What To Do With Old Pillows

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You’ve just replaced your old pillows with brand-new ones, but what do you do with the old ones? Throw them away? Recycle them? If you are wondering what to do with old bed pillows, you are not alone!

Most people just throw them away when they get a new set, but this is actually bad for the environment. Old pillows take up landfill space and can release harmful toxins into the air.

A better option is to donate, reuse, or recycle them. There are several ways to do this, and we’ll show you how.

Remember, old pillows may be filled with bed bugs and dead skin cells. Without the right support, they may lead to neck pain and a poor night’s sleep. From upcycling them into crafts to thrift store pillow donations, your old pillows can be given new life instead of ending up in the landfill.

old used pillow on bed with text overlay 'How to Upcycle, Reuse, or Donate Old Pillows'

Ways to repurpose old pillows

Wondering what to do with old pillows when they start to sag? They can be used for a lot more than simply providing a comfy place to rest your head at night. With a little creativity and some DIY know-how, they can become something new and exciting. Here are some of the best ways to repurpose old pillows and give them a second life. 

Upholstered Ottomans 

An old pillow can easily be transformed into an upholstered ottoman. All you need is a sturdy stool or box, fabric, scissors, glue, and an old pillow. Start by covering the stool with the fabric of your choice – make sure it is large enough that there is extra fabric on all sides of the stool.

Once you’ve cut out any excess fabric from around the top of the stool, secure it in place with glue. Then, take your pillow and use it as padding for the seat of your ottoman – secure it in place with staples or glue. Finally, use more fabric to cover the sides and bottom of the ottoman and you’re done! Now you have a stylish ottoman that was made from ucpcycled materials. 

Packing material

Need to ship a package? That polyester fiber filling in your old pillows can cushion your package during shipping. Store the stuffing in a trash bag in the garage until you need it. Then, add it to your boxes before you ship them. This is a simple and frugal way to give new life to unwanted pillows.

There are seriously a never-ending number of ways to reuse old pillows. Make knee pads for gardening friends or turn them into floor cushion seats for your kindergarten class. Turn the stuffing into carpet padding for a homemade throw rug or wrap your hot water tank in it to save on heating costs. Since it won’t provide adequate support for your head anymore, turn it into something new.

upcycled pet bed with cat on it

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Make a Pet Bed 

Old pillows make great pet beds. If you have one lying around that is still in decent condition, why not repurpose it into something special for your furry friend? Simply purchase some fabric or find old blankets and sew them together. Then, stuff the shell with old pillow stuffing until it has reached desired thickness.

Once it has been sewed shut, your DIY pet bed is ready to go. Your pet will love snuggling up in their new bed! 

Throw Pillows

Make throw pillows using bits of old pillow stuffing. This is a great way to spruce up any space without spending too much money. Cut out squares from various colors/patterns of fabric scraps. Check out craft stores for inexpensive fabric.

Sew the scraps together to form the size and shape of the throw pillow you want. Take the stuffing out of your old bed pillows and restuff it inside the new fabric. Sew up the hole you used to stuff it and now you have a decorative throw pillow for your home.

If this sounds like a lot of work, you can buy pillow covers made of colorful fabric online. Just buy a premade throw pillow cover and stuff it with the filling from your old bed pillow.

Textile Art Supply

Old pillows can be great for making textile art. The stuffing makes great material for some creative projects. You can use it as stuffing in homemade dolls or make small sculptures with it. Get creative and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with!

Give clumps of it to your kids and have them turn that stuffing into clouds in their next painting project. Or use it as the beard on your child’s Santa painting.  The possibilities are endless!

homemade stuffed animal filled with old pillow stuffing sitting on bed

Stuffed Animal Filler

Take the stuffing from your old pillows and use it as filler for homemade stuffed animals. It’s a great way to save money on supplies for DIY toys. You can also give new life to old stuffed animals by adding a bit more stuffing to them. Or make your dog some DIY squeaky toys by adding a plastic squeaker inside a DIY stuffed toy.

Pet Blanket

Old pillows can also be used to make a cozy pet blanket. Cut out squares of fabric and sew them together to form a larger piece of fabric. You can use old T-shirts or other unwanted clothing to save money. Sew two large pieces together and stuff them with pieces of stuffing and you have a comfy pet blanket.

