What to Do with Old Pillows (Other Than Toss Them Out)
If you’ve been using the same pillow for more than two years, it’s old. Shocking, we know, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, we should be replacing our pillows every one to two years. (This has less to do with your pillow losing support and more to do with all the gross things that seep into it over the course of so many sweaty nights, but we’ll discuss that later.) So, what’s a gal to do with all those old pillows? If you’re not tossing them, you should clean them first.
How to Clean a Feather, Down or Polyster Pillow (non-memory foam or latex)
Always check the care label before you wash, but generally you can follow the below instructions.
Step 1: Load two pillows into your washing machine (this helps to keep the machine balanced) and a very small amount of detergent, preferably powder.
Step 2: Run on the gentle cycle.
Step 3: Transfer your pillows to the dryer along with a few tennis balls to help break up any clumps. If your machine has a no-heat air-dry setting, that will be your best option, otherwise run it on delicate. You may need to run your pillows through more than once, but they’ll last much longer if dried using this slow and low method rather than blasting them with heat.
Pillows clean and good to go? Here’s what to do with old pillows besides tossing them.
1. Recycle or Compost Your Pillows
Double check with fabric recycling centers before bringing yours in to donate as many organizations won’t take pillows or track down the closest American Textile Recycling Service bin, a service that accepts old pillows of all types.
As for feather or down pillows, that stuffing is compostable, so you can go ahead and empty those feathers out into the nearest composting bin and then dispose of the shell as you would any other old household linen. You can also call animal shelters and wild-life refuges to see if they can take them off your hands to repurpose as animal beds.
2. Use Them in the Garden
Gardening is hard work, especially on your knees. Take an old pillow and swap its usual soft cotton pillowcase for a trash bag (or some waterproof fabric, if you’re feeling crafty) to slip under your knees while you transform that dirt patch into a vegetable garden all the neighbors will envy. Much more comfortable, no?
3. Reupholster Them to Use as Throw Pillows
Just because a pillow can no longer provide adequate support for you head or shoulders while you sleep doesn’t mean it’s not still comfy. Buy a few yards of colorful fabric and fashion yourself some new throw pillows for your living room. You can even remove the stuffing from multiple old pillows to make an extra fluffy throw or a pillow of another shape.
4. Or Use Them for Outdoor Seating
Similarly, you can reupholster your old pillows with a more weather resistant fabric to use out on the deck or for garden seating. And if an unexpected storm or flock of birds ruins them, you won’t feel as bad about getting rid of them as you would have with a set of brand-new pillows.
5. Create More Floor Seating
If you have quite a few pillows you’re looking to reinvent, DIY-ing a floor pouf might be your best option. The Sorry Girls has an easy-to-follow tutorial that uses stuffing from three pillows, but you can always adjust the size to fit as much stuffing as you’ve got.
6. Make Them into a Pet Bed
Your cat always steals your pillow in the night anyway, so why not give up the fight and just hand it over? Cover it with a super-soft old blanket or some of your old T-shirts stitched together and let her bask in the window in style.
7. DIY Draft Stopper
Put an end to whistling wind beneath doors with a DIY door draft stopper. In addition to repurposing the stuffing, you can also use the pillow shell or pillowcases as the stopper lining. Simple Life Mom has an excellent tutorial to walk you through the process, even if you don’t consider yourself an ace sewer.
8. Use Down Feathers as Fertilizer
Remember earlier when we mentioned that feathers are compostable? Place the stuffing in a compost bin along with raked up leaves, used coffee grounds and vegetable scraps and, in roughly six months to a year, you’ll have a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to use in the garden (as you rest your weary knees on your pillow garden mat).
9. And the Shell for Rags
Once you’ve emptied your pillow of its contents, you can use the case as you would any other scrap of fabric. Tear it up to use as garden ties, cut it into squares for use as rags or keep it whole and use it to neatly clean dust from a ceiling fan.
10. Build a Fort
When in doubt, hand ‘em over the kids. Pillows can be used to hold up a blanket fort to hide under or to construct a snowy mountain that needs climbing. (Just be sure to wash the pillows first to prevent anyone’s allergies from acting up.)