December 16, 2021 6 min read

Although you may not put much thought into how often you should replace your pillows, it’s something to consider if you want to promote proper hygiene and good sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average person should replace their pillows every one to two years.

At the same time, it’s important to note that some pillows are made out of more durable materials than others. So, while the exact amount of time is going to depend on the type of pillows you use, one to two years is a good rule of thumb when it comes to how often you should replace pillows.

Pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years

Replacing your pillows can provide you with a number of benefits that impact your physical health and quality of sleep. Want to learn more about how often you should replace your bed pillows? Read from start to finish to learn why you should replace your pillows, how you can tell when it’s time to replace pillows, and how you can extend the life of your pillows. Alternatively, you can use the links below to skip to any section in the article.

Reasons to Replace Your Pillows

If you’ve been sleeping on the same pillows for years, you may be wondering why you should replace them. After all, it’s not like they’re broken...right? In reality, the comfort and support your pillows provide tend to degrade over time.

Additionally, consider the fact that your pillows are coming into contact with your face every night for approximately six to ten hours (depending on how much sleep you’re getting). Think of the bacteria, debris, drool, and allergens that have collected on your pillow over time—that may have you thinking twice about resting your head on the same pillows night after night.

Below, we go into more detail on the reasons why you should replace your pillows. 

Optimize sleep environment

Optimizing your sleep environment is key if you want to achieve a good night’s sleep. A relaxing environment that’s conducive to sleep can help you get to sleep quickly and improve the quality of your rest. By keeping your room cool, quiet, and dark, you can create the type of atmosphere that allows you to get high-quality rest every night.

Obtaining the right bedding is also an important part of optimizing your sleep environment. A comfortable mattress and soft sheets, blankets, and, of course, pillows can go a long way in improving the quality of one’s sleep. Regularly washing your sheets and replacing your pillows as needed can help to create a clean and soothing environment where you can get the rest you need.

Minimize allergens

Over time, pillows can collect allergens such as dust and mold. These irritants can lead to allergies in some people, resulting in coughing, sneezing, itchy skin, irritated eyes, runny noses, and more. Regularly washing your sheets and pillowcases can help eliminate these allergens. However, at some point, the allergens are bound to collect on the pillows themselves, which is why it’s important to replace your pillows.

Keep in mind that not every pillow is made equal as far as allergens are concerned. If you’re especially sensitive to certain allergens or want your pillow to last longer, consider investing in a pillow made using antimicrobial materials.

Reasons to replace your pillow infographic

Promote skin health

When you rest your head on your pillow each night, oils from your face and hair can transfer over to the fabric. Additionally, sweat, drool, dust, dirt, and more can accumulate on your pillow over time. In some cases, these substances may even lead to yellow stains on your pillow.

The oils, dirt, and other bacteria that get trapped in pillows can negatively impact your skin over time. Sleeping on old pillows can cause you to experience acne and clogged pores. Those with particularly sensitive skin may even experience rashes, itchiness, or irritation.

Of course, regularly washing your sheets and pillowcases can freshen them up and make it easier on your skin. But after a while, oils and bacteria may seep into the pillows themselves—that’s when it’s time to get a new pillow. 

Reduce potential for neck and back pain

Your pillows should provide not just comfort, but also support. A good pillow will support your head and neck, keeping your spine aligned and your body relaxed. A pillow that fails to properly support your head and neck can cause unnecessary muscle tension and neck pain.

Over time, pillows can lose their firmness and become flattened. This, in turn, can lead to discomfort, neck pain, and a decrease in the quality of your sleep. So, if your pillow isn’t as fluffy or firm as it used to be and you’re starting to notice negative effects, take action and replace your pillow.

Perhaps, in addition to your head and neck, you need extra support for other parts of your body. For instance, if you suffer from shoulder pain brought on by an injury, arthritis, or some other condition, try out the MedCline Shoulder Relief System. This specialized pillow lets you get a good night’s sleep while minimizing chronic shoulder pain.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Pillow

Signs it's time to replace your pillow infographic

If you’re wondering how often you should replace your pillows, we have a few tips. If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to swap out your old pillows for new ones:

  • You notice soreness in your neck, shoulders, or back when you wake up
  • You’re experiencing unusually strong allergies or acne breakouts
  • Your current pillow is flat, sagging, or lumpy
  • You notice yellow stains on your current pillow

One or more of these signs may indicate that it’s time to invest in a new pillow. If you’re looking for a new pillow, check out MedCline’s therapeutic body pillow to get advanced levels of support and comfort as you sleep.

Care Tips to Extend Pillow Life

Taking proper care of your pillow can help extend its lifespan. By taking steps to care for your pillows, you’ll get more out of them and won’t have to purchase replacements as frequently. Check out our care tips for different pillow types to learn more about how to extend your pillow’s life.

  • Down or feather: Check the label on your pillow for cleaning instructions, as some down and feather pillows can be machine washed, while others must be dry cleaned. Clean every three to six months and replace them after one to three years.
  • Memory foam: Don’t put memory foam pillows into the washing machine. Hand clean any areas that appear dirty every two months—or as needed—and allow the pillow to air dry. Replace your memory foam pillow after two to three years of use.
  • Pillowcases: Wash pillowcases on a regular basis. Most can be machine washed, but check the tag for any cleaning instructions. Purchase new pillowcases every one to two years.
  • Polyester and down alternative: Most polyester and down alternative pillows can be machine washed, and should be cleaned every three to six months. Replace these types of pillows every one to two years.
  • Polyfoam: Hand wash your polyfoam pillow every two to three months and allow it to air dry. Make sure to replace these types of pillows every two to three years.

A happy woman with her new pillows.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash your pillows?

How often you wash your pillows will depend on the type of material your pillow is made out of. In general, many types of pillows should be washed at least once every two to three months. However, you should also wash your pillowcases on a weekly basis.

Why do pillows turn yellow?

Over time, sweat, drool, and oils from your face and hair collect on your pillow. This can eventually lead to noticeable yellow stains.

Are old pillows bad for you?

In some cases, old pillows can trap bacteria, dust, mold, allergens, and body oils. This, in turn, can lead to a flare-up in allergies, acne breakouts, or rashes for those with sensitive skin. Regularly cleaning your pillows and buying new pillows when needed can prevent these adverse effects.

Man sleeping on his new pillow.

Final Notes

Although it may not be at the top of your to-do list, replacing your pillows can have a bigger impact than you think. In some cases, old pillows can irritate allergies and cause skin problems. But, most of all, an old, flat pillow can prevent you from getting the good night’s sleep you need.

If it’s time to upgrade your pillow, look no further than MedCline. MedCline’s therapeutic body pillow provides excellent support for those who need it, while our Reflux Relief System promotes comfort while preventing nighttime acid reflux. To learn more about how our products can help improve the quality of your sleep, speak to one of our Sleep Specialists today.