Here’s a gross fact: your body sheds around 600,000 particles of skin every hour (give or take) and over the course of your life you’ll lose around half your weight in skin cells. What does this have to do with your pillow? Well, every night you shed millions of skin particles onto your pillow, along with sweat, dead hair, saliva, and oil, which all get absorbed into your pillow. Here’s where it gets really gross… Some studies have estimated that up to a third of the weight of old pillows are made up of dead skin, dust and dust mites.
What does that mean? You really need to be washing your pillow as well as your pillowcase a lot more regularly. The longer your pillow goes unwashed (every few months is recommended) the more dead skin and dust build-up there is to attract more dust mites to feast on your dead skin.
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Besides all this being super nausea-inducing, using the same pillow for years without washing (guilty) is especially bad for allergy sufferers, but it also essentially ‘dirties’ your outer pillowcase more quickly, and that’s not good for your skin. So even if you’re washing your pillowcase every week (which we recommend), that pillowcase is still coming into contact with your nasty old pillow and all the lingering dust mites that go along with it.
How often do you wash your pillows?
So, what should you do? If you’ve had a pillow for more than three years and never washed it, start by washing it in the machine (if it’s feather you can have it dry cleaned) and then perhaps consider buying yourself a new pillow. In general, try to wash your pillows every three months and consider buying a new one every three years. You can also leave pillows out on a hot sunny day when you change your sheets, as pillows build up moisture, which becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and bugs. After a day in the sun, you’ll notice your pillows will have ‘fluffed up’ considerably thanks to moisture evaporating in the sun.
You can also buy pillow protectors, like this zippered 100% Cotton Bed Bug, Dust Mite & Allergy Control Pillow Protector, $11, which will act as a second barrier against dust mites and will extend the life of your pillow – just wash it every month.
Moral of the story? Unless you want to be sleeping on a pillow packed with thousands of dust mites, dead skin and sweat, we suggest you get washing those pillows asap… We’re just about to buy ourselves a new set!