your pillowcase and notice stains that cannot be removed through washing, the only option is to buy a new one. These stains can affect the quality of your pillow, rendering it useless.

3. When it is past the expiry date

Every manufacturer indicates the expiry date for their pillow, and you should always use this to guide your next purchase.

Once the pillow reaches its expiry date, you will notice that the cover has cotton material poking out, or the edges may begin to show signs of tear and wear.

The cotton fillings in the pillow may also be deflated and less responsive when you exert pressure on them.

4. Conduct a compression test

The best way to test whether your cotton pillow is still supportive is through the compression test.

Fold the pillow into two, and if it resumes its normal position, you can continue using it for a while. If it stays folded, then it is time for a replacement.

You can also check whether your pillow releases pressure when you wake up in the morning. If it stays flat, you need to discard it.

5. If the pillow smells bad

You will always be tempted to wash your pillow when you notice it has an odor. But after washing, you might notice the smell does not go away.

This happens when you let sweat and dust build up in your pillow. To save you time and money, you can buy a new pillow and enjoy the comfort you once experienced.

6. When it becomes lumpy

Cotton pillows are very notorious for becoming lumpy, especially when poorly taken care of.

Lumps on your pillow indicate that your pillow has degenerated, and you will feel uncomfortable laying on it.

Once you realize that your pillow is getting lumpier, you must throw it away to avoid headaches and body pain.

7. When you sneeze frequently

Dust mites are prevalent in dirty beddings, and your pillow is not safe either. Continuous sweat accumulation makes your pillow a perfect spot for dust mites and other bacteria to breed.

Over time, you will become allergic and will notice that you sneeze frequently. Constant sneezing might affect your overall well being, and instead of letting your pillow cause much damage, get it replaced.

8. Constant re-fluffing

The main reason why you fluff your pillows is to make them comfortable, soft, and firm.

When you notice that you re-fluff your pillow more than twice a week, then it is a clear indication that your pillow is worn out.

Instead of wasting your energy trying to get your pillow in good shape, buy a new one.

9. Constant headaches

Sometimes headaches from sleep are caused by neck and back tension. The suboccipital muscles at the base of your neck may affect the nerves of your skull, especially in the front of your head and eyes.

Poor alignment of these nerves causes pain to your head, causing tension headaches. Sleeping on a dilapidated pillow adds tension to your neck muscles, explaining the constant headaches you experience every morning when you wake up.

10. Muscle stiffness

When muscles stretch unnaturally for more extended periods, some range of motion will be limited, causing stiffness.

When you have a bad pillow, your head and neck will be poorly supported, leading to your neck and back muscles stretching out of position.

If you sleep on a less-firm pillow, you will have trouble finding the proper position to alleviate your pressure points. If you keep turning and tossing in your sleep, you will not get enough sleep to help your body self-repair.

Your chances of suffering from diabetes and hypertension increase with each night you sleep on a worn-out pillow.

What Happens if You Don’t Replace Your Pillow?

When your pillow is past its expiry date, you need to replace it to avoid further inconveniences. If you do not replace your pillow, then there are some risks involved.

1. You may start complain about body pains

A worn-out pillow does not provide adequate support for your neck, head, and shoulders.

The lumps and contours will increase pain to your pressure points and make your whole body ache. If you continue using it, your spine may also get affected.

2. Your allergies may get worse

People with asthma and allergic reactions are prone to health complications when exposed to dust mites and bacteria.

An old pillow will make you squeeze frequently, and you will need to seek medical attention to keep it under control.

3. You may experience skin breakouts

Your pillowcase becomes sticky and smelly after prolonged use, and the bacteria in the pillow may cause problems to your skin. You will have to deal with frequent acne and pimples, which damage your skin.

4. Your sleep may be ruined

A cotton pillow should keep you comfortable at night for you to sleep better. You will never get the same if you overuse your pillow.

If you keep sleeping disturbed every day, your sleeping patterns will change, and you will never get enough rest at night.

5. Your finances may be affected

You cannot sleep on a damaged cotton pillow and expect no repercussions. The body pains need to be controlled, so you will be spending more money on painkillers than you should.

You might also need to pay extra on buying skin care products for your acne and pimples.

6. Constant fatigue

Sleeping on a bad pillow will make you feel tired when you wake up. This fatigue primarily arises from the poor spine alignment and head elevation from sleeping on an unsupportive pillow.

You will therefore have a problem executing your daily activities.

7. Breathing problems

An old pillow might get lumpy, and this leads to poor aeration, which affects its breathability.

If you are a stomach sleeper, you will have to deal with breathing problems that dramatically impact your health.

Why Should You Replace Your Pillow?

Despite all the preventive measures you can take to make your pillow last longer, you still need to replace it at the right time.

This is not only meant to prevent bacteria build-up but also to provide a refreshing sleep. Always ensure you buy a new pillow after one or two years.

1. Promotes better hygiene

Your pillow absorbs sweat, saliva, hair, and body oil, and skin cells. A pillowcase does not provide adequate support, which results in molding and mildew, which attracts allergens.

You may wash the pillow to eradicate the bad smell, but the allergens may still cause health problems hence the need for replacement.

2. Prevents pain

Your pillow and mattress need to keep your spine in a neutral position. Your pillow provides enough support for your head and neck while aligning your spines.

The weight of your head and shoulders gradually degrades your pillow, and it cannot provide sufficient support. Replacing your pillow will help alleviate the constant body pains that rob you of peaceful sleep.

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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