When to Replace Your Pillow? Average lifespan of all pillow types – The Bedding Planet

When to Replace Your Pillow? Average lifespan of all pillow types

This post is part of the complete guide for picking the right sleeping pillow

We know you love your pillow. It makes for a comfortable sleep, and you don’t know what you would do without it. But we want to remind you that you can’t sleep on it forever.

At some point, you will need to replace it with a new one. Pillows aren’t meant to be slept on forever. Like with all your bedding, your pillow needs to be changed regularly. 

Ideally, you should replace your pillows every one to two years. But that can vary depending on the type of pillow you have. Depending on the material of your pillow, it may be safe to not replace your pillow for 12 to 48 months.

Read on to learn about why you should replace your pillow and the average lifespan of all pillow types.

When to Replace Your Pillow

Reasons To Replace Your Pillow

You may not have given a lot of thought to your pillow. You depend on it to be there when you go to bed, you sleep on it, you wake up, and you’re on your way the next day.

There are so many factors that give way to having a good night’s sleep, and your pillow is one of them.

Your pillow plays a key purpose in your night’s rest. It supports your head and neck throughout the night to keep your neck from being stiff. It also just makes the whole sleeping process so much more comfortable.

But a pillow isn’t meant to be slept on forever. As with everything else, it has a lifespan. Here are three reasons why you need to replace your pillow.

1. Pillows Get Dirty

As we sleep, oils and debris from our skin work their way into our pillow, not just the pillowcase. This can cause dangers such as illness-causing bacteria, allergy-causing dust mites, and acne-causing oil and sweat.

In addition to that, your pillow may develop stains over time and may eventually start to smell. New allergy symptoms or recurring acne on the cheeks or any place on your face where the pillow touches may be a sign your pillow is dirty.

If you suffer from dust mite and mold allergies, the buildup on the pillow is going to affect you negatively. New symptoms such as a stuffy nose, nasal drainage, and itchy skin are all indications that something is happening during the night.

It’s simply healthy for your face to make contact with a fresh, clean pillow, rather than a dirty one every night.

2. Pillows Lose Their Shape

As pillows age, they tend to lose their shape and become lumpy and flat. A lumpy pillow is no friend of a good night’s sleep.

If the filling has had better days and you see no saving it in sight, it may be time to say goodbye to this pillow. Likewise, over time pillows lose their thickness. A flat pillow is no friend to a bad back and throws proper sleep alignment all out of whack. It may even cause you to wake up with neck pain.

If you’re a fan of folding and bending your pillow during the night and it doesn’t bounce back into shape, this is a true sign that it’s gone flat. Don’t sleep on a plyboard; it’s time to replace that pillow.

3. Pillows Become Uncomfortable

A pillow is supposed to provide comfort and support to your natural alignment. If it’s not doing that way before its recommended lifespan, it’s time to toss it.

Some reasons why your pillow may no longer be comfortable are changes to your body and a new bed. Our bodies are constantly changing, and it’s possible that what was once comfortable to you, no longer is.

It could be an injury or a lifestyle change; it could be that you just need more support as you age. You may have recently gotten a new bed or a new mattress. The new bed could be screaming for a new pillow as well. 

Most of us sleep on our side, and expect our pillow to fill the space between our heads and shoulders perfectly for proper alignment. This helps keep our head neutral with our spine.

If you sleep on your back, you expect your pillow to cradle your head perfectly and not be so thick that it pushes back or so thin that your head drops back.

Lack of proper alignment due to discomfort during sleep can cause you to wake up with neck pain. Whatever the reason for your pillow no longer being comfortable, comfort is key. And you always want to sleep on a pillow that adds comfort to your sleep.

How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows

Pillows get dirty, they lose their shape, and they eventually become uncomfortable. It may be hard saying goodbye to something you’ve come to depend on on a nightly basis, but replacement is necessary.

Replacing your pillow regularly can really improve your sleep. While it’s recommended to replace a pillow every one to two years, the true life span may lie in the type of pillow it is.

Some materials are more durable than others. Here are recommendations for how long to keep your pillow, depending on the type of pillow you have.

