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How to Use a Memory Foam Pillow

Updated November 21, 2016

Memory foam pillows are comprised of a space age foam that moulds to body shape, while providing good ergonomic support to the head and neck. Memory foam supports the head and neck, while preventing pressure points. These pillows can be very uncomfortable if they're used improperly, and with a good-quality memory foam pillow priced at £65 or more, it's not an item you want to toss in the guestroom or in the pillow graveyard at the back of your closet. Like memory foam mattresses, it will take some time to become accustomed to a memory foam pillow and using it properly from day one will help hasten the adjustment process.

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  1. Purchase a waterproof pillow cover if this item is not included with your pillow. A few high-end memory foam pillows will come with a waterproof pillow cover included; most only have a generic fabric pillow cover included. It's essential the pillow cover is waterproof so the pillow is protected from sweat, saliva, spills, etc., as memory foam pillows are not washable.

  2. Place the bare memory foam pillow outdoors in a dry, clean, shady location for several afternoons in a row. The chemical odour associated with memory foam pillows is often very strong and for some people, this makes it virtually impossible to sleep. Placing the pillow in the fresh air will allow the odour to diminish.

  3. Put the waterproof cover on the memory foam pillow (once the odour has faded), followed by a pillowcase of your choice.

  4. Remove other pillows from your side of the bed. Memory foam pillows are designed to be used alone.

  5. Place the pillow at the head of the bed, with the flat side down and the larger of the two curves facing the foot of the bed. Most memory foam pillows have a flat side, and a curvy side that looks like two hills with a valley in the centre. Your head sits in the valley, and the larger "hill" goes under your neck. Some memory foam pillows come in a traditional pillow shape, and for these, no special alignment is required.

  6. Lay on the bed, place your head on the pillow and find a comfortable position.

  7. Do not switch positions for five to ten minutes, despite how "hard" the pillow may feel. Memory foam pillows may feel too firm at first, but like memory foam mattresses, the body heat and weight of the head and neck softens the foam and comfort increases dramatically within five to ten minutes.

  8. Launder the pillowcase weekly and launder the waterproof pillow case as needed.

  9. Tip

    Even if the memory foam pillow is "aired out," a slight odour will remain for several weeks. Eventually, the chemical odour will fade to the point where it's no longer noticeable. If the pillow odour is simply unbearable, place two or three dryer sheets in the dryer and tumble the pillow on the "no heat" setting for a few minutes. Wait until the waterproof pillow case is on the pillow before you make an assessment about the odour. The waterproof pillow case will block the odour to some degree. Traditional memory foam pillows can be uncomfortable for side or stomach sleepers. For more comfort, seek a special memory foam pillow for side/stomach sleepers, which has a curved bottom edge that allows for the shoulder or throat to fit against the pillow comfortably.


    Never wash a memory foam pillow. The foam will expand and break apart, permanently ruining the pillow.

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Things You'll Need

  • Memory foam pillow
  • Waterproof pillow cover
  • Pillowcase
  • Dry, shady outdoor location
  • Bed

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