Down vs. Feather Pillow Mattress Comparison: Which Is Best? Update 07/2024

Feather and down pillows are often used interchangeably. They’re often mistaken for one another, although they’re actually rather distinct.

All of the components are distinct, and the structure of what’s inside also differs from one species to another. There are two types of goose and duck feather pillows: down pillows, which are manufactured from feathers without quills, and feather cushions, which use feathers from the wings and backs of the birds.

For the finest night’s sleep, you need to know the distinctions between feather and down pillows, and this article examines the merits and cons of each.

What are Down Pillows?

Clusters of down from the chest area of a goose, swan, or duck are used to make them. They resemble the white dandelions blown on by children and adults to make a wish. The stuffing can be compared to a cotton ball.

These down-filled cushions should make you feel like you’re sleeping on a bed of cotton candy when you lay on them. There is considerable springiness to the surface of the clusters depending on how large or thick they are.

The most expensive down brands are considered to be the pinnacle of luxury and feature a premium price tag.

What are Feather Pillows?

In the process of making feather pillows, feathers are gathered from the animal’s back as well as its wings. Feathers each have a quill, so thin cushions may eventually allow the quills to protrude. Using a pillow protector or a thick pillowcase to insulate yourself will help to reduce the amount of poking you receive.

It is common for feather-filled items to be stuffed with down in order to make them more comfortable. As the quills line up, pure feather variants tend to have a more streamlined shape.

Down vs. Feather Pillows


Even though it compresses when you lay your head on it, the softest material available is down. The higher the “fill power,” the fluffier the product will be. This will be covered in more detail later. As a rule of thumb, you may expect down to feel soft and fluffy, but also light and airy.

Due to the loss of “clustering” and the existence of quills, feathers are not as delicate as they formerly were. They may need to be fluffed manually during the night or in the morning depending on how much stuffing they have.


The tufts of feathers used to make down have a clustered structure. Older birds in colder climates provide the premium material, which results in a softer and more pliable structure than clusters derived from younger birds in warmer climates.

In comparison to feathers, these pillows may feel more pliable and compress more easily due to their looser structure.

Fill Power

The higher the fill power, the more fluffiness or height the cushion has. Only down types are included in this measurement. In terms of quality, the greatest fill power number that may be achieved is 850.

When it comes to furnishings and toys, a fill power of 500 is regarded average; anything above that is deemed high-quality.


Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary, is known for producing some of the best down and feather pillows. A more natural habitat and humane care of the birds contribute to their increased size, maturity, and health. Animal welfare regulations and cleaning procedures in China are often substandard for birds raised there.

It’s possible to check for certificates like Bluesign, which is a certification of environmental and worker standards; as well as items that have been certified by Responsible Down, which prevents the plucking of feathers from live birds, which is harsh and terrible.

Enemies of Feather and Down Fill


Memory foam, on the other hand, tends to retain its shape over time, unlike natural fibers. Invest in pillows that can last ten to twenty years to avoid this problem. Fluffing the mattress on a regular basis can assist maintain its form and support.


Feather pillows should be kept dry at all times. Take them to a professional dry cleaner when it’s time to do so.

Down pillows can be cleaned with detergent and water, but care must be taken to avoid damaging the materials. They must also be dried for several hours in a drying process. The result could be ruined nearly instantly if it isn’t dried completely enough.

Avoid going to sleep with wet hair if you take a shower before bed. Avoid getting your damp hair on your down or feather cushions by wrapping it in a scarf or adding a pillow protector or additional pillowcase.

Moisture can cause harm to the merchandise even before it reaches your front step!! When you receive the things, they may have an odor if they were incorrectly transported or stored before purchasing. Make sure you thoroughly inspect these things and return or exchange anything that is defective.


Bed linens can also be harmed by oily skin and facial cosmetics. By sleeping on your back or not moisturizing your skin in the early hours of the night, you can help prevent moisture from seeping into your clothing.

When skin and cosmetic products’ oils build up over time, they can color the surface yellow and leave an unpleasant smell behind.

Goose vs. Duck

When it comes to quality, there is little question that goose is the more expensive and rarest of the two. For those looking for a premium and long-lasting product, goose down is the way to go. The following are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Because geese are larger, they may be gathered in greater flocks.
  • It’s easier for a duck’s body to pick up dirt and trash since its chest is closer to the ground than a dog’s. There’s a chance that you’ll have to sleep on some residual odors because of this.

Even though duck down is less expensive, it is still really luxury, so you shouldn’t feel cheated if you go with this option.

Down vs. Down Alternative

Alternatives to down have several advantages. It’s not only less expensive, but it’s also hypoallergenic, making it a great option for anyone with allergies. In the following scenarios, people may want to think of a down alternative:

  • You’re on a budget, but still want a beautiful, high-quality pillow.
  • You’re worried about being allergic to something.
  • You care deeply about animal welfare or you’ve already made the switch to veganism.
  • You don’t want to have to worry about your bedding falling apart if you wash it in the washing machine.

Proper Care

Pillows can last a long time if you take good care of them. You can extend the life of your natural cushions with these tips:

  • Treat them with respect and compassion. To speed up their decomposition, they can be compressed or used in pillow fights.
  • Protect your mattress and pillow with both a protector and a pillowcase.
  • If you’re going to wash your down or feather pillows, you’ll need to take extra care. When in doubt, bring them to the dry cleaners.
  • Keep your pillowcases clean to prevent oil and dirt from seeping into the fabric.
  • Do not leave them out in the rain or in a humid environment.
  • Hair that is wet or heavily moisturized should be avoided before going to bed. Moisture could seep into the materials and cause damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which pillow type has more benefits?

Individual preferences may have a role in deciding which is best. In addition, your sleeping posture may have an impact on your decision.

Comfort and support can still be achieved by compressing and then shaping a down comforter for those who sleep on their stomachs. This is a good option for back sleepers as well.

If you sleep on your side, you may need something more comfortable. Feather and down blends are the most popular, although a feather-only option could also work nicely.

Which is better for side sleepers?

Side sleepers typically require a higher level of fill to provide adequate head support. However, if the surface is too high, it can also put the neck and spine out of alignment, which can lead to pain and discomfort. On the other side, a cushion that is excessively low puts an excessive amount of stress on the shoulder.

The best option may be a thicker variant with a fill power rating of 650 or higher. For those who don’t want to spend a fortune on a down alternative, there are other options.

Are feather types good for neck pain?

For patients suffering from neck pain, Harvard Medical School recommends using a feather since it can mold to the curvature of the neck, making it easy to tailor. You might not get as much out of synthetic materials as you would with natural ones.

Are these recommended for asthma sufferers?

Natural materials cause concern for many asthmatics, but this need not be the case. Ducks and geese are often blamed for allergies in people who have them, but that isn’t always the case. Allergy and asthma sufferers are more likely to be allergic to the dust mites that live in their pillows and blankets.

Utilize a dust mite-proof cover on your head cushion if you’d like to use one of these cushions but are concerned about the effects on your sinuses.


You have a wide range of alternatives when it comes to selecting a sleeping surface. Feather and down might be expensive, but there are alternatives that can imitate the feel without the price tag.

Consider sleeping on a feather, down, or blended cushion if you want a more realistic feel. With this information, you should be able to make an informed decision that will help you sleep well and comfortably at night.

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