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Are Pillows Recyclable? Recycling, Reusing, & Repurposing Tips

pillows on the bed

Pillows are vital for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, they have a short lifespan, so you must replace them often. Thankfully, most of them are fully recyclable. But how do you get rid of non-recyclable old pillows after getting new ones?

The most obvious answer is to donate them if they are still in good shape. If they have seen better days, however, it’s unlikely that anybody will take them. Can you recycle them? Yes, you can! However, it is not as straightforward as recycling clean glass bottles. Stay put as we elaborate on how to properly dispose of pillows!

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Can You Actually Recycle Pillows?

Technically, it is possible to recycle pillows¹. However, the recycling process is not particularly simple because different pillows are made from different materials, including the following:

  • Foam filling
  • Down or feather filling
  • Cotton fabric and wadding covers
  • Polyester-based filling

While most of these materials are fully recyclable, some of them cannot be recycled because their components are harmful to the environment. This means you can’t drop them at a recycling bin since textile recycling facilities won’t accept them.

Textile companies obtain the fibers from the fabric components of old recyclable pillows to make carpets, insulation, and rags. Before disposing of them in bins, ensure the pillows are dry and oil or grease-free.

An alternative way of recycling old pillows is by emptying the feather fillings into the compost bin and repurposing the cover or casing. The pillow material will break down over time in the bin and, finally, provide the soil with mineral-rich elements that influence plant growth. The last resort, though not recommended, is to take your old pillows to the landfill.

Two flat Pillows
Image Credit: Sarah Brown, Unsplash

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Repurpose Your Old Pillows

You can get creative with your old pillows instead of tossing them away. Repurposing old things, like pillows, is a great alternative to recycling them. Consider breathing new life into them in the following ways:

1. Use Them for Packaging and Moving Items

Old pillows are great packaging materials for breakable items, thanks to their spongy characteristics. Use them to fill up the spaces inside a storage container while moving items like ceramics, glass, and even furniture. By doing so, you add a soft layer that keeps them safe from damage upon falling accidentally. They also protect items like bicycles from getting scratched while in transit.

You can cut latex and solid foam pillows to size. This reason makes them good packaging materials. They are also beneficial since you can indefinitely reuse them for repackaging purposes several times in the future.

2. Make Gardening Knee Pads

We often cause controllable pain and discomfort to our knees when we tend to our flowers and vegetables in the garden. Old pillows come in handy because we can make kneeling pads.

Instead of spending a lot of money on gardening knee pads, you can become creative with your old pillow and make DIY knee pads¹. It is a simple process requiring only a sewing machine and a needle. Use a strong vinyl pillowcase as a cover to ensure the cushion is extra durable.

3. Design Pet Beds

Old pillows can also be great materials to make something that your four-legged friend will love – and that would be its bed. If it previously had a bed, remove the cover, wash it, and stuff it with the old pillow fillings until it’s firm.

For a new bed, consider setting together 2–4 old pillows with their cases and covering them with a warm, fleece blanket that’s easy to wash. Besides their familiar smell, your pet will love it because of the comfort they will offer. This is especially a good idea if you don’t have the money to spend on a pet bed.

Cat Pillow
Image By: Hector Bermudez, unsplash

4. Make Floor Cushion Sheets

Floor pillows are great accessories for playing board games, practicing meditation, watching movies, or doing any other fun, practical activity. And guess what? You can make a DIY floor cushion sheet for yourself without spending a dime!

This is how you make one:
  • Make a cushion cover that’s twice the size of a pillow.
  • Stuff two old pillows in it.
  • Sew it up. Congratulations, you have a homemade floor cushion!

5. Make Throw Pillows

Just like floor cushion sheets, old pillows can be excellent materials for making throw pillows. But whether or not your old pillows will be good enough depends on their size. If they are small, you can design a pillow for your living room couches. You can also get creative and make decorative throw pillows by selecting the best color to suit the couch and walls.

6. Create Draft Stoppers

If you are tired of chilly drafts that enter your house during cold seasons, you can sort out your problem with the help of old pillows. Draft stoppers¹ are great energy savers, meaning they can keep your home comfortably warm when the temperatures fall.

This is how you make them:
  • Cut the fabric on an old pillow into two rectangular pieces, each measuring 6” thick by the length of the base of your door, window, and chimney.
  • Leaving a short edge open, sew the fabric pieces together and fill old pillow stuffing into the cushion. You must alternate the stuffing with sections of popcorn kernels to make the best draft stoppers. They are essential for keeping the draft stoppers in place.
  • Sew the opening closed and put your draft stopper below the door or window. For chimney draft stoppers, it would be best if you put the pillow in a trash bag, seal it, and throw it down the chimney from the top.

7. Revive Cushions and Your Kid’s Favorite Stuffed Toys

Even new cushions, pillows, and soft toys become lumpy over time. But the good news is you can give them a new lease of life by stuffing them with old pillow materials. Instead of throwing them away, it would be better to take out the stuffing, put it inside the cushion, toy, or pillow, pack it tightly, and sew the cover back.

kid's stuffed toy on the bed by the pillow
Image By: congerdesign, Pixabay

8. Use as Car Washing Sponge

As the cost of cleaning a car adds up regularly, you can opt to wash your vehicle yourself and save on costs. Old foam pillows come into play to serve as washing sponges. They contain several layers of cut form that make them perfect for removing dirt from a car’s nooks and crannies.

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Sometimes, you may not have the time, passion, or intent to repurpose old pillows. In that case, you can consider donating them second-hand. But you can’t do this if the pillows are awfully worn-out; they need to be clean and in good condition. Let’s take a quick look at where to donate old pillows:

1. Check With Your Local Animal Shelter

Most animal shelters have a high demand for old pillows, which they use to make bedding in animal crates. Reach out to them in advance via phone or email to ask whether they accept pillow donations. If they do, you can schedule to drop them off within their opening times.

Some veterinary doctors and wildlife rehabilitation centers may also need old pillows alongside other used stuff like towels, blankets, and comforters. However, before delivering your old pillows to them, ensure they are clean and in condition, or else they may not be accepted.

2. Donate at a Charity Event

A second donation option is to enquire with charity organizations or thrift stores. You can easily find their contact details on their websites. Ask if they accept used pillows and whether they have a forthcoming charity event.

However, do not get disappointed if they can’t accept your donation, as most such companies face sanitary and overstocking challenges. You can always shoot a request to a different store.

pillows on bed
Image By: Akyurt, Pixabay

3. Check With Your Local Homeless Shelter

Most often, the contentment that we experience after making someone else’s day is unmatched. How about asking your local homeless shelter whether they will accept your donation? They probably will because they need them. Of course, make sure the pillows are clean and not torn.

4. Donate to Your Local Community Network

There is a chance that several of your community members need old pillows for different reasons. Some may need them for repurposing needs and others want them because they primarily don’t have pillows. In that case, it’s a wise idea to check with your local network whose main concern is rehoming, trading, or gifting second-hand items. Besides helping you get rid of your old pillows, this is a great way to help your local people.

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Final Thoughts

Owing to their short lifespan, pillows must be changed regularly to provide us with the best sleep experience. However, disposing of them presents a challenge, especially for urban centers’ residences. Fortunately, we have discussed several ways of getting rid of old pillows. They include dropping them at a textile recycling company, repurposing them, or donating them. If you feel creative, there are several ways of repurposing an old pillow, including making DIY pet beds, draft stoppers, gardening cushions, packaging materials, floor cushion sheets, and throw pillows.

Featured Image Credit: manbob86, Pixabay


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