What To Do With Old Feather Pillows (Here's What You Can Do)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Feather pillows can provide warmth and comfort, creating quite an inviting bed. Not only are feather pillows soft, but they are mostly organic and natural. Unfortunately, feather pillows will only last about three years, leaving many homeowners searching for a use or purpose for their old feather pillows.

Old feather pillows can be used in other DIY projects around the home to make decorative pillows, provide additional stuffing, or make a pet bed. Donating pillows can be difficult at charitable organizations, but animal shelters may take old feather pillows. In most cases, an old feather pillow is best trashed if an alternative cannot be found.

Although feather pillows are organic, they can become dangerous, especially if they are old. Feathers can accumulate bacteria, mold, and mildew the longer they are used, making allergies and asthma worse. Plus, toxic pesticides or antimicrobial chemicals are often used on goose-down pillows, making it difficult to recycle the feather pillows or use the old pillows for compost.

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Are Old Pillows Bad For You?

Holding onto an old pillow may be comfortable but could be dangerous. Old pillows can be breeding grounds for certain molds, dust mites, and mildew. Plus, mite feces and fungus can grow in the organic material. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, hanging on to old feather pillows could be causing your allergies and symptoms to flare without you even realizing the culprit is your pillow.

When Should I Replace My Feather Pillows?

It is a good practice to replace your feather pillows about every one to three years. Usually, after this period, feather pillows will start to break down or grow harmful bacteria and mold. A good test to perform on an old pillow is to fold the pillow in half. If the pillow doesn’t spring back to its full shape, it is a good indication that your pillow should be replaced. After about three years, even if your pillow is still comfortable, it is a good practice to replace the pillow.

Of course, keeping your pillows in good condition can help them last longer. About every three to six months, wash your pillows to keep them clean and free of bacteria. You’ll want to put your pillows in the dryer on a low setting for around thirty minutes to keep your pillows light and fluffy.

Can I Donate Old Feather Pillows?

Although we are taught to reuse and recycle, feather pillows can be tricky to donate. If a feather pillow is lightly used and still in good condition, it may be possible to donate to a charitable organization or a secondhand store. Always call the organization ahead of time to confirm they will be able to take used feather pillows.

Many charities and secondhand stores will not take feather pillows because of the possible contaminants they could contain. Not only is a used feather pillow unclean, but a pillow could contain bed bugs, pests, mold, or mildew that could be introduced into another person’s home. Can Animal Shelters Take Pillows?

While a traditional charity organization like the Salvation Army or Goodwill may have difficulty accepting a used feather pillow, you may have luck donating a used feather pillow to a local animal shelter. Not only could the pillow’s feathers be recycled into a new cat or dog bed, but the feather pillow could provide a taste of home that a shelter animal may be craving.

Can I Trash Old Feather PIllows?

Because it can be challenging to find a place to donate old feather pillows, often, the trash is the best place for old pillows to go. There is nothing in a pillow that will prevent the material from going in the standard trash pickup. Of course, always think of potential alternative ways to recycle or reuse the old feather pillow in your home before resorting to the trash. Adding more trash should always be a last resort, especially when disposing of old pillows or materials.

Are Feather Pillows Compostable?

It may be possible to use your feather pillows for compost if they are made with natural feathers. Over time, natural goose down will decompose, adding to your compost which can be used to fertilize your plants. Before adding them to your compost pile, be sure that your feather pillow is made with real feathers instead of synthetic feathers.

If your goose feathers have been treated with antimicrobial chemicals or sprayed with pesticides, you will want to dispose of your old feather pillows instead of adding them to your compost.

Can I Reuse the Feather Stuffing?

The internal components of a feather pillow can be put to use, stuffing another pillow. Sometimes, people will pull out the feathers from an old feather pillow to fill up another pillow, making it thicker and more comfortable. Plus, adding more feathers to another pillow will help give the pillow more insulation, making it warmer to sleep with.

If there aren’t enough feathers in your pillow to supplement another pillow for sleeping, consider using the stuffing for a throw pillow or decorative pillow. Small decorative pillows often only use a fraction of the features found in a traditional down pillow. Reusing feather stuffing may be the perfect option if you have an additional pillow that won’t get used often.

What Can I Make with My Old Feather Pillows?

Old feather pillows may not work for your bed anymore, but there are plenty of other uses. If you have old feather pillows, there are plenty of alternative uses that will allow you to upcycle and reuse the material throughout your home. Consider using old pillows to:

  • Make a Knee Pillow – Deconstruct the old feather pillow and use the stuffing and spare material to create a knee pillow. This small pillow will be perfect for bending and kneeling on hard floors.
  • Pet Bed – Try using old feather pillows to stuff a pet bed. Your small dog or cat will love having a soft and warm place to curl up for a nap. Plus, your reused pet bed will have the added benefit of smelling like you.
  • Make New Pillows – If your old feather pillows are no longer serviceable for your bed, consider reusing the stuffing and material for a throw pillow. A small throw pillow can be used for a decorative touch on a couch or window seat.
  • Packing – Pillows that are past their prime can still function as a soft cushioning device. Consider using your old feather pillows for packing, cushioning boxes that may contain valuables or fragile items.
  • Rags – You may be able to use parts of the feather pillows as cleaning rags around the home. Open an old feather pillow and dispose of the feathers. Then, use the cloth pillowcase to wash or dust hard surfaces in your home.

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Related Questions

What type of feathers are used in feather pillows?

In traditional feather pillows, goose feathers are the most commonly found feather. These feathers are easily sourced and small enough to create a tightly packed pillow that provides warmth and comfort. Modern feather pillows are commonly made with synthetic goose feathers. These feathers mimic the look and feel of natural goose feathers without being real, organic feathers.

Are feather pillows toxic?

Although feather pillows may seem like a natural and organic option for you to rest your head on, the truth is there may be toxic components in your feather pillows. Goose-down pillows can come from a non-organic source. Sometimes, goose feathers are sprayed with pesticides to keep the feathers held down through production. Sometimes antimicrobial chemicals are sprayed onto down pillows which can contain caustic chemicals that could be toxic.

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