When should you replace your sleeping pillow?

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Sleeping pillows can impact your sleep.

A good comfortable supportive pillow can also aid to a good night’s sleep.

  • Some people become so accustom and attached to their sleeping pillows that they pack them when traveling. People often say they don’t get a good night’s sleep with a different pillow.

The bad news about sleeping pillows (and all bedding), they can become invested with dust mites and other debris that the owner typically doesn’t realize or want. As well, sleeping pillows wear out.

  • The filling breaks down from the weight of your head and the tossing and turning that it is subject to.
    • They get thinner and thinner, as the filling migrates out of the ticking (or shell) as dust.

Throughout this degradation process, the owner doesn’t notice the sleeping pillow's slow and gradual change.

  • The owner unconsciously adapts to its increasingly smaller size.  
  • As the pillow shrinks in size, it accumulates more dead skin cells, dust mites (and their feces) as well as body oil.

Magnified image of a dust mite

Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, indicates sleeping pillows should be tossed every six months. There are varying opinions on this topic.

The accumulated debris can however cause other health issues to some.

  • Your face and respiratory system are in contact with soiled pillow. Issues such as acne, asthmatic and allergy flair ups can be exacerbated by a dirty pillow.
  • The good news is that our bed partner, the dust mite, does not have risks other than allergic or asthmatic reactions.
    • Dust mites don’t spread disease. However, the thought of sleeping with a couple hundred of them isn’t appealing.
  • As a side note, pillow protectors  help reduce debris that can get on your pillow and reduce dust mite proliferation.

Here is a brief video explaining this in more detail.

So, what’s the answer? Throw out your favorite pillow and start breaking in a new one? The truth is, they do reach a point in which they should be tossed, however washing them is an easy way to extend their life. Here's how to do it...


  • Washing them greatly reduces the infestation of dust mites, bacteria and other gunk.
  • We don’t recommend dry-cleaning sleeping pillows. PERC, the caustic chemical used in the dry-cleaning process, leaves a residue on the filling and pillow cover.
    • A sleeping pillow is right next to your mouth and nose, you will be breathing this chemical every night.

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