Feather Pillows vs Down Pillows: What’s Good About Them?

I don’t know a more rejuvenating activity than getting a good nap. Seriously, even a short siesta on a comfy pillow can boost your mood and increase your productivity. That’s why having cozy and soft bedding is important.

Our body’s structure involves using pillows during rest so that your spine and neck lay in a proper position. A pillow is an individual household item that should be chosen depending on your preferences and body needs. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the pillow characteristics.

First of all, you have to figure out which type of pillow you need. Luckily, there are so many options to check and pick from. The most widespread is a down feather pillow. This type of pillows was invented ages ago, and, of course, it has its own pros and cons to consider. Are feather and down pillows good?

I’ll help you to figure this out as well as what is the difference between down and feather pillows. Secondly, you have to think about whether you need a memory foam pillow. All these questions are enlightened in the guide below, so feel free to proceed and learn all of the useful information.

How to Choose a Pillow: Simple Guide

two pillowsWhether you want to upgrade your sleeping place or are moving out, you have to know the basics of choosing a proper pillow. Check out some questions I’ve prepared for you, so you can skip consulting a store employee.

What are down pillows?

Down is a kind of bird feathering. Its main difference from conventional contour feathers lies in the chaotic volumetric structure, consisting of very thin fibers. They diverge from the center of the fluff to the edges in all directions and are covered with even finer hook fibers that can mesh.

At the same time, the fibers are sufficiently elastic and flexible to repel, on the one hand, and pop into each other, on the other hand. Due to this, the down forms a mass that can compress and quickly restore its volume.

What are feather pillows?

Feather pillows still have down in them, but they’re more crispy due to the high percentage of bird feathers used. The choice of pillow depends on your preference. The more down in it, the softer it is. Therefore, if you do not like pillows that are too soft, choose those with over 80% of feathers.

The most suitable for sleeping are goose-filled feathers. Sometimes, to reduce the cost, manufacturers add duck feathers. If your budget is limited, you can buy a pillow with a mixture of feathers, though finding it is not so easy. If you wonder how are feather pillows made, the process doesn’t really differ from other natural filler pillows.

What type of feathers are in pillows?

A pillow is perfect for you if it meets a number of requirements. First of all, it should be made from quality raw materials and not cause allergies. It is also important to purchase a product that can retain its shape for a long time. The pillow should allow air to pass through and not to absorb odors. Finally, you need to think about caring for the product and choose a model that can be easily cleaned and dried. As a filler, manufacturers use feathers and down of waterfowl (goose, duck, pochards), but sometimes pillows are made with chicken feathers as well.

Down vs. Feather Pillows

feather pillow

Structure

Duck down is very popular in bedding production. This material is quite light and fluffy, which is why the pillows made of it are very comfy, but the cost of such products is usually high. The most appreciated is the down of wild ducks, especially the pochards (northern diving ducks). It is the most expensive and exclusive filler since it is collected manually from the nests and only at certain times of the year. There is no warmer padding than pochards down.

The feather pillow is not so durable. Feather pillows are cheaper as well. The composition of the filler includes over 50% of the feathers of a waterfowl. However, goose feathers are the most valuable type of feather-down material. The goose feather is characterized by great elasticity, strength, lightness, high heat-shielding properties, water-repellent ability, and great resistance to clogging. It’s soft, but also crispy.

Softness

Feather-down pillows are the most common, as they have an affordable price and sufficient quality. They are tougher than pure down but much softer than feather pillows. The service life of such an item is almost the same as the pure down or pure feather product. The mixed filling model can be called universal. It is suitable for people of any age and provides a comfortable sleep.

Down pillows are the softest, have a slightly lower elasticity than those with mixed composition. And they cost more. Products made of pure feathers are flat and dense. They are elastic but not soft. Sleeping on a feather pillow is usually uncomfortable. This is the cheapest option, but you can also consider it if you want to.

