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What to Do With Old Pillows

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 5 minutes

  • Sustainable Repurposing: Explore creative DIY ideas to give old pillows a new life, from crafting pet beds to outdoor seating cushions, promoting eco-friendly practices.
  • Charitable Donations: Instead of discarding old pillows, consider donating them to local animal shelters, homeless shelters, or through online platforms like Freecycle, extending their usefulness.
  • Textile Recycling: Dispose of old pillows sustainably by taking them to textile recycling facilities, where the materials can be repurposed for padding, cleaning rags, or insulation, reducing landfill waste.
  • Healthy Sleep Environment: Regularly replacing pillows is essential for a comfortable and healthy sleep environment, addressing issues like sagging, lack of support, and unpleasant odors that may arise with aging pillows.

Pillows are essential to our daily lives, providing comfort and support while we sleep. However, as time passes, pillows tend to lose shape and become lumpy and uncomfortable. This often prompts us to replace them with new ones. But what should you do with your old pillows? Instead of simply discarding them, there are several ways to recycle and reuse them, ensuring they don’t end up in landfills. This article will explore various options to repurpose old pillows and eco-friendly disposal methods.

How to Repurpose Old Pillows

When it comes to repurposing old pillows, the possibilities are endless. You can transform your old pillows into useful household items with creativity and basic DIY skills. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pet Beds

If you have a furry friend at home, your old pillows can be repurposed as a comfortable bed for them. Simply remove the pillowcase and use the stuffing to fill a new cover made from durable fabric. This way, your pet will have a cozy resting place to sleep.

Floor Cushions

Another great way to repurpose old pillows is using them as floor cushions. Arrange a few pillows around a coffee table to create comfortable seating for game nights or group gatherings. You can cover them with decorative pillowcases to match your home decor.

Garden Cushions

If you enjoy spending time in your garden, repurposing old pillows as garden cushions can be a practical solution. Double up an old pillow in outdoor-safe fabric to create a knee cushion for gardening. Make sure to use a soft and gentle pillow protector to avoid discomfort.

Outdoor Seating

If your bed pillows are no longer comfortable sleeping, why not give them a new life as outdoor seating cushions? Reupholster them with weather-resistant fabric and use them to make your outdoor furniture more comfortable and inviting.

Where and How to Donate Pillows

If repurposing your old pillows is not an option for you, donating them is a great way to give them a second life. While many thrift stores do not accept pillows for sanitary reasons, several charitable organizations and donation centers still gladly accept them. Here are some places where you can donate your old pillows:

Animal Shelters

Most animal shelters accept clean and gently used pillows as bedding for animals. However, it’s important to note that some shelters may not accept pillows filled with down, as it can cause allergic reactions in animals. Contact your local animal shelter to inquire about their donation policies.

Homeless Shelters

Unlike thrift stores, most homeless shelters accept old pillows. Homeless individuals often lack comfortable bedding, so your donation can significantly impact their lives. Before donating, it’s a good idea to contact the shelter and ask about their specific needs and requirements.

Online Donation Sites

Online platforms like Freecycle and Craigslist have sections where you can post items you want to donate for free. These sites connect you with people in your community who need various items, including pillows. It’s an easy and convenient way to find someone who can benefit from your old pillows.

Community Centers

Local organizations such as churches and nonprofits often accept donations of used pillows to distribute to families in need. Reach out to community centers in your area to find out if they accept pillow donations and how you can contribute.

How to Dispose of a Pillow Sustainably

If your old pillows are no longer usable or suitable for donation, there are eco-friendly ways to dispose of them. Here are a few sustainable options to consider:

Textile Recycling Facilities

Instead of throwing your old pillows in the garbage, you can bring them to textile recycling facilities. These facilities specialize in repurposing or recycling textiles, including pillows. The old stuffing can be reused as padding, cleaning rags, or insulation, preventing it from ending up in landfills.


If you have feather pillows, you can remove and compost the filling. Feathers are organic materials that can decompose naturally in a compost bin. However, it’s important to note that synthetic fabrics like latex or fiberfill should not be composted, as they may not break down properly and could harm the environment.

When to Replace Your Pillows

Knowing when to replace your pillows is essential for maintaining a comfortable and healthy sleep environment. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to get rid of your old pillows:

  • Age: Pillows typically last for about two years before they start losing their shape and support.
  • Lumps and Sagging: If your pillow feels lumpy or sags in certain areas, it no longer supports your body.
  • Lack of Support: If you wake up with aches and pains in your head, neck, or back, it may be a sign that your pillow is no longer providing adequate support.
  • Bad Odor: Pillows can accumulate sweat, oils, and other bodily fluids over time, leading to unpleasant odors. If your pillow emits a bad smell, it’s time to replace it.
  • Stains and Tears: Excessive staining or tearing of the pillow fabric indicates that it’s time for a new one.

Different types of pillows have varying lifespans, so it’s important to consider the specific recommendations for the type of pillow you own. Consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines can help you determine when to replace your pillows.

See Also: Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

FAQs About Old Pillows

Is it okay to throw away old pillows?

It’s best to avoid throwing away old pillows in the garbage, as they can take years to biodegrade in landfills. Instead, consider repurposing them or donating them to someone in need.

What can I do with my old pillows?

If you’re wondering what to do with old pillows, consider repurposing them instead of discarding them. You can transform them into knee pads and floor cushions or donate them to local shelters. Find creative ways to give your old pillows a new life!

Can I make a pet bed from my old pillows?

Absolutely! Transform your old bed pillows into a cozy pet bed for your furry friend. Use outdoor-safe fabric for durability, and your pet will have a comfortable, relaxing space. Consider donating any extra pet beds to local animal shelters.

How do I recycle pillows and their stuffing?

To recycle old pillows, locate a textile recycling facility in your area. Separate the stuffing from the covers and ensure that both are accepted. If recycling facilities don’t accept pillows, you can use them for carpet padding or dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way.

Are there health benefits to getting rid of old pillows?

Yes! Old pillows can harbor dust mites and dead skin cells, contributing to allergies and discomfort. Regularly replacing pillows may alleviate neck pain and ensure a healthier sleep environment. Learn about the pillow’s lifespan and when it’s time to invest in new ones.

Where can I donate old pillows?

Consider donating your old pillows to local animal shelters, homeless shelters, or thrift stores. Check with these organizations beforehand to ensure they’re accepting pillow donations. Your unwanted pillows can provide comfort to those in need and reduce waste.

Can you keep a pillow for ten years?

While you can technically keep a pillow for ten years, its safety and comfort will depend on its type of material. Natural materials like down or feathers tend to last longer than synthetic materials.

Remember, repurposing or donating old pillows helps reduce waste and benefits others who may need a comfortable place to rest their heads. We can all contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world by making conscious choices. So, before you toss your old pillows, consider giving them a second chance to serve a purpose.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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