21. What to Do With Old Pillows1

The pillow is outdated if you’ve used it for longer than two years. We know it’s shocking, but the National Sleep Foundation advises that we change our pillows every one to two years. (This is more a result of all the disgusting things that seep into your pillow after so many sweaty nights and less so because your pillow is losing support, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.) Therefore, what is a gal to do with all those worn-out pillows? You should clean them first if you’re not throwing them away.

How To Repurpose Old Pillows

The most efficient way to “get rid of” old pillows is to repurpose them.

Your old pillows don’t necessarily need to leave your house just because they don’t belong on your bed anymore.

Here are a few new shapes for your old pillows to take on:

  • Floor cushion seats – Create floor seating for your family and visitors to sit on the floor around your coffee table by adding some new fabric to your old pillows.
  • Pet beds – Used pillows make the ideal additional padding for your pet’s bed. If your pet is small enough, the old bed pillow might serve as the bed (adorable). Alternately, you can always add your old pillow to a brand-new pet bed, like Casper’s comfortable dog bed.
  • Moving and packaging material – When used to protect your fragile items during moving or shipping, discarded pillows can be incredibly robust and long-lasting.
  • Throw pillows – Your old pillows may make the ideal decorative addition to your living room couch depending on their size and shape after being refreshed and reupholstered.

What To Do With Old Pillows?

It’s possible that you haven’t given this much thought or that you have had doubts about it. In either case, you will eventually need to get rid of pillows, so it’s critical to think about the most effective strategy.

Sadly, you cannot simply throw your used pillows in the recycling.

And for hygienic reasons, they aren’t a common item that donation centers will readily accept (but check with your local shelter because the pillow’s condition may still make it useful).

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be recycled or used for something else. In fact, there are companies that have been keeping pillows and other textiles out of landfills for years.

1. Recycle Or Compost Your Pillows

Check with fabric recycling facilities twice before bringing yours in to donate as many organizations won’t accept pillows. Alternatively, locate the nearest American Textile Recycling Service bin, a service that accepts all kinds of used pillows.

If you have any feather or down pillows, you can empty the filling into the closest compost container and then dispose of the pillow’s shell the same way you would any other used piece of linen. Additionally, you can contact zoos and wildlife sanctuaries to ask if they will accept them as animal beds off your hands.

2. Use Them In The Garden

Being on your knees while gardening is difficult. Take an old pillow, remove the soft cotton pillowcase, and replace it with a trash bag (or waterproof fabric, if you’re feeling crafty) to slip under your knees as you turn that dirt patch into a vegetable garden that all your neighbors will enviously admire. Much cozier, perhaps?

3. Reupholster Them To Use As Throw Pillows

It doesn’t necessarily mean that a pillow isn’t comfortable just because it can no longer support your head or shoulders while you sleep. Purchase a few yards of vibrant fabric to create some brand-new throw pillows for your living room. Even more old pillows can be destuffed to create a fluffy throw or a pillow of a different shape.

4. Or Use Them For Outdoor Seating

To use outside on the deck or for garden seating, you can also reupholster your worn-out pillows in a fabric that is more weather resistant. You won’t feel as bad about throwing away a set of used pillows than you would have with a brand-new set if an unanticipated storm or flock of birds destroys them.

5. Create More Floor Seating

Making your own floor pouf may be the best option if you have a lot of pillows that you want to reuse. Three pillows’ worth of stuffing are used in The Sorry Girls’ simple-to-follow tutorial, but you can always adjust the size to fit however much you have on hand.

6. Make Them Into A Pet Bed

Why put up a fight when your cat will always steal your pillow at night? She can enjoy the window’s light in style by covering it with an extra-soft old blanket or some of your old T-shirts that have been stitched together.

7. Diy Draft Stopper

With a homemade door draft stopper, you can put an end to whistling wind beneath doors. You can reuse the stuffing and line the stopper with the pillowcase or shell. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an expert sewer, Simple Life Mom has a great tutorial to guide you through the procedure.

21. What to Do With Old Pillows2

Can Old Pillows Be Recycled?

Pillows appear to be one of the many items in a home that cannot be recycled, but most people don’t seem to know what to do with them. Additionally, we need to understand what recycling actually entails. An item that is recycled undergoes a protracted process during which it is disassembled and transformed into a totally different product. For instance, tires are typically disassembled and used as outdoor flooring or patio furniture. You can’t actually “recycle” an old pillow.

Pillows cannot be placed in the blue bin because textiles are typically not recyclable in Canada and the USA. Particularly in Canada, recycling rates for textiles are very low.

Due to hygienic concerns, bed bugs, etc., donation stores typically don’t accept pillows. so that leaves us with the garbage. But before you consider throwing them away, think about reusing or upcycling them for your house. If the pillow filling is made of natural materials like wool, bamboo, organic cotton, or down feathers, you may be able to compost it in some circumstances. Just a friendly reminder, synthetic materials like nylon and spandex cannot be composted.

How Exactly Are Used Pillows Recycled?

Before anything can be done when used pillows arrive at a recycling facility, all the material needs to be separated. That implies that the zippers or buttons must be taken off. The fabric must be removed from the pillow as a whole, along with the foam or stuffing. Shredded pieces of that material can be used to create carpet padding, insulation, or cotton industrial cleaning rags, among other household goods.

It is possible to reuse a pillow filled with down, such as goose or duck down, to create a cozy winter coat. it’s typically not easy for recycling facilities to do this as they have to separate the good feathers (quill) from the bad. Feathers can either be burned, disposed of in a landfill, or ground up and added to cement or concrete to harden it.

As was already mentioned, foam pillows contain dangerous chemicals and are difficult to recycle, so landfill is usually the best option! Sadly!

Your Old Pillows May Be Donated.

It’s complex, just like everything else when it comes to living more sustainably. Most donation centers won’t take used pillows because of hygienic concerns. But I would still make calls to charities, daycare centers, and homeless shelters to ask if they would accept donations of old pillows.

If giving away your worn-out pillows is not an option because of their extreme wear, you can search for a textile recycling facility nearby. By using old material and stuffing from pillows to create padding and insulation, these facilities assist in preventing waste and reducing landfill waste. For a list of drop-off locations in the United States, visit the American Textile Recycling Service. A good place to start is Canada’s Textile Reduction Week.

How To Donate Old Pillows

You may want to think about donating your pillows if they are still in good condition.

Pillows, blankets, and even mattresses are required by many organizations. You’re likely to find the pillows a happy new home if you can make a few calls to see who is currently accepting pillow donations.

Here are a few great places worth checking in with:

  • Homeless shelters
  • Animal shelters
  • Daycare Facilities
  • Charities

Try thrift shops as well. Pillows are not typically accepted by secondhand stores, but some do. Make sure to call in advance and find out if they accept donations of pillows.

Your old pillows will be doing good in the world once you’ve donated them, so you can rest easy. You’ll rest even easier if you lay your philanthropic head on one of extremely cozy pillows from Casper.


Unfortunately, there are no businesses that provide any sort of take-back program for pillows, which is what I was hoping to find. Some programs will accept used mattresses but not pillows. Take good care of the pillows you do purchase, in my opinion. That entails keeping them clean and utilizing natural laundry detergent as opposed to one that is toxic and causes more harm than good.