A Guide to Buying Down Pillows

Down pillows are regarded as the softest and most comforting of bed pillows. They are recommended to those who like their pillows soft, or well-cushioned. The term 'down' refers to a particular type of insulating layer that is made from the feathers of birds like geese and ducks.

For a pillow to qualify as a down pillow, it has at least 75% of the total filling made from the down material. In the usual pattern, down pillows have the feathers at the core and the down surrounding it to ensure that the surface is soft and smooth (with no lumps). They can be covered with designer zip-on covers or traditional pillowcases.

Natural Down

Find out which kind of down used within the pillow. Choose a pillows with natural down, since synthetic down is not nearly as comfortable as the natural variety.

The best among natural downs are duck and goose down, which are both typically lightweight and cozy

  • Duck Down — Slightly cheaper than goose down, but has a distinct odor to it
  • Goose Down — Retains a greater amount of heat, offering a warmer surface
  • Eiderdown (luxury pillows) — The most refined and expensive variety of down 

Fill Power

The fill power determines the pillow’s ability to retain its shape. Pillows with higher fill power have greater fluffiness:

  • 500 Fill Power — Offers a decent, conventional level of durability
  • Fill Power ranging from 600 to 700 — More durable than the average norm
  • Fill Power of 800 or greater — Found in the best and the most expensive down pillows 

Pillow Pricing

Down pillows are generally more expensive than those filled with synthetic materials, but they offer greater durability. Different brands have varying grades of down that affect the overall pricing. For example, goose down is always expensive than duck down.

The price factor also depends upon the proportion of natural down used. If you want a slightly cheaper down pillow, ask for the variety that has a higher percentage of feather stuffing. Pillows made purely from down are the most expensive. 

Comfort Level 

Various down pillows are categorized by retailers as follows:

  • Soft Downs — Suited for those who like to hug on to a pillow when sleeping
  • Medium-Soft Downs — Best for those who tend to sleep on their backs
  • Firm Downs — Improves the posture  of those who tend to sleep on a side
  • King-Sized Downs — Great for back support when seated on the bed

Cleanliness Requirements

Products filled with down have ratings according to cleanliness.

  • Oxygen Test — The lower the value of this rating, the better is the quality of the down. Ideally, the number should be less than 10. Pillows with a lower rating will tend to retain dust particles.
  • Turbidity Test — Higher turbidity means that the pillow has greater cushiness, so it will be easy to fluff-away the dirt. Ensure that this value is 550 or higher.