Skip to Content

Are Old Pillows Unhealthy

Are Old Pillows Unhealthy

After a long tiring day at school or work, the first thing that comes to your mind is to hit your head on your pillow.

We spend an average of eight to ten-hour sleep on our pillows; that is why you consider them as one of your most commonly used items in your home.

Because of this daily and consistent use on our pillows, they get old aside in terms of the years you have been using them, but rather once your pillows are flattened, give-off foul-odor smell, and you have been experiencing neck and back pain every time you wake up in the morning.

So, you might be asking yourself if your pillows are still good for you.

For the record, old pillows are no longer healthy to sleep on IF they can affect the quality of your sleep, such as waking tired and heavy in the morning, experiencing back and neck pain. Also, they are unhealthy if pillows smell musty and sweaty. And lastly, if they cannot re-fluff.

Once your pillow manifests any of these signs, it is recommended to replace your pillow right away to avoid any further inconvenience.

Having a good and well-maintained pillow is the ticket for your sweet trip to get the right amount of REM cycles to keep you ready ahead for the rest of the day. Therefore, you can read below are the reasons why your old pillows are not worthy of keeping. 

Go and check your bedroom to get these bad boys out from your bed!

Reasons Not To Keep Old Pillows

Aside from the not so appealing vibe given by your old pillows, they are also at risk of harboring different types of allergens that may harm your skin and your over-all-health. Thus, here is a rundown of the unhealthy effects of keeping old pillows.

A major contributor to allergies and asthma

This is because, as your pillow ages, it can collect dust and dirt particles, which can be harmful to your health. Over time, this build-up of dead skin cells, dust mites, sweat, and other types of allergens on your pillow has been proven as a major contributor to allergies and asthma.

That is why some people opted in using a hypoallergenic pillow, which is made from natural pillow fillings such as wool, buckwheat hulls, cotton, and latex.

Another tip is to make sure you change your pillowcases regularly and wash your pillows at least twice a year as per recommendation. In this way, you help prevent the build-up of dirt, dust mites, and other irritants to the skin.

It causes neck and back pain

We cannot deny the fact that our pillows flatten and become lumpy as they age; therefore, if you are used to sleeping in a high loft pillow, you might end up waking with a neck and back pain.

In order to keep and prolong the fluffiness of your pillow, make sure to follow these simple tips.

Fluff your pillow every day

This is a simple routine you can do every morning to help prevent lumps formation on your pillow.

You can do this by pushing both sides of the opposite ends of your pillow and massaging the middle portion of the pillow to spread the fillings inside.

Toss tennis balls on the dryer

If ever you have decided to wash your pillows, and then you are now in the drying process, make sure to toss some tennis balls before you run the cycle, as this can help in fluffing your pillow.

The tennis ball will punch the lumps formed in your pillow to make it fluffier once the cycle is done. Alternatively, you can use dryer balls.

Replace pillow stuffing

Loosen the stitches on one side of the pillow so that you can remove the stuff inside and replace it with new pillow stuffing. Make sure you arrange the pillow fillings inside and distribute it evenly on the sides of the pillow.

It can impair the quality of your sleep

Once you are not comfortable with the pillow you are hitting on, you will not get the quality of sleep you are dreaming of. In fact, not getting the quality of sleep each night may lead to some sleeping problems such as insomnia.

That is why when you wake up in the morning, you feel restless, dizzy, and some are irritated. It can also affect your REM cycle, which is important to your sleep cycle since, during this phase, learning and retention of memories takes place in your brain.

Aside from this, old pillows sometimes smell stinky and musty, that is why it can affect the quality of your sleep every night since in the first place they are uncomfortable to sleep on.

Your pillows have been your trusted companion every time you need to relax, sleep, or just toss your head around. As they say, "Nothing lasts forever" the same goes with your pillows, they do not last that long. I think

Latex pillows have the longest lifespan with an average of 3-4 years (you may see here the list of different types of pillows with their lifespan).

Hence, you must know the signs when it is the right time to replace your pillows. This way is to avoid future sleeping problems that may affect your health.

Signs That You Should Replace Your Old Pillows

Just like your mattress, your pillow also has shelf-life. On average, it is recommended to replace your pillows every three years; however, due to differences in sleeping habits and lifestyles, it can affect the frequency of how often you should replace your pillows.

Therefore, you may read below are the red flags that you may notice or experience that manifest now is the time to go for a pillow shopping.

Waking up with a stiff and sore neck

This is one of the early signs that your pillows no longer serve the quality of comfort needed for a healthy good night's sleep.

Once you wake up every morning experiencing stiff and sore neck, Oops, that is already a sign that you need to shop for a new pillow.

As your pillows age, they tend to deteriorate, which can affect the support they give for your head and neck.

They become flat and lose that perfect pancake appearance; that is why if you try to re-fluff it by massaging and shaking both side ends of your pillow, and still it the same, hurry and pick up a new pillow.

It does not spring back

You can say that your pillow already needs a replacement if your pillow does not show the springiness it does just like the old-time.

Lacking the springiness of a pillow means that they already lose their natural bounce and cannot maintain their original shape. You can test the springiness of your pillow by folding the pillow in half.

If your pillow bounces back after you folded it, then it is still good. On the other hand, if the pillow does not spring back and just retain the folded position, say goodbye to your pillow because it is the time to replace it with a new one.

If you continue sleeping on your old pillow, be ready to experience these sleeping discomforts such as headaches and occasional sneezing that can ruin the quality of your sleep.

