How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows?

We have affiliate relationships where we are paid a commission on sales through some of our links. See our disclosures.

For most sleepers, a pillow is an absolute necessity when it comes to achieving a comfortable night’s rest. Some sleep with just a single pillow, while others opt for a bed piled high with them. No matter how many pillows you choose to sleep with, pillows aren’t designed to last forever. So how often should you replace them? Today I’ll cover the ins and outs of why you should be replacing your pillows and how often you should be doing it.

If you’re looking to replace your current pillows, check out our How to Choose a Pillow guide to make sure you buy the right one for you! A lot of it comes down to your personal sleep needs and whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach.

Reasons You May Want to Replace Your Pillow

They’re Dirtier Than You Might Think

You may think it’s only your pillowcase that gets dirty, but the actual pillow can hold lots of germs and bacteria. All of the dirt and oils from your skin seep down into your pillow over time. This could be the root cause of some underlying issues, such as why your acne won’t go away. The pillow can also absorb dust and allergens, which can worsen any allergies you already have. Worst of all, your pillow can harbor fungus and mold, which are two things you don’t want to be resting your head on. 

The Pillow is Simply Worn Out

A well-loved pillow is great. But over time, your favorite pillow is not going to provide you with the same comfort and support it once did. After years of sleeping on it, you may notice your pillow’s materials have broken down and the filling seems lumpy or bunched up. If your pillow has been flattened, it may be time to retire it and acquire a fresh one. That pillow is no longer providing you with the same support as before, which can lead to neck pain in the future.

You Have a New Mattress

If you’ve recently bought a new mattress, you may notice your pillow isn’t performing as well as before. If your new mattress has a different firmness level than your old one, this can affect the way your pillow supports you. Depending on how firm your mattress is and how much you sink into it, your old pillow could now be too high or too low for your comfort. If you wake up with neck pains after getting a new mattress, the pillow might be the problem.

How Often Should You Buy a New Pillow?

The recommended time to replace your pillow is one to two years after purchasing. However, this time can vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, if you sleep with two pillows stacked on top of each other, the bottom pillow may last longer than the top since it isn’t receiving direct pressure and dirt from your head. How often you replace your pillow can also be dependent on the pillow’s material. Choosing a pillow made with higher quality materials makes it more durable and will therefore last longer.

Generally, you should be able to tell when it’s time for a fresh pillow. You know your body better than anyone, so you’ll be able to tell when you’re not getting the same quality of sleep you once were. Pay attention to how your pillow feels when you first buy it, and notice when it’s beginning to feel different.

If you want our expert opinions on the most popular pillows on the market, see our comprehensive list of pillow reviews to see which ones we’ve tried.

Different Pillow Materials And Their Replacement Needs

Just like people, no two pillows are the same. Different materials break down at different rates and are affected by our natural body oils in different ways. Here are just a few of the most common pillow materials and how often they might need replacing. 

Down

Down pillows are unique since you can squeeze and smush the pillow to create the shape you like. They’re very durable, and if cared for correctly can last up to 10-15 years, though you may want to replace them sooner depending on your individual sleep needs. If you can fold the pillow and it doesn’t return to normal, it’s time for a replacement.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is another super durable pillow material, so they can last a long time, too. You may need to replace good memory foam pillows less than a typical pillow. You can most likely increase the replacement time to two to three years instead of one to two years.

Latex 

Latex is a great material due to it’s durability and eco-friendly nature. Similar to the memory foam, you won’t have to replace these too often. We recommend every two to three years.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat pillows are great because they’re super easy to adjust. Simply take out the filling, or put more in according to your preference. The filling has no chemicals or toxins, so they can last up to 20 years when cared for properly! 

How to Make Your Pillows Last as Long as Possible

It’s easy to get attached to your pillow. Luckily, there are ways to lengthen the lifespan of your favorite pillow.

Wash The Actual Pillow Regularly 

We recommend washing your pillow every three to six months to get rid of bacteria and dirt. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions when washing your pillow to make sure you don’t ruin it.

Don’t Let Stains Set on The Pillow 

If a stain has leaked onto your pillow, spot treat the area immediately. This can prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Pillows for more information.

Use a Pillow Protector in Addition to Your Pillowcase

Just like a mattress protector, a pillow protector adds an extra layer of protection for your pillow and can prevent it from getting dirty.

Never Put a Damp Pillow Into a Pillowcase

After washing your pillow, make sure it is completely dry before putting the case back on. Putting a pillowcase over a damp pillow promotes mold and fungus growth, which defeats the point of washing the pillow in the first place.

Final Thoughts

No matter what type of sleeper you are, we have guides to help you pick out the perfect pillow for you. Our best pillows of the year is a great place to begin browsing if you don’t know where to start. Or, check out our list of pillow reviews and round-ups!

Riley Otis

Riley Otis

Riley is the former editorial intern at Sleepopolis. She's a firm believer that there’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Riley is a student at Elon University and currently working towards a degree in journalism and creative writing. In her free time, she loves to paint, cook, and spend time with family (especially her pets).