In the grand scheme of things, your pillow may seem rather insignificant in your quest for a good night’s rest. However, your pillow can have just as much of a positive or negative impact on your quality of rest as your mattress!

Your pillow serves a very important purpose. It supports your head and neck throughout the night to make sure you don’t wake with neck pain or stiffness. Without proper support at night, you may find it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. So, make sure your pillow is new, fresh, and supportive. The lifespan of your pillow depends on your personal allergies, and how often you clean it. Most pillows can last you from six months to three years.

Getting the Most Out of Your Pillow

Every time you sleep on your pillow it absorbs body oil, hair, drool, and dead skin cells. Not only can this lead to acne, and make the pillow smell, but it also creates a welcoming environment for dust mites (common allergens.) This build-up happens fast- within six months- and once the dust mites have taken over, the pillow is done for. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prolong the life of your pillow and help it to last until closer to the three-year mark.

Clean Your Pillowcase

To avoid breakouts and allergies, it is best to change/clean your pillowcase every week. This will also help prevent your pillow from absorbing excess oils, dead skin, drool, and hair.

Buy a Cover for Your Pillow

Your pillow needs more protection than just a simple pillowcase can offer. A zippered pillow protector will help prevent mite build up. Be sure to wash your pillow cover at least once a month.

Wash Your Pillow

You should wash your pillow every three to six months. Never go longer than six months. If you use a down-alternative pillow it can usually go in the washing machine. However, you should check the label on your pillow to be sure it is safe to throw it in the washer. Down feather pillows should be dry cleaned. Once a month you can throw the pillow in the dryer on low for thirty minutes to help clean out some of the clutter from your pillow in between washings.

For the best results, wash two pillows at a time to keep the washer balanced, wash on the gentle cycle, and use a small amount of mild liquid detergent.  Send the pillows through a second rinse cycle to make sure all the detergent is removed.

Dry your pillows according to the care label. If you can put them in the dryer, place a few tennis balls in with the pillows to speed up dry time and to keep the fibers from clumping. You can also dry the pillows by laying them flat. Lay them on top of your machine and let them sit for a few hours in warm air while your dryer is working on another load. Make sure the pillows are completely dry so that you don’t invite mold or other unwanted occupants to make their home where you rest your head.

Fluff It

Washing will keep your pillow fresher and allergen free longer, but it won’t help keep your pillow supportive. Being used night after night, a pillow is bound to lose its “fluff.” Some pillows will keep their shape a little longer (down and natural feather pillows are more durable than pillows with polyester filling), but eventually they all lose their shape. Fluff your pillow every morning to keep it from getting flat as quickly.

Signs That Your Pillow Needs to be Replaced

  • It’s over three year’s old
  • Batting in the pillow is lumpy
  • You are constantly fluffing a feather pillow
  • It smells
  • It is visibly dirty/stained
  • You fold it in half and it stays that way (a good pillow will pop back open)

For guidelines on buying a pillow that is a good fit for you, read our blog post Finding Your Perfect Match in the Bedroom – Time for Some Pillow Talk.

If you have recently purchased a new pillow and still find that you are having trouble sleeping through the night or feeling rested, then you may benefit from a visit to Valley Sleep Center. Call one of our five convenient Valley locations today to schedule your sleep consult.