How often the bed pillow should be changed

Replacing the pillows regularly not only helps to prevent the accumulation of allergens, but also improves the quality of our sleep.
In principle, the pillows of our bed should be replaced every 1-2 years, and in any case when they no longer give us adequate support.

In common parlance, there are no distinctions between cushions and pillows. However , a pillow is that padded envelope that is used to rest our body on it. Pillow is more properly a bed pillow, the one on which we rest our head when we sleep.

That said, the duration and usefulness of the various types of pillows-pillows is linked to several factors: first and foremost the time of use and the quality of their padding materials.

Although washing them frequently can certainly extend their life, we can generally say that it would be good to replace them every 1/2 years (of use): by properly supporting our head and neck, the new ones will guarantee us “good hygiene. of sleep “.

Why replace the pillow

No pillow is destined to last “forever” as over time even the best ones wear out, they no longer give us good support, they become a fertile ground for allergens. Changing them frequently allows us to:

to have good personal hygiene

  • All the pillows we sleep on absorb our sweat, saliva, body creams, contain dead skin cells, hair, etc. as their lining may not always provide sufficient protection.
  • Washing them and washing their covers eliminates odors but not always allergens.
  • In fact, all these fluids and flakes, as well as a bad smell, can cause the accumulation of molds, fungi and other allergens.

to reduce the symptoms of allergic reactions (if any)

  • The beds on which we sleep are the ideal place for the growth and multiplication of dust mites: small arthropods that prefer warm and humid environments and that feed on the dead cells of our skin.
  • Dust mites themselves are not dangerous, but inhaling their fecal particles can cause allergies, watering, itchy throats, runny noses, sneezing, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing in some people.
  • These symptoms can worsen over time and lead to poor sleep quality for these allergic people .
  • In the pillows we sleep on, not only dust mites proliferate, but also mushrooms: a   study found 16 varieties of mushrooms in a single pillow.
  • Replacing the pillows with a regularity card can help prevent the accumulation of allergens and fungi even in the bed.

to prevent neck, back and head pain

  • In synergy with the mattress on which we sleep, a pillow should “keep our spine neutral”, that is, it should ensure that the head and neck are adequately supported in order to remain physiologically aligned with the spine.
  • Our head is heavy. Supporting its weight every night gradually wears the cheek pads, causing them to flatten or deform.
  • A worn and flat bed pillow doesn’t always give adequate support and can cause neck pain.

When to replace it anyway

When you notice any of the following “red flags”, it is almost certainly time to change your bed pillow.

  • You often wake up with a pain in your neck.
  • Upon awakening you feel that the muscles of your shoulders are difficult in the sense that they have unusual difficulties;
  • You can’t sleep well because you have a headache in your sleep.
  • You experience discomfort and some symptoms typical of an allergy such as itchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes, difficulty breathing.
  • Even after washing them, you notice small yellow spots on the pillows from sweat, creams or body oils, or dust mite droppings.
  • You feel there are lumps in the pillow.
  • The pillow is flattened.
  • When you can easily fold the pillow itself in half.

Obviously it is not necessary to wait for these physical discomforts and pains. A good solution to always have a pillow in excellent condition is to plan its duration in advance – for example on the basis of an indicative forecast of its duration (such as those we will discuss below).

How to take care of your pillow

Like all the other items that make up the bed system, a pillow also needs to be washed, and this can extend its life by a lot.

To this end, it is useful to read the instructions on the label on the pillow, so as not to risk damaging it when washing or drying it.

The washing

If a pillow (not the pillowcase that must be washed separately) can be washed in the washing machine, it should normally be washed every 4-6 months, in hot water (60 ° C, if the label indicates this temperature): a high temperature kills the allergens that are present there.

Usually those cushions that have a synthetic, feather or down filling can be washed in the washing machine.

Try a mild liquid detergent. Avoid washing it with other clothes or sheets. Also try not to overload the washing machine: wash 1-2 pillows at a time depending on their thickness, no more.

To kill all the microorganisms contained in the cushions that cannot be washed, you can put them in a dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature of 60 °.


You can dry the cushions, either in the dryer at a low temperature, or by leaving them on a clothesline in the air, or in the sun if you can.

Put them in their pillow cases or inside a pillow cover only once they are completely dry and without traces of damp.

This is because humidity can be dangerous for pillows, as it promotes the formation of mold: so let them dry well.

The use of a pillow cover

In addition to the pillowcases intended for their protection, which are usually sold together with the sheets, if you want to further protect the pillows it is possible to use pillow covers (depending on personal needs, possibly even waterproof pillow covers or anti-mite).

The pillowcases and pillow covers can normally be washed once every three or four weeks, unless otherwise indicated by their manufacturers.

The various types of pillow padding

Taking into account that the duration of any pillow is linked (as well as to its use also) to the type and quantity of its filling, here is a brief description of some types of pillows that are different from each other in terms of the materials with which they are padded, accompanied by ‘indication of their presumable duration over time.

Feather pillows

Since time immemorial, the feathers and duvets of ducks and geese have often been used to stuff pillows.

Just to dispel a commonplace according to which the best qualities of feathers are those “torn” from live animals, it should be noted that their merits are not linked to the fact that they are taken from an animal that is still alive (goose or duck), but rather their degree of ripeness.

Depending on how they are maintained (washing, cleaning, etc.), down pillows can last from 1 to 3 years.

Memory foam pillows

Memory pillows are made from a block of memory foam, or have a padding made of shredded memory foam.

In the same way as memory mattresses that are able to adapt to the silhouette of our body, memory foam pillows also adapt to the shape of our neck and head, and accommodate their weight in a uniform and comfortable way.

This type of pillow (which adapts to the curves of the neck and shoulders) can last from 3 to 4 years or more, depending on how they are held.

Cushions in synthetic down or polyester

The most common and cheapest pillows on the market today are those stuffed with synthetic polyester (they are also known as synthetic feather pillows).

These are hypoallergenic pillows that can be easily washed in the washing machine. Depending on how they are kept, they can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.

Natural latex pillows

Latex is obtained from the sap of rubber trees, and is widely used to make mattresses. But also pillows.

Those in natural latex are naturally hypoallergenic pillows, resistant to dust mites, molds and spores.

They can last from 3 to 4 years, or more.

To conclude

When we think of quality sleep, we usually associate it with the mattress. Although they play an extremely important role in the quality of our sleep, we often forget to consider pillows.

Keeping them clean and in good repair is also essential for enjoying a restful sleep. Therefore it is advisable to replace them if you notice signs of wear or a loss of their lift.

Better still, it would be to schedule their replacement after a “scheduled” number of years.


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