How often should a pillow be replaced?

Written by angela baird
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How often should a pillow be replaced?
Pillows don't have an unlimited lifespan. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The messages are a bit mixed as to how often you should replace your bed pillows, with different experts stating that every one to two years is adequate. If you have allergies or sensitivities to dust, you should replace your pillow more frequently. The use of dustproof hypoallergenic covers can double the life of a pillow. Any time you notice foul odours coming from your pillow, you should either attempt to clean it or replace it.

Dust Mites

These tiny microscopic creature can wreak havoc on people with allergies or asthma. Since roughly one-third of the average person's life is spent in bed, dust mites, which feed on human and animal dander, are a big problem when it comes to pillows. As your skin cells die and fall off throughout the night, they sift through the cover of your pillow and feed thousands of mites. According to Environment, Health and Safety Online, 10 per cent of a two-year-old pillow's weight can easily be composed of the shells and droppings of dust mites.


Mold and other fungal growth is another problem found in old pillows. The spores from moulds and fungus can exacerbate and actually cause allergies and asthma, and even deadly pneumonia in individuals with compromised immune systems. Prolonged exposure to the mycotoxins released by large fungal loads common to pillows more than two years old can actually cause permanent neurological, pathological, immunological and psychological damage, according to Susan Roberts at Mold Help.


In some cases, your old pillow can harbour more germs than your bathroom. Since you are generally aware of the presence of germs in the bathroom, you clean it, and often. That pillow you lay your head on every night, however, may be a decade or more in age and might have never been cleaned, making it a prime place for bacteria to colonise. Germs are absorbed not only from you, but from the air, and those germs encourage the growth of fungus and the presence of dust mites.

Is It Time?

As an aside to hygiene, you can determine if it is time to throw out your comfy pillow by evaluating its physical condition. A pillow that is hard and lumpy, or a feather pillow that is flat and limp, is probably not doing a good job of supporting your head and neck for a good night's sleep. If your pillow does not pop back to its original shape after being folded, it is too worn out to be effective. However, if your pillow passes those tests, follow the one- to two-year replacement guideline outlined by most experts for a healthy and comfortable night's rest.

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