Origin

The goose feather can be gray or white, and many manufacturers make the slipcover of the identical color. White down is not visible through the fabric, so for such a pillow, you can use covers made of expensive, thin materials. Models with gray down are usually presented in dark covers sewn from dense fabrics.

Fill power

pillow

Their elastic properties determine the durability, warmth, and lightness of down. This is the most important quality criterion, which is called Fill Power. Fill power indicates how much air the down is able to hold.

To measure it, a bunch of material in a measuring cylinder at a certain humidity and temperature is kept under oppression for several days. After this, they take measurements to determine at what height the material has risen after the compression. The results of calculations by a special formula are usually indicated on the product label. The higher the number – the more elastic, and therefore the more expensive down is used in it.

When choosing a new pillow, pay attention to this indicator, and if the Fill Power is less than 350 units – this is not a very good product. In pillows with high-quality filling, the Fill Power indicator should be 450-500 units. In the best models, the indicator is 700-800 units.
The down filler has disadvantages that you have to know before purchasing.

Not suitable for allergic persons

Allergy attacks can be caused by ticks that may appear in the filler. Dust mites die under the influence of high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, you should dry pillows like these in the sun and wash them at the temperature indicated on the product label. At least once a year, it is better to dry clean a down pillow.

High price

Like all other natural products, a high-quality down pillow is expensive.

Pain in the neck

If you experience pain in the neck and also suffer from migraines, then such a pillow is most likely not suitable for you. It is too soft and will not provide adequate support. Your sleeping pose has great importance in choosing a proper pillow. If you are a side sleeper, you need a hard pillow. It will support your head and neck during the rest.

Those who prefer to sleep on their stomachs need a low and soft pillow. When you sleep, you may “bury your face” in it, so you have to be able to breathe. For those who like to sleep on their backs, it is recommended to choose a medium-hard pillow. Make sure that it has sufficient density, as in this case, the neck and head also need good support.

Down vs Down Alternative Pillow

You already know what is a down pillow made of, but there are also pillows made with alternative down. Pillows made with alternative down are in great demand, and they have their pros and cons. They do not lose shape even with daily use, and the wear resistance of these products is amazing as well. The product is soft and warm, and the filler does not prick and does not cause discomfort. After cleaning, the pillow retains its properties, and the filler does not crumple.

The disadvantages include low orthopedic properties compared to other synthetic fillers and the lack of moisture absorption. Some people experience discomfort when using pillows due to excessive softness. As a result, the neck does not get a proper fixation. The comfort of the pillow also depends on the cover. Textiles should be pleasant to the touch and breathable.

Duck down vs goose down pillows: Which is better?

feather

An undisputed favorite is the down of a wild duck, which is nesting in the Northern latitudes. It is collected from abandoned nests, where the birds leave their down as insulation. Needless to say, the down of birds, adapted to grow offspring on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, has truly unique properties. Therefore, pochard`s down items are very expensive.

The price of a blanket with such a valuable “stuffing” is comparable in price to an inexpensive car. Domestic ducks also give high-quality down, but its characteristics are significantly inferior to goose down.

Goose down can also be different. The most valuable raw materials are obtained from geese grown in the northern regions. Their fuzz is lighter and warmer than that of the southern relatives. The structure of the fluff and feather of ducks and geese is almost the same, but there is still a difference. To avoid fraud, manufacturers are especially careful about the species origin of the raw materials. There are, in particular, special devices that can accurately identify the type of the down.

Goose down is larger, more voluminous, and much lighter. The fuzz of a duck is slightly smaller, but denser and heavier. The thing is that the “core” to which the fluff-hairs in duck down are attached is slightly larger than in the goose. All waterfowl protect their feathers with the secret of the sebaceous glands but duck down, unlike goose down, contains much more fat protection.

Thus, the cleaning of raw materials requires additional efforts from manufacturers. To destroy a specific smell, duck down has to be seriously treated with special detergents, which reduces the life of such down in pillows and blankets. If a goose down blanket can last 20-25 years, then duck down can last only 10-15 years.

How to choose a pillow shape?

