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How Often Should You Replace Memory Foam Pillows?


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Memory foam pillows are a favorite for many people and with good reason. First, and what’s most famous about them, is their ability to take your shape, so you are more comfortable and relaxed as you sleep. This means you can finally kiss your shoulder, neck, and back pains goodbye.

Memory foam pillows also do wonders in keeping your spine’s natural posture, regulating your temperature at night, and helping keep your airwaves open so you don’t snore at night.

But, even with all these benefits, memory foam pillows are prone to wear and tear which means that eventually they needs to be replaced.

So, how often should you replace your memory foam pillow? Sleep experts seem to agree that pillows need replacing after one or two years. Memory foam pillows can, however, go for as long as 36 months, which is an added advantage.

You should expect your pillow to lose some of its features and signals over time, especially in the last year of use.

Comfort will be compromised, and you may even start noticing a few pains and aches on your neck and back in the morning. If you don’t remember the last time you bought a new pillow, it’s likely been too long. Dump the one on your bed for a new one, and you’ll notice the improved comfort.

In this article, you will learn how long your pillow should last, how often you should replace it, why pillows need replacing, and how to know it’s time to ditch that pillow for a new fluffy one. Let’s dive in.

How often should you replace your memory foam pillow?

Just because sleep experts say your memory foam pillow will last 36 months does not mean you should use it that long. How often you replace your pillow will, however, be dependent on your personal preference, use, body weight, among other factors.

For instance, if you are on the heavier side of the spectrum, your pillow will likely lose its natural fluff sooner than lighter people. Also, if your pillow takes more abuse, especially if you fold, unfold, and scuffle it often, the wear and tear will be realized sooner. In fact, the more abuse your memory foam pillow takes, the more likely it is to crack or break.

So, forget about those pillow fights when you have a night in with the girls and binge watch movies, play card games, or do something that’s not related to your pillow. Memory foam pillows are sensitive, meaning they are delicate, so be careful how you treat yours. 

Why you should replace your pillow

1. Promotes hygiene

Sweat, saliva, body oil, hair, and skin all meet for a party on your pillow each night. In fact, research says you can shed approximately 8 pounds of skin each year. Add that to the body oils, hair, and saliva, and you have yourself a nasty mess. Pillowcases are great to have, but they don’t provide enough protection.

Your pillow will still have dirt buildup, which may cause mold, mildew, and are the perfect breeding ground for allergens. How about washing your pillow? Does that help? While this is a good idea, cleaning doesn’t always get rid of all the allergens. 

2. May be why you have acne

Pressing your face on dirty things causes acne. These kinds of acne are bad because they don’t come from inside you. Dirty surfaces could include your phone and football helmet, but the usual culprit is your pillowcase.

As mentioned, pillows still hold some allergens even after washing, and this dirt builds up over time. If you are still waking up with zits, even after cleaning your pillowcases and pillow, now you know.

3. A breeding place for dust mites

All the dirt we’ve mentioned above may be harmful to your health, but it’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for dust mites. These eight-legged suckers aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they feed on flakes on your skin. Although you only shed around 0.001 to 0.003 ounces of skin an hour, what you shed in a day is enough to feed a million dust mites, as researched by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Dust mites are the common trigger of allergies and asthma. No wonder you can’t stop coughing and sneezing at night, right? Although memory foam pillows have hypoallergenic properties, it doesn’t always keep all these suckers out.

4. Prevents pain

Combined with your mattress, memory foam pillows should keep your spine neutral while supporting your neck and head. Your pillow has to bear your head’s weight, around 5kgs or 11 pounds, so it’s only natural that it will wear down with time. As it wears down, your memory foam pillow develops soft spots over time, so it can’t provide the needed support your head and neck need—the result, neck, and back pains.

Other reasons include:

  • When your pillow has a severe case of mold and mildew
  • Pillows with a foul odor that doesn’t stop after washing should be replaced
  • When your pillow breaks down and cracks
  • Permanent stains from pet urine, blood, wine, or body and hair fluids

How to tell your pillow needs replacing

There are a few tell-tale signs here:

  • You notice your foam has some lumps on it
  •  Your pillow needs constant fluffing up, so it supports your head better
  • The sweat and body oil stains on the pillow are permanent
  • When you fold it into half, it doesn’t restore itself to its original shape but stays folded
  • You regularly wake up with neck and shoulder pains
  • If you have allergies, they have worsened. If not, you start experiencing allergy symptoms
  • You  toss and turn a lot at night trying to find a good sleeping position
  • Sometimes, you wake up feeling tired and with a stinging headache

What to consider when replacing your memory foam pillow

1. The size

Memory foam pillows are typically available in king, queen, and standard size. A standard pillow measures 20 by 26 inches while the king-size will be 20 by 36 inches large. Queen sized pillows measure 20 by 30 inches. How large your pillow is will depend on your preference, but remember that most pillowcases in the market are either king or standard size. You can, however, still get a few queen size pillowcases, so don’t let this stop you.

2. Pillow firmness

Different pillows offer different firmness, including memory foam pillows. For instance, down memory foam is great if you are looking for a firm pillow with no elasticity, while a foam wedge pillow is great if versatility is top of your list. Wedge memory foam pillows support your back, neck, head, and even legs, especially when you are reading. If you sleep in different positions, then the down memory foam pillow is best suited since they are easily fluffed. 

3. Sleeping positions

Most people don’t consider their sleeping position when buying or replacing a pillow, but it should be at the top of your list. Technically, each sleeping position influences the pillow you should use. For instance, you are better off with a firm raised pillow if you are a side sleeper. Back sleepers, on the other hand, will get the best from a flutter pillow. Memory foam pillows are not recommended for stomach sleepers.

4. Pillow fill

The fill in your memory foam pillow affects your comfort and how long your pillow will last. Most pillows will be filled with down or foam. If you prefer a firm pillow or you are a side sleeper, down fill is better, while back sleepers will do well with both down and foam fill.

Whichever you choose, ensure the pillow does not sag and that it has great elasticity. It should also come with a two to three years guarantee.

How to care for your pillow, so it lasts longer

  1. Use a pillowcase, so your pillow doesn’t absorb all your body oils, sweat, saliva, and hair.
  2.  Consider using a pillow protector to prevent dead skin, body oils, and sweat from reaching your pillow.
  3. Wash your pillow, cover, and protector often. Pillows should be washed at least every two months, while covers and protectors can be washed weekly or several times a week.
  4. Air your pillow weekly to keep it smelling clean and fresh.
  5. Keep your pillow away from heat as most memory foam cells deteriorate and breakdown in the presence of heat. Instead, air-dry it under the sun or use a fan to speed up the process.

Although memory foam pillows last two to three years, your pillow quality and mode of use impact their longevity. If it’s finally time to replace it, be sure to read reviews online about some of the best memory foam pillows available. Hearing what others have to say will give you insight on whether the pillow will work for you or not.

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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