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What to Do With Old Pillows

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

  • Recycling old pillows and upcycling them into various household items are sustainable ways to dispose of them.
  • Repurpose old pillows as floor cushion seats, stuffing for stuffed toys, cleaning rags, or filling another pillow for added fluff.
  • Donate old pillows to homeless shelters or animal shelters after washing them to ensure cleanliness.
  • Repurpose old pillows for draft-blocking, packaging protection, moving, gardening knee pads, insulation, pet bedding, travel pillows, and more.
  • Regularly replacing old pillows (typically every 1-2 years) is crucial for hygiene, comfort, and sleep quality. Signs of wear and tear indicate the need for replacement. New pillows provide better neck and back support, enhanced cleanliness, and improved sleep quality, promoting overall well-being.

Considering that we devote a substantial part of our lives to sleeping, it’s unavoidable that our pillows will eventually deteriorate and require replacement. But rather than simply using old bed pillows and tossing them into the trash, there are numerous environmentally friendly and creative ways to repurpose or dispose of old pillows. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore innovative ideas that will help you reduce waste and give your old pillows a new lease on life.

Environmentally Friendly Disposal

When it comes to replacing old pillows, it’s essential to consider environmentally friendly disposal methods. By recycling pillows and avoiding throwing them directly into the garbage, you can help reduce the strain on landfills and minimize your carbon footprint. Instead, let’s explore some sustainable options for disposing of your old pillows.

Recycling Pillows

Recycling is a great way to ensure that your old pillows don’t end up in landfills. Although curbside recycling programs typically don’t accept pillows, you can search for textile recycling facilities in your area that accept pillow donations. These facilities have the necessary resources to recycle the materials, accept pillow donations, and repurpose them into new products.

Upcycling Pillows

Another eco-friendly option is to upcycle your old pillows for various household uses. By repurposing them, you can give them a new life and reduce waste. Let’s explore some creative ideas for upcycling your old pillows.

Repurposing Options

Old pillows can be repurposed in numerous ways, providing practical solutions for everyday needs. From creating floor cushions to using them for insulation and packaging, there are plenty of possibilities to repurpose old pillows. Let’s delve into some of the most popular repurposing options for old pillows.

Floor Cushion Seat

Give your living space a cozy touch by repurposing your old pillows into floor cushion seats. By covering the pillows with new fabric and sewing colorful pillow covers, you can create comfortable seating arrangements for your family and guests. These floor cushions are an excellent alternative to foam seat cushions and can be used around a coffee table or in a dedicated reading nook.

Revive Stuffed Toys

Is your child’s favorite stuffed animal losing its fluff? Don’t worry; you can breathe new life into it by using the stuffing from your old pillows. Make an incision in the pillow, undo a few stitches from the stuffed toy, fill it with the stuffing from the old pillow, and then sew it back up. Your child’s beloved companion will be fluffy and huggable once again.

Create Cleaning Rags

Don’t throw away the fabric of your old pillows just yet. Instead, repurpose them into cleaning rags. Remove the pillow stuffing and cut the fabric into square pieces. These fabric squares can be used as reusable cleaning rags for various household cleaning tasks. They are a sustainable alternative to single-use paper towels and can be laundered and used repeatedly.

Fill Another Pillow

If you have a pillow that needs a little extra fluff, why not get rid of old pillows and repurpose the filling from your old pillows? Remove the stuffing from the old pillows and use it to fill another pillow that has lost its shape and support. This way, you can extend the life of your existing pillows and avoid unnecessary waste.

Multiply Into Throw Pillows

If you have two other pillows or two old pillows that are still in good condition but have become thin and lumpy, you can combine them to create a new throw pillow. Place the two lightest pillows in a pillowcase or pillow sham together, and you’ll have a firm and comfortable cushion that will last for months to come.