Pillow TypeLifespan
Foam12 to 36 months
PolyesterSix to 24 months
Feather18 to 36 months
Latex24 to 48 months
Bamboo24 to 36 months
Down24 months
Down Alternative18 to 24 months
Buckwheat36 months
Cotton18-36 months

Maintaining Your Pillow

To ensure your pillow lasts as long as expected, make sure to always cover it with a pillow covering and pillowcase, and wash them regularly.

A good recommendation is to wash the pillowcase every two weeks and the pillow every three to six months. Check the label for proper washing or cleaning instructions. Not all pillows are made for the washing machine. Typically, only pillows with down or synthetic down fillers are washable. Others may have to be dry cleaned or spot cleaned.

If it is washable, use mild liquid detergent. The pillow should receive minimum heat when drying. Dry on the air-only cycle or low-heat cycle.

Regularly fluffing a feather pillow or pillow with material fillers is a good practice. Fluff it daily to help it maintain its shape.

Related Questions:

How do I fluff a pillow?

One way to fluff your pillows is to put them out in the sun for three to four hours. Another way to fluff is to put them in the dryer for 45 to 60 minutes on low heat.

How can I kill dust mites in my pillow?

Dust mites can’t live above a certain temperature. If your pillows are washable, wash them in hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your pillows are not washable, put them in a dryer at the same temperature for at least 15 minutes. This will aid in killing all microorganisms. 

What are some things to consider when purchasing new pillows?

Buying pillows is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have neck or back problems. When considering the purchase of new pillows, consider the thickness of the pillow. Use your weight, head size, shoulder width, and sleep position to determine which thickness is best for you.

The material or composition is also important. Other factors may include heat retention, pressure relief, moldability, and cost.

What can I do with my old pillows?

If you’ve finally replaced your pillows, you may be wondering what to do with your old pillows. It may be hard to donate them since one of the reasons you replaced them in the first place is because of hygiene. And since you may not want to toss them out, here are some suggestions on ways to repurpose your pillows.

  • Make floor cushions or throw pillows – Floor cushions or throw pillows are a great idea for repurposing your pillows. Find pre-made covers designed for this purpose and get to work. It’s easy enough to do it yourself. The options are limitless.
  • Make pet beds – If you have a pet, maybe it needs a new bed. Old bed pillows make great beds for your little pets. They’ll love the pillow because it smells like you, feels safe, and is familiar to them. You could also use the stuffing from an old pillow to restuff an existing pet bed.
  • Use for fragile moving – Moving anytime soon? If you are, don’t throw out those old pillows just yet. You’ll need some cushions to help keep fragile items from breaking. Your old pillows will be great for this. If you have latex or memory foam pillows, you can even cut them down to the exact size you need.
  • Seal out drafts – Have a draft in your house? Now’s the time to be creative and create your own draft stopper. Take an old sock and stuff it with stuffing from an old pillow, and Viola! You’ve got your draft stopper. 


It’s understandable to not want to say goodbye to your old bedfellows. Our pillows are a safety net we look forward to nightly for sleep. But it’s because we want the best sleep possible that we sometimes have to say bye-bye!

Our pillows weren’t meant for us to sleep on forever. They get dirty, lose their shape, and eventually become uncomfortable. Take the time to consider if you need a new pillow by asking yourself some basic questions about your sleep experience.

Are you comfortable? Do you wake up in pain? Are you having any allergy symptoms? Is your pillow flat?

Then compare the type of pillow you have to the lifespan chart. Put it all together to decide if it’s time for you to go pillow shopping.

Picking The Right Pillow For Sleep: A complete guide – Parts:

1. Why do we Sleep on Pillows? Here’s what research says
2. Pillow Stuffing Types: Pros and Cons of All Common Materials
3. Do You Need a Soft or Firm Pillow? A physiotherapist weighs in
4. How High Should Your Pillow Be? Ideal height for your sleeping position
5. What is The Healthiest Pillow to Use? Based on science
6. When to Replace Your Pillow? Average lifespan of all pillow types
7. How to Recycle Your Pillow? 12 things you can do with an old pillow
8. How Much Do Pillows Cost? Average price of all pillow types
9. The 9 Best Affordable Pillows For All Sleeping Positions

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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