I was chatting with two friends recently when the subject of pillows came up: the firmness and material we prefer to sleep on, whether we stack two pillows or sleep on one flat—it was a surprisingly lively conversation full of strong, differing opinions that made one thing very clear. We are all very particular about the pillows we sleep on, and once we figure out the arrangement we find most comfortable, we stick with it. That said, I’m here to ask the question you probably don’t want to think about but definitely should: How long is too long to sleep on the same pillow?
Pillows should be replaced after 1-2 years.
That might seem like overkill, but there are two very good reasons why you should make sure you don’t keep a pillow past its prime. One, your pillow’s structural integrity has a direct impact on your quality of sleep and neck support. And two, something you spend 6-8 hours sleeping on daily—sometimes sweating or drooling on…occasionally while still wearing your makeup—is going to build up dirt that regular washing simply can’t get rid of.
We talked to the experts at Tempur-Pedic to get a professional opinion on the subject. Brent Pfister, vice president of marketing at Tempur-Pedic, says that while regular polyester pillows typically need replacing as often as 6 months, higher quality pillows can last up to a few years. (Tempur-Pedic’s pillows have a 5-year warranty, for what it’s worth). Like most things in life, when you invest in products made of higher-quality materials and manufacturing, they’re going to stay in prime condition for longer.
Additionally, “pillows should be kept clean to maximize life,” Brent says. “So investing in a pillow with a removable, washable cover is a good idea.” Regularly washing your pillow case, pillow cover, and yes, the pillow itself will keep the build-up of dirt, oil, and dead skin (which can lead to dust mites) at a minimum, which will help your pillow last longer.
How do you know it’s time to replace your beloved pillow? For one, if you start to not love it quite as much (you wake up with a sore or stiff neck, or can’t get comfortable during the night), it’s probably a sign the pillow has lost its structural integrity. If you have a non-foam pillow, try folding it in half. If it doesn’t spring back to its original flat shape, it’s probably time to say goodbye.
Brent suggests, “If you find that your pillow is not providing the support you are used to, or you are waking with neck discomfort, it may be time to consider replacing your pillow.” And finally, this may seem like a no-brainer, but if your pillow has any yellow stains (ahem, from sweat and/or makeup), it’s time to toss it.