How Often Should You Change Your Pillow?

As a general rule, you should replace your pillow every 1-2 years. But, if you're looking to get into specifics, the life span of each type of pillow varies. For example, memory foamlatex, synthetic and natural pillows all have different recommended life spans.

In this guide, we'll explain how often to change your pillow, the benefits of replacing it and what you can do with your old pillow. We'll also give you some tips on washing your pillows and when you should change your pillowcases.

Person showing the inside of a pillow
Read on to find when you should swap your pillow

7 signs you should replace your pillow

A woman holding her neck in pain
Watch out for these signs to find out when to change your pillow

If you're not sure whether you should replace your pillow, these are some of the most common signs that suggest you should.

You should change your pillow if:

  1. Your head and shoulders are no longer supported
  2. You wake up with tension headaches from a lack of head support
  3. Allergies start to affect your sleep more than usual
  4. The pillow feels flat and uncomfortable
  5. You've recently changed your sleeping position
  6. You always have to re-fluff your pillow
  7. The pillow is yellow or stained

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Pillow tests you can do

There are three tests you can also do to see if your pillow has lost its support and is ready to be replaced.

1. Folding it in half

If your pillow doesn't expand to its original shape when you fold it in half, you might need a new pillow. This test is made for hollowfibre and synthetic pillows.

2. Saddlebag test

This test involves you placing your pillow over your extended arm. If it flops over your arm and doesn't hold its shape (like a saddlebag), it's time for a new pillow. Again, this test is more suited for hollowfibre and synthetic pillows.

3. Press test

Press your hand into your pillow. If it doesn't spring back to its original shape or takes too long to reform, it might be time for a new one. This test is more for foam pillows.

The signs and tests above can give you an idea of how old your pillows actually are.

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When to replace different types of pillow

The standard time to replace your pillow should be every 1-2 years, depending on how much you use them.

However, it can be difficult to know when to change pillows because different types need changing at different times. This is because each type includes different materials.

If you've had your pillow for this amount of time, you might feel like it's unnecessary to change it. As long as it's not showing any of the signs above and you still have a great night's sleep, use your judgement on whether you need a new one.

Below is a table of the different varieties of pillows and how often you should change them:

Memory foam2 years
Medical grade foam1-2 years
Latex5 years
Geltex2 years
Pocket sprung2 years
Hollowfibre2 years
Natural (e.g. feather and down)1-2 years
Wool1-2 years
Bamboo1-2 years

Top tip: When you get a new pillow, make a note of when you bought it so you know when it's time to get a new one.

If you're looking for a replacement pillow but aren't sure where to start, our helpful pillow buying guide can help point you in the right direction.

Man hugging a Nectar Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
Find out what type of pillow you have so you know when to replace it

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Why should you replace your pillow?

The main reason why you should replace your pillow is so you can have a better, healthier sleep. Your pillow contributes a lot to your sleep hygiene, allergies, neck support and your overall sleeping experience.

It's more hygienic

It's no secret that your pillow gets dirty as you sleep on it. While you sleep, your sweat, body oils, dead skin cells and dust mites get absorbed into your pillow.

Using pillow cases can protect your pillow from getting dirty, but they can't protect your pillow from everything. Even if you wash your pillow on a regular basis, your pillow is inevitably going to be affected as you sleep on it every night.

Changing your pillow every couple of years means you can enjoy a cleaner, more hygienic sleep!

Helps to reduce allergic symptoms

No matter how much you clean your pillow, dust mites can always linger, which can cause your allergies to worsen. This could mean that you sneeze more and your eyes and nose itch during the night.

Replacing your pillow will mean that dust mites won't build up, so your allergic symptoms will be kept at bay.

If you're looking for a pillow that can help with your allergies - so take a look at our wide range of hypoallergenic pillows!

Gives you better support

Over time, your pillow will lose its original support.

Pillows are designed to cradle your head and neck, which helps your spinal alignment and posture. The better support from a new pillow means that you can avoid aches and pains in your neck and shoulders.

The number of pillows you use can also cause aches and pains, which we'll cover a little later.

Woman laying on pillow smiling
Changing your pillow means you can have a fresher and more supportive sleep

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What should I do with my old pillow?

We're all more aware of our impact on the planet, so you might not want your pillow to go to waste. There are many things you can do with your old pillow without throwing it away.

Donate it to an animal shelter

Lots of animals in shelters would love a comfy new bed, and your pillow would be perfect for them!

Leave natural fillings out for the birds

If your pillow has natural fibres, you can remove the fillings and leave them in your garden for the birds. This is because they can use these fillings for nesting.

