About a year ago I tried out a latex pillow. I had high hopes, as they’re generally very favorably reviewed. Unfortunately I was less than impressed. Mostly because it simply wasn’t malleable or adjustable — it was a single solid piece of latex molded into the static shape of a traditional rectangular pillow.
Not being able to change the shape of the pillow to fit my head and neck was frustrating and after sleeping on it for a couple weeks, it ended up in the closet. I just couldn’t make it comfortable.
While shopping for a latex pillow, I discovered that a small subsection of the market is devoted to “shredded” latex pillows. Shredded? As implied by the name, latex foam is fed through a shredding machine and ripped into tiny pieces.
Shredded latex pillows claim to be superior due to their adjustable and malleable nature.
The unpleasant experience with my previous latex pillow made me question if shredded latex was worth trying, but I decided to give it a go. Despite being a niche market, there were several different options available online. Ultimately I opted to buy only the fill.
I did so because I wanted to be able to adjust the amount of fill in the pillow to my liking (I was also very curious to know what shredded latex looked like). It’s pretty easy to accidentally buy a pillow with incorrect loft (thickness). Unless you get lucky with the right one, they’re either too thick or too thin. Fortunately, I had several extra Hullo pillow cases with zippered openings to experiment with.
I bought some shredded latex pillow fill online.
I’m not sure if it was the best quality available, but it wasn’t cheap: $55 for 5 lb. When it arrived, my kids and I tore into the box.
Inside was a large clear plastic bag full of what looked just like popcorn. The kids were disappointed to discover that it was not… I however, was more enthusiastic. I wanted to stuff it into a pillow case immediately, but I could tell that it was going to be a messy ordeal. The shredded latex consisted mostly of larger chunks about 1/2 in diameter, but a good deal of it was tiny, messy little rubber flakes.
I waited until the next day and took it outside, prepared with a scoop and a broom. It was a huge mess. I tried to keep the shredded latex contained within the bag I was scooping it out of, but it got everywhere.
Being the forgetful guy that I am, I left the bag out for my 2 year old to stumble upon. Thankfully he didn’t eat it. I’m still picking bits of it up weeks later. If you’re handling shredded latex, I recommend doing it somewhere where it’s easy to clean up. Keep it out of the grass and away from your rugs. It’s almost sticky, so you can’t easily sweep it up.
Anyway… mess aside, it took about 2.75 lb. to fill my standard size 20×26″ pillow case. That’s heavier than most traditional fluffy pillow types like down, but it was noticeably less bulky than my molded latex pillow of the same size which weighed 3.3 lb.
Zippered Pillow Case for Adjusting the Loft: Essential
It was a good thing I had a zippered pillow case. I found this to be crucial to attaining proper loft. Shredded latex is very spongy and its thickness varies substantially depending upon the pressure placed upon it. After a bit of tweaking, I was able to get the fill amount just right…
My initial impression was, “wow what an improvement!” I think its safe to say that, for most, a shredded latex pillow will offer better rest than a molded latex pillow. For me, it was leaps and bounds more comfortable than the rubber log I’d tried earlier. The fact that I could smoosh it into the shape of my head and neck made a huge difference.
I spent a couple weeks on it and formed some solid impressions.
Shredded Latex Pillow Positives:
- It’s malleable! Unlike a solid single-piece latex pillow, you can squish this thing fit into the space between your head and neck so that you’ve got proper support.
- It’s a great alternative to products that inhumanely treat animals (down), or utilize potentially hazardous chemicals (memory foam). *Note: beware that many latex pillows contain a blend of latex and polyurethane foam. I recommend you look for shredded latex that is labeled “100% natural latex.”
- It’s quiet. Latex doesn’t creak, rustle or slosh. I’ve never been bothered by a little noise when my pillow is moved, but some find shifting fill distracting. Latex is perfectly silent.
Shredded Latex Pillow Negatives:
- It’s a little too soft. Too soft? Most people think that “soft” is a good quality in a pillow, but if your pillow is too soft it can cause or exacerbate neck pain. The shredded latex was so squishy that the loft (thickness) is hard to get just right. Sometimes it feels too thick and just as often, it’s too thin. If I shifted the fill just slightly, the pillow felt totally different. While it is certainly adjustable, it does take a little work to get it just right.
- It smells like a pile of rubber gloves. It’s an odor that doesn’t conjure a pleasant associations (dentist flashbacks triggered here). It’s hard to ignore the lingering odor of latex. It does not seem to go away quickly. I just pulled last year’s molded latex pillow out of the closet… The odor is as powerful as ever.
- This shredded latex pillow felt more breathable and thus cooler than my previous latex pillow, but it doesn’t compare to the airflow offered by my favorite, buckwheat pillows. I found that the shredded latex built up and retained my body heat. That said, it certainly offers better breathability than down or memory foam pillows. The thousands of small pieces of latex have an irregular shape that allows some air to flow between them. Flipping it over is the simple solution, but I prefer sleeping on the cool side of the pillow all night.
- According to some online reviews, latex breaks down rather quickly compared to other pillow fill types. When it does, both the loft and support of your pillow will suffer. I’m unable to vouch for this claim, because I’ve only had it for a few weeks, but it seems reasonable to assume that even a slight change in its density or elasticity would change the feel of the pillow considerably.
- Is it machine washable? I found contradictory information online. I’d be scared to put mine into the washer, particularly because it has a zippered case. What if the fill came out of the case somehow? Tiny pieces of rubber in the plumbing sounds like a disaster. If anyone has experience with washing shredded latex pillows, please post your experience in the comments below!
Shredded latex pillows are in my opinion, better than the traditional molded latex pillows. I’m surprised that they’re not more popular than they are. No pillow is perfect for everyone, but I think these would appeal to a lot of people.
For all a shredded latex pillow’s positives, I’m not a convert. The lack of consistent support was a deal-breaker. Sometimes it felt too thick and my neck was bent upward at an awkward angle, while other times it was simply too thin. Either way my neck didn’t appreciate it.
If you’re considering any type of latex pillow, be sure to check out my other review of a molded latex pillow. I discuss more of the specifics of latex foam including:
- how latex is made,
- the difference between natural latex vs. latex blends,
- latex’s exaggerated hypoallergenic claims