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How you sleep contributes to your physical and mental well-being. Your bedding can help you sleep better. This includes your pillow. The right pillow will help you find a comfortable position in bed, while an old and lumpy pillow is hardly going to support a good night’s sleep.

In this article, we focus on getting the most out of your pillows. You will find information on how often you should replace your pillows and what the signs are that your pillow needs changing. In addition, we have included tips on how to care for your pillows, how to dispose of old pillows, and how to choose new pillows.

How Often Should Pillows Be Replaced

How Often Should Pillows Be Replaced?

The expert advice on how often you should replace your pillows is every one to three years. The exact time frame depends on several factors such as the type of pillow, how well it is cared for, how much it gets used, and whether you often get hot during the night and sweat on your pillow.

Replacing your pillow regularly helps to make sure that your pillows support your head and neck properly and that they are clean and allergen-free. Caring for your pillows properly will help their longevity and keep them clean and free of allergens.

What Are the Signs Your Pillows Need Replacing?

Most pillows, even with the best care routine, become saggy and uneven and develop some lumps over time. These are clear signs that your pillow is ready to be replaced. You may also find yourself waking up with a stiff or sore neck if your pillow is no longer supporting the correct alignment of your head and spine.

Your pillows are also likely to stain and become yellow from the oils on your skin and other bodily fluids such as sweat and drool. This will happen even if you use pillow protectors, as oils and sweat will get through the protector, eventually. The yellowing may be faster if you often get hot during the night and sweat into your pillow.

You may also notice that your pillow is smelling, which is another sign of trapped body oils and sweat inside the pillow. Finally, if your pillow is making you sneeze, it is a sign of dust and allergen buildup, so look for a new pillow to reduce allergic symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Why Do You Need to Replace Your Pillows Frequently?

Replacing your pillows every one to three years may seem like a hassle and an expense you could do without. However, if you continue using pillows that are no longer in good shape, they could be contributing to sore muscles, skin breakouts, and allergic reactions.

Build up Allergens

Even if you regularly clean your pillows, over time they will accumulate allergens, including dust mites, mould, and fungus. If you have pets, their dander will also build up in your pillows. Sleeping near allergens can cause some people to sneeze, get a stuffy or runny nose, irritated eyes, or itchy skin. If you are prone to allergies, replacing your pillow will help prevent allergies related to your pillow.

Trapped Bodily Fluids and Dirt

As well as allergens accumulating in the pillows, oils from your hair and face, drool, sweat, and other dirt from your body will also seep through your pillowcases. They get trapped inside the pillow, which causes their yellow colour and a musty smell. For people who sleep with their face pressed into the pillow, these substances can clog pores and trigger breakouts of acne and rashes.

Lack of Support for Head and Neck

A good pillow supports your head and neck, keeping your spine in the right alignment and relieving tension in your muscles. A flat, sagging, or lumpy pillow will not provide the required support, leading you to wake up achy and unrefreshed. If you sleep on your side, you might also have sore shoulders from sleeping on a flat pillow. The right pillow will support your spinal alignment and keep your airways open.

Replacement Guidelines and Pillow Care

Replacement Guidelines and Pillow Care

You can help your pillows last as long as possible by caring for them properly, which includes cleaning them regularly. How long the pillow will last and how to best care for it depends on the material. You will find information on how to care for different types of pillows and when to replace them below. However, you should also check the manufacturer’s care instructions for specific details for your pillow.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows need replacing every two to three years. They should not be washed in a washing machine but spot cleaned. Some memory foam pillows can be thoroughly washed by hand every couple of months using gentle laundry detergent. However, check the care label first. Never use a tumble dryer for memory foam pillows but let them air dry.

Polyfoam Pillows

Like memory foam pillows, polyfoam pillows generally last two to three years in regular use. They cannot go into washing machines or tumble dryers but need to be spot cleaned. Check the care label if they can be washed by hand. If yes, hand wash them every two or three months and leave them to air dry.

Feather and Down Pillows

Most feather and down pillows will last up to two years, although some can last up to three years with proper maintenance. You can check how your pillow is doing by folding it in half. If it springs back to its original shape, it is still good.

The care label will tell you whether the pillows can be machine washed or if they require dry cleaning. Wash the pillows using a gentle cycle and mild laundry detergent. You may need to repeat the rinse cycle to get all the detergent out of the pillows. If they can be tumble dried, use a low setting or let them air dry.

