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Feather pillows are light and breathable and may adapt to the user’s body. People with health and ethical concerns can choose from several alternatives to feather filling.

A quick look at 7 of the best feather pillows

This article discusses feather pillows, the pros and cons, alternatives, and the best feather pillows available online.

Feather pillows usually contain two types of material: quills, the long stiff feathers from the bird’s wings or tail, and down, the soft fibers that lie below the protective feathers.

These pillows usually have a softer feel than other materials. However, they may not be suitable for people with allergies. Additionally, people may need to plump or fluff the pillows more often than other fill types.

Medical News Today chooses pillows that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: MNT chooses products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Budget: MNT features products to suit a range of budgets.
  • Firmness: MNT selects pillows available in a range of firmness options to suit most people’s sleeping styles.
  • Shipping: Where possible, MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products with warranties and clear returns policies.

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

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a chambered design: Casper Down Pillow

  • Price: from $139
  • Fill: ethically sourced down
  • Sizes: standard and king

These pillows have a unique five-chamber design. The outer chamber provides comfort, and the inner chamber provides support that adapts to any sleeping position.

The outer chamber is made of 80% white duck down and 20% feather, while the inner chamber consists of 60% white duck feather and 40% down.

Learn more about Casper Pillows here.

These pillows are available in mid- and low-loft. They are Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified and machine washable. The company also offers buyers a 30-night risk-free trial.

Best for allergies: Pacific Coast Hotel Double Touch of Down Pillow

  • Price: from $94
  • Fill: Resilia and Hypercleandown
  • Sizes: standard and king

These contain an inner feather filling enveloped with their Hyperclean down, enclosed in a 100% cotton shell with a 230 thread count.

The brand claims hotels around the world use these pillows. The pillows come in standard/queen and king sizes.

The company offers customers an allergy-free warranty along with a 30-night Comfort Guarantee.

Best for medium firmness: Puredown White Goose Feather Pillow

  • Price: from $65.99 for 2
  • Fill: 95% white goose feathers and 5% white goose down
  • Sizes: standard, queen, and king

These pillows comprise 95% goose feather and 5% goose down, providing sleepers with medium support. These overstuffed pillows may suit side and back sleepers.

Learn about the best pillows for side sleepers here.

The 233 thread count, double-layered cotton shell prevents quill pricks.

These pillows come in sets of two and come in standard, queen, and king sizes.

The products are also RDS certified, eco-friendly, natural, and machine washable. The company claim that its pillows are odorless.

Best for different firmness options: Brooklinen Down Pillow

  • Price: from $129
  • Fill: down clusters and feathers
  • Sizes: standard and king

These pillows have a supportive inner layer of feathers and an outer layer of down clusters, housed in 100% cotton sateen shell.

The company offers two sizes: standard and king. People can choose from three support options, plush, mid-plush, and firm, accommodating people with various sleeping positions.

The company recommends air-drying the pillow or using a dryer on a no-heat setting. Customers can return or exchange products within a year and include an extra 1-year warranty.

Best for U.S.-sourced down: Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow

  • Price: from $158
  • Fill: U.S.-sourced down and feathers
  • Sizes: standard and king

This pillow contains OEKO-TEX certified, triple-washed, responsibly sourced down from the United States. The cover is 100% organic cotton.

Learn more about Boll & Branch here.

The three chambers in this pillow make it possible for users to choose from three densities:

  • soft, which may be best for stomach sleepers
  • medium, which may be best for side sleepers
  • firm, which may be best for back sleepers

The company state that these pillows are machine-washable and people can place them in a dryer. Boll & Branch recommends washing the pillow once per season.

Best for a soft pillow: PlushBeds Hotel Chamber Down & Feather Pillow

  • Price: from $150
  • Fill: feathers and down
  • Sizes: standard and king

PlushBeds recommends this pillow for people who prefer softness and support. It features a firmer inner core which contains a blend of feathers and down, surrounded by white down for cradling the head and neck. A 100% cotton cambric cover surrounds the fill.

Learn more about PlushBeds here.

The natural and biodegradable cotton, feathers, and down in this pillow may help regulate temperature and promote a cool sleep. All the down in the pillow is RDS certified.

Best for all sleeping positions: Helix Down & Feather Pillow

  • Price: from $95
  • Fill: white down and a down and feather blend
  • Sizes: standard and king

This pillow combines a plush and full look and feel with a supportive inner chamber. The blend of feathers and down filling the inner chamber may help provide stable support suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers.

Learn more about Helix here.

The inner core contains a 5% down and 95% feather blend, and the outer core contains 550 fill power white down. The cover is 100% cambric cotton.

The company states that the down and feathers are resilient and will maintain their feel and last longer than other pillows.

The following table compares the feather pillows in this article.

