How Often Should You Change And Replace Your Pillows

08 March 2022

If you find yourself waking up each morning feeling unrested, maybe it's time for a new pillow. Although it may not seem like the obvious culprit, failing to replace your pillows regularly can be the root cause of uncomfortable sleep. When a pillow loses its shape, your neck and shoulders suffer, and an under supported head can cause headaches and neck pain.

Although it may surprise you, pillows have a relatively short lifespan and can only provide you with optimum comfort and support for around 1 to 2 years. Not only that, but an overused pillow can accumulate allergens and can cause skin breakouts.

Wondering how to tell if your pillow is past its prime? This article will explain how to tell when it's time for a new pillow and how different pillow styles may have different lifespans. The average person spends a third of their life in bed; make sure you're making the most out of this time by replacing your pillows regularly.

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How Often Should You Get New Pillows?

According to sleep experts, the average pillow should be replaced every 1-2 years, particularly if you use it every night. The average Brit only changes their pillow once every 3.2 years, which is nearly double the recommended rate!

However, if you notice that your pillow has lost its shape, feels as though it is not providing you with enough support, or has stains on it, you'd be best to change your pillow early.

On the other hand, pillows can last longer than 1-2 years if they are washed regularly, used infrequently, and covered with a good quality pillow protector.

The type of pillow you use can also determine its lifespan. For example, memory foam, Geltex, pocket sprung, hollow fibre, wool, and bamboo pillows should all be changed once every 1-2 years. In comparison, latex pillows can last up to 5 years. Latex pillows are more durable because they are made with tougher materials and are easier to clean.

Why Do Pillows Need Replacing?

Regardless of the type you have or how often you clean it, your pillow will need to be replaced at some point for one of the following reasons:

They accumulate allergens

Body oil, sweat, saliva, dead skin, and other debris gets embedded in your pillow as you sleep. Even with a pillowcase, this debris can accumulate and form mildew, mould, and other allergens (although a high-quality pillowcase does help!).

Not only can this cause a bad odour, but it can also cause you to experience such reactions as rashes, itchy throat and eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, and even breathing difficulties.

A pillow covered in fungi also acts as the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, which carry plenty of allergens of their own. They feed on dead skin cells and thrive particularly well in warm atmospheres, like the one created in your bed. Dust mites can cause facial pressure, eczema reactions, and extreme asthma attacks.

The only solution against allergen build-up is to replace pillows periodically!

They lose their shape

Once a pillow loses its shape, it can't provide the support necessary for your neck and head. A pillow should be soft, bouncy, and firm enough to support your neck at a comfortable level and put the rest of your body in a natural position, with your neck and spine perfectly aligned. However, even a good quality pillow will grow flat over time.

If you feel that your neck is angled uncomfortably, it could be time to invest in a new pillow. If ignored, this will gradually cause neck and back pain instead of giving you a good night's sleep.

You can test the structure of your pillow by folding it in half; if it bounces back into shape immediately, it still has enough shape left to support your neck. If it doesn't, you'll most likely need a new pillow. If your pillow feels flat and lumpy should also be replaced.

If you feel like you're not getting enough support from standard pillows, you should try a Bolster Pillow, which is guaranteed to support your full body.

They stop being comfortable

If you're not welcomed by immediate comfort when your head hits the pillow, your pillow has likely had its day. This may not necessarily be a result of the pillow's limited lifespan but because you've switched your sleeping position. If you've recently changed from a back sleeper to a side sleeper, you may need a new pillow to meet the needs of your new position.

The changed sleeping position could also be the result of an uncomfortable pillow. If you've been a side sleeper all your life, and suddenly you start feeling more comfortable on your back, it could be your body trying to tell you that the pillow no longer supports you. Once you invest in a new pillow, you may find yourself reverting back to your natural sleeping position.

When Does A Pillow Need Replacing?

There are several ways to identify when the right time to buy a new pillow is, which includes the following:

When you regularly have to re-fluff the pillow

When trying to sleep, if you're constantly feeling the urge to pick the pillow up and shake it, then the pillow probably doesn't have enough firmness left to support your neck.

When you have neck pain when you wake up

Feeling neck pain as soon as you wake up is normally a sign of a bad pillow. A chronic sore neck that is limited exclusively to the morning definitely suggests that something about your sleep habits is wrong. Chances are, it's probably your pillow that's to blame.

When the pillow has lumps

A pillow that is uneven in any way needs replacing as soon as possible. A lumpy pillow is a clear sign that the material inside has lost its form and is only going to negatively affect your sleep quality.

