Throw Your Pillows Away Immediately If You Notice This

Knowing when it's time to throw your pillows away can be tricky. Some experts say that most pillows last 6 to 12 months. Others claim that it's perfectly fine to use the same pillow for two to seven years. But there's a simple way to figure out when you should replace your pillows. "What you do is you fold your pillow in half, put a shoe on the backside of the pillow, and then let go of the pillow," explains sleep psychologist Joshua Tal (via The Strategist). "If the pillow folds back into shape and flings the shoe off of it, you're good. If it doesn't, it's kind of lost its ability to hold your head up properly," he added.

However, you may need to throw your pillows away sooner under certain circumstances. For example, it makes sense to get rid of a pillow that smells bad or has stubborn stains. Bacteria and dirt buildup can cause issues, too. Your pillows are also home to viruses, dust mites, bed bugs, and everything in between, warns the Cleveland Clinic. These pathogens may trigger or worsen asthma and allergies, transmit diseases, and affect overall health. But sometimes even a new pillow can cause trouble.

Here's when you should throw out your pillows

Tired of waking up with a stiff neck? Then it might be time to throw out your pillows. Even a brand new pillow can cause neck pain. "The most common mistake people make is choosing a pillow that bends your neck forward or to one side," chiropractor Andrew Bang told the Cleveland Clinic. Your sleeping position matters, too. For example, lying in bed with your chin tucked toward your chest can cause neck strain, explains Bang.

Bang recommends choosing a pillow that adapts to your sleeping position. Ideally, opt for cervical contour or foam contour pillows to make sure your neck is properly supported. As far as materials go, natural latex is your best bet. Feather pillows tend to worsen neck pain. "These feel super comfy when you first settle in. But the feathers move when you do, so you wind up with no support, causing you pain," says Bang. He also suggests sleeping on a thicker pillow if you have a firm mattress.

As a general rule, replace your pillow — regardless of its condition — if you constantly wake up with a tight neck. WebMD explains that flatter pillows are often the best option for those with neck pain. If you're a stomach sleeper, try placing a flat pillow under your belly to keep your spine aligned. A thin pillow placed between the knees can benefit side sleepers. You may also place a rolled-up towel under your neck for better support.