Once you find a pillow that feels right and allows you to sleep the way you want to, it can be hard to let it go.
You should, though, after a year or three for the sake of your health.
That’s the consensus of many sleep and bedding experts who say that bed pillows’ tendency to trap allergens, absorb oils and lose their cushioning abilities means that after a certain point they’re likely to degrade your sleep quality and do more harm than good.
The materials in and quality of the pillow are important to establishing its ultimate lifespan, and investing in higher-end pillows could end up saving money over the long run.
Your comfort should be the first consideration, however.
Using zippered pillow protectors in addition to or instead of conventional pillowcases prolong the life of your pillow, as well as washing or spot-cleaning it as often as its contents permit. Be sure to follow the instructions for maintaining pillows, and don’t put memory foam, hybrid or latex pillows in the washer.
Indicators your pillow is past its prime include:
• Your neck or head hurts when you wake up in the morning.
• It appears to be causing acne or other skin breakouts and irritation.
• It’s lumpy, flat or doesn’t retain its original shape or return to it after being folded in half.
• It has yellow stains, generally caused by absorbing sweat, face and hair oils and saliva.
• It makes you sneeze, your eyes get red and watery, or you have other allergic reactions to it.
• It’s smelly, which could be a sign of mildew or mold.
Replacement recommendations for pillows:
• Polyester or down alternative — 1 to 2 years
• Memory foam/polyfoam — 2 to 3 years
• Down/feather — 1 to 3 years
• Latex — 2 to 4 years
• Buckwheat — every 3 years