You spend about a third of your life sleeping, so it stands to reason that you want to be as comfortable as possible while you do it. Follow the advice below for pillow care that will help you get the best rest possible.
Try the squish test. Your pillow should spring back into shape after being folded in half. If it doesn’t, it won’t give you the support you need to rest comfortably. With a memory foam pillow, press your hand on the center. The foam should give, but not to the bottom; and when you remove your hand, it should return to its normal shape.
Find your firmness. However you sleep, you want a pillow that supports your neck in its natural sleeping position. In general, back and side sleepers will rest easier with a medium-firm pillow, and stomach sleepers will like a soft pillow. Waking with a stiff neck is a clue you’ve got the wrong headrest.
Get the right covers. Pillow covers (which zip closed and are different from pillowcases) add a layer of drool and grime protection that will help your pillow last. Allergen-reducing covers are a smart investment if you’re allergic to dust mites; they cost more than regular covers, so you may want to get allergy tested before diving in.
Wash and dry them. Most pillows can be washed with detergent in cold water—read the labels. Be sure to check seams to make sure they’re secure, or wash with a zip-on cover in place. Pillows can go into the dryer on a low setting, unless they're foam, in which case you should air-dry them. For extra freshness, try an in-wash scent booster that has a lasting, calming scent.