Down Alternative and Polyester Pillows

If you have pillows made with a down alternative or polyester, they will last between six months and two years. Both types of pillows can usually be machine washed using a gentle cycle. Air dry the pillows or use a low setting on your tumble dryer if you wish to dry them faster.

Latex Pillows

Latex pillows have one of the best longevity and can last up to four years. It is best not to wash them in a washing machine. Instead, spot-clean any stains or hand wash your pillow unless the care label advises against washing them. When hand washing latex pillows, avoid submerging them in the water and do not wring them dry. Leave the pillows to air dry.


Buckwheat pillows should not be washed as moisture can ruin them. If you have pillows with buckwheat filling, protect them with pillow protectors. Many buckwheat pillows can be opened so you can replace the buckwheat hulls when they flatten out. In regular use, this is roughly every three years.

Protecting Your Pillows

Always use pillowcases on your pillows to protect them from debris and oils. Wash them at least once per week to prevent allergens and oils that have accumulated on the pillowcase from transferring into the pillows.

If you are prone to allergies, skin rashes, or acne, consider getting silk pillowcases. Silk is hypoallergenic, breathable, smooth, and resistant to wrinkling. It is also resistant to mould and dust mites and does not absorb moisture like other materials, such as cotton.

In addition to using pillowcases, consider getting pillow protectors. They go between the pillow and the pillowcase and provide an extra layer of protection for your pillows. You can find pillow protectors that not only protect the pillows from dust mites, pet dander, stains, and spills but also from bed bugs.

How to Dispose of Old Pillows

When you are replacing your pillows, only use landfills as the last resort. Check the local guidelines as some municipalities may have specific guidelines for pillow disposal. In some cases, you may be able to recycle, if not the whole pillow, at least parts of it. Check the recycling program in your area to see if they recycle pillows and the type of pillows they accept.

Natural filling materials, such as down or feathers, can be composted but ensure you remove anything non-compostable first. In some communities, you may be able to give your pillows to textile recycling programs that use the pillows in other products, for example, as insulation.

If your pillows are in decent condition, consider donating them. For example, some animal rescue centres may be able to use them as bedding for the animals. You can also consider repurposing the pillows yourself as a bed for your pet, knee pads, or floor cushions in the kids’ playroom.

How to Choose the Right Pillow for You

When you are ready to replace your old pillows, there are some key factors you should consider when deciding on replacement pillows. One of the most important factors is which position you prefer to sleep in.

For example, a side sleeper’s pillow should be firm enough to keep your head and neck properly aligned. A stomach sleeper needs a softer and thinner pillow, while a back sleeper should go for a medium-firm pillow that helps to maintain the natural curve of the neck.

You also need to think about the filling material. Foam and latex pillows are often longer lasting than down or feather pillows. Natural latex, which is naturally hypoallergenic, is good for people who suffer from allergies as are pillows with synthetic fillings. If you often get hot during the night, choose pillows that help regulate your temperature and keep you cooler.

Choose a pillow that is thick enough to suit your sleeping position and the distance between your neck and shoulder. The common size options in Canada are standard, queen, and king, so you can pick the size that matches your bed the best.

Before you make your decision, read reviews to compare the best pillows on the Canadian sleep and bedding market to make an informed choice.


Your pillows are an important factor in how well you sleep. Most pillows that are in regular use should be replaced every one to three years, depending on the material. Looking after your pillows, including cleaning them and using pillowcases and protectors, can help your pillows last as long as possible.

When you are ready to dispose of your old pillows consider repurposing, donating, or recycling them. Choose new pillows that best suit your sleeping position. Also consider your other needs, including whether you are prone to allergies or sleeping hot. It is also a good idea to check reviews before making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Latex pillows have the longest maximum lifespan, which is up to four years. Other pillow types, including foam and natural fillings, are likely to last up to three years. However, sometimes pillows will wear out faster depending on several factors such as how often they are cleaned, if you use a pillow protector, and whether you get very hot during the night and sweat into your pillow. Replace your pillows when you are no longer sleeping comfortably on them.

There are several things you can do with your old pillows. Some people like to repurpose them in their own homes, for example, use them as floor cushions in playrooms or as beds for their pets. You may also be able to donate your pillows to a charitable organisation or to a textile recycling program. Landfills should always be the last option for disposing of old pillows.

On average, pillows will last between one and three years in regular use. However, some pillows may only last around six months, while latex pillows can last approximately four years. You can extend the longevity of your pillows by cleaning them regularly and using pillowcases and protectors.