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How Long Do Pillows Last?

When was the last time you asked yourself how old your pillow was? It is easy to forget that our pillows need to be replaced regularly. Unfortunately, washing them isn’t enough on its own.

As time goes by, pillows break down, trapping more germs and losing their support. In this article, we’ll answer all the questions you need to know about how long pillows last and what you can do to maintain them. 

How Long Do Pillows Last? 

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect most pillows to last one to two years. High-quality pillows may last up to three years, but most won’t extend beyond that. There are some things you can do to extend the life of your pillows, but none of them can last forever. 

But what is the problem with using an old pillow, anyway? As it turns out, there are a number of drawbacks. These include:

  • Increased risk of allergies and asthma 
  • Skin problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor sleep
  • Neck and back pain
  • Headaches

What Factors Affect The Life of Pillows? 

As with any product, there is a lot of variation among pillows. This includes everything from their design to quality, materials used, and other factors. Here are a few of the top factors that can influence the life of your pillow.

1. Materials 

Two green bed pillows and small pillow on bed.

The materials that you choose in a pillow will affect its lifespan. Polyester pillows will lose their air quickly, becoming flat and uneven. Pillows stuffed with down or feathers have a longer lifespan, even if they use synthetic versions of those materials. 

2. Quality 

Unfortunately, when it comes to finding a good pillow, you get what you pay for. Cheap synthetic pillows are easier on your wallet, but you can expect them to break down more quickly. On the other hand, high-quality pillows such as memory foam or down pillows are likely to last longer.

3. Sleep Position 

A woman sleeping on bed.

Believe it or not, your sleeping position can affect how long your pillows last. The worst sleeping position (for both you and the pillow) is on your stomach; this puts more pressure on the materials and causes them to break down more quickly.

It also means that the oils from your face are left on the surface, embedding more dirt and bacteria in the fabric.

4. Maintenance 

As with most things, the lifespan of your pillows also depends on how well you maintain them. Changing your pillowcase regularly and washing and drying your pillow according to the manufacturer’s instructions will spell a significant difference in how long it lasts.

5. Extra Materials

It should come as no surprise that using a pillowcase is better than sleeping on a bare pillow. Using good-quality pillowcases and changing them regularly is better for your health and the lifespan of your pillows. If you sleep on a bare pillow, expect it to break down fairly quickly.

How To Make Your Pillows Last Longer

A well organized bed set up.

No pillow lasts forever, but you can significantly increase your pillow’s lifespan by following a few simple routines. This will also be easier on your wallet while helping you stay safe and healthy. 

1. Every Three Months: Wash Your Pillows

About once per quarter, you should wash your pillows. Put them in your washing machine with warm water and gentle detergent, then tumble dry.

You can even wash down pillows, and you might be surprised by how fresh and fluffy they are! Alternatively, you should not wash memory foam pillows, which retain water. 

2. Every Week: Wash Your Pillowcases

That’s right, you should be washing (or at least changing) your pillowcases every week. Make it a regular part of your bedroom laundry, along with washing your sheets. This will ensure your sleep surface stays clean and safe for your skin and lungs. 

3. Every Day: Fluff Your Pillows

When you get up in the morning, arrange your pillows and fluff them gently. This helps air circulate through them and encourages the pillows to maintain their shape. That, in turn, means a longer lifespan and better neck support.

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Replace Your Pillows?

A woman disgustinly smelling the pillow.

Even though it’s a hassle, it is recommended that you replace your pillows every year or two. Why? Because not only does it ensure you have a comfortable, supportive sleep surface, but it also means that your pillows are free of dust and germs. 

1. It Has An Odor

If you pick up an odor on your pillow despite regular washing, it might be a sign that it’s time for a new one. As pillows age, they trap more bacteria. Eventually, this builds to the point where it can no longer be cleaned effectively — at which point, you will start to notice that it smells. 

2. It’s Lumpy

Finding yourself constantly trying to fluff your pillow or remove the lumps from it, that’s a sure sign that the pillow is nearing the end of its life. Pillows lose their structure over time, resulting in a sleep surface with less support. 

3. You Wake Up Tired or in Pain

If you sleep eight hours a night but don’t feel rested, your pillow might be to blame. Losing that support at night may also cause you to have neck or back pain when you wake up. Sometimes you may not even feel uncomfortable at night — but you’ll definitely feel the discomfort in the morning. 

4. You Cough in The Morning

Coughing in the morning isn’t necessarily bad, but if it’s becoming a regular thing, it might be time to replace your pillow. Morning coughing can be a result of sleeping on a dirty pillow, exposing you to dust and allergens through the night. 

5. Your Skin is Breaking Out

Do you have a sudden acne flare-up but haven’t changed anything about your diet or hygiene? Acne on the face can be caused by sleeping on a dirty pillow, which traps bacteria, oil, dirt, and other contaminants. Changing your pillowcase can help, but ultimately the best thing is to buy a new pillow altogether.