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What To Do With Old Pillows [10 Clever Ideas You Can Use]

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON February 14, 2022

& FILED IN Home Decluttering 


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Wondering what to do with old pillows? You’re in the right place, with this list of all the different options you’ve got. If you want to stop them going to general waste, then let’s go!

What To Do With Old Pillows - 10 Ways To Try Now

Types of Pillow Fillings You May Have

What you can do with old pillows can also depend on what they’re made of – so let’s take a quick look at the options first:

White Pillow

How Long Should You Keep Pillows?

Depending on the filling and how well maintained they are – pillows last between 2-3 years on average.

After this time, there are usually a few key things that are showing you that they need to be changed…

The 3 Most Common Reasons To Get Rid Of Pillows

1 – They’re not supporting your Head properly

Sleep is so important, and we spend around 1/3 of our lives in our bed, so it’s worth getting our bedding right.

Pillows that are getting older tend to be less supportive for sleep, and we can start to end up having aches and pains in the morning.

If your pillow folds in half and stays that way – then it’s time to think about updating it…

2 – They’re Stained

Pillows go yellow due to sweat, lotions, wet hair etc…

TIP – You can stop the pillow getting stained by using a pillow protector on each one. These are simply put between the pillow and the pillow case – and create a barrier from the stains getting on the pillow itself. They also add some extra softness and comfort to the pillow.

How to clean pillows

If they haven’t been on your bed for long, then maybe all they need is a good clean and re-fluff (it’s a technical term, honest!).

Cleaning not only gets rid of the stains, but also those nasty things that easily build up – including sweat, dust, insects (spiders etc…) and dead skin cells.

Nasty stuff – and good cleaning motivation should you need it, as it’s horrible to think about what you’re putting your head on every night, right!

Ideally you should wash pillows at a minimum of every 6 months, but ideally nearer to every 3 months (once a season).

Quick Tips for Cleaning Pillows
  • When they go through the washing machine cycle – give them an extra spin cycle to get rid of as much moisture as possible
  • Always use the washing instructions on their label
  • Keep any washing machine cycle slow and gentle – and don’t use too much detergent.

3 – They’re lumpy and uncomfortable

Pillows get lumpy because moisture and dirt builds up in them and blogs them up. Also, some fillings are more prone to compressing and forming lumps (feathers stay more separate than polyester, for example).

How To Maintain Pillow Fluffiness

Every day when you make your bed, fluff the pillows up.

Then, once a month it would be worthwhile putting them in your dryer with dryer balls (or tennis balls work as well!) so that they get knocked about a bit inside.

These 2 things will help them to air, and keep their bouncyness for longer.

White pillow on bed being plumped

Good pillow maintenance will make them last longer, so it’s definitely worth adding to your cleaning schedule.

However, when they are past help – what can you do with them?

10 Brilliant Options For What To Do With Old Pillows

5 Ways To Reuse / Repurpose / Upcycle Old Pillows

#1 – RE-STUFF A PILLOW

When part of the pillow is lumpy, but most of the pillow is OK, it could be a waste to get rid of the whole thing.

You can get pillow stuffing online (make sure it’s fire retardant for safety), or reuse another pillow in the house, open up one end of the pillow – add the stuffing, and then sew the pillow back up again.

#2 – Create a new pillow

You could add some waterproof / shower proof fabric to the old pillow (or even add a couple of old pillows together) and use as an outside pillow. This is a great option if you don’t want to worry about new pillows getting ruined outside, and gives it a new lease of life.

#3 – CREATE A PET BED

If you’ve got a cat or a dog, it would be easy enough to create a bed or floor cushion for them with the old pillow(s).

#4 – Add stuffing to soft toys

An easy win would be to help some older soft toys get more cuddly by adding some of the stuffing from the pillow to them instead.

Soft toys in a basket

#5 – Use Feather / Down in Compost

Because they are natural materials – feather and down filled pillows can be de-stuffed, and the contents put into the compost bin as these items are compostable.

That then only leaves the outside of the pillow to let go of (and this can often be recycled as per other textiles and fabrics).

2 Ways to Give Old Pillows Away

Of course, re-using and upcycling takes time, which you may not have.

This doesn’t mean it can’t be done by someone else though.

#1 – Ask around friends and family – as they may be looking for some pillow stuffing or the entire pillow for a craft / DIY project of their own.

#2 – Put them online for free – Freecycle is a good place to try

Can You Donate Old Pillows?

After reusing things yourself, the next best thing to look at it to see if charity shops will accept old pillow donations from you.

Unfortunately, in this instance, most charity shops won’t take old pillows for hygiene reasons, but it’s worth asking.

The only places that MAY take them are animal charities, especially animal shelters – who could use them for bedding, and possibly homeless shelters as well.

Recycle

Pillows as a whole areΒ not recyclable.

However – SOME of the pillow may be…

Consider breaking the pillow up, as the outside fabric could be recycled, for instance, as it’s fabric / textile.

TIP – Always check with your local recycling facility as to whether they can recycle pillows or not. Some may be able to take them for you.

Throw Away

This is the last resort when all other avenues have been looked at, but if you’ve got no other option, it’s still a valid ways to dispose of old pillows.

TIP – If you don’t like throwing things away from an eco perspective, then make sure that next time you buy pillows, you maintain them well, so that they last as long as possible.

What To Do With Old Pillows - 10 Ways To Try Now

If you’ve been wondering what to do with old pillows – then hopefully this has helped!

Will you upcycle in some way, offer to a charity, or throw them away?

The choice is yours, but when you replace those old pillows, make sure you maintain the new ones so they last as long as possible.

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