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The next best use for the pillows you've loved.

Once you’ve found the pillows that provide the right support and a great night’s sleep, it’s hard to let them go. Even with consistent use of zippered pillow protectors and regular laundering according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, pillows have a life span between 18 months and three years. Although some may last longer, all of them will need to be replaced, eventually, as they lose their shape and spring-back quality. Additionally, your sleep position and style may change over the years, turning a favorite pillow into a former favorite. When the time comes to replace your pillows, we have some suggestions for what you can do with those well-loved pillows, as well as those less-loved pillows you might have purchased on a whim.

1. Pet Cushions

We love our pampered pets. At home, our pets enjoy the luxury hotel comfort of the down and feather pillows that have lived their useful life on our beds and have been relegated to the pet’s bed or to the pet’s spot on the couch. We usually top the down and feather pillow with one of our Doggie Down Waterproof Dog Pads. When it’s time to take our pets on the road, our Doggie Down goes with us to protect the car seats, as well as the rugs and furniture at our destinations.

2. Travel Pillows

You may have seen fellow travelers carrying their bed pillows through the airport. If the idea of taking your own pillow on your travels is appealing but there’s no way you’d ever take the pillow—or whatever it’s picked up along the way— back home, old pillows are the answer. Use the pillows that you no longer want on your bed to provide comfort in the car or on the plane. Pillows provide a nice cushion on your lap for reading or watching your electronic devices on long plane, train, or car rides. They also provide a cushion for any little ones who need to rest their heads along the way.

3. Guest Rooms

If you’ve accumulated a few pillows in your search for the perfect one, consider placing these gently used runners-up in your guest room. They might not suit the way you sleep but might be the perfect option for one of your guests. Particularly at holiday time, visiting friends and family will appreciate their pillow options. We recommend keeping these extra pillows in a storage box or bag in the guest room closet to keep them fresh, clean, and at the ready.

4. Donate

Many of the usual donation options do not accept pillows or mattresses for health and hygiene reasons. It is worth a call to homeless shelters to see if they would consider accepting gently used, laundered pillows. You may also consider animal shelters as an option. Always wash and dry your pillows before any attempt to donate them.

5. Recycle/Compost/Discard

At some point, there are no more uses for your pillows as pillows. What can you do?

Pillows may not be recycled in most neighborhood recycling programs. However, American Textile Recycling Service does accept pillows for recycling. Check the website to see if there is a drop location near you.

In the case of natural feather and down, composting is an option. Natural feather and down is biodegradable and nitrogen rich. They can be added to your compost pile at home. Be sure to wet them or cover them with a heavier material so they don’t get blown around.

Finally, when all else fails, discard your pillows.

We wish you a great night’s sleep knowing you’ve put your pillows to their next best use!

-The Team at Down Etc

If you’d like to read more about pillow selection and pillow care:

The Right Sleeping Pillow for Your Head and Your Bed

Choosing the Perfect Pillow for the New Year

How to Properly Wash Your Pillows for a Healthy Bedroom

What Goes into Finding the Perfect Pillow

Can a Pillow Help You Snore Less?

Pillow Service

Choosing a Decorative Pillow

How to Throw a Pillow Party


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