PriceFillSizes
Casperfrom $139ethically sourced downstandard and king
Pacific Coastfrom $94Resilia and Hypercleandownqueen and king
Puredownfrom $65.99 for 295% white goose feathers
5% white goose down
standard, queen, and king
Brooklinenfrom $129down clusters and feathersstandard and king
Boll & Branchfrom $158U.S.-sourced down and feathersstandard and king
PlushBedsfrom $150feathers and downstandard and king
Helixfrom $95white down
down and feather blend
standard and king

People may wish to consider the following when choosing a feather pillow:

  • Feather source: People may wish to purchase from companies that use ethical and sustainably sourced down and feather in their pillows. People may wish to look for products that carry RDS certification.
  • Sleeping position: People may wish to consider their sleeping position. Generally, softer pillows are more suitable for stomach sleepers, medium for side sleepers, and firm pillows for back sleepers.
  • Size: People should purchase a pillow that is most comfortable for them. Pillows typically come in standard, queen, and king sizes.
  • Price: Feather pillows can be more expensive than microfiber or polyester pillows. People may wish to consider their budget when choosing which pillow to purchase.

Potential pros and cons of feather pillows include:

Benefits

Feather pillows are very lightweight, with most weighing fewer than 3 pounds. They are also durable and last at least 2–3 years, outperforming their synthetic counterparts. They do not clump together over time as much as polyester and cotton pillows do.

Some feather pillows are washable. However, most feather pillows require dry cleaning. People should check tags for recommended care.

Feather pillows are highly moldable and conform to a person’s head and neck. However, they do not offer the same pressure relief and support as contoured or shaped pillows. The pillows may also require constant re-fluffing to maintain shape and loft.

Disadvantages

Feather pillows flatten when compressed. The uneven surface may cause problems for some sleepers. Researchers studying the relationship between pillow design and its effect on neck pain, discomfort on waking, and neck disability found that rubber pillows were more likely to be helpful than feather pillows.

Some sleepers might find feather pillows noisy because of the crunchy sounds the quills make. Also, some people worry that these might poke through covers. However, most come with densely woven high thread covers that keep the quills from poking out.

Some people think that using feather pillows will cause allergic reactions. However, most allergies are due to mite allergens in feathers rather than the feathers themselves.

Researchers report that the feather pillows may frequently contain the following contaminants:

  • dust mites
  • bacteria
  • glue
  • excess fiber
  • dust

A 2005 study found that all pillows contain a substantial number of species of fungi, regardless of whether they are synthetic or feather-filled.

A 2004 study found that synthetic pillows contain more house dust mite allergens than feather pillows. A similar 2002 study found synthetic pillows contained more pet allergens than feather pillows, probably due to the feather pillows’ tightly woven cases.

Learn about the best hypoallergenic pillows here.

A 2019 study found that while washing feather and down reduces the bacteria they contain, they were still highly toxic, possibly due to chemical additives.

Feather pillows contain feathers from waterfowl, usually geese and ducks. The majority of these come as a byproduct of the food industry.

While they are mainly collected after slaughter, animal welfare advocates condemn the unethical feather harvesting practice of removing feathers from live birds.

To be considered ethically sourced, manufacturers who provide feather and down should ensure that the birds are fed well, provided with a healthy environment, and are free of pain, fear, discomfort, and disease.

People can make informed decisions by checking if a product’s materials are ethically sourced. Certifications, such as RDS and the Global Traceable Down Standard, ensure that customers receive products that contain ethically gathered down and feathers.

Other certifications ensure that the processing procedures are eco-friendly and undergo strict processes to limit toxic chemicals in their production. For example, customers can look for OEKO-TEX or CertiPUR-US certification.

Despite strict regulations and standards, unethical practices still exist. People who are wary about ethical issues may opt for alternatives to feather and down, which may include synthetic materials or natural plant-based fibers.

Some alternatives to feather pillows include:

  • Buckwheat hull: This consists of the outer casing of buckwheat seeds, which conform well and provide good support. Learn more about buckwheat pillows here.
  • Kapok: This is a cotton-like, organic filling made from seed pods of a rainforest tree.
  • Natural shredded rubber: They are also called natural rubber latex or simply latex. They are a byproduct of the rubber tree.
  • Primaloft: This is a down alternative made of polyester fiber.
  • Thinsulate: This is a synthetic fiber thermal insulation made by 3M.

Learn about more alternatives to feather and down pillows here.

Here we answer some common questions about these pillows

What is the difference between feather and down?

The difference between feathers and down is due to the different parts of the goose or duck they come from. Down grows in the layer of insulating feathers closest to a bird’s skin.

Down clusters are softer yet more durable than feathers. They bounce back into shape more quickly than feathers, which tend to stay flat.

How long should feather pillows last?

The durability of a pillow depends on how well the pillow was made. Typically, pillows containing all down or a mixture of down and feathers can last for years if a person follows the manufacturer’s care instructions.

Proper care can mean machine washing or dry cleaning, generally about every 6 months.

How firm are feather pillows?

The firmness of feather pillows depends on the number of feathers and down they contain. Pillows with higher levels of down tend to be plusher, while pillows with more feathers may feel firmer.

Feather pillows come in various sizes, compositions, and support or firmness levels. They may suit people seeking lightweight, cool, and soft pillows that offer some support.

Since pillows come in all forms and sizes, people should do adequate research before purchasing one to ensure that they get a pillow that best suits their needs and preferences.