black and grey bedspread on bed and pillow

Bed Pillows | Types and How Often Should You Replace?

Get a good night’s sleep with the right bed pillows and discover the different types available. Plus, learn how often to replace your bed pillows for optimal comfort and support.

Bed pillows are comfortable, supportive bedroom accessories. A nice bed pillow will do you a favor by supporting your head when you retire to your bed after a long day. This delivers a good feeling and induces sleep. But when used beyond a specific limit, even a once beautiful and comfortable pillow can cause neck cramps and allergies. So, how often should you replace your bed pillow?

With regular use, bed pillows can become outdated, lumpy, and soiled. Bed pillows should be replaced every two years or earlier. This is because regular use exposes them to allergens such as dust mites, pet danders, and even molds. Dust mites are small microparticles that you can’t see with the naked eye but they live practically everywhere.

When they find their way into your pillow, they survive by feeding on dead skin cells. After two years, about 10% of your bed pillow’s weight is from dust mites and their droppings. And this can trigger a significant level of allergy, discomfort, and other unhealthy conditions. 

Popular Types of Bed Pillows

According to Sleep Foundation, there are different types of bed pillows. Pillows are often grouped according to their fill, which comprises natural materials, synthetic materials, or a blend of the two. Fill materials may vary in terms of how they feel and their performance but each works for someone. 

Here are common types of bed pillows you should know:

Memory Foam

Also known as viscoelastic foam, a memory foam bed pillow can change its shape in reaction to heat and pressure. This quality allows such pillows to mold to your head and neck and deliver customized pressure relief and spinal comfort.

With its foam density and close hug, a memory foam pillow retains heat, which is why many manufacturers include additional features for cooling such as gel infusions. Freshly bought pillows of this nature can have an initial odor caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used during the manufacturing process. However, it disappears within a few days as long as the room is well-ventilated. 

Down pillows

Undressed down pillow: Source: Bedroom & More

Down bed pillows are filled with a natural material that includes feather clusters without quills. This material is obtained from the underside of a waterfowl’s rough exterior cover. It’s quite fluffy, light, and very comfortable. 

While they are plush and durable, some sleepers may be allergic to down pillows because of the materials used to make them. 

Down Alternative

This type of bed pillow is made to look like the original down, but without the allergens associated with the traditional down model. The Down Alternative pillow is plush with an airy feel delivered by vegan-friendly polyester, which is the main material used in making it. Sometimes it may include cotton or rayon and all the materials make it remain cooler than the traditional down pillows.

Another thing to note about the down alternative is that it’s easy to care for, lightweight, and moldable. It’s also versatile and available in a wide range of firmness levels and price points. 

Feather Bed Pillows

Feather-made bed pillows are made from the external plumage of geese and ducks. Based on the structure of the feathers, this type of bed pillow is more supportive than the down option. Some manufacturers also combine down and feathers to create balanced support and loft.

Feather pillows are durable, but they need regular fluffing to maintain softness and prevent clumping. Similar to the down alternative, some sleepers may be allergic to feather pillows. 

Latex Bed Pillows

Latex bed pillows come with responsive contours that cushion and support the head while sleeping. Similar to the memory foam model, latex pillows are made from a block of shredded fill that is both durable and breathable. The material is obtained from rubber tree sap, which is resistant to dust mites, mold, and mildew. 

They are mode moldable and they maintain their shapes for a long time. Some manufacturers also include zippers to make it easy for users to remove the fill or adjust it for firmness or softness. 

Signs That Your Pillow Needs Replacement

You should pay attention to these telltale signs to know if it’s the right time to replace your bed pillow:

Lost Shape

Old pillows are often deflated and misshaped, which are red alerts that you should replace them. Experts recommend fluffing your pillows manually every morning to help keep them supportive for longer. Some pillows can also be put in a dryer for at least 15 minutes to bring back a bit of their shape. 

Odor or stains

If your pillow produces odor or has regular stains each time you change the pillowcase, it could be the time to get a new fluffy accessory. Similarly, if they don’t smell fresh even after washing them with a mild detergent, it’s time to shop for new bed pillows. 


If your pillow is delivering allergens, including pet dander, pollen, or molds, it could be the best time to replace it. Even if the allergens can subside after washing, the best solution is to replace it with a new pillow. Allergies can lead to nasal congestion, skin irritation, and other reactions that may disrupt your normal health system.

Sudden or Gradual Life Changes

Even a perfect pillow might need a replacement if you incur abrupt or gradual life changes such as injuries, body changes, or aging. This can also happen if you buy a new mattress that needs a different level of support or if you regularly switch to new sleeping positions. If you wake up with neck cramps, then your pillow may be no longer adequately supportive.

When to Replace Your Bed Pillows

It can be hard to know exactly when to change your bed pillow unless you observe the signs mentioned in this guide and more. Bad pillows can put pressure on your neck, leading to back problems and depriving you of a good night’s sleep.

Experts recommend doing saddlebag and press test to help decide whether your pillow needs replacement. If you wake up sneezing and stuffed for several consecutive days, you might consider switching to an anti-allergy pillow. Non-allergic pillows are more resistant to dust mites, which is a common trigger for allergies and asthma. 

Overall, choosing the right types and replacing your bed pillows on time can keep you safe from the dangers mentioned. 


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