Do buckwheat pillows attract bugs?

Buckwheat pillows are an alternative and all-natural pillow that originated in Asia, and are known for their ability to shape to your body to provide a healthful night’s rest. The filling is nothing but buckwheat; the hulls mold to your head, helping you escape muscle, neck, and back pain. Sounds great, right?

However, any quick Google search might reveal something less than pleasant: Rumor has it that buckwheat pillows could attract dust mites. Why? Well, since the pillow is filled with buckwheat, it’s natural to believe that it could attract some hungry critters.

We decided to do our own digging and find out if that’s true or not.

Rumor – Buckwheat Pillows attract dust mites. Is it true?

Dust mite 101

First thing’s first: What exactly is a dust mite?

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic insects that love warm and humid places. They will nestle in carpets, upholstered furniture, and yes—bedding. However, they don’t bite or feed on humans. Instead, the dust mite leaves dead skin and feces behind that could cause allergic reactions. Some symptoms include itchy eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. More severe reactions are difficulty breathing, and even developing asthma. Yikes.

Looking for a pillow? Check out my favorite buckwheat pillows.

De-bugging the rumor

We’ll cut right to the chase and explain that after doing our own investigation, buckwheat pillows in fact do not attract dust mites or other bugs, and the chance of them ending up in your buckwheat pillow is rare.

You may find yourself asking, “then why all the fuss about buckwheat pillows and bugs?” One source explained the reason people associate buckwheat pillows with bugs is because the entire seed could attract a bug.

What makes buckwheat pillows stand out is their de-hulling process; using the entire seed as filling could attract dust mites, which is why all seeds are supposed to be dehulled prior to filling them in the pillow. Watch out though; some lower-quality pillows might not dehull all their buckwheat seeds, which could in fact invite in some critters. (We have a list that breaks down the best buckwheat pillows to buy to avoid this at all costs!)

buckwheat pillow hulls
Good buckwheat pillows will have the hulls dehulled

Additionally, the hulls do not offer any nutritional value, so pests won’t seek them for a late night snack. They are also hollowed out seeds, which give off air flow— keeping you cool at night while making it an undesirable nesting site for bugs. Win-win!

Cleaning your pillow

If—and this is a big if—you do find a bug infestation in your pillow, here’s why, along with what steps you can take.

If you found bugs, it most likely means the buckwheat filling wasn’t properly hulled or cleaned. Let us reiterate that you should find a quality buckwheat pillow online or in the store before purchasing!. A cheap price tag might be tempting, but it could be detrimental in the long run!

The first immediate step is to contact the manufacturer and let them know what’s going on. They should let you return the pillow, and they might replace it too.

Most buckwheat pillows are very easy to clean if need be

If you’re not totally bugged out by, well, bugs, you can also clean your pillow. Here’s how:

  1. Open up the zipper on your pillow case and remove the buckwheat hulls. (I like to take a measuring cup and scoop them into a large container.)
  2. Flip the pillow-case inside-out to make sure there are no buckwheat hulls scragglers still clinging to the case.
  3. Place the case in the washing machine and wash in cold water. Air dry—do not put it in the dryer
  4. Place the buckwheat hulls back in! Be careful not to spill them.

So there you have it! Rest assured, the chances of your buckwheat pillow attracting bugs is pretty slim. Just make sure you get one that’s good quality (many buckwheat pillows are made in the U.S., which is a good sign their materials are thoughtfully sourced) and reap the benefits of a supportive night’s sleep from a buckwheat pillow.

Laura Schwecherl

Laura is a journalist with nearly a decade of experience reporting and covering topics in the health, fitness, and wellness space. She is also a marketing consultant, where she works with impact-oriented startups to build marketing and editorial strategies. Outside of work, you can find her reading Murakami novels, writing amateur poetry, or trail running in her hometown, Boulder, Colorado.

10 thoughts on “Do buckwheat pillows attract bugs?”

  1. I’ve had a buckwheat hull pillow for around 20 years. Queen size, double stuffed. No bugs. I have sleep apnea and wear a mask. Pillow keeps it’s shape and holds the hose in place. Can’t sleep without that precious pillow!

    • me too…. cant sleep without mine either. been at least 20 years. I always tell people …dont knock it till u tried it. They are fabulous.

  2. I have a buckwheat pillow I bought years ago in London It is my favorite pillow and it has never had bugs. But I wanted to get another one and all this talk of bugs is scaring me off

  3. Buckwheat definitely has mites or bugs in them. EVERYTIME I use mine, I have intense itching all over. I have given up on using my buckwheat pillow……

  4. Thanks for the instructions. I bought mine before my kids were born so it’s been at least 21 years.

    I never had any bugs in it. I do use double pillowcases and I do wash those but not the one that holds the buckwheat (so I better do that now). I never see any bugs or had any allergic reactions you had described so my pillow should be bug free.

    Do the buckwheat hulls get crushed or lose it’s original shape such that support or airflow is not the same as when it was new ?

    Do you know when it’s a good time to replace them ? Lately, I don’t think it’s as comfortable and I have thought of buying a new one. I find myself shifting it more and more so that I don’t get a “hard” spot.


    • If the hulls are crushed it can cause a breakdown of support and the dust that is created can get out of the pillowcase causing a mess. Generally a buckwheat pillow should be replaced about every 10 years, so you’ve definitely gotten your time out of your current pillows.

  5. I’ve had a buckwheat pillow for years and never ever have had bugs! First of all- the hulls move all the time. Any bugs would never survive that. Secondly, the only one I store is my travel sized one. You could stick that in a freezer if concerned, but I am telling you never a problem in 15 years.

  6. That is gross and very unfortunate. But, I think, this only emphasises the need to ensure a reliable source for your buckwheat pillows. Also, just wondering why you would store any pillow in plastic? It would create an ideally breeding ground, wouldn’t it? I purchased my first buckwheat pillow in 1995 from my Japanese shiatsu/chiropractic practioner. I was told that if I wanted to ‘freshen’ the pillow, simply open the zipper and put it outside in a sunny place for the day; this will revitalize the buckwheat and it will feel like new when you put it back on your bed. FYI – I still use this pillow for travel never a problem!
    I have another one that I use nightly and have had for 6 years now – no problems.

  7. Gross! I think I’ll never own a buckwheat pillow (unfortunately, because I Degenerative Disc Disease and could use it) after all the bug talk surrounding them.

  8. You are wrong, dead wrong. I have three buckwheat pillows, and bugs absolutely got to them. I had them stored in a plastic bag on a shelf in my closet, having not used them for about 6 months. When I pulled the bag down recently to use one because I had some neck pain, I noticed it was covered with a fine dust. When I took the pillow over to the sink to give it a thorough brushing and to wipe off the cover, dozens of little dead bugs fell into my white sink. When I looked more closely, I could see that there were tiny holes that had been eaten through the cover. It was pretty gross, kind of like cookies, crackers, or a bag of flour that you have forgotten about that has fallen in the back of your kitchen cabinet. Definitely bugs! And they had feasted on my buckwheat pillows.


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