How often should I change my pillow? The advice experts follow for healthy sleep

Is your pillow past its lifespan? Here's why changing your pillow matters – and when it's time to make a new investment

Bedroom with bedroom lighting
(Image credit: Katie Davis / Photos by Melissa Fitzgerald West)

Admittedly, it's easy to go months (or even years) without asking the question: how often should I change my pillow? 

While you may have found the best pillow to help you sleep better, your pillow will only maintain its shape and comfort levels for so long. Depending on your pillow's type, it can be necessary to reinvest after only one year – and forgetting to do so can have an impact beyond your bedroom's aesthetic. 

You will probably know that your best mattress is vital to getting a good night's sleep, but experts warn that pillows, and the condition they are in, are just as significant. As Karen Yu, a marketing and product strategy manager at Zinus, explains, the quality of your pillow can have a huge impact on your health and sleep quality. 

How often should I change my pillow? 

'Pillows form an important part of our sleep routine. While there are many different designs to choose from, their primary function is to promote healthy alignment of the head, neck, and spine,' Karen explains. 'However, even the best pillows can lose their effectiveness over time.'

Neutral bedroom with textured wall and patterned headboard

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

So, how often should you change your pillow? Typically, you should do so every two years, but the answer can depend on your chosen material. 

'If you use the same pillow all year round, we would advise changing pillows every one to two years to ensure that the pillow gives you the correct level of support, however the better the quality of the pillow, the longer it will last,' says Danielle Mason, the head of product development at The Fine Bedding Company

While the general rule may be to change your pillow every one to two years, some materials do tend to last longer than others. Pocket sprung, memory foam, Geltex, hollow fiber, natural, wool, and bamboo pillows all have an effective lifespan of around one to two years – but latex can last up to five years. If you have medical-grade foam, the experts recommend checking with your manufacturer, as the lifespan can differ. 

Pink walls and bedding, white hanging light

(Image credit: Paint and Paper Library)

How do you know when you need a new pillow?

'There are a few things to look out for which will indicate when you need an update, including neck pain, interrupted sleep, an increase in allergic reaction or breakouts, or ultimately the pillow being uncomfortable,' warns Danielle Mason, the head of product development, at The Fine Bedding Company.

If you find your pillow is ruining your sleep quality, it may be a sign that it is tired and will therefore need replacing. However, you may also need a new pillow if you notice a lack of fluffiness or if it makes you sneeze (as many materials attract dust which can get trapped in the material and cause build-up over time).

Alternatively, Karen Yu shares that you test your pillow with a fold test. 'For most pillows, there's an easy test you can try to determine if they're still in good condition,' she says. 'Fold your pillow in half and hold for about 30 seconds. When you release it, the pillow should return to its normal shape. If it doesn't spring back, then it's time to shop around for a new one.'

K&H Design pink and green bedroom paul raeside

(Image credit: K&H Design / Paul Reaside)

You should wash your pillow two to three times a year, expert Danielle Mason from The Fine Bedding Company says. However, she notes that knowing how to wash a pillow correctly does differ, depending on the type of pillow you have. 

'A natural pillow with a feather filling, for example, requires extreme care when washing, so we would advise specialist cleaning for this,' Danielle says. 'A synthetic pillow, on the other hand, is easier to care for and can be washed at home at 140°F to ensure it kills dust mites. A specialist pillow with memory foam can also be washed at home.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.