Let’s get back to your sleeping pose. If you sleep on your back, it is better to choose a rectangular pillow. It can be with a roller or a notch under the neck if you are comfortable with it. For the side sleepers, a rectangular pillow is suitable as well. If you’re most likely to sleep on your stomach, choose a low rectangular pillow or star-shaped pillow.

Memory Foam vs Down Pillow

memory foam pillow

If you are not lazy and not afraid of the complexity and regularity of care, do not have allergic diseases and problems with the cervical spine, you can give preference to the down model. In return, you will get a wholly natural product and comfort. It is important to buy down products from manufacturers that apply an antiseptic treatment to the down. In this case, you can be sure that the product is hygienic.

Choosing an orthopedic pillow with memory foam provides more than comfort. It is pleasant to sleep, and at the same time, it has a preventive and therapeutic effect. Such models are new generation pillows that help to maintain human health.

There are also orthopedic pillows that are based on down and feather. After all, down has a natural elasticity. The lightest and smallest fuzzes repel each other and do not stick together, supporting waterfowl with comfortable warmth in the body. The orthopedic edge in a down pillow makes it denser.

Proper Down Pillow Care

There are several ways to keep your purchase clean and comfy. The first method is washing the pillow at home. For this, it is necessary to open a handcloth and pour feathers into a gauze bag, after which it is necessary to tie it and rinse under a strong stream of warm water. If too much dust comes out, then you can wash it in soapy water, but only in a gauze bag.

The second way is dry cleaning, using special machines for cleaning down and feather products. Despite cleaning, you also have to fluff and dry the pillow in the sun regularly.

What else to consider when choosing a pillow?

Now you know much more about pillow types and how to choose them. However, there are still some things you have to take into account:
If you press the pillow, it should restore its shape immediately.

  • The filler of a down feather pillow should be placed evenly;
  • There should be no smells;
  • The cover of the pillow should be made of cotton or silk and sewn with small stitches;
  • It is better to choose pillows with a cover with a zipper, so you can pull out the filler easily;
  • For people with low blood pressure, it is better to choose softer pillows and vice versa;
  • For pregnant women, there are special pillows 170-190 cm long that help to adjust to the most comfortable pose. Newborns do not need a pillow at all;
  • The label should contain complete information about the product (including composition, manufacturer, care, etc.).

Pillow Buyer’s Checklist

After you have learned almost everything about what type of feathers are in pillows and the difference between down and feather pillows, you’ll probably go to the store. Of course, you may be confused by a huge amount of pillows available, so here’s a short checklist to get a successful purchase:

  1. Tell the consultant which pillow you are looking for (stiffness, materials, cost). Check the pillows by fluffing them.
  2. Do not hesitate to ask the consultant about the product. Learn about the filler, manufacturer, cover, etc. Moreover, feel free to ask about breathability, product care, and if it’s hypoallergenic.
  3. Ask to try the pillows you’ve chosen and recognize your feelings. With the correct height and shape of the pillow, you should feel relaxed; there should be no clamps and bends anywhere.
  4. Remember, and better write down the characteristics of the pillows you’ve chosen if you’re not going to buy one. At home, you can go through the characteristics again to make the right choice. Check some reviews of pillows of selected brands.

Though, no matter how carefully you choose a pillow in the store, to appreciate it, you need to sleep on it for a week. The comfort of the pillow depends even on the mattress you’re sleeping on; therefore, find out whether it is possible to test the pillow at home and return it if it does not fit. For example, IKEA allows its customers to test the pillows and return them if something’s wrong.

The Most Widespread Questions About Pillows

pillows

Which is better feather or down pillows?

A good pillow should support both the head and your spine. Nowadays, the choice of pillows is quite wide, and the stores offer feather and down pillows. The down pillow provides softness, and the feather option provides a yielding effect.

However, remember that it is better not to choose cut feather pillows. The raw materials for these products, as a rule, do not undergo the necessary processing, and the feather doesn’t go through the disinfection process. This causes the appearance of ticks, allergies, and other diseases.

