How Often Should You Change Your Pillow?

A new pillow can improve a lot of things, from how you sleep to the condition of your skin. Just how often should you change your pillow? It depends on the pillow’s age and the experience you are having.

By Sheryl Grassie

Your pillow is an important part of your health and how well you sleep. It supports your head and neck, so you can relax; it keeps your spine aligned, so blood flows properly; and it helps position you for easier breathing during the night. The cleanliness of your pillow can be a factor in certain health conditions related to breathing and skin. So, how often should you change your pillow?

It depends on the pillow and your needs, but there are things to consider like does your pillow feel flat? How old is your pillow? Are you having symptoms that might be connected to a well-worn pillow like neck pain, tossing and turning, allergies, breathing problems, or skin issues? All of these can be the result of the need to change your pillow.

Is It Time to Replace Your Pillow?

By the time you start thinking about replacing your pillow, there is usually some condition that is acting as a catalyst. In general, you may be noticing that your pillow has gone flat or gotten lumpy, you may be experiencing breathing difficulties, or maybe you have heard a fresh pillow can help your skin condition.

Beyond any reasons you might be contemplating, there is a rule of thumb that pillows should be changed every couple of years. The National Sleep Foundation supports what doctors recommend, to change your bed pillow at least every two years depending on the signs of wear. Here are some conditions that might warrant you changing it sooner.

Your Pillow Is No Longer Supportive

A flat pillow can cause neck or back pain or that all too familiar scenario of tossing and turning and endlessly fluffing up your pillow throughout the night. Since pillows are designed to give comfort and support, when they stop doing this, they are essentially useless and need to be changed.

You’re Experiencing Poor Sleep

If your lumpy pillow is keeping you awake and compromising your must have 7-9 hours of sleep per night, it may be time to change it out for a new one. Sleep is crucial to good health and a pillow interfering with sleep is an easy fix.

Do You Have Allergies or Wake Up Sneezing?

Pillows can hold all kinds of hidden allergens like pollen, bacteria, and dust mites. If your allergies have gotten worse, you wake up sneezing, or have chronic sinus problems that might be associated with dust mites, try a new pillow.

You Have Acne or Other Skin Condition

An older pillow can be full of dead skin cells and oil which can cause skin problems. Acne in particular has been linked to what skin comes in contact with, and eczema has been associated with dust mites that live off the dead skill cells in your pillow. Your face has prolonged contact with your pillow. If you have acne or another skin condition, it can be a good reason to get a new pillow.

Your Pillow Has Stains or Smells

If your pillow accumulates stains that don’t wash out, or develops a sour smell, it is definitely time to get a new one. For fresh pillows, use a pillow protector under your pillowcase, and machine wash both the protector and the case in hot water at least every few weeks, preferably every week. Wash the actual pillow every three to six months in hot water to kill mites.


Pillows are crucial to a good night’s sleep and a worn-out pillow can cause not only discomfort but a host of health issues. Wash it regularly, and change it for a new one at least every two years. Change it sooner if it stops being supportive, is causing any sinus or breathing problems, or is visibly stained or foul smelling. A new pillow is a small investment in good sleep and good health.

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