Frequent headaches

You will know right away that there is something wrong when you wake up with a headache, especially if you are not prone to having headaches.

This means that there is something impairing your sleep; therefore, check your pillow if it does not provide the proper support your head and neck need.

What happens when your body does not get the right level of support, your head, and upper body will tend to adjust to the level of support of the pillow, which gives you an improper sleeping position, thus, stressing your body, especially on your head, neck, and back area.

Occasional sneezing

This is a bit tricky since everyone experience colds or flu. However, how can you know that this sneezing has something to do with your pillow?

Well, if you are waking up every single day sneezing and then disappears once you get out of bed, most probably, your pillow is the culprit for your sneezing.

Your pillows, especially those old ones, accumulate dust, dirt, and other types of allergens, that is why when you rest your face at night on your pillow, it can trigger your allergy, and some may exacerbate their asthma attacks.

Your pillow becomes lumpy

To make sure that your pillows are comfortable, it must be free from lump formation.

However, we cannot avoid this as time passes by, and if you are frequently washing your pillow, the pillow filings will start clumping and form lumps later on that can poke your head while you sleep.

To know whether your pillows have potential lumps, press down your pillow, and feel for any bumps if it has lumps, it's an indication to buy a new pillow, or you can just replace the fillings inside to save money from buying and buying.

Presence of unremovable stains

Your pillow absorbs sweat, dead skin cells, and makeup that can seep down on your pillows if not clean and removed right away.

Over time, this unremoved dirt and oil will become a permanent stain that is why make sure to spot clean your pillows once in a while to avoid build-up of stains by doing these following tips below:

  1. Mixing baking soda with water until you achieve a paste-like consistency
  2. Once you have the paste, grab a clean towel, and then dip it in the baking soda paste
  3. Spot clean the stain by dabbing the surface with the baking soda paste
  4. Leave the pillows for about half an hour before rinsing the pillow

Finally, you have already learned the signs that your pillow needs a replacement. On the other hand, you might be wondering next what are the things you may do to an old pillow.

Will you just damp your pillows right away? Well, here are the ways on how to recycle or reuse old pillows that you could never think of!

What To Do With Old Pillows

Probably, you see your old pillows as dull, useless, and flat, but you never thought that these flat pillows are still filled with lots of creative possibilities.

In fact, there are plenty of clever ways on how to put back these old pillows on the limelight by using your creativity and hard work. Therefore, let's get this started!

Old pillows can be made into rags

Instead of spending some cash on buying rugs, why not use your old pillows to make some rags. You can do this by removing the filling of your pillows.

Once you have removed the fillings inside, you can cut the fabrics into random sizes of square-shaped pieces and then sew them up together to create rags for cleaning and wiping on your household.

You can use them as kneepads

Nothing much work to do, you just use it as it is. Grab your old pillow and use it as a kneepad when doing some gardening or working in the yard. You can save some cash instead of buying a pair of kneepads, thank me later, gals!

You can make a floor cushion

Since your old pillows are already flat, there is nothing you can do about it except by making them into a comfortable floor cushion. Therefore, gather all your old pillows, and then just simply connect them.

You can use this as a floor cushion when you want to lie on the floor while watching your favorite Netflix series, or you just want to sleep on the floor.

You can create a comfy bed for your pets

Your pets need a comfortable place to sit and lie on. Instead of buying fancy and expensive beds for them, why not use your old pillows to create beds for your fur-babies, though this work requires a little sewing, you can still do it by watching this tutorial video on YouTube:

You can use them as pillows for road trips

Long road trip surely is exhausting; therefore, make use of your old pillows to make your next road trip more comfortable.

All you have to do is to recreate your pillows into a small version so that they will not consume much space in your car. You can also use them as back support to ease the strain on your back for sitting on a longer period of time.

They can  be made into a great insulator

Yes, you have read it right. Your old pillows can be used to provide insulation on the following household items:

  • Pipes
  • Hot water tank
  • Around your tub
  • To your attic

You can use the stuffing materials inside or just the whole pillow for insulating other stuff.

They can be used to protect your stuff

Especially if you are moving to a new place, packing your thing and then placing them on the truck needs extra protection since it will move from time to time.

So, to assure that your things like pieces of furniture being scratched up, you may consider placing your old pillows in between them to create space and keep them from rubbing while in transit.

You can use them to protect fragile objects

To save money from spending on those bubble wraps, you can use the stuffing of your pillows as a buffer when packing fragile items on your next shipment.

In this way, you provide extra protection on the shipped items; at the same make use of your old pillows.

It can be used to stuff up your chimney

No worries, if you have a drafty chimney on your house since your old pillows got your back (always). In order to do it successfully, just put your old cushions on a clean trash bag, and then block it on your chimney.

This will surely help you during those chilly drafts that may pass through in your chimney; therefore, make sure to block them right away.

You may send them on donation centers

Instead of throwing them away, why not do some good deeds by donating them to your local animal shelter or homeless shelter. Though you may see them useless, somebody out there may still need them.

However, make sure that before you donate them, have them cleaned, washed, and sorted (still in good condition and cannot be used) so that people who will receive them are always thankful, even though they are just second-hand.


Pillows are essential items in our everyday lives. We rest our head on it each night so that when we wake up the next day, we are productive and do all the tasks due for the day.

That is why it is crucial to get a good quality of sleep each night, and we can achieve this by sleeping on a good pillow.

However, if our pillow no longer serves the support and comfort we need, and our pillows started to cause some sleeping problems, now is the time to replace your old pillows.

Image by 영훈 박 from Pixabay