When Should I Replace My Pillows?

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When Should I Replace My Pillows?

The earliest recorded use of a pillow goes back as far as the dawn of civilisation. The first humans who wandered Mesopotamia used pillows for many of the same reasons that pillows are used today. However, it is highly unlikely that pillow users from the 7000 BC era asked, “When should I replace my pillows”? In fact, that question was not asked until recently, when sleep experts and healthcare professionals learned about the reasons why people should replace their pillows. Because of allergens, bacteria, loss of support, and sleep deprivation, people should adhere to a fairly structured time frame for replacing pillows. Ultimately, replacing pillows is a personal choice.

Consumers who need to replace pillows can find new pillows at bedding shops and online at the leading auction site, eBay. New is the way to go when buying pillows, unless consumers can find pillows that have been returned and have retained their mint condition, but retailers cannot label them as such. Before shopping for the next comfortable pillow, consumers should learn about the different types of pillows and how each type influences lifespan, the filling used for pillows, the main reasons why people replace their pillows, and when it is time to replace pillows.

Types of Pillows

The type of pillow makes a huge difference in deciding when to replace the pillow. For instance, knee pillows require changing less often than orthopedic pillows. The first step in learning when to replace pillows is to take an inventory of the types of pillows throughout the house. The following are the main pillow categories.

Knee Pillows

Knee pillows can be used between the knees for someone who sleeps on their side, or just below the knees for those who sleep on their back. Pillows placed below the knees alleviate back strain, and thus, require more scrutiny than knee pillows placed between the knees. In either case, knee pillows should be firm to prevent one leg from overlapping the other. When knee pillows start to lose firmness, then it is time to consider changing this type of pillow.

Body Pillows

Body pillows typically run the length of a body and work best for people who sleep on their sides. They serve the dual purpose of supporting both the neck and the knees. This type of pillow can lose its effectiveness after a year of consistent use. However, many body pillow users only sleep with the pillows when they suffer from neck or leg pain. The general rule of thumb is to replace body pillows whenever they no longer retain firmness.

Neck Pillows

Pillows contoured to fill the voids under the head and neck help people to mitigate neck pain. Neck pillows are one of the more popular types of pillows, and they are often called orthopedic pillows. Manufacturers construct neck pillows with a deeper depression where the head sits during sleep. Orthopedic pillows are constructed to last longer than most other types of pillows. However, neck pillows can wear out within two years if they experience heavy use.

Travel Pillows

One of the surest ways to incur neck or shoulder pain is to sleep upright without using a pillow. Travel pillows are U-shaped cushions that fit snugly around the neck area, thus helping to support both the head and neck while sleeping upright. This type of pillow prevents the head from bending too far to the side and it prevents muscle pain that occurs because neck and shoulder muscles must work harder to provide support. Since travel pillows are infrequently used, users can receive years of use without having to replace them.

Lower Back Pillows

This pillow has a direct impact on supporting the inward curve of the lumbar spine. People who sit for long periods without the support of a lower back pillow can incur painful muscle tension in the lower back and legs. Lower back support pillows fill the natural gap that occurs between the lower spine and the floor or chair. Also referred to as a lumbar back pillow, this type of pillow is recommended for people who spend long stints inside of a car. Since the key to a lower back pillow is firmness, this pillow needs to be replaced when it begins to lose support.

Types of Pillow Fillings

Another factor to consider when deciding to replace pillows is the material used to fill pillows. Some fillings retain their original composition for longer periods than other types of fillings.

Natural Fibre Pillows

Feather fillings provide more firmness and support than down-filled pillows, which offers medium-firm support. Consumers also choose whether they want duck or goose down. Duck feathers are heavier than goose feathers, and hence, they provide more support. Both types of natural fibres are known for their thermal and breathable properties. The time to replace pillows that are filled with natural fibres is when the pillow begins to lose firmness. This means down pillows are typically replaced sooner than feather-filled pillows.

Synthetic Pillows

Consumers who suffer from acute allergy symptoms typically purchase pillows filled with synthetic fibres, such as hollowfibre, microfibre, and polyester. Synthetic fillings that have been produced by high-quality manufacturers provide greater insulation and softness than what most people expect from artificial pillow fillings. However synthetic-filled pillows are made to alleviate allergy suffering, which means they possess short lifespans.

Memory Foam Pillows

Temperature-sensitive memory foam’s greatest attribute is the capability for the material to mould the head and neck. The moulding capability corrects body alignment and posture errors. Manufacturers construct memory foam pillows to be highly durable. Users should be able to benefit from pain-free sleep for over five years before having to consider replacing memory foam-filled pillows.

Reasons to Replace Pillows

Pillows are manufactured for a number of reasons, which means that there are many reasons to replace pillows when they have outlived their usefulness. Nonetheless, most pillow users find that there are three primary reasons for switching out pillows.


