How old is your pillow? Do you even know? Many people put a lot of thought into choosing a mattress, protecting it, and replacing it when it gets old, but they don’t think very much about their pillows.
However, your pillow is an important factor when it comes to getting good sleep. A bad pillow can cause you to lose sleep, just like a bad mattress can. And your pillow needs to support your spine properly, just like your mattress does. Making sure you care for your pillow and replace it regularly can help you get the rest you crave.
Why Replace Your Pillow
Depending on the pillow you buy, replacing yours can be expensive. Even if you order it online, it takes time, intentionality, and effort to make sure you get what you need and that you do it at the right time. Is a new pillow really worth all of that? It is, and here’s why.
Pillows are just like mattresses in that they absorb sweat, dead skin cells, and more. That definitely lends an ick factor to your pillow after a certain period of time. Do you ever drool in your sleep? That gets absorbed by your pillow, too. Sure, cleaning it can help for a while, but these things still build up over time and no one wants to sleep on that.
In addition to absorbing fluids and dead skin, your pillow can also become a home for bacteria, fungi, dust mites, and other allergens. If you struggle with allergies or you keep getting sick, your pillow may be to blame. Again, washing your pillow can help some, but it will never get 100% clean. After a while, it’s healthier to just get a new one.
A dirty pillow can also cause or exacerbate acne problems. Your pillow can absorb oil from your face, scalp, and hands. When you lay on the pillow, this gets on your face. It can clog pores, causing acne. If you have another reaction to these oils, your dirty pillow can cause other skin conditions, too
If your pillow isn’t properly supporting your head and neck, it’s going to make it hard to sleep comfortably. You can often tell if this is the case because you consistently wake up with a headache, a sore neck, or upper back stiffness and soreness.
Over time, certain types of pillows will get flatter. Even if you can fluff it up to give you the support you need, you probably don’t want to wake up several times during the night to do this. If you’re having to fix your pillow often, you’re not getting the kind of rest you need. A new pillow could help you sleep through the night.
How Often to Replace Your Pillow
Different kinds of pillows need to be replaced at different intervals. The replacement interval for each one is determined by the quality of material that makes up the pillow, as well as that material’s natural lifespan. Some materials are more resilient and, therefore, last longer. Keep in mind that most long-lasting pillows are also more expensive.
|Memory Foam||1 year||Over time, memory foam sags. When this happens, it won’t support you as well|
|Latex||2 years||Latex is more robust than memory foam but will also sag eventually|
|Feathers||6 mos – 1 year||These flatten relatively quickly|
|Down||1-1.5 years||Down is more robust than other feathers but will eventually develop lumps|
|Synthetic||6 mos – 1 year||These pillows are common but they are often not particularly robust|
|Bamboo||1.5 years||Bamboo is more robust than many but will eventually break down and become difficult to use|
How to Make Your Pillow Last Longer
No matter what you do, your pillow will eventually wear out. You can make sure it lasts as long as possible, though, by doing the following things.
- Put a protective case on your pillow. Wash it at least once a month. This will provide a barrier between you and anything nasty that your pillow might pick up.
- Clean your pillow every three to six months. See the note below on how to clean it.
- If appropriate, flip and rotate your pillow regularly. This allows you to use every side equally, so you’re less likely to flatten one.
A Note on Washing Your Pillow
Not all pillows can be put in the washing machine. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s information for yours before you put it in the washer. Similarly, many pillows can’t be dried, either. Make sure you know what is and is not safe for your pillow before you clean it.
If your pillow can’t be washed and dried, most manufacturers will give you an alternative way to clean it. You may have to get it dry cleaned, or there may be a special spray you can use. You can vacuum any pillow, though this may not get the pillow as clean as you’d get it another way.
When your sleep is poor and you know your mattress is good, it’s time to think about your pillow. If it’s flattened or sagging, it’s probably time to get a new one. Sometimes, you need a new one even when there aren’t any outward signs that yours has gone bad. Listen to your body and buy a new pillow when you need it.