Use microfibre or hollowfibre for insulation or as draft excluders

These fillings are great insulators, so instead of wasting them, you could use them as extra insulation. You could even make your own draft excluders to use in the winter.

Make beds for your pets

Similar to donating your pillows to animal shelters, you could create your own pet bed from your old pillows. This can be really beneficial for dogs especially as the pillow will still keep some of your scent which can help to calm them while you're away.

Use as padding for moving houses

If you're looking to move house and want to buy some new pillows for the occasion, you could use your old pillow fillings as extra padding in your moving boxes. You can always keep them for extra packing in the future.

Make floor cushions

If you're not ready to let go of your pillows and want to turn them into something you can still use, then this could be the option for you. You could add a cover around the pillow or add some more filling to your pillow and craft your own floor cushion that you could use inside when you have guests over or in the garden on a warm day.

Dog sleeping on a pillow
There are plenty of ways you can upcycle your pillows - why not try it out?

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How often should you wash pillows?

Unless the care instructions tell you otherwise, you should wash your pillow every three months.

Washing your pillows is extremely important for your hygiene and overall maintenance of your pillow. This means that you can always enjoy a fresh, clean sleep and it can help to keep your pillow in great condition.

We'll explain how often you should wash your pillows and how to properly maintain them so they stay cosy and supportive for as long as possible.

Washing your pillows

When you wash your pillows every three months, you should follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

However, we recommend spot-cleaning your pillow if any spills or accidents occur.

Things to watch out for if your pillow doesn't have a care guide:

  • Memory foam pillows cannot be washed
  • If your pillow has a removable cover, wash that rather than the pillow itself
  • Whether the fillings would clump together in the wash e.g. any shredded materials
The Horizon Memory Foam Pillow on a bed
The Horizon Memory Foam Pillow has a removable, machine washable cover for easy cleaning

Drying your pillows

Before you sleep on your pillows again you must make sure that they're completely dry. If you sleep on a pillow that's still damp, the fillings may not be as comfortable or supportive. You might also unintentionally reshape the pillow if it's still wet. Thoroughly drying your pillow will help to keep the fillings inside evenly distributed.

If the care guide says you can tumble dry your pillows, you should be aware that the fillings could clump together. This is an issue that only really affects pillows which have shredded or loose fillings. To avoid this, you could put a tennis ball in your tumble drier with the pillows to keep the fillings separated.

Pillow maintenance

To keep your pillow in great condition, there are some quick and easy things to do to expand its lifespan.

  • Fluff it in the morning and at night to keep the fillings loose
  • Buy a pillow cover to protect it from any accidents
  • Wash them on a regular basis
  • Make sure they're completely dry when you sleep on them
A washing machine with a pile of pillows
Not all pillows can be machine washed so make sure to check your care guide

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When should I change my pillowcase?

Pillowcases can be washed whenever necessary and won't impact the overall comfort and support your pillow provides. The cleaner you keep your pillowcase, the less dirty your pillow will get. They are designed to just fit over your pillows and are made from materials such as cotton, nylon and linen.

When to wash your pillowcase

You should change which pillowcases you use on your pillows every time you wash your bedding. As mentioned above, this should be every few weeks to ensure that you always have a clean sleeping environment.

When to replace your pillowcase

If you want to know when you should get rid of your pillowcases, you should look out for signs of general wear and tear, permanent staining or if it still looks unclean no matter how much you wash it.

A woman putting a pillowcase over a pillow
Keeping your pillowcase clean will help to keep the pillow inside hygienic too

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How many pillows should I sleep with?

One good quality pillow suitable for your sleeping position is ideal. However, many people like to layer up two slimmer pillows to sleep on. This isn't necessarily a problem, but if you don't change your pillows regularly and they don't offer much support, you could be hurting your neck and back.

Pillows are extremely important for ensuring that you have a healthy sleeping posture which doesn't put too much strain on your neck and promotes healthy spinal alignment.

Below we've listed how many pillows you should be sleeping with for your sleeping position:

  • Side sleeper - one deep pillow or two slimmer pillows
  • Front sleeper - one slim pillow
  • Back sleeper - one standard depth pillow

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Now you know how often you should change your pillow, how often to wash it and how to keep it in great condition.

If you're looking for a fantastic replacement for your current pillow we have a great selection of pillows for you to browse. You can choose from a variety of fillings and firmness ratings so you can find the perfect pillow for you today!

Or, if you're looking for our recommendations on pillows, check out our top 10 best pillows for pros, cons and customer reviews!