Recycle Your Feathers

If you have an old feather pillow, you can recycle the feathers by putting them in your compost pile. Feathers decompose well and can contribute to the nutrient-rich soil in your garden. By recycling the feathers, you not only reduce waste but also nourish your plants naturally.

Donation and Assistance

Donating your old pillows to those in need is a compassionate and sustainable option. Homeless shelters and animal shelters often accept donations of pillows, providing comfort to those who need it most. Before donating, make sure to wash your pillows to ensure cleanliness and hygiene.

Innovative Uses for Old Pillows


In addition to repurposing options, there are several other innovative uses for old pillows that you might not have considered. From draft-blocking to packaging protection, let’s explore some unique ways to use your old pillows and get rid of old ones.

Door Sealant

If you have a drafty door, repurpose an old pillow to create a fast and easy draft-blocking device. Place the pillow in front of the draftiest door, and you’ll notice a vial improvement in temperature control and energy efficiency.

Prevent Chimney Drafts

For those with a drafty chimney, a few old pillows can also come in handy. Place a few pillows in a trash bag to protect them from the weather, and then load them up your chimney. This simple solution will help prevent chilly drafts from entering your home.

Safeguard a Package

When shipping fragile items, old pillow filling can be used as packing material. Whether you choose to use the bed pillow filling alone or pack the entire cushion into the box, the soft and cushioning properties of the old pillow will help protect your delicate items during transit.

Moving Assistant

When you’re moving, old pillows can be invaluable in protecting your belongings. Use them to place between bikes to prevent scratches or lean them against furniture to prevent scuffing or rubbing during transportation. Old pillows provide an extra cushioning layer and safeguard your items from damage.

Knee Pad

Gardening and yard chores can be hard on the knees. Instead of purchasing a separate knee pad or seat cushion, repurpose an old pillow to make knee pads that provide comfort and support while working in the garden. Your knees will thank you, and you’ll save money in the process.

Insulate Everything

Old pillows can be used for insulation purposes in various areas of your home. Whether you need to insulate an attic water heater or fill gaps in windows and doors, the filling or entire cushion of an old pillow can provide excellent thermal insulation properties. This can help enhance energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Treat Your Critter

If you have a small pet, such as a hamster, you can repurpose the stuffing from old pillows to provide a comfortable and cozy bedding option for stuffed animals. Line the bottom of the pet’s cage with the stuffing and change it as needed. Your furry friend will appreciate the soft and warm environment.

Travel Pillow

Make your next road trip more comfortable by repurposing your old pillows into travel pillows. Stitch a U-shaped pattern to alleviate neck discomfort during sleep and travel. These homemade travel pillows are a budget-friendly alternative to purchasing expensive travel accessories.

Construct a Pet Bed

Spoil your furry companion with a cozy pet bed using your old pillows. You can either use the whole pillow as carpet padding on the ground or insert it into an existing pet bed. Your pet will enjoy the comfort and support of an old bed pillow, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve sustainably repurposed your old pillows.

When to Replace Your Pillows

Knowing when to replace your pillows is essential for maintaining a comfortable and healthy sleep environment. While the lifespan of a pillow depends on its quality and usage, it’s generally recommended to replace pillows every 1-2 years. Let’s explore why regular pillow replacement is necessary.

Hygiene and Comfort

Over time, pillows accumulate dust, dander, sweat, and other allergens. Regular use can cause them to lose their shape and support, leading to discomfort and potential neck and back pain. By replacing your pillows regularly, you ensure a clean and supportive sleep surface for optimal sleep quality.

Signs of Wear and Tear

Several signs indicate that it’s time to say goodbye to your old pillows. If you notice that your pillows have lost their form, developed lumps, or become stained, it’s a clear indication that they need to be replaced. Additionally, pillows with a foul odor or signs of mold or mildew growth should be discarded immediately for health and hygiene reasons.

Why You Need a New Pillow

What to Do With Old Pillows pet beds, recycle pillows, old pillow stuffing, textile recycling facility

Replacing your old pillows with new ones offers numerous benefits beyond sustainability. Let’s explore why investing in a new pillow is essential for your sleep health and overall well-being.

