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There are a wide variety of pillows available on the market today, for every taste and every style of home decor. One of the more unique pillows available is the squishy pillow. A squishy pillow is so called because of the texture of its filling, which easily molds to the shape of the head and neck of the user. Squishy pillows are also called microbead pillows, again because of their filling, which is made of small, soft, plastic beads.
Many people use a U-shaped or cylindrical squishy pillow, which are the most common types. Their convenient shape and small size makes them especially suited for use while traveling by car or airplane. Microbead pillows are also made in traditional shapes and sizes to be used at night. This design takes advantage of the ability the beads have to easily contour to any shape.
The larger designs are especially popular with those who suffer from stress-related neck and shoulder pain. This is because the microbeads are thought to have a therapeutic effect, in that they aid in the relaxation of neck and shoulder muscles. People who use a squishy pillow for this purpose often report a lessening of stress-induced pain within the first few days. Nightly use can cause the pillow to become less firm over time, since the fabric cover becomes less resilient with repeated use. However, these pillows are relatively inexpensive, so somewhat frequent replacement is generally worth it, especially to those who suffer from chronic neck pain.
The cover of a squishy pillow is usually a flexible fabric made with a combination of spandex and Lycra®. The fabric is soft and elastic enough that it can stretch freely to mold to any shape. High-quality round beads make up the filling of a squishy pillow, and give the pillow its unique properties.
Microbeads are called that because of their very small size -- just 0.012 inches to 0.019 inches (0.3 mm to 0.5 mm) in diameter. They are made of expanded polystyrene, a synthetic plastic. Expanded polystyrene is used because it has less of a tendency to flatten out over time than extruded polystyrene does. It is also made from non-recycled material, which gives it better longevity.
To clean a squishy pillow, it is best to avoid putting it in a washing machine, since the cover can be excessively stretched during the wash cycle. Spot cleaning is best, if it happens to become dirty. Once it has been cleaned, the pillow should not be hung up, but rather left to dry on a flat surface.