7 Ways To Reuse And Recycle Old Pillows


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Did you know that the average lifespan of a pillow is only about two years?

This may not seem like long, but pillows go through quite a bit of wear and tear and being near your face means they can accumulate quite a bit of unpleasant things like saliva, skin oils, makeup, dead skin cells, and yes, even dust mites and mold.

Since the average person may be replacing bed pillows pretty often, that means there’s quite a bit of waste out there. Luckily, these squishy cushions can serve quite a few uses after their days on the bed are done.

Take a look at few creative ways to put old pillows to use and keep them out of landfills.

Pillow tent

Image courtesy of Kim Love.

1. Make floor cushions

If you have several old pillows to reuse, making larger floor cushions is one practical way to do it. Perfect for impromptu video gaming, movie parties or gathering around board games, a few large cushions make a welcome addition to any family or toy room.

It can be as easy as finding pre-made cushion covers (some may fit two or more bed pillows), or you could sew your own with fabrics that match your decor. Try this version merging two bed pillows from Homedit or this nifty long cushion-slash-nap-mat idea from Apartment Therapy (it’s super simple!).

2. Make pet beds

You know how you can spend dozens of dollars on a fancy bed for Fido or Fluffy, yet they’d still rather curl up in your dirty laundry? A pet bed made from your old pillows can solve two problems in one go.

First, it’s an easy way to repurpose pillows and second, it smells like you and not a random factory so your pet may be more apt to nap there. Give it a try with Handimania’s simple old sweatshirt pet bed, with a no-sew one from Instructables, or re-stuff an existing pet bed.

3. Use as packing & moving material

Keep old pillows around to use as packing filler or for moving. Vacuum storage bags can be a good way to compress them until needed. Then, when you have a box of delicate items to ship or want to protect furniture from scrapes, you have them handy. This is also a good way to use solid memory or latex foam pillows, since the materials can be cut to size.


Image courtesy of Kim Love

4. Make throw pillows

No need to pay big bucks for designer throw pillows when they’re one of the simplest DIY sewing projects around. You can compress the filling and make them into square throws with limitless possibilities for DIY or store bought covers, turn them into smaller travel-size pillows, or turn them into oblong bolster pillows for a bench or daybed.

5. Seal up drafty doors

Drafty doors and windows can have your AC or heater working over time, equaling a lot of wasted energy. Draft stoppers are a pretty simple DIY project, and a good way to reuse pillow stuffing.

Try this nifty one using long socks, or this one using old pillowcases. Place them on front of external doors, by drafty window sills or to keep certain rooms cooler/warmer. They can make a cute housewarming gift, too!


Image courtesy of Yvonne Eijkenduijn.

6. Make a gardening cushion

Gardening is a rewarding and awesome hobby, but all that weeding and sowing can be a little tough on the knees. Rather than buying a new knee cushion, double up an old pillow in a sturdy pillow case, or or make cover with outdoor-safe fabric if you really want to get fancy.

The Spoonflower blog has a tutorial for a rollup kneeling pad using buckwheat hulls, which could easily be swapped for pillow filling, and The Bumbling Bee has a tutorial with removable cover.

7. Opt for recycling or donation

You may be hard pressed to find places shelters that accept donations used pillows for sanitary reasons. It could still be worth a try to see if your local animal rescue or wildlife rehabbers would be interested (or turn them into pet beds and donate those). You could also give them away via Craigslist or Freecycle to someone who could get a little more use from them.

You might have a textile recycling facility nearby that specializes in fabrics and fibers and that accepts pillows. Some will only take linens, and foam pillows might be best taken to mattress or foam recyclers.

Check Earth 911’s Recycle Search, or look for American Textile Recycling Service bins (they accept household textiles and are accessible in several states). If your pillows are feather or down, they can be emptied into a compost bin.

Making your pillows last longer

Now, there are also a few ways to extend the lifespan of your pillows to improve sustainability and further reduce waste. The first is to buy good-quality pillows that tend to keep their shape longer. Product review website Sleep Like The Dead finds that latex foam, buckwheat and down pillows tend to be more durable than down alternative and polyester pillows.

The second most important thing you can do is use a pillow protector. These zippered cases go directly on the pillow, beneath the pillowcase. Protectors are typically inexpensive and prevent moisture and some allergens from reaching your pillow, keeping it healthy and sanitary longer.

Other helpful tips include swapping the side of the pillow you sleep on often, following manufacturer’s washing instructions, and regularly fluffing the pillow.

Have old bedding, too? Check out these tips to see what to do with old sheets.

How often do you swap out your pillows? What uses have you found for the old ones? Share below!

Feature image courtesy of Kim Love

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Rosie Osmun

Rosie Osmun is the Creative Content Manager at Amerisleep, a progressive memory foam mattress brand focused on eco-friendly sleep solutions. Rosie writes more posts on the Amerisleep blog about getting better sleep, being healthier and eco-friendly living.


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