Home / Blog June 14, 2023 Updated on June 28, 2024

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What To Do With Old Pillows: 12 Ideas To Cut Down On Waste

There are plenty of things you can do with old pillows, depending on the shape they’re in. You can repurpose the stuffing for DIY projects and cleaning rags, clean them and donate them if they’re in good shape, and even compost them if the filling is a form of feather such as down.

What To Do With Old Pillows

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Old pillows can be repurposed for many DIY projects like stuffed animals, pet beds and door seals.

If the pillow is in decent shape, it can be donated after cleaning.

The stuffing of some pillows, like down pillows, can be used in compost bins. 

Did you know?
For many cities around the world, recycling textiles is increasingly becoming one of the most important goals for waste management as the amount thrown away has doubled over the last 20 years.

The environmental protection agency estimates that there were 17 million tons in textile production in 2018, making up 5.8% of municipal waste. Pillows are a part of that problem. For those wondering what to do with old pillows, here are 11 ideas to cut down on waste.

1. Make Pet Beds

Pets like cushions, too! And if you don’t feel like purchasing one like our Pupper Pod, you can take those old pillows and put them to use.

One option is to simply toss the old thing on the ground and let your dog or cat plop on down. You might be surprised at how well your furry friend can use its paws to adjust the old pillow to their needs.

To take things up a notch, make a trip to a crafts store and find a durable fabric for a pet bed casing. Use the stuffing from the old pillow to fill the new casing and you’ve got a new luxury item for your little critter. You can even make smaller cushions for gerbils or hamsters.

make pet beds

2. Make Decorative Pillows

If your dog or cat is already sleeping in style, maybe it’s time to treat yourself. One way to do that is by turning your old head pillows into decorative pillows for your bed or sofa. And the good news is that it’s even easier than the pet bed project.

To make your own throw pillow, all you need is a throw pillow casing or pillow sham. It’s then a three part process from there:

  1. Take the casing and stuff it with your old pillow’s filling.
  2. Seal it up either by sewing it shut or using the zipper that many casings come with.
  3. Enjoy your new decoration! 

3. Pack and Move With Your Pillow

Got a big move coming up? Heading overseas with some valuables? If so, your old pillow has one last job it can do for you.

It’s no secret that traveling and moving to a new place leads to your valuables getting bumped and jostled on the ride over. Even a short ride can end with a chip in your coffee table or a scratch on your carbon-framed road bike

To keep those worries at bay, wrap your goods up carefully in pillows and hit the road.

4. Travel Pillow

If you have any pillows left over after packing for your trip, you can repurpose those for the move, too. Take them with you and wrap them around your neck while nodding off in the passenger seat of the car or in your airplane seat.

To get even more creative, cut and sew the casing into a classic C-shape that can fit snug around your head. You can even add a button to snap either end together.

5. Lumbar Support

Another travel-related use for old-pillows is to use them as lumbar support. Just bring them with you in the car or on a plane and stuff them behind your lower back to support its natural curve.

You don’t need to be traveling to use lumbar support, though. In the age of desk jobs, having a little cushion to protect your back has never been more important.

Take your old pillow to work day’ is here, and it’s ready to keep your spine in good shape

lady leaning with lumbar pillow

6. Make Floor Cushions

Whether you’re sleeping on the floor, reading on the floor, or just lounging there because it’s easy on the back, getting down to earth can be easier with an old pillow.

Keep a few of them in an ottoman or a chest and bust them out when you’re having a game night around the coffee table. Use them to prop up the knees while watching TV.

You never know when you might be able to make use of a little extra cushion.

7. Compost Your Pillows

A little-known fact about many pillows is that you can use them for compost. Not all pillows, but some.

For example, if your pillow is stuffed with feathers like down pillows, you can slice it open and dump those into the compost bin.

If they somehow get ruined, you can do the same with our Hugget, Cuddler, and Cuddling pillows since they’re fully biodegradable. The outer casings are made of organic cotton while the insides are plant-based rubber foam. Cut them up into little pieces and they can jump right back into the earth.

8. Donate For Reuse or Recycle

If there’s a chance that you can rescue that pillow but you don’t need it anymore, there’s probably a home waiting for it somewhere. However, you’ll need to make sure that it’s clean and up to the standards of whatever donation center you plan on sending it to.

Follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, get them squeaky clean, and send them on their way. Homeless or animal shelters may be potential matches.

9. Re-Stuff Other Pillows

If you have a handful of pillows that are flat and lumpy from continued use, another way to put them to work is by combining them. Think of it as a cuddlier version of Frankenstein.

