Skip to main content

This is How Long Your Pillows Should Last

How long do pillows last? This may seem like a simple question, yet it’s one that many of us tend to avoid asking. For the sake of better sleep and better health, it’s time for us to confront this matter head-on and seek an honest matter.

So how long do pillows last? Fortunately, we found some answers that will put this matter to rest.

A white pillow lies on the floor.
Photo by Itrytohelp32, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia

Why Can’t Pillows Last Forever?

As nasty as it feels to discuss, research that medical and sleep experts have collected over the years shows that pillows tend to collect fungi, mold, mildew, mites, and mites’ fecal matter over the years. As these nasty items penetrate into our pillows and concentrate in them, they can exacerbate allergic reactions, and the common fungus aspergillus can trigger an infection that causes more severe respiratory problems. Make sure to check for odors and stains: If odors and stains persist even after washing, then it’s time to ditch that pillow.

Beyond basic hygiene, there’s also the matter of alignment and comfort. Renowned clinical psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus has developed the fold test to determine if a pillow still works. Fold your pillow in half, and see how it reacts. If your pillow springs back to its pre-fold position, it’s probably still good, depending on how clean it is (see above). But if your pillow fails to spring back to its original shape, then it’s effectively a dead pillow.

If your pillow starts to feel lumpy and/or flat and thin, it’s more than a mere inconvenience or “pain in the neck.” That old and effectively dead pillow can lead to actual pain in your neck, and lack of proper alignment can lead to problems for your shoulders and neck along with overall sleeplessness. Even if you think you can save money by using old pillows after they become too flat and/or dirty, the costs of using such inadequate pillows will eventually metastasize.

So How Long Should We Use Our Pillows?

There’s no specific scientific consensus, but we do have some helpful guidance available. According to Dr. Michael Breus, pillows should be replaced every 18 months. But others, such as the Sleep Foundation, have a more nuanced view: Down alternative fiber pillows tend to last one to two years, down feather pillows tend to last one to three years, memory foam pillows and polyfoam pillows tend to last two to three years, and solid latex pillows tend to last two to four years.

If you want to try to extend your pillows’ lifespan, there are some things you can do to keep your pillows in tip-top shape. To prevent the collection and concentration of dirt, dust, bodily fluids, and fungi, wash your pillows regularly, and use pillow protectors as barriers to prevent such substances from reaching your pillows’ inner fill. Whenever you suffer any accidental spills, spot clean your pillows as soon as possible. Like your mattress and your sheets, good maintenance can help your pillows last longer.

Though it may feel wasteful to ditch your old pillows for new pillows to use in bed, there are options to put your old pillows to good use once they become useless for sleeping purposes. If you like to get crafty, you can turn those old pillows into a fun floor bed, outdoor gardening pads, packing material, decorative pillows, and even stuffed animals. If you’re not in a DIY kind of mood, you can donate them to a local animal shelter, or you can check your community’s recycling policy for proper disposal.

The cover photo was provided by RawPixel.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Davey
Andrew Davey is a writer who has spent a long time in "hard news" journalism, but who has also pursued interests in food and…
All the Stuff You Need to Get a Great Night’s Sleep
A man sleeping peacefully in his bed getting a good night's sleep.

With the hustle and bustle of the modern world following us into the bedroom, it's no wonder so many of us have trouble sleeping. We all know the proper steps to get a good night's sleep: No caffeine after 2 p.m., no screens in the bedroom (or after 1o p.m.), no drinking before bed, and, most importantly, having a bedtime routine. Other helpful actions can include sleeping in a totally dark room, keeping the ambient room temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, and making sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends).

Yet even when we do all of this, we sometimes still have trouble getting a great night's sleep. When that happens, it's time to upgrade your bedding, tech, and a few other accessories to help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed. After all, better sleep means a better you.
Mattress: Casper Mattress

Read more
This is How Much Sleep You Need and Tips to Maintain It
A man lies asleep in bed

Getting enough sleep at night can be the difference between feeling focused, energized, happy, and healthy the next day or groggy, irritable, emotionally unstable, hungry, and exhausted. Yet with over-scheduled busy lives that are too often defined by anxiety, stress, and chronic pain, many adults fail to get enough sleep every night. In fact, research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in three American adults is not getting the minimum recommended number of hours of sleep per night.
So how many hours of sleep do you need every night? How common is it for adults to not get enough sleep? What are the consequences of insufficient sleep? What can you do to get more sleep at night? Keep reading for our answers to the most common questions about getting enough sleep, and see if you can start getting the quantity and quality of restorative sleep your body needs to feel your best.

Prevalence of Insufficient and Poor-Quality Sleep
Photo by Q000024, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by PxHere
If you’re tossing and turning at night, or if you're rushing around so much all day that you only give yourself a few hours each night to sleep, you’re not alone. As mentioned, one-third of adults are not meeting sleep recommendations, with an even higher prevalence of insufficient sleep among certain racial and ethnic groups. For example, only 54% of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, non-Hispanic Blacks, and multiracial non-Hispanics actually met healthy sleep requirements.
Having trouble falling and staying asleep can cut into the number of hours you’re sleeping per night. A National Sleep Foundation study found that 45% of American adults report difficulty falling asleep at least one night per week and 23% report difficulty on five or more nights per week. Furthermore, falling asleep isn’t the entire battle, as 53% of respondents note trouble staying asleep, and 35% of survey respondents rated their sleep quality as ‘poor” or ‘only fair.”

Read more
The Best President’s Sale on Pillows Just in Time For Spring
White pillows on a bed.

The weather is starting to warm. The flowers are starting to bloom. Spring is coming, and spring cleaning season is fast approaching. Now is the perfect time to bring some new comfort to your bed. If you're looking to upgrade your bed with extra comfort, this is the time to snag some luxury pillows that won't break the bank. We’ve scoured the internet to find you deals from Amazon, Nordstrom Rack, Wayfair, Leesa, and more to save big on some new luxury pillows that offer a whole lot of comfort at surprisingly low prices.

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. have trouble sleeping at night. While some cases are severe, requiring medical attention, for many, the solution is to simply swap out your old and worn-out pillow for a new one that's better equipped to fit your sleeping needs. With pillows, one size never fits all. In fact, what’s comfortable for a side-sleeper will likely provide a painful experience for a back-sleeper. Improve the quality of your sleep with these online-only springtime luxury pillow deals.
Xtreme Comforts

Read more