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Down pillows contain the insulating underside feathers of ducks and/or geese. Some down pillows are supplemented with coarser outer feathers — but in order to be considered a true down pillow, it must contain at least 75% down.
Duck or goose down is a popular pillow material because it is naturally soft, lightweight, moldable, and virtually silent when compressed. However, down pillows are relatively expensive compared to pillows made from other materials. Other drawbacks include allergy potential and minimal support.
Read on to learn more about down pillows and what sets them apart from other pillow types.
Down pillows are filled with the down, or underside feathers, of ducks and geese. Unlike exterior feathers, which can be somewhat coarse, down is exceptionally soft, fine and lightweight. Down also heats and insulates from the cold; in addition to pillows, down is commonly found in quilted winter jackets and layering vests. Natural down may trigger allergies in some individuals.
Many pillow manufacturers produce ‘down blend’ pillows that contain exterior feather fill. For these products, the feather fill is placed in the center and surrounded by down in order to preserve softness. In some cases, as little as 10% of the pillow will contain actual down. In order to be marketed as a ‘down’ pillow (and not a ‘down blend’), the pillow must contain at least 75% down. If it contains less than 75%, then it should be sold as a ‘feather pillow.’ Not surprisingly, pillows made of 100% down are significantly more expensive that those made from less than 100% down; likewise, ‘down’ pillows tend to be pricier than ‘down blend’ pillows.
It is also important to distinguish down from ‘down alternative,’ which is made from polyester fibers that mimic the soft, fine feel of natural down. Down alternative pillows tend to have much lower price-points that natural down pillows, and they pose no allergy risk.
Down pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:
The table below features approximate measurements for each of the pillow sizes discussed above.
|Standard||20W” x 26L”|
|Super Standard||20W” x 28L”|
|Queen||20W” x 30L”|
|King||20W” x 36L”|
|Euro||26W” x 26L”|
24W” x 24L”
22W” x 22L”
20W” x 20L”
18W” x 18L”
16W” x 16L”
Pros of down pillows include the following:
Cons of down pillows include the following:
Generally speaking, down pillows are best suited for the following types of sleepers:
On the other hand, down pillows may not be suitable for the following sleeper types:
|Criteria||Down Pillow Rating||Explanation|
|Affordability||Poor to Fair||The average down pillow costs between $70 and $100, making them significantly more expensive than other pillow types.|
|Durability||Very Good to Excellent||Because down becomes softer and finer over time, down pillows tend to have a relatively long lifespan.|
|Support||Fair to Good||The supportiveness of a down pillow generally depends on firmness and the sleeper’s body type, but many claim that these pillows offer below-average support.|
|Noise||Very Good to Excellent||Down pillows produce little to no noise, making them a good choice for people who awaken easily.|
|Weight||Very Good to Excellent||Down pillows are exceptionally lightweight and easy to move; most weigh less than 3 pounds.|
|Odor||Poor to Fair||Down pillows often produce some odor when they are unpackaged.|
|Washable||Poor to Fair||Down pillows usually need to be dry-cleaned, and should never be machine-washed; this will drive up maintenance costs.|
|Firmness/Loft Options||Fair to Good||In terms of firmness, down pillows generally range from very soft to medium-firm. Loft selection is a little more limited, and those who prefer high-loft pillows may be better suited for other pillow types.|
|Availability||Poor to Fair||Down pillows are fairly uncommon compared to other pillow types.|
Down pillows are relatively hard to find, although shoppers can usually find a limited selection through various home goods retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, and Wayfair. Down pillows are also available through exclusively online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com
Down pillows cost between $70 and $100 on average, but some may cost more than $300. They are generally the most expensive pillow type in terms of average price-point. By comparison, the average feather pillow costs between $25 and $50, while the average down alternative pillow costs between $20 and $30.
Down pillows may also be somewhat expensive to maintain over time due to the fact that the vast majority are ‘dry clean only.’
The graph below lists average price-points for eight of the most common pillow types.
The table below lists product details for five of the most popular down pillow brands sold today.
|Brand Name||The Company Store||Down & Feather Co.||eLuxury||Pacific Coast Bedding||Royal Pillow|
|Down Pillow Price Range (Standard)||$69 to $239||$259 to $369||$81 to $96||$55.99 to $104.99||$38 to $144|
Jumbo (Super Standard)
Euro (27″ x 27″)
|Loft Range||Low to Medium||Low to High||Low to Medium||Low to Medium||Low to High|
|Trial||Lifetime Guarantee||30 Night Guarantee||30 Night Guarantee||30 Night Guarantee|
5 Year Warranty
|30 Night Guarantee|
|Cleaning||Dry Clean||Dry Clean||Machine Wash Cold|
Tumble Dry Low
|Machine Washable||Dry Clean|
|Customer Satisfaction Rating||78% (327 Customer Reviews)||81% (276 Customer Reviews)||85% (543 Customer Reviews)||84% (418 Customer Reviews)||77% (251 Customer Reviews)|
For more information on down pillows and other pillow types, please visit our Best Pillows Guide.