You can also leave them intact and just sew new fabric around them if your dog isn’t too big. They can use this as an upcycled pet bed that smells just like their favorite human. Pet beds and blankets are very similar to make.  The only real difference is how stuffed it is.

Cushion for Patio Chairs/ Benches

Use them to make cushions for your patio chairs or benches. Cut out the fabric of your choice to fit the size of your chairs or benches. Stuff the pillow filling into the cushion and secure it in place with glue or staples. Now you have comfortable seating outdoors that was made from repurposed old pillows.

Draft Stopper

Draft stoppers can be made out of an old pillow to help keep cold air from entering your home and save money on utilities. Take two pieces of fabric, and cut them to the desired length for your draft stopper. Sew the edges together. Stuff the pillow filling into the tube of fabric and sew up the end. You can make them any size you want and you now have an effective draft stopper.

Soundproofing Materials in Walls or Ceilings

If you’re looking to soundproof a room, pillows can help. Stuffing from old bed pillows can be used as insulation between walls or ceilings. Just stuff the pillow filling into the cavity of your wall/ceiling and voila – you have an effective soundproofing material.

Disassembled bed with a heap of crumpled clothing, indoor shot

How to Donate Old Pillows

If you have no clue what to do with old pillows yourself, never fear…. someone else probably has some ideas. If you aren’t particularly crafty, you can donate pillows to thrift stores or homeless shelters. You can also ask your local animal shelters if they are accepting pillow donations.

Doing this helps reduce waste in our landfills and provides people in need with an item that could improve their lives.

Can you Recycle Old Pillows?

Sadly, recycling pillows is not as easy as tossing them into the recycling bin. Unfortunately, most pillows cannot be recycled due to the mixed materials they are made of. If you want to get rid of them, your best bet is to donate them or repurpose them into something new and useful.

If you have pillows that are filled with down feathers, you can compost those. Sadly, there are not many feather pillows on the market today. Foam pillows or those made from other synthetic materials will have to go in the garbage if you can’t find a way to reuse them.

If you live near a textile recycling facility, see if they will accept pillows for recycling. They will have the resources and equipment to turn old pillows into something useful.

pillow in laundry room near washing machine

Should pillows be washed or thrown away?

Pillows should be washed at least once a year to help remove dust mites and other allergens that can accumulate over time. Most pillows can be washed in the washing machine, but certain types may need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned.

To dry a pillow after washing, use the gentle cycle and low heat setting on your dryer. To add more fluff to your old pillows and give them a bit more life, add a few used tennis balls into the dryer with them to increase airflow.

Signs you may need a new pillow

When should you replace old pillows? It’s generally recommended that people replace their pillows every 18 months to two years. Over time, pillows will start to sag and lose their shape due to wear and tear. If you find yourself waking up with neck or back pain, it might be time to get a new pillow.

woman hugging new pillow in bed

Tips for choosing new pillows

How do you choose the best pillow? Most of it is personal preference, however, there are a few guidelines to follow that might help. Look for a pillow that is firm enough to support your head and neck, but with some give so you can rest comfortably.

You may want to look for a one filled with down, memory foam, or buckwheat hulls as these materials tend to be the most comfortable. Be sure to read reviews before making your purchase and make sure the pillow is certified by the National Sleep Foundation.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of pillows, consider buying an eco-friendly pillow. These are often made from natural materials such as organic cotton, wool, or buckwheat hulls and can be recycled or composted when you are done with them.

Choosing a feather pillow is one way to minimize landfill waste since they can be composted, however, feather pillows may or may not be an ethical choice. If you choose a new bed pillow made of feathers, make sure the company you purchase it from is using humane practices. Then, once your old feather pillow is getting saggy, compost the filling. Try Lincove Cloud Natural Canadian White Down Luxury Sleeping Pillow.  They ethically source the down used in their pillows. 

Reused planter ideas. Second-hand kettles, saucepans, old teapots turn into garden flower pots. Recycled garden design and low-waste lifestyle.

More Upcycling Ideas for House and Home

Looking for more ways to upcycle things around the house?  Try a few of these posts:

With so many ways to reuse household items, upcycling is a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

 

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