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How Often to Replace Pillows

How Often to Replace Pillows

Allergies and pain in neck, shoulder and shoulder blades - your pillow can cause or exacerbate these conditions. As a pillow ages, it flattens out, develops moisture, and becomes a home to dust, dust mites, acne causing bacteria, and molds.

So it’s essential to change your pillow after a certain period of time.

In this post, you’ll learn how often to replace pillows.

3 Signs that It’s Time to Replace your Pillow

Your pillow can cause medical conditions - neck pain & allergies. It can trigger an acne outbreak or make it worse.

Sign #1 - It’s too Flat & Not Supportive!

Flat & Not Supportive Pillow

A pillow flattens out as it gets old. Repeated use compresses the pillow fill, which then loses mass and loft.

A flat pillow fails to maintain good alignment of your spine, leading to more stress on the joints of your neck - despite your sleeping position.

Side sleepers experience additional pressure on their shoulders, as the pillow fails to provide sufficient support to the neck, causing the weight of the upper body to fall on the shoulder adjacent to the mattress.

This additional pressure can lead to development of pain - even chronic pain, which can take months to heal.

Sign #2 - It Smells or Causes Allergies!

Smells or Causes Allergies

Your pillow can become infested with:

  • Acne causing bacteria
  • Allergy causing dust mites and molds

Because of dust, dust mites breed in your pillow and poop around. It is their poop that causes allergic reactions in people.

allergic reactions

Because of moisture, molds develop in your pillow. Identifiable as green, white, and black spots inside the pillow, molds emit a bad smell and cause symptoms of allergies such as:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes

If your pillow smells pungent or funky consistently and/or you’re experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above, then you should consider replacing your pillow.

Sign #3 - It’s not Appropriate anymore!

As your body changes, so do your requirements from a pillow.

When you gain or lose weight or change your sleep position, you require a different pillow size.

In the following cases, you may require specific types of pillows:

  • Sleep Apnea - CPAP Pillow
  • Pregnancy - Body Pillow
  • GERD (Gastrointestinal )- Wedge Pillow

When to Replace a Pillow

On the basis of pillow material, you should replace your pillow after the number of years recommended in the table below.

Table: cleaning recommendation and replacement time for pillow based on fill material.

Pillow Fill

Cleaning Recommendation

Replacement Time

Memory foam

Spot clean or Deodorize* every 2 months

2 to 3 years


Machine wash or dry clean every 3 to 5 months

1 to 3 years

Polyester & Microfiber

Machine wash every 3 to 6 months

1 to 2 years


Spot clean or hand wash every 3 months

2 to 4 years


Spot clean or hand wash 

2 to 3 years


Wash only the cover & dry in the sun

3 years


Deodorizing a pillow cleans it, pulls out the moisture, and gives it a pleasant fragrance. To deodorize your pillow (generally recommended only with memory foam), you can follow the steps provided below:

Deodorizing a pillow

Dry it in the sun

You should regularly dry your pillow in the sun in order to protect it from moisture. As mentioned before, moisture promotes the buildup of microbes in the pillow, which can cause serious allergic reactions.

Read How to Clean a Memory Foam Pillow

When to Replace your Pillow Case?

Replace your Pillow case

It’s generally recommended to replace a pillowcase every 1 to 2 years. Further, you should wash it every 1 to 2 weeks in order to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for acne causing bacteria.


When a pillow loses its loft, becomes uncomfortable, or causes allergies, you should replace it with a new one so that you can avoid neck pain and enjoy good comfort to wake up completely rested. Use this post as a guide to know when to replace your pillow and pillowcase.

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