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Down pillows offer a soft and moldable sleep surface. This allows sleepers to customize their level of support while retaining comfort.

For people who worry about the health and ethical implications of down pillows, down alternatives are also available.

This article discusses down pillows, the best options available online, their pros and cons, and alternatives.

Some of the benefits and disadvantages to consider when choosing a down pillow include:


Some doctors recommend that people with asthma and allergies avoid down products, but supporting evidence for this is not conclusive.

A 2002 study found that commercially processed and washed down feathers did not accumulate dust mites. However, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advise avoiding down products since users cannot wash them in hot water.


Down pillows are washable, but most manufacturers advise against washing in hot water.

Users should use a down-safe laundry detergent and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Excessive washing may damage the pillow or shorten its life span.


Down pillows are softer than most other pillows, but they also contour to the head and neck, offering customizable support. This makes them a good option for people who want to change their level of support as needed or who have chronic pain.

Nonsynthetic fabrics

Some people worry about the safety of synthetic fabrics and other materials. Some chemicals and synthetic substances, such as some foam, may have an unpleasant smell or emit potentially harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds.

Down comes from goose feathers. Some advocates have expressed concern that manufacturers may pluck the geese’s feathers while they are still alive, causing suffering.

There is also concern about the way manufacturers treat the geese before harvesting their feathers. For example, some geese may live in unsanitary or inhumane conditions.

Down is a renewable resource because goose farmers can breed more geese. The environmental impact of down depends on the farming practices of each down farm.

Some farms waste significant resources and release toxic chemicals into the air and water. Others may use a more sustainable approach.

While some manufacturers may promise “ethical down,” it is difficult to verify these claims. Enforcement across the industry is lax. Consumers who worry about the treatment of geese may prefer down alternatives.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Casper Down Pillow

Because down is thick, it can retain heat. For people who sleep hot or in warm environments, this may affect sleep quality.

Casper down pillow uses a unique multichamber technology to create cooling pockets. This will ensure the pillow does not retain heat or cause sleep disruptions.

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certifies that the manufacturer follow humane practices when harvesting the down.

The Casper Down Pillow is available for purchase online.

Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow

This pillow is plush and thick, offering more neck support for side sleepers.

The tightly woven sateen cover ensures no feathers will stick out. The cover is 100% cotton.

Reviewers say the pillow adapts well to their sleeping position without the need to fluff or adjust it.

The Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow is available for purchase online.

Puredown Natural Goose Down Pillow

A budget-friendly option, Puredown pillows come in sets of two. These medium-fill pillows offer light support.

The manufacturer certify that the feathers are odorless. They also claim that they thoroughly disinfect the feathers to remove allergens and dust.

The product follows the RDS and is hypoallergenic.

The Puredown Natural Goose Down Pillow is available for purchase online.

Cuddledown 800 Pillow

Cuddledown sateen pillows are thick and plush, making them an ideal option for side sleepers.

Control Union certify the down as responsibly sourced. The pillow has OEKO-TEX certification, which indicates that it is free from harmful substances.

The cover is 450 thread count, making it a soft and durable option.

The Cuddledown 800 Pillow is available for purchase online.

Some alternatives to down pillows include:

Memory foam pillows

Memory foam pillows offer body-conforming support but tend to be firmer than down.

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow offers firm support and cooling features. It is suitable for people who tend to sleep hot.

A memory foam pillow can suit all sleeping positions as it adapts to the user.

The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow is available for purchase online.

Customizable pillows

Numerous manufacturers make customizable pillows. Users can add or remove layers to get the right support.

Brookstone Layer Adjust Pillow offers three layers, including an imitation down layer.

A customizable pillow is useful if people find that their needs and preferences change over time.

The Brookstone Layer Adjust Pillow is available for purchase online.

Down alternative pillows

Down alternative pillows are similarly soft to down pillows but without the animal welfare and allergy concerns.

Snowe Down Alternative Pillow is OEKO-TEX certified as free from many harmful chemicals.

It has a smooth microfiber cover that prevents allergens from attaching to the fabric.

The Snowe Down Alternative Pillow is available for purchase online.

Down pillows are very soft, and users can choose from a variety of support levels.

Since users can fluff and move the pillows to get more or less support, down pillows are a good option for people who are uncertain about their pillow needs.

However, like all pillows, down pillows do not work well for everyone. People with serious allergies should contact a doctor about the safest options.