How To Throw Away Pillows (The Responsible Way)

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How do I throw away pillows?  This may seem like a silly question, but I assure you it’s not.

You’ll be surprised to know that most pillows are not made of biodegradable material and you shouldn’t just throw them away with your regular trash. 

They will sit in a landfill and can potentially pollute the waters.  Or worse, be harmful to wildlife whether on land or sea. 

Unfortunately, you cannot throw pillows in your home into recycling bins either as they are usually reserved for paper, glass, metal, and plastic products.

So as a responsible, earth-loving individual, what is the right way to dispose of pillows, and how do you know when it’s time to throw them away? 

When To Throw Away Pillows 

Even if you’re not ready to admit it, your beloved pillow is a decisive factor in the quality of your sleep. 

Knowing when to throw away your pillows can be a rite of adulthood in and of itself.

If you’re not versed in the lifespan of a pillow, here’s the skinny. 

Cheap, polyester pillows like the ones at your local big-box store have to be replaced every six months. 

But if you’ve upgraded yourself to higher quality ones such as memory foam, bamboo, or another material with structural integrity, then they should last you anywhere from a year and a half to three years.  

old pillow

Why Do I Need To Replace My Pillows So Often?

Now you might be thinking… Why do they have to be replaced so frequently?

There are two simple reasons. 


The structure of the pillow will eventually break down.  As your head is pressed against the pillow for six to ten hours at a time the internal stuffing will become compressed. 

This results in less neck support.

Have you been waking up with a  stiff or sore neck?  A worn-out pillow is the number one culprit.

A good pillow is supposed to support your neck while you sleep. 

Poor neck support can cause headaches throughout the day; who needs that when you have to focus at work or school in the morning?

Trust me on this one.  I suffered for far too long because I didn’t want to shell out the money for a good pillow.  Boy, do I regret it!

Last year we upgraded to gel memory foam pillows I found on Amazon and I’ve been sleeping blissfully ever since.  No more headaches, no more sore neck and shoulders.

High-quality pillows are filled with a material that will maintain its form longer, offer more support, and therefore need to be replaced less often. 


The second reason is that even if you regularly wash your pillowcase, over time germs will penetrate your pillows.  Mold and bacteria may breed within your pillow.

In addition, old pillows absorb body oil, dead skin cells, hair, drool, mucus, and whatnot. Gross, I know!

This is the perfect recipe for dust mites to grow.

And who knows what health complications that will lead to, especially among young children whose physical development is still underway. 

How To Tell If You Need A New Pillow

If you have lost count of how long you have had your pillow, there is a quick test to check if it’s time to replace it. 

Simply fold it in half, and if it springs back to its form, you still have many dreamland adventures left. 

If it stays folded, you know it’s time to start hunting for a replacement. 

About Textile Recycling

So, if you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to throw away your pillows, here’s how you do it.

If you’ve never heard about textile recycling before, here’s what you need to know.

Textile recycling is the process of recovering materials such as fiber, yarn, or any type of usable fabric and reprocessing the material into other useful products.

There is a huge industry concerned with textile recycling.

Today we’re seeing more and more materials given a new life, making for a more sustainable planet. 

With textile recycling, the possibilities are endless. 

Big brands are now embracing recycled textiles.  The Buffy Cloud Comforter is the first one that comes to mind.  Their comforters are filled with 100% recycled fibers.

Each comforter is said to recycle around 50 plastic bottles.  How cool is that!

Mohawk home makes its rugs from their exclusive eco-friendly EverStrand.  It’s a synthetic yarn made from recycled plastic bottles.

Look how gorgeous this rug is, you’d never know! 

Mohawk Home Nomad Vado Area Rug
Mohawk Home Nomad Vado Linen Transitional Geometric Bohemian Woven Area Rug

Who knows, your discarded pillow may be your next set of living room curtains or stylish rug. 

How To Throw Away Pillows

Whether you’re simply decluttering decorative pillows or you just upgraded your bedding, here are 4 ways you can responsibly dispose of your pillows. 


Option 1: Donate

Keep in mind that many clothing donation locations such as Salvation Army and Goodwill do not accept used pillows for sanitary reasons. 

Your best bet for donation is with local animal shelters or wildlife rehabilitation centers. 

Call to confirm before you go, of course.

They usually accept donations of used bedding and pillows for use in animal crates and pens. 


Option 2: Mail-In Recycling

There are companies, such as TerraCycle, that work to separate recyclable materials and find vendors who can repurpose them. 

For pillows, you should order the Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box.

The collected fabrics are segregated into their respective categories such as nylon, cotton, etc, and they are either reused, upcycled, or recycled as appropriate.

Now, before you head over to their website, I’ll tell you right now that this service is not cheap.

Go into it with the attitude that you are making a monetary donation in addition to your textile donation.

The TerraCycle boxes come in several sizes but all start at over $100 each. 

With this mail-in recycling option, it is best to recycle pillows with other less bulky items to get your money’s worth out of each box you mail. 


Option 3: Simple Recycling 

The pandemic has scared the wits out of everyone, so perhaps a curbside pickup for recycling purposes is more convenient for you. 

Simple Recycling offers free curbside pickup for clothing, shoes, and small home goods. 

All you have to do is schedule a free pickup online on their site by first selecting your region, place your items outside your front door by 7:30 AM and let the folks at Simple Recycling give your preloved stuff new life. 

Your neighborhood trash service may already be a part of this program.  If you’ve ever been left free colored recycling bags by the crew that collects your garbage, it may very well be a Simple Recycling bag.

That’s how I found out about their service and I love it.


 Option 4: Upcyle 

Option number 4 is to not throw your pillows away at all.  Instead, upcycle them and give them new life yourself.

Here are a few cool options.

What To Do with Old Pillows: Upcycle

 Option 1: Pillow Lounger

If you are more of a DIY kind of person, you can put your resourcefulness to the test and make a pillow lounger. 

It’s perfect for a kid’s playroom!  Use them for naptime, sleepovers, slumber parties, reading, playing games, or watching movies.

Pillow loungers are great for kids, teens, or adults. 

You can find both king-size and queen-size pillow lounger covers on Amazon for under $40.  

All you need to do is stuff the covers with 5 pillows of the same size, close the zippers, and you’re done!

Or, with a sewing machine and a little patience, you can fashion one yourself.

  Butterfly Craze Pillow Bed Floor Lounger Cover

Option 2: Dining Chair Pads

You can turn your old pillows into dining chair pads by cutting them in half, removing some stuffing, and sewing up the seams. 

Use them as seat pads for chairs and stools that have hard surfaces, making them more comfortable for your family or guests when you have company. 

You can use nice fabric that matches the rest of your furniture too.


Option 3: Footstool Cushion

If you are feeling a little extra, you can use an old pillow the size of a footstool and customize it to make a padded cushion. 

Again, all it takes is some sewing skills and some fabric. 

You can also attach the fabric to the stool by taking a staple gun to the fabric underneath for a more secure fit. 

You will feel like royalty with your feet up, even if it’s something as simple as reading or watching TV.




You deserve a good night’s sleep and clean sanitary bedding.  

Don’t put off upgrading your pillows if you need new ones.  And don’t let the old ones take up unnecessary space in your home.  

Donate them or transform them into a whole new form of decor while saving big bucks in the process.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  If you did please share it with a friend and follow Dianne Decor on Medium for more from me.

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