Pillows can make or break your sleep quality. Find the best type of pillow for your sleep style and health needs and discover if your existing feather, down or microfibre pillow is a more of a sleep stealer than a sleep superstar that helps you wake feeling your best.
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Goose and duck feather pillows are a firm favourite of top hotels, and for good reason. