Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Feather Pillow
Feather pillows are filled with the plumage of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. The fill primarily consists of exterior feathers, which are fairly coarse; small amounts of underside plumage known as ‘down’ may also be used to provide extra softness.
Feather pillows are noted for their durability, and often perform longer than other pillows types. These pillows also retain minimal body heat, allowing them to sleep fairly cool, and they are usually moldable enough for sleepers who like to snuggle with a pillow during the night. Their price-point is relatively low compared to other pillow types, as well.
However, there are some drawbacks to using feather pillows. They tend to lose shape when bearing weight, which can create an uneven surface that leaves sleepers susceptible to pain and pressure in the head, neck and shoulders. There is also high odor potential, and the feather fill may produce loud noises when compressed. Feather pillows are also somewhat hard to find, and options for loft and firmness are fairly limited.
Read on to learn more about feather pillows and how they compare to other pillow options.
What to Consider in a Feather Pillow
In the following sections, we will focus on key factors to consider when purchasing a feather pillow, including pros & cons, material, care, size, and more.
Pros and Cons of Feather Pillows
Luxurious and supportive, there are many reasons to consider purchasing a feather pillow. We’ve listed some of the major pros of feather pillows below.
- Lifespan: Feather pillows are highly durable, and often perform for at least two to three years.
- Moldability: Feather pillows are highly moldable, allowing sleepers to scrunch and reform them in order to achieve their optimal loft.
- Softness: Because they are so scrunchy, feather pillows are ideal for people who prefer to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep.
- Weight: Most feather pillows weigh three pounds or less, making them easy to move and adjust for most sleepers.
- Sleeping Cool: Feather pillows do not retain as much heat as down pillows, allowing sleepers to remain cool and comfortable throughout the night.
- Price: The average feather pillow costs between $25 and $50, making them fairly affordable compared to other pillow types (including down).
For all their benefits, there are certain downsides associated with feather pillows. Cons of feather pillows include:
- Shape: Feather pillows tend to become flattened and misshapen when compressed. As a result, regular shaking and fluffing may be required to maintain a full profile.
- Support: Because they flatten easily, feather pillows do not provide adequate support for some sleepers. This can cause spinal misalignment, which often leads to added pain and pressure.
- Odor: Feather pillows typically emit more unpleasant smells than other pillow types.
- Noise: Many owners say their feather pillow makes crunching and rustling sounds when compressed.
- Cleaning: Most feather pillows require dry cleaning, which can be expensive over time.
- Availability: Feather pillow availability is somewhat limited, and some shoppers may not be able to find models that meet their loft and firmness preferences.
Cleaning and Care
Because pillows tend to accumulate dead skin cells, oil, and sweat over time, it’s important to wash your pillow every six months or so. Most feather pillows can be thrown in your washing and drying machines. Here are some basic rules to keep in mind:
- Check the label. Before washing your pillow, read the label and follow the directions carefully to avoid damaging your pillow.
- Look for rips. If you notice any rips or tears in the fabric of your pillow, make sure to seal them thoroughly with fabric glue or stitching before washing it.
- Be conscientious of soap. When washing a pillow, make sure to use a small amount of soap or detergent in the machine. Rinse twice to make sure soap has been completely removed.
- Wash two at once. In order to keep the washer balanced, it is recommended to wash two pillows at the same time.
- Stick to a low temp. To avoid shrinkage, it’s a good idea to wash your feather pillows in low temperature water.
- Dry multiple times. In order to ensure your feather pillow is completely dry, you may need to run your pillow through the dryer several times. Adding a tennis or dryer ball can help speed the drying process. Every few minutes or so, remove your pillow from the dryer to check dryness and and fluff it up by hand to avoid clumping.
- Stick to a low drying temp. As with washing, you should dry your pillow on a low temperature to prevent shrinkage.
Feather pillows are commonly available in the following sizes:
- Standard: This is the most popular pillow size in terms of overall sales. Apart from some Euro sizes, Standards tend to be the shortest and most compact size available. They also tend to have the lowest price-points.
- Super Standard:Super Standard pillows are two inches longer than Standard pillows. They are made for people who find Standard sizes too compact, but who also don’t toss and turn too much.
- Queen: Queen-size pillows are four inches longer than Standard pillows. This makes them suitable for people who toss and turn or shift positions throughout the night, as well as those who find Standards to be too compact.
- King: The King is generally the longest size (other than body pillows), measuring six inches longer than a Queen and 10 inches longer than a Standard. King-size pillows are ideal for people who toss and turn, and also serve as headrests or backrests for people that sit up in bed to read or watch television.
- Euro: The Euro size is unique in that the pillow is square-shaped; Euros come in a wide range of different dimensions.
- Body: Body pillows are exceptionally wide, and are designed for people who like to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep.
The table below features rough measurements for the pillow sizes discussed above.