When Should You Replace Your Pillow? 5 Key Signs

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When Should You Replace Your Pillow?when should you replace your pillow main image The Answer Might Be: NOW!

We spend a lot of time asleep in bed – about a third of our lives in fact. People also spend a lot of time and effort finding the right mattress and base to make their bed as comfortable as possible for the best sleep…. but if you’re anything like me your pillow gets overlooked in the process. Have you thought about the condition of your pillow? How old it is, or if it’s even comfortable anymore?  Having a great pillow can make a huge difference to how well you sleep. When should you replace your pillow?

For a lot of people, the answer is probably right now! I know that as soon as I started to think about it for my own pillow, I realized pretty quick that I needed a new pillow. TODAY. It’s actually quite easy to tell. This handy list explains 5 tell tale signs you need a new pillow. At the end of the article you’ll also find info on how to look after a new pillow to get maximum use from it.

1. Your Pillow Is More Than 2-3 Years Old

If you can’t remember when you actually bought your pillow, or it’s been at least two years, you can stop reading right now and go get yourself a new pillow.

The life span of a pillow ranges from around as short as 6 months for a cheap polyester filled one to as long as 3-4 years for a latex pillow.

Any pillow you keep beyond this time frame is probably going to show most of the other four signs I’m about to go through on this list! It’s probably getting a bit lumpy and uncomfortable, it’s probably not looking it’s best and it might even smell funny. Get rid of it pronto!

2. Your Pillow Is Getting Lumpy

This is a sign the inner support materials are breaking down. A lumpy pillow will be doing absolutely nothing to help you get a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re not finding it uncomfortable the pillow won’t be supporting your head and neck properly.

does your pillow give you a headache

Lumps are a sure sign the pillow has gone past its use by date and you need a new one. This is the reason a cheap polyester pillow has such a short life span. It will lose support very quickly.

3. You Can’t Get Comfortable On It, Or It’s Contributing To Neck Pain

An uncomfortable pillow is going to prevent you from getting your best sleep. The age of the pillow and all other factors go out the window here: if you’re finding your pillow uncomfortable you should get a new one if you can, that’s all there is to it! When we lie on our pillow at night, it’s supporting our neck and head. If the pillow is too old, or not right for you, your head and neck won’t be being held in a position that is right for you, and that can contribute to discomfort at best, and pain at worst.

There are some really amazingly comfortable pillows out there for you to try. I spent years using polyester filled pillows and just kind of put up with them. Then I got a tip to try a latex pillow and it was the most comfortable thing I’d ever laid my head on. It felt like such an amazing and unexpected treat to have a pillow that was so comfortable. I hadn’t realized there could be such a massive difference in comfort levels. I know I look forward to going to bed more with a good pillow, and I’m pretty sure I sleep better too.

4. It’s Looking A Bit Stained Or Discolored

If you can see yellow marks and stains on your pillow, that’s a sure sign it has become a sweat and drool collector. As if that didn’t sound gross enough already, this can create a moist environment inside the pillow which is perfect conditions for bacteria or mold to start growing in there! Not only does that sound really awful, it can make you sick. Get rid of that pillow, stat.

Using a pillow cover/protector will provide a great barrier to stop sweat and drool etc from getting on to the pillow, a little more on them later.

5. It Smells!

Just like staining on your pillow can be a warning sign that mold or bacteria are making a home in your pillow, so is any strange smell. If your pillow is smelling musty or just a bit weird, you definitely need a new one. Mold anywhere inside your bed or pillow can make you sick and you’ll need to replace it. Once it starts growing it’s quite hard to get rid of as it’s very difficult to completely dry the pillow out again.

How To Get The Best From Your New Pillowreplace your pillow today

If you go ahead and buy a new pillow, make sure you look after it right. Taking good care of your pillow will keep it clean, fresh, and healthy.

  • Air your pillow out when you change your bed. This will help keep it dry and make it harder for dust mites to make their home inside it.
  • Use a pillow protector or cover. This prevents your hair, skin cells, drool, sweat etc from getting onto the pillow, and can be a real game changer for reducing allergies, mold, and dust mites. You’ll get much longer use out of your pillow when you use a protector. Don’t forget you still need a pillow case on top of the protector! Protectors won’t feel that nice to lay your head on.
  • If your pillow is washable, wash it a couple of times a year. Check the label first though, and make sure you dry it out completely. This probably works best for pillows with a synthetic inner, as the inner material will dry quickly.
  • If your pillow has a down inner, fluff it when you make your bed in the morning. This will help with air circulation within the pillow and help it maintain its loft. Here’s a great article from Wiki How on looking after a down pillow.

Ready to ditch your old pillow? Click here to find out which latex pillow is Amazon’s most popular choice.


Emily Johnstone

Emily is the creator and owner of bestmattressforyou.com. Emily's scientific background gives her an analytical, critical, and discerning eye to bring unbiased, thorough, and helpful content to the site. Your good sleep is her top priority. Find out more about Emily and bestmattressforyou.com here.