Side sleepers, in particular, will like this because the optimal pillow for them is on the thicker side to keep the spine in line. But over time, the pillow will naturally flatten. To combat this, simply plump it up with an older cushion’s filling.

10. Seal Up Drafty Doors

Got a door that tends to leak just enough air that it starts to cool down the house or a single room? Looking to reduce extra noise in a home recording studio? If that’s you, you may want to take those old pillows and turn them into a draft stopper.

Head on down to the craft store and pick up a length of fabric the size of your door’s width, stuff it with your old pillow’s filling, and marvel at what a great job it does at keeping air out.

11. Make a Gardening Cushion

This one’s for the gardeners out there, spending long afternoons tending to their fruits, veggies, and flowers. All of that time on your hands and knees can get a little comfier if you repurpose your lumpy pillows.

The bare minimum for this idea would be to take the cushion as is and plop it on the ground. However, if you want to take it to the next level, consider cutting a head pillow in half, sewing up the open ends, and adding straps that can fasten behind each knee.

12. Replace Them

This one’s for the gardeners out there, spending long afternoons tending to their fruits, veggies, and flowers. All of that time on your hands and knees can get a little comfier if you repurpose your lumpy pillows.

It may seem like an obvious next-step, but sometimes pillows get old beyond recovery. In these cases, it helps to re-invest in a long-lasting pillow that will be great for back and neck support as well as aesthetics.

Our Crinkle Cut Cuddler, for instance, is a french fry-shaped body pillow designed in collaboration with Shake Shack. This Cuddler serves as “dopamine decor” by adding a touch of whimsy to your space given its chic waves and golden yellow hue. This Cuddler’s cover is made of sublimely soft eco-velvet, ensuring that it is removable and machine washable.

When To Get Rid Of Old Pillows

Just because your pillow is old, doesn’t mean it needs to be tossed in the trash. With proper care, some pillows can last a lifetime

What does “proper care” mean? Mostly, it means cleaning it regularly since our heads are quite oily, whether or not we shower at night.

For example, our body pillow, and bolster pillows come with washable cases, and if you regularly use them, you should regularly put the cases in the wash, too.

However, sometimes life gets in the way and the cushions suffer. Here are some signs that it may be time to say goodbye to your pillow:

    • Yellow/brownish discoloration from dirt and oils
    • A pillow that’s no longer as firm as you’d like
    • A lumpy pillow that can’t be fluffed 

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FAQs

Got more questions about what to do with old pillows? Here are some of the common ones and their answers.

Is It Okay To Throw Away Pillows?

It’s okay to throw pillows away in the trash. However, this should be a last resort since they’re not recyclable and may end up cluttering landfills.

If your pillow is still in relatively good shape, donation may be an option. Unfortunately, typical choices like Salvation Army are unlikely to take pillows for sanitary reasons. Instead, you can look to homeless shelters if the pillow is clean and in decent shape. Animal sanctuaries and shelters are another option

How Do You Deal With Old Pillows?

There are many ways of dealing with old pillows, such as composting them or even donating to homeless or animal shelters. If you’re looking to compost your pillow, just make sure that it’s fully biodegradable and that you cut it into smaller pieces before putting it in your bin.

There are also plenty of ways to repurpose old pillows. You can use them as travel pillows or lumbar support or even turn them into a knee pad for gardening.

What Are Old Pillows Good For?

Old pillows are good for repurposing in DIY projects. There are many ways that the stuffing can be used, such as filling for old toys or decorative pillows. The casings can also be reused as rags for cleaning around the house

Pillows can sometimes also be donated to animal shelters and occasionally homeless shelters. If you have a compost box you can also cut them up into little pieces and feed them back to the earth. Just ensure that it’s biodegradable.

How do I dispose of pillows in NYC?

To dispose of pillows in NYC, the first thing you need to do is separate the pillow’s casing from its stuffing. If cleaned properly, it can be given to textile recycling facilities or exchanges.

Unfortunately the stuffing is a little harder to recycle. You can throw it in the trash, but if you want to avoid doing that, repurposing it for DIY projects around the house is your best bet. Some biodegradable materials like plant-based foams and feathers can also be used in compost.

Conclusion

You can do many things with old pillows as long as you’re a little creative. Instead of throwing them away, you can try repurposing them as decorative pillows, door draft stoppers, lumbar support pillows, and even travel pillows.

Some pillows, like our Hugget, Cuddler, and Cuddling pillows can also be composted if they’re cut up into little bits. Since pillows aren’t recyclable, reusing them means doing the planet a favor. You might even feel better for it, yourself!