Better Neck and Back Support

A new pillow can provide improved neck and back support, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep. Look for a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position, aligned with your spine. The right pillow can alleviate neck pain and promote proper spinal alignment, enhancing sleep quality.

Enhanced Cleanliness

Pillows accumulate dust, allergens, and bacteria over time, affecting your sleep environment and overall health. While regular cleaning can help, it’s essential to replace your pillows periodically to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. New pillows offer a fresh start and ensure a healthier sleep surface.

Improved Sleep Quality

If you find yourself constantly fluffing your pillow to get comfortable or waking up with a sore neck, it’s a clear sign that you need a new pillow. A well-designed pillow that suits your sleeping style and preferences can significantly improve your sleep quality, allowing you to wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

Additional Tips for Green Living

Living a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle goes beyond repurposing old pillows. Here are some additional tips to help you reduce waste and minimize your environmental impact.

Easy Green Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is an excellent opportunity to embrace eco-friendly practices. Explore our guide to discover easy ways to observe Earth Day and contribute to a beneficial impact on the environment.

Green Your Evening Routine

Transform your evening routine into a green and sustainable one. Discover practical tips and ideas to reduce waste, conserve energy, and create a healthier living environment for yourself and the planet.

Get Rid of Your Old Junk Without Throwing it Away.

When decluttering your home, it’s important to find sustainable alternatives to throwing items in the trash. Learn about creative ways to dispose of your old junk without contributing to landfill waste.

Mattress Recycling: Why and How to Do It

Similar to pillows, mattresses can also be recycled instead of ending up in landfills. Explore our guide to mattress recycling to learn about the benefits and find out how to dispose of donated pillows or your old mattress responsibly.

Furnish an Eco-Friendly Household

Creating an eco-friendly household involves thoughtful furniture choices and sustainable practices. Discover tips and ideas for furnishing your home in an environmentally conscious way, promoting a greener lifestyle.

Make Your Mattress Last Longer

By maintaining your mattress correctly, you can prolong its longevity and decrease wastage. Explore our guide to discover practical tips and strategies for making your mattress last longer, saving both money and the environment.

FAQs about What to Do With Old Pillows

Are old pillows recyclable?

While curbside recycling programs typically don’t accept pillows, textile recycling facilities may accept pillow donations. However, it’s important to check with local facilities to ensure they accept pillows for textile recycling facilities. Alternatively, consider upcycling or repurposing pillows to avoid sending them to landfills.

Why do old pillows turn yellow?

Old pillows can turn yellow due to sweat stains, drool, wet hair, and natural body oils. To prevent yellowing, it’s recommended to use pillow protectors and wash pillowcases regularly. Applying beauty products an hour or two before bedtime can also reduce the amount of product transferred to the pillow.

When should I replace old pillows?

The lifespan of a pillow depends on its quality and usage. As a general rule, pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years. Signs that indicate it’s time to replace your pillows include loss of form, lumpy texture, neck pain, stains, rips, foul odor, or mold and mildew growth.

Are old pillows unhealthy?

Old pillows can harbor mold spores, mildew, fungus, dust mites, and mite excrement, triggering allergies and respiratory issues. It’s important to replace pillows regularly and maintain proper hygiene of bed pillows to ensure a healthy sleep environment.

Can I put pillows in the washer?

Whether or not pillows can be washed depends on the type of pillow. Synthetic down and feather pillows can typically be machine-washed, while one-piece latex and memory foam pillows are more delicate and may require spot cleaning. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper pillow maintenance.


Don’t let your old pillows gather dust or take up space. With these creative ideas, you can transform them into something useful, beautiful, and eco-friendly. Whether you’re refreshing your living spaces or creating unique DIY projects, your old pillows have untapped potential. Give them a second life and enjoy the satisfaction of reducing waste while adding comfort and style to your home.


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