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How to tell if it’s time for a new pillow

CHOICE experts reveal five signs to look for so you can rest easy.

Last updated: 18 January 2024

A good pillow goes a long way in helping you get a good night's sleep, so it's important to recognise when it's time for a new one. To help you out, CHOICE experts have shared the most telling signs that it's time to toss your old pillow. 

"Working out whether you need a new pillow or not can sometimes be tricky, but luckily there are a couple of simple tricks you can use to work out if it's time to go shopping," says CHOICE household expert, Chris Barnes. 

Here are five signs it's time for a new pillow: 

1. It doesn't pass the fold test

"The fold test is a simple way to know if it's time for a new pillow. Place your pillow on a flat surface and fold it in half. Hold it down for 30 seconds to a minute, then let it go. If your pillow bounces back into its original shape, continue using it. If it doesn't spring back, it's time for a new one," says Barnes. 

2. The filling is at the end of its lifespan

"There are many types of pillows made up of different materials. How often you need to replace your pillow can depend on what it's filled with. For example, a latex pillow will last much longer than a polyester pillow," says Barnes. 

  • Memory foam: 5-10+ years
  • Latex: 5-10+ years
  • Feather and down: 5-10+ years
  • Polyester: 6 months to 2 years
  • Cotton and wool: 3-5 years

3. It's past its use-by date 

"Some pillows come with a recommended use-by date. A pillow use-by date isn't as strict as your milk's use-by date, but considering that you spend around eight hours daily in bed sweating and shedding oils from your skin and hair, your pillow isn't something you want to hold onto forever. Check the tag on your pillow and see if it lists a use-by date," says Barnes.

4. You're waking up in pain 

"Waking up to a sore neck or back pain may be from your pillow. Whether you're a back or side sleeper, your pillow should support your head and neck properly. If you're constantly folding your pillow to get comfy, you're probably due for a new one," says Barnes. 

5. It's out of shape 

"When your pillow starts to lose shape, it's usually time to start looking for a new one. Pillows that lack firmness, are lumpy or become droopy likely need to be replaced," says Barnes. 

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