Just as you change your sheets, doonas and mattresses you should also make sure to swap out your pillows once in a while.
Of course, our pillows don’t need to replaced as often as you wash your sheets or doonas, though you will notice that there is a timeline where you will eventually need to replace your pillows.
Typically, it’s a good idea to change your pillows on an annual or two-year basis, however, this will depend on the types of pillows you have.
For those of our readers who regularly invest in the more affordable, cotton infill pillows which cost around $20 to $50 you will be better off replacing these every year to be on the safe side. However, for more expensive foam and latex models, you’ll be glad to know that these don’t have to changed that often.
All that said, we’ll take a look below at how often to replace your pillows and why you need to do this — it’s about health, comfort and sleep quality!
Our Pillow Replacement Summary
Off the top, there are two key reasons that you’ll want to replace your pillow. These are down to cleanliness and comfort.
Ensuring Quality Sleep
The main reason you’ll want to replace your pillow is to ensure you’re getting the correct support when you sleep.
As you’ll know, like mattresses, pillows will flatten over time, especially if they’re not designed for long-term use. Your pillow is one of the key pieces of bedding that allows your spine to stay in alignment and reduce pains in the upper back and around the neck.
If you’re dealing with a pillow that’s many years old, you’re likely sleeping on something that has little to no support for your neck and you’re giving yourself a higher risk of long-term muscular skeletal issues.
That said, when you replace your pillows on an annual basis, you’re keeping your spine well-aligned and ensuring that your body doesn’t have that chance to slowly dip and fall out of alignment in time.
Ensuring Optimal Hygiene
A second reason you’re going to want to keep on top of your pillow changes are hygiene related. Again, this will depend on the type of pillows you have, though almost all types of pillows will need to be changed at some point.
That in mind, latex and foam pillows are a little denser and less prone to bacteria build up than cotton, and so will need to be replaced on a less frequent basis.
Over to cotton, however, and you’ll find that in a year or two, your pillow will be filled with things such as dead skin, body oils as well as potentially mildew and mould — depending on whether your pillow has accidentally been moistened before.
On top of this, bacteria, mites and allergens will slowly make their way into these types of pillows, often causing sleepers to wake up with a cough, runny nose or just about anything else allergy related.
In all, replacing your pillows frequently will cut back on your chances of dealing with these issues, and that said, you’ll be keeping on top of your sleep and bedding hygiene.
Here’s How Often to Replace a Pillow
As a general rule of thumb, you should not be sleeping on your pillow for more than two years if you’re not doing anything in particular to maintain in.
Those weekly pillow case and pillow protector washes are ideal at keeping the upper layers of your pillow nice and clean, however, if you’re not going beyond this, you’ll want to replace your pillows every 12 to 24 months at the latest.
That said, standard cotton infill pillows and recycled cotton pillows should make their way to your rubbish bin after two years of use, and ideally within each year — especially if you’re noticing odd smells or dealing with a runny nose or cough when you get into bed.
For some, however, your pillows may be designed for far longer use, and we’ll go further into detail about this below.
The Typical Australian Standards for Pillow Replacement
As we’re sure you’ll agree, when it comes to bedding, the more you spend the longer you’re going to be able to use a specific item.
As an example, 1500TC Egyptian Cotton sheets are going to last a whole lot longer than the rather low thread count options from retailers like Target and Kmart. The same goes for your pillows, and the materials within them.
That in mind, we know that pillow replacements can be a little confusing when we’re all dealing with a swathe of different materials, product prices and more — so we have a simple breakdown for you below.
We mentioned above that most pillows should be replaced after a year, though some of the products on our list below can last beyond four years if you’re looking after them correctly, or if they’ve been designed to do so.
The Polyester Pillows
Off the top, these are the most common Aussie pillows and there’s a good chance you have a few of these dotted around your home. They’re the most affordable, and you can find them on sale just about anywhere.
For the replacement of these pillows, we would suggest changing these out every six to twelve months depending on the state of the pillow. These aren’t designed to offer the best support out there, and after just a few months you might find that they flatten out or ‘split’ in the middle.
The Synthetic and Synthetic Down Pillows
When it comes to the alternative materials and synthetic variants, these are going to be a little more sturdy and engineered to last a lot longer. They often feature a more firm inner design and that means you can expect to be supported on these pillows a little longer than on a polyester variant.
That in mind, you should be able to keep these pillows firm and find that they’re supported for use up to around 18 months to two years depending on how you’re making use of them.
An easy test here for knowing when to replace synthetic pillows is to make a mental note of how often you need to ‘scrunch’ and ‘punch’ them back into their ideal shape. If you’re doing this far too often, then it’s a good idea to invest in a new synthetic pillow.
The Feather Pillows
A somewhat rare type of pillow are the feather infill options, which are rather durable when compared to a lot of other pillow types.
You’ll be able to rely on these pillows to conform to your body as you sleep and become better and better at this over time. However, you will notice that within around 18 months to three years you will need to get your hands on a new product.
These products tend to flatten out over time, and you’ll be able to use this issue to tell whether you’re needing a new pillow or not.
