You think about replacing your mattress and covers, but few people give thought to how often they should change their pillows. The truth is that you should change it more often than you think. It largely depends on what type of material your pillow is made from and several other factors that we will go through here. Be sure to have an outer cover on your pillow, as that can dramatically improve the longevity of the pillow.
If you have a pillow that isn’t filled with memory foam (cotton, down, polyester, so on), then you should perform the “fold test” to see if your pillow is in good shape or not. Simply fold the pillow in half and see what happens. If it quickly flips back in place to its original shape, then its likely fine. If the pillow stays folded or takes a long time to return to its original shape, then the stuffing has broken down and should be replaced.
Even if it returns to original shape, you shouldn’t keep a pillow for too long. Most experts agree that you should change the pillow every 6-12 months for softer pillows or those with structural problems, up to 12-18 months for firmer, good-quality pillows, depending on condition. That’s because the pillow acts as a sponge and absorbs body oils, sweat, dead skin cells and other unmentionables that you don’t want near your face when sleeping.
There isn’t a test for foam materials to see if they’re still in good condition, but you can often tell by how soft they feel. Foam materials will break down over time and offer less support, so it’s good to change them with some regularity. Most experts say that around 18-36 months should be the time to replace foam pillows with new ones.
If you have a softer foam pillow, or if it doesn’t have a cover, then you may want to replace it more frequently than that.
The Importance of Pillow Covers
The primary reason why pillows break down isn’t that they are supporting the weight of your head. It’s because they are absorbing your moisture, cells and oils. These slowly work on the inner materials, reducing structural integrity and causing them to smell. A pillow cover does wonders for prolonging the life of your pillow. They act as a barrier by absorbing the bulk of these materials.
Be aware though that you should regularly clean and replace pillow covers for the best effect. Wash covers every month, and consider replacing them around 6-12 months or so, depending on condition.
Should I Wash My Pillows?
Washing your pillows is a great idea, and it can even prolong the life of your pillow. However, this is only a viable option for certain materials. You should only do this if you have a down or synthetic filling pillow. Do this every 6 months (or less, depending on smell).
Washing pillows made from other materials can be a very bad idea that may destroy them or cause bad smells. If you’re unsure what material your pillow is filled with, it would be better to avoid washing it.