What to Do With Old Pillows

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So, you’ve decided to get rid of your old pillow and replace it with a new one. That’s great! Our pillows aren’t meant to last a lifetime, so it’s important to replace them regularly to ensure we’re getting the best sleep possible. But what do we do with the old pillows we’re no longer using?

First, it’s important to establish that simply throwing old pillows in the garbage isn’t the best option. Not only is it not very sustainable, but it’s also not very environmentally friendly. These old pillows will go straight to the landfill, leading some materials to even end up in our oceans.

Today, I’ll go over a variety of sustainable options for what to do with your unwanted pillows. Unsure if it’s time to get rid of your current pillow? Check out our article How Often Should You Replace Your Pillows for information on the whys and whens of pillow replacement.


Even though you’re no longer using the pillow for sleep, there are still many ways you can use these pillows.

Sewing Materials

Use the fabric and filling from the old pillows as material for sewing. If you have children, you can give them the materials for arts and crafts. If you know a seamstress or particularly crafty person, donate the material to them for their next project. There’s also an abundance of sewing and quilting groups on social media that you can reach out to and offer your old pillows to.

Car Pillow

One of the best parts of being a road trip passenger is the car nap. If you don’t want to bring your nice pillows along to your destination, use your old pillow as your designated ‘car pillow.’ If you’re traveling with a pet who loves to look out the window, you can put the pillow on your lap to avoid getting scratched or getting fur on you.

Pet Bed

Speaking of pets, you can also donate old pillows to your furry friends. If you have a large pet, the pillow can add some more comfort to its bed. For small pets, the pillow can act as the bed itself. Or, you can use the pillow as a toy for your pet who loves to destroy things.

Protect Your Items

If you’re moving, old pillows can be a great tool to ensure nothing gets broken or damaged. If you want to protect your floors when moving furniture, slide the pillows underneath so the furniture doesn’t drag along the floor. You can also place old pillows in your moving boxes full of fragile items.

Make a New Pillow

You can make an entirely new pillow by simply reupholstering your old one. Pick out a fun fabric to cover the pillow with and then use it as a floor cushion seat or a decorative throw pillow.


Some facilities will not accept old pillows for sanitary reasons, but some do. It never hurts to check with some of the following places to see if they can rehome your unwanted pillows.

  • Homeless shelters
    • Some examples of centers to look for in your area are Habitat for Humanity – Restore, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.
  • Daycares
  • Thrift stores
  • Animal shelters
  • Ministries


If your pillow is not in good enough condition to be repurposed or donated, there are sustainable ways to recycle the material (and no, this doesn’t mean tossing them into the recycling bin!).

Contact Textile Recycling Facilities

Did you know there are facilities whose entire purpose is to recycle your old fabrics? These organizations will take your unwanted fabrics, including pillows, and use the materials to create new items such as carpet padding and rags. A popular one is the American Textile Recycling Service. These companies will take your old pillow off your hands and use them in an environmentally safe way.


Composting your pillow materials is a great option if your pillow is stuffed with feathers or down. Feather and down stuffing are both compostable. You likely won’t be able to compost the outer cover depending on its material, but feel free to cut it open and drop the stuffing into a compost bin.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you decide to do with your old pillows, we suggest trying to repurpose, donate, or recycle them first. There’s already so much pollution and trash on our planet, so it’s important we do our part to eliminate what we can. If we actively try to keep these pillows out of our landfills, we’ll contribute to the overall betterment of our earth.

While you’re searching for a replacement pillow, be sure to check out our pillow reviews and favorite pillows of the year to pick out the perfect one for you!

Riley Otis

Riley Otis

Riley is an 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).