The Higher-end Memory Foam Pillows
Coming in with higher price points and some intelligently engineered internals, the memory foam pillows are some of the best on the market when it comes to longevity.
Much like their mattress counterparts, you’re going to get a lot of use out of these pillows, and that means replacing them far less frequently. Made of memory will mean that these products conform to your body and bounce back every morning, keeping you from dealing with indents and other issues that cause pain.
On top of this, memory foam willhold mould and bacteria at bay given that it’s a more dense material and leaves little space for these impurities to build up over time.
You can get away with roughly three to four years from a memory foam pillow before you need to invest in a new one.
The Latex Pillows
In a similar vein to memory foam, latex and engineered latex are two of the strongest and more durable materials out there when it comes to bedding.
With a design supported by the sap coming from rubber trees, you can rely on this pillow type to essentially hold its shape and support you as you sleep for years to come. That said, getting around three to four years from these pillows is expected as well.
One thing to note is that natural latex is hypoallergenic by design, which means you’re reducing your chance of dealing with bacteria and impurities building up in the pillow over time — adding more years of use to your pillow.
The Down Pillows
To the last pillow type on our list, the down models are the options where you’ll be the most warm and sleeping on the most plush surface.
These are some of the most expensive pillows out of all the options on our list and that means you can expect to get a lot of use out of these. Typically, your down pillows will last between three and four years and you’ll not have any reason to change these out before this.
A Few Signs to Let You Know When to Replace a Pillow
With the timelines above out of the way, you might find that your relatively new pillow isn’t acting like it should be, and that might be a sign you need to change it a little earlier.
Although most of our readers will be able to rely on our pillow replacement timelines above, there are times and use cases that might reduce your pillow’s lifespan a little more, and leave you with no other option than to replace it.
Let’s take a look below at a few of the signs letting you know that it’s time to replace a pillow.
The Pillow Folds in Half — as we mentioned, sometimes cheaper pillows will simple ‘split’ down the middle. This occurs when the infill separates and you’re left with essentially a folding pillow that has no support in the middle at all.
A Lumpy Pillow — typically more common with materials like polyester and cotton, you might find that your pillow is losing its shape and beginning to develop uncomfortable lumps. These are going to reduce your body’s support and eventually cause some pain.
Allergies Occur in Bed — one other key sign to look out for are your allergy symptoms arcing up when you’re in bed. If you find that you start to sniffle, cough or sneeze right after getting in bed, this could be from mites, bacteria or skin cells in your pillows.
Pains in the Neck — in line with reduced support, a pillow that has you waking up with a sore neck or upper back pain needs to replaced immediately. This is telling us that there isn’t enough support here and your body is being pulled out of alignment in your sleep.
Spots or Marks Appear — when it comes to hygiene, you may be noticing spots and marks on your pillow even after washing it. This could be down to either mould or mildew forming under your pillow protector and hiding in your pillow. These pillows should be replaced immediately.
You Wake Up Tired — one final sign is waking up not feeling rested. If you’re finding that you head to bed and wake up tired, you could be dealing with a pillow that’s preventing REM sleep from occurring. Either because of poor support, allergies or anything else, these pillows also need to be replaced.
Making Your Pillows Last Longer
As we touched on earlier in our article, there are a few maintenance tasks which you can undertake to get a little more life out of your pillow.
In doing just a few things, you could almost double the life of your pillow and get a whole lot more support out of the pillow for a lot longer, saving you money and also cutting back on your chances of dealing with back pain and issues.
Like we mentioned, things like body oils and saliva make their way into your pillow and you’re going to want to make sure you’re fighting against this.
Our Favourite Ways to Get More Out of a Pillow
Off the top, you’re going to want to keep your pillow wrapped in a protector and pillow case. With both of these, you’re keeping as many impurities and nasties out of the pillow as possible and ensuring you’re not giving bacteria and mould a chance to survive in here.
On top of these covers, you should make sure to wash these pillow cases and protectors with your bedding — which means on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
In some cases, you can also wash your pillow. Be sure not to do this too often as you might damage it — but on a rather routine basis you’ll be adding some extra lifespan to your pillows.
However, for memory foam and latex, it’s a good idea not to wash these types of pillows in that the material inside could crumble and simply disintegrate in the washing machine.
To end, for the pillows that can’t be washed in the machine, you’re able to use a vacuum and a cleaning agent to get deep into the materials and clear your pillows of any impurities and mites that might be hiding within them.
With all of our stats and tidbits about pillows out of the way, we’d like to say that it’s part of a good bedding hygiene routine to replace your pillows around every year or two.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, it’s better to get a handle on allergies, back pain and poor sleep quality before any of these issues become chronic, and starting with a routine pillow replacement might be just the thing you and your circadian rhythm need.
On top of this, it’s always good to invest in higher-end pillow models. Of course, these do cost a little extra, though you’re getting so much more use, support and comfort from these over the long term and that means fewer sleepless nights.
In all, replace your pillows once a year or once every two years depending on the material and if you’re noticing a few of the signs we outlined above, replace your pillow right away — regardless of its age.