Pillows collect body oils and skin flakes over a short period, and this exacerbates allergy symptoms. Pillowcases, no matter how many times they are washed, eventually stop providing protection against bacteria and harmful substances. Dust mites, mould, and mildew add to the misery that allergy sufferers feel. Many sleep experts recommend that allergy sufferers, especially those who experience pronounced symptoms, should replace their pillows every one to three years. Pillow covers, which zip up to completely protect users from allergens, can extend a pillow’s life beyond the three-year threshold.


Pillows that become lumpy or lose firmness fail to provide the proper amount of support, which causes discomfort and possible soreness in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and legs. According to clinical psychologist Michael Breus, high-quality pillows provide support for up to two years. Cheaply made pillows may not make it through the first year of use. The rule of thumb is to replace pillows at the first sign that they are losing their support properties.


Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of mental and physical ailments which can snowball into life-threatening illnesses. Some of the ailments include: depression, heart disease, and tremors. Therefore, users should replace their pillows immediately after the first extended bout of sleeplessness. A few consecutive sleepless nights do not necessarily mean it is time to replace pillows. However, waiting to replace pillows longer than one week of sleepless nights is playing medical roulette.

When to Replace Pillows

It seems there is not a magic number that determines when it is time to replace pillows. Unlike cars, which follow regimented part replacement time frames, pillows can last less than six months or provide supreme comfort and support for over five years. When to replace pillows is mostly up to user recognition when things have gone awry. However, there are ways to test pillows to see if it is time to purchase new ones.

Test the Pillows

Heloise suggests there is an easy way to determine when to replace pillows. Simply fold the pillow in half and if the pillow remains folded in half, the time has come to change pillows. However, this may be too simplistic for most types of pillows, especially those that contain different fillings.

Place a down or goose feather pillow on a hard surface, such as a concrete floor or wooden table. Fold the pillow in half and apply pressure until the air has been entirely removed from the pillow. After the air has been removed, release the pillow and detect if it slowly unfolds or remains in its original folded position. Natural fibres that have lost their compression capabilities do not release after a pillow is folded in half. Pillows that remain folded have lost their ability to provide support.

Synthetic fibre-stuffed pillows require more than hand pressure to ensure all of the air leaves the inside of a pillow. Place a weight of at least 400 g on top of a pillow that has been folded in half. Leave the weight on the pillow for approximately five minutes. If the pillow immediately bounces back to form after the weight is removed, then the pillow still retains its firmness and support. Otherwise, polyester, hollowfibre, or microfibre pillows that remain folded should be tossed into the rubbish bin.

Buying Pillows on eBay

eBay can provide you with an excellent venue for shopping for replacement pillows. However, you must search for pillows that have never been used. eBay provides buyers with a search engine to find sellers that match their pillow shopping criteria. Use specific keywords to narrow the search. For pillows that have not been used, type "new pillows with tags". If you know the exact type of pillow you want, type in the specifics of your search, such as "orthopaedic memory foam pillow". After you find a seller, navigate to the seller’s product page to review accepted payment methods, delivery terms, and return policies. A seller’s return policy should allow you to use the pillow for at least 30 days to ensure the pillow possesses the type of support and comfort that you want.

Buying a pillow from one of eBay’s Top-Rated Sellers is a good strategy to ensure high pillow quality. Top-rated sellers have established a track record of selling superior products and running fair auctions. eBay designates the top-rated sellers by placing a ribbon icon next to their product photographs. You can also review customer feedback that eBay places on product pages. Look for sellers who have received positive customer feedback for at least a year. Moreover, make sure to buy from sellers who have earned positive feedback for selling bed-related products.


Since science has proven that a good night’s sleep plays a huge role in determining mental and physical health, the old adage “I’ll sleep when I die”, only leads to an early grave. One of the leading causes of sleep deprivation and its subsequent health issues is a pillow that does not provide a level of comfort that induces sleep. The pillow becomes lumpy or it has flattened so much that is feels as if the head is resting against the bed mattress. Whenever someone gets that uncomfortable sinking feeling, the time has come to replace the pillows.

Is sleep deprivation that only factor that answers the question, “When should I replace my pillows”? No, there are two additional factors that play just as important of a role. Many people utilise pillows to provide head, neck, back, and leg support. Whenever a lower back pillow loses its firmness, the time has come to visit the nearest bedding shop or purchase a new pillow online at eBay. Another factor that influences a pillow’s lifespan is the ability to fend off bacteria and allergens. Once a pillow loses its allergen and bacteria-fighting attributes, people risk becoming ill if they do not make pillow changes. The best rule for deciding when to replace pillows is not based on a regimented time frame, but when the users realise their pillows have outlived their usefulness.

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