Recognizing low-quality products of feathers and down is quite simple. Firstly, such pillows are usually made of cheap artificial fabric, often with colored patterns. Secondly, the filler in pillows like this is mostly uneven and crispy. Thirdly, such pillows usually have a characteristic musty smell.

Do feather pillows get softer?

Down and feather pillows tend to flatten out sooner, as the quills start to align with each other. That’s why many companies who produce beddings, add to feather pillows 10-30% of down, so the pillow will get softer.

How to fluff down pillows?

To fluff the pillow, it is necessary to knock the filler with two hands closer to the center (this can be done with both palms and cams) and then knead it, equalizing all filling and lumps. Carefully go around the entire perimeter of the product to distribute the filler evenly and give it its original shape.

What type of feather is best for down pillows?

Most often, the manufacturers use feathers and down of ducks and geese. Models made from natural goose down are in high demand, as they are characterized by elasticity, softness, high-performance, as well as excellent thermal insulation properties. A pillow filled with a goose feather and down is of better quality than a duck down product.

Which is better for side sleepers?

For those who prefer to sleep on their sides, it is better to choose a hard pillow for neck and back support. People who sleep on their backs can choose a medium stiffness pillow, and those who like to sleep on their stomach need a softer pillow. Pillows of down, feather, buckwheat husk, synthetics, and other soft fillers support the cervical spine to a lesser extent, as they tend to crumble. Also, it is recommended to change such pillows once every six months, since there may be allergens and ticks.

Are feather types good for neck pain?

Feather pillows are not recommended for people with neck pains. They become flat and hard. To forget about neck pain, choose the memory foam pillow. It adapts to the cervical spine, keeps it in the correct position, and helps your neck to relax during sleep completely.

Are these recommended for asthma sufferers?

For asthmatics, it is better to avoid cotton, feather, and down pillows and blankets, and use more modern materials. Natural silk is a leader among hypoallergenic pillow fillers. This unique material not only does not cause allergies but also prevents any pathogenic flora and fauna from multiplying. Therefore, silk pillows are the best gift for anyone with allergies and asthma.

Which pillow is right for the baby?

A child up to a year does not need a pillow at all. Initially, children pillows were created exclusively for therapeutic purposes: for example, to relieve muscle hypertonicity or to correct skull deformities. A healthy child does not need an orthopedic pillow, but you can use it after consulting a pediatrician.

At 12 months, you can offer your child a hypoallergenic pillow. The main requirement for it is resistance to frequent washing. Starting from 2 years, the baby can already go with the lowest pillow for adults, 50×70 centimeters in size with a filler made of high-quality siliconized fiber.

Can I sleep without a pillow?

Somnologists categorically do not recommend sleeping without a pillow. It is easy to verify this experimentally: try to sleep on a bare mattress at least a couple of nights. Swelling of the eyelids, numb limbs, and feeling unwell are guaranteed to you. But these are far from the worst consequences of the rash act.

Are Feather and Down Pillows Good?

If you want to sleep well at night and wake up in the morning without pain in the neck and discomfort, it is important to determine which pillow you need. A good pillow lets the muscles of the neck relax and provides excellent support to the head. A suitable pillow should be comfortable and made of high-quality materials. In addition, it should ideally suit you in height, size, and shape. Therefore, when choosing a pillow, you need to consider a number of nuances. So, let me give you some final tips.

  • When choosing a pillow, you should pay attention to the details of sewing. Check the seams and threads carefully.
  • If choosing a memory foam pillow, make sure not to wash it using the machine. Dry wash it instead.
  • If the pillow has a pungent odor, this indicates its low quality.
  • Change pillows every five years to stay healthy.

In this article, I’ve tried to cover everything I know about choosing pillows. You already know what is a down pillow and how are down pillows made. However, if you still have any questions, I’ll answer them gladly. By the way, do you have any tips and guides on choosing pillows? Do you have any favorites among the brands? Feel free to share your thoughts!

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