Pillow Talk: 7 Ways To Reuse Your Old Pillows

Now that you have some ideas on how often you should replace your pillows, you may be wondering what you should do with your old pillows.  With millions, if not billions, of old pillows in landfills right now, taking up lots of space, with years to go before they are completely broken down or degraded, you won't want to throw them away.

There are several ways that you can recycle or repurpose your old pillows by making them into other useful items.

First things first:

  • Always wash and dry your old pillows before recycling or repurposing them.*  I recommend washing them in warm or hot water, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar instead of chlorine bleach for whiteness, and wash and rinse on a normal cycle.  You can then dry them using low to medium heat.  
  • Discard discolored, stained or torn pillow casings. Um, no explanation needed here.  
  • Use a dust mask when handling pillow stuffing just in case you're sensitive or allergic to the fine particles of any of the materials.
  • Collect all of the pillow stuffing and put it in a large box or other container so that you can see how much raw and recyclable materials you have.
7 Ways to Repurpose Your Pillows:
  1. Give them to your pet.  Save your money!  Instead of buying an expensive pet bed, let your pet cuddle or take a nap on the pillow.  It will have your familiar scent on it which will be especially comforting to it.  If you're feeling really industrious, you can use the pillows to sew a pet bed.  Note:  Some pets aren't healthy enough, like those with arthritis, to sleep on any old bed.  If you're unsure, please check with your vet.
  2. Re-stuff old worn stuffed animals.  Does your child (or pet) have a favorite stuffed toy that's been loved to pieces?  You can use the stuffing from your old pillows as new filling to repair these toys.  Just open the toy along the seam, add in the stuffing and stitch it back up.  You can then wash the toy either by hand or machine, then it'll be as good as new!
  3. Throw them in the car.  Put some old, but clean pillowcases on the pillows and keep them in your car.   They can useful for many occasions.  Passengers can rest their heads on them on long road trips.  If you go on picnics, you can sit on the pillows instead of the hard ground.
  4. Take them trick-or-treating.  Most of you have probably heard of using pillowcases to hold the candy from trick-or-treating.  Why not use an unstained pillow covering instead?  That way when it gets all sticky and yucky from the candy you won't feel bad about it.
  5. Use them as packing material.  You can use old pillows and pillow stuffing in moving or shipping boxes to keep your fragile items safe.  You can also use the stuffing to pack away your Christmas decorations that are breakable.
  6. Make new pillows.  Need new throw pillows? You can always upcycle the material into new throw/decorative pillows.  Find some inexpensive fabric with a pretty pattern and use the stuffing from the old pillows in the new ones.
  7. Give them away.  Join your local Freecycle group and offer the old pillows.  You never know, someone may need them for their own repurposing project.
Do you have any other ideas for reusing old pillows?  I'd love to hear them-feel free to leave a comment.

*Please note: Polyester, latex and down pillows can be laundered in the washer and dryer.  Pillows that are filled with cotton, wool or kapok will not keep their shape when laundered, so these should be aired and sunned.

Elena White is the founder and editor of  Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother.  Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.
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Unknown said…
Great ideas! I love the one about making a pet bed. My Thor would like that one!

Tips 4 Green
Jill said…
Great post! I'll try to remember these when the time comes to get rid of our pillows.
Elena said…
Thanks, Alissia! If you make Thor a bed please post pics. I'd love to see it!
Elena said…
Thanks, Jill! If you forget these tips, you can always come back to check :)
Serena Bates said…
I love your blog its really cool! many useful things on it! Looks like you guys in the south have a lot in common with us here in Aus like saving water and climate. We have friends in Birmingham so its always interesting to read about it. Will keep a keen eye out for your future posts.
Elena said…
Thanks so much, Serena! I love to hear from my fellow "greenies" in Australia.
Anonymous said…
In my town, Albuquerque, you can also take the old DOWN or fowl feather pillows to the local pillow factory and they will put them in a completely NEW pillow for you. Sometimes they look at the old feathers and tell you they are too old and disintegrated to be useful, but sometimes they still have life in them. It is a cheap way to get a new pillow!
Foam-By-Mail said…
The polyester fiberfill-stuffed pillows are particularly great for pet beds. Since they're machine wash safe, you don't have to worry nearly as much about keeping them clean and smelling fresh!
redrustycar said…
Thank you for sharing this.

I need to share this with some men I know... How can they be unaware of how gross it is to sleep with the same pillow for 12 years.....
scamp said…
I must be dense, but if the pillow shouldn't be used any more, why is it okay to use the stuffing in a "new" pillow?
Elena said…
Scamp - the suggestion was to use the old stuffing in decorative or throw pillows (not pillows that you'd sleep on which would be gross, lol).

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