Getting a good night’s sleep is super important for our health and feeling great. You know those fluffy pillows we love so much? Well, if we don’t take care of them properly, they can actually mess with our sleep quality and health.
The Sleep Foundation suggests that it’s a good idea to replace our pillows every 1 to 2 years. This way, they stay supportive, clean, and free of allergens. It’s not just about giving our heads and necks the right support; it also has a big impact on our bedding hygiene and overall health.
We totally get how important it is to stay healthy, so we put together this helpful guide on taking care of your pillows. Hope it helps! Sleep tight!
Pillows provide the perfect warm, humid environment for dust mites to thrive. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that dust mites are a common cause of allergies and asthma. These microscopic bugs feed on the dead skin cells that we shed each day. A buildup of dust mite droppings and dead skin in pillows can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory issues.
Using unclean pillows filled with allergens can negatively impact your sleep quality. Tossing and turning all night due to congestion, sneezing or itchy eyes makes it difficult to get the restful sleep your body needs. Pillows that are lumpy or have lost their support can also disrupt sleep, leading to neck pain and headaches.
Your pillows are one of the most important factors in your overall bedding hygiene. Humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping, so it’s essential to make sure your pillows are clean and allergen-free for optimal comfort and health.
Understanding the dangers lurking within our pillows, it’s clear that regular cleaning is essential. But how often should we be cleaning our pillows?
A study published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that pillows should be replaced every 18 months to 2 years due to the accumulation of dust mites and dead skin cells. While you can’t wash some types of pillows, all pillows should be aired out and fluffed regularly to redistribute fill and prolong their lifespan.
Pillowcases should be washed at least once a week, or more if you have allergies or skin conditions like acne. Pillowcases collect oils, dirt, and allergens next to your face each night. Frequent pillowcase washing is key for clear skin and allergy control.
Telltale signs that your pillow needs a refresh include yellow or brown stains, strong odors, lumpy or flattened spots, and increased allergies. If your pillow crinkles or crunches, it likely needs to be cleaned and fluffed.
The proper cleaning method depends on the pillow material. Here’s how to safely clean common types of pillows.
Inspect pillows for stains before washing and spot treat with an enzymatic cleaner or hydrogen peroxide if needed. This prevents stains from setting during washing.
- Check the care label but most cotton, feather, and down pillows can go directly in the washing machine. Use the gentle/delicate cycle with cold water.
- Add a mild detergent without optical brighteners that could damage feathers. Vinegar helps cut detergent residue that can clump down/feathers.
- For heavy soiling add borax or baking soda which act as natural deodorizers.
- Move pillows to the dryer immediately after washing. Air drying can allow moisture to build up inside.
- Use tennis balls in the dryer to fluff and add loft back to the pillows. Or tumble dry with no heat.
- Once dry, fluff pillows vigorously by hand to break up any remaining clumps.
Foam pillows will fall apart and lose their shape in the washing machine. The tumbling and agitation are too rough.
- Use a vacuum attachment to remove dust and allergens from foam pillows. This should be done weekly.
- Spot-treat stains immediately with a damp cloth and mild soap. Do not soak the pillow.
The delicate feathers and down fill require special attention. Improper washing can strip oils leading to poking quills. Always follow care instructions.
Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can damage down and strip oils. This should be avoided when possible. Hand washing or gentle machine washing is best for down.
Now that we’ve explored how to clean different types of pillows, let’s discuss how pillow protectors can save time on cleaning.
High-quality pillow protectors create a barrier against moisture, allergens, and buildup next to your face as you sleep. This allows you to wash protectors more frequently than pillows, extending the lifespan of your pillow.
Any pillow type is a candidate for a protector. But those with allergies should absolutely use protectors on down and feather pillows that require infrequent washing.
- Pillow protectors should be washed weekly. Check the care label instructions.
- Use hot water to kill dust mites and dry thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.
- Replace pillow protectors every 6 months to keep your pillows fresh.
Regular cleaning can extend the life of your pillows, but they can’t last forever. Let’s explore when it’s time to say goodbye to your old pillow and welcome a new one.
On average, here’s how long different pillow types last with proper maintenance:
- Cotton– 1-2 years
- Down– 2-4 years
- Foam: 2-3 years
- Feather: 1-3 years
- Polyester: 1-2 years
- Latex: 2-4 years
- Buckwheat: 2-3 years
For a better understanding, here is the bar chart that explains the life expectancy of different types of pillows. Note that the data may not be accurate*
Source: Based on Internet data
Continuing to use a pillow beyond its lifespan comes with health consequences:
- Foul odors or visible yellowing are signs of harmful allergen and mold buildup.
- Lack of neck support from deteriorating foam or fiberfill can cause neck pain.
- Dust mites and allergens in old pillows worsen asthma and allergy symptoms.
Some clear indicators that a pillow should be discarded include:
- Neck pain upon waking up indicating lack of support
- Increased allergic reactions to the pillow such as sniffles or itchy eyes
- Visible lumps, clumps, or flat spots
- The pillow does not spring back after compression
- An overpowering musty or sour odor even after washing
If you notice any of these signs, it’s definitely time to retire your old pillow and get a replacement. Check out sites that sell the best pillows to find the perfect pillow for your sleep position and preferences.
1. Can I use any type of detergent for pillow cleaning?
No, you should use a mild detergent without optical brighteners or dyes which could damage delicate materials like down and feathers. Avoid heavily scented detergents.
2. How can I prevent my pillows from getting lumpy after washing?
Make sure to run pillows through the dryer with tennis balls to break up clumps. Then fluff well by hand after drying. Storing properly in pillowcases also prevents lumpiness in between washes.
3. How often should I replace my pillow protector?
Replace your pillow protector every 6 months. They collect oils and buildup even if your pillow seems clean. Swapping the protector ensures your pillow stays fresh.
Taking good care of your pillows not only means a cleaner and healthier bed but also results in better sleep at night. So, we’ve got you covered with this ultimate guide to help you make your pillows last longer. That way, you can wake up refreshed and totally ready to tackle whatever comes your way each morning. Sleep tight and wake up feeling fantastic!