How Often Should You Replace Pillows? Plus How to Make Them Last Longer

A good night’s sleep is priceless, and comfortable pillows play a crucial role. Learn how often and why they should be replaced.

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Better Homes & Gardens / John Granen

There’s no better feeling than sinking your head into a plush pillow at the end of a long day. Sleep is priceless, and quality pillows play a key role in achieving a good night's rest. If you’ve noticed your pillows losing their shape, it might be time to replace them. Even if you regularly wash your pillowcases and the pillows themselves, it is recommended that you replace your pillows every one to two years for comfort, hygiene, and health reasons. We asked industry experts for insight on why pillows need to be replaced, how often you should do so, and what signs to look for.

Why Pillows Need to Be Replaced 

There are three main reasons why pillows need to be replaced—comfort, hygiene, and health. While it might seem that a pillowcase would protect the actual pillow from getting dirty, sweat and body oils penetrate through the cover and into the pillow. Because pillows are used every day, dirt also builds up, which can begin to cause skin irritation and allergies. Washing your pillowcases regularly, as well as your pillows if they’re machine-washable, helps, but you will still need to replace them at some point. If you’ve noticed your pillows starting to get flat or lumpy and you’re experiencing discomfort and soreness in the morning, they are likely due for a replacement.

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How to Know When Pillows Should Be Replaced 

It is generally recommended that you replace your pillows every one to two years, says Amy Hoban, chief creative officer at Parachute. “Pillows you sleep with will generally last between one to two years, while decorative pillows and shams last a bit longer," she says. "And with proper care, you can get a few more years of use.”

She also stresses the importance of taking care of your pillows. “Washing pillow inserts every three to six months is the best method, and luckily Parachute pillows are machine-washable! Wash them with cool water on a delicate cycle using mild, liquid laundry detergent and tumble dry on low for best results.”

When it comes to knowing when it’s time to replace your pillows, Aaron Feldman, director of product and brand strategy at Casper, points to a few telltale signs. “A few ways to know if you need a new pillow include: your head and neck don’t feel supported, your pillow has not retained its initial shape due to clumping of its fibers, your pillow doesn’t seem as fresh as it once was (even after a good wash), or your pillow is no longer comfortable and is hindering quality sleep.”

Signs It’s Time to Replace Pillows

  • Pillows have lost their shape, deflate quickly after being fluffed, or are lumpy.
  • You wake up with neck, shoulder, or head pain frequently due to a lack of support.
  • You are experiencing skin irritation, itchiness, sneezing, and other allergic reactions. 
  • Pillows have developed an odor.
  • There are stains from sweat and body oils on the pillows.
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Better Homes & Gardens / Werner Straube

How to Keep Pillows Clean

While pillows eventually need to be replaced, there are a couple of things you can do to prolong their lifespan and keep them in their best shape for maximum comfort. If your pillows are machine-washable, follow the instructions on how often to wash them, and do so regularly. In addition, here is what you can do to maintain your pillows.

1. Purchase Pillow Protectors

A pillow protector is a zippered cover that serves as an additional layer of protection under your pillowcase. It extends the life of your pillow by protecting it from stains, dust mites, sweat, and odors. “One way to extend the life of your pillows is to use a pillow protector, which will help shield your pillow from the wear and tear of daily use," says Ruthie Osswald, a designer at Brooklinen. "Our Marlow cooling pillow protector has an antimicrobial coating and keeps your pillow feeling fresh and new.”

2. Fluff Your Pillows

Fluff your pillows every morning to reshape them after they’ve been pressed down flat all night and to remove any collected dust. Grab the right and left side of the pillow and scrunch it back and forth to help it regain its shape. Alternately, if your pillows are dryer-safe, fluff them in the dryer after washing or spot-cleaning them on a low-heat setting.  

3. Machine-Wash or Spot-Clean Pillows

If your pillows are machine-washable, follow their specific care instructions. Pillows should typically be washed at least every six months. For those that cannot go in the washer, spot-clean any stains with a warm water and vinegar mixture.

4. Deodorize Pillows

Remove funky odors by sprinkling baking soda or cornstarch directly on the pillows and letting it sit for at least an hour. Then, vacuum it thoroughly and fluff the pillow. Leaving pillows outside in direct sunlight for a few hours every time you wash the pillowcases is also a great deodorizing trick. 

Which Pillow Types Are Long-Lasting?

Pillows come in various styles and materials to accommodate different sleeping styles, firmness preferences, and price points. Some hold their shape and comfort level better and for longer than others, which is something to keep in mind when shopping for pillows. Memory foam, latex, down, and feather pillows are the most long-lasting on the market and can last for several years if taken care of as directed. Fiber pillows are a synthetic alternative and don’t last for as many years as natural fill options. However, they are an excellent hypoallergenic choice.   

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