When the pillow fails the 'fold test'

The 'fold test' is a quick and easy way to determine whether or not it's time to start shopping for new bedding accessories. If you've got a feather pillow, you can perform the 'fold test' by simply folding the pillow in half and seeing if it can regain its shape naturally.

If you've got a polyester, microfibre, hollow fibre, or any other kind of synthetic pillow, fold the pillow in half as normal, but place a weight (a hardback book will do) on top of the fold. If the pillow overpowers the weight and springs back into action, then the pillow still has some life in it. If it fails to overpower the weight, then it's time to get a good pillow.

When the pillow is stained after washing

Stains on the outside of your pillow suggest that things are much worse on the inside. No matter how nice your pillow covers are, a pillow that remains stained after washing is one that belongs in the bin.

When it smells bad

You rely on your pillow to gently send you to sleep; the last thing you want is a bad smell coming from it when you're trying to drift off. Although an obvious one, a pillow that smells is a surefire sign of accumulated allergens and, for the good of your health, should be replaced as soon as possible.

How To Wash And Dry Pillows Correctly

In order to increase the longevity of your pillow, a good idea would be to wash not only the pillow covers but your pillow itself. When washing, each type of pillow needs to be treated in a different way.

Memory foam pillows

Memory foam pillows need to be hand-washed with detergent once every couple of months. You could also use a vacuum to remove the dust after spot cleaning. Once cleaned, you should leave the pillow out to air dry.

Memory foam pillows are very delicate and should therefore be treated as such when washing. They cannot be machine washed as this will break up the foam inside and make the pillow lumpy.

Feather pillows

Most feather and down pillows can be machine washed, but it's recommended to put them on a gentle cycle and use a mild liquid detergent. For some feather pillows, it's best to let them air dry, while others need to be dry cleaned.

Wool pillows

For wool pillows, we recommend filling up a full basin with cold water to fully submerge the pillow. Afterwards, gently hand wash the pillow with a light detergent before rinsing it.

Polyfoam pillows

Similar to memory foam, polyfoam needs to be handled with care, and these pillows are therefore unsuitable for machine washing. If you want your polyfoam pillow to last, you're going to have to wash it by hand every 2-3 months and let it air dry afterwards.

Polyester pillows

For polyester pillows, we recommend washing with warm water (some labels may recommend cold water) on a slow cycle. A top tip would be to load the machine with several pillows at once in order to balance the load and create an even clean.

Latex pillows

Latex pillows are another type that should not be machine washed. Latex should be hand-washed; however, they should never be submerged in water. It's best to lightly spot clean a latex pillow with mild detergent. Latex should also be air-dried - it should never be wrung dried.

Buckwheat pillows

Buckwheat pillows frequently are ruined by contact with moisture, which makes cleaning them difficult. It's best to remove the buckwheat totally from the pillow and hand-wash the cover. By doing this regularly, as well as frequently replacing the buckwheat, these types of pillows can last forever!

How do I choose a new pillow?

The best part of throwing away your old pillow is that you get to choose a bright, comfortable, and bouncy new pillow! When picking out a new pillow, a good place to start would be to check out Belledrom's extensive pillow selection, which includes everything from wool to silk pillows. Our collection also features a range of different pillow shapes, including V-shaped ones.

FAQs

How often should I wash pillowcases?

To keep your pillow in good condition, you'll need to keep your pillowcase free from debris and accumulated allergens. The best way to do this would be to wash your pillowcase once per week. In order to make this easier, you could invest in several pillowcases and alternate each week.

Can I kill the dust mites in my pillow?

It is possible to kill dust mites that appear in your pillow and bed linens by using ascaricides, which is said to have a limited effect on the removal of the pest.

However, the best solution would be to replace your pillows and bedsheets. The appearance of dust mites is a clear indicator that too much debris has accumulated on and been absorbed by your pillow and sheets. In order to maintain sleep hygiene, you should wash and replace all of your sleep accessories regularly.

How many pillows should I use?

You can determine the number of pillows you need by your standard sleeping position.

For example, if you are a side sleeper, it is recommended that you use two standard size pillows. Some side sleepers use one pillow for head and neck support and use the other one to keep their lower body aligned. If you are a stomach sleeper, you should only use one pillow to keep your neck neutral.

Does a memory foam pillow last longer than others?

A memory foam pillow lasts around two years, which is the average lifespan of a pillow. Latex pillows can last for longer, it will be around five years before you'll have to replace your pillow.

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