How Often Should You Replace Pillows? Plus, Why It Matters


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Pillows can be a great life companion. No matter what you are going through in your life, there’s always a pillow to bury your face in and crib and cry to sleep. They will always comfort you until the weight of your head eventually wears them out. 

Hence, it is important to invest in a new pillow every year or two, say experts. 

A good pillow can help you rest well and recharge your energies to take on the world, morning after morning. On the other hand, a lifeless pillow can leave you feeling worse than what you had hoped for when you laid your head on it a night before. 

how often replace pillows uk

But first, why change your pillows frequently

Life is such that we tend to develop a fondness for even inanimate objects such as pillows. But some relationships aren’t meant to last and we are saying this for your good and with the backing of Science. Here’s why you should replace your pillows frequently.

When you go to bed every night, your body sheds dead skin, hair, sweat and oil. These get absorbed by the pillow, giving rise to an unpleasant odour and becoming a breeding ground for dust mites and allergens over a period of time. These microbes feed on the dead skin and multiply and become the reason why you wake up wheezing every morning. Even though you may wash these pillows regularly, the weight of your head can flatten your pillow or sag it out unevenly. This can affect the alignment of your head and body while you sleep, leading to stiffness in the neck, shoulder and back.

4 signs you need to toss away your old pillow

Your relationship with your much-loved pillow must come to an end if:

  • Your pillow is feeling lumpy or if you spot yellow stains on the pillow cover. These could happen because of the accumulation of sweat, makeup and night creams. 
  • You wake up tired and your head, neck or shoulder feels sore. 
  • You sneeze right after waking up. It could be due to dust mite allergy.
  • You fold your pillow in half and it doesn’t come back to its original shape.

How often you should buy new pillows

A study by Ergoflex UK, a premium mattress manufacturer, has shown that the average Britons hold onto their beloved pillows for 3.2 years. Now, that may not be a good idea. 

As a thumb rule, The National Sleep Foundation recommends you to change your pillow every one or two years, and if you are prone to allergies, it advises you to wash your pillows sooner than later to avoid the germs from piling up.

However, if cared for well, some pillows can serve you effectively much longer. The life expectancy of pillows varies depending on the material they are filled with. Read below.

Type of pillowWhen to change/replace them
While polyester pillows6-24 months
Feather pillows1.5 to 2 years
Memory foam pillows1.5 to 3 years
Down pillows2 years
Buckwheat pillows3 years

1) While polyester pillows: 6 months to 2 years

These are lightweight, soft and cosy to lay on. You can discard your old polyester pillow every 6 or 24 months without feeling guilty because these are fairly cheap. 

2) Feather pillows: 1.5 to 2 years 

Your feather pillow can stay fresh and free of allergens for a maximum of two years

3) Memory foam pillows: 1.5 to 3 years 

|Also called viscoelastic polyurethane foam, it’s one of the most popular pillow materials. Memory foam gets softer when it comes in contact with your body heat and regains its shape after it cools down. This responsiveness helps it to conform to your body and alleviate pressure points. Memory foam pillows are more affordable when compared to latex, wool, or buckwheat pillows and can last for 1.5 to 3 years.

4) Down pillows: 2 years 

These are popular among those who like exceptionally soft and mouldable surfaces to rest their weary heads on. Made with soft interior plumage of ducks or geese and coarser outer feathers, these are premium both in terms of experience and price. You can snuggle up to them for a maximum of two years.

5) Latex pillows: 2-4 years

These are bouncy yet resilient to hold the shape of the pillow. They last longer than the memory foam pillows, that is, two to four years. 

6) Buckwheat pillows, 3 years

Filled with buckwheat hulls, these keep your spine aligned, offer an adjustable loft and sleep you cool. In short, they provide the luxury of a down pillow and the functionality of other varieties. These are a good deal because these can go on for three years.

How to care for your pillows

If you don’t maintain your pillow well, you might have to throw them sooner than six months. What a waste of money that would be! 

So follow these leads. 

  1. Check the label of your pillow for washing instructions. These vary from brand to brand and go from machine washing to dry cleaning and spot cleaning.

  2. If you are going for the machine, wash them every 6 months on the hot water setting. Wash two pillows together so the machine cleans them equally with a mild liquid detergent. Run your washer again, this time on the rinse setting and without the detergent. Dry the pillows on the air or low-heat setting. Ensure they are completely dry and hold no moisture or damp clumps inside.

  3. Fluff your pillow every day to maintain its shape.

  4. Use a pillow cover on top of your pillow case. It acts as an extra buffer by absorbing the dead skin cells and body oil, leaving the pillowcase and the pillow inside pretty much unharmed. A pillow cover can extend the lifespan of a pillow greatly but don’t forget to wash it every 3 to 4 weeks.

The bottom line is, your relationship with your pillow cannot go on and on

Not all relationships last forever. Some of them are short and sweet. So get yourself a new pillow from time to time and wake up feeling happier and refreshed. 

Wondering which pillow should you buy next? Don’t fret. We have several proposals for you. Check out our reviews of The Best Pillows in the UK. We’re sure you’ll find a great ‘pillow’ match on this. But if we have missed out something, do tell us and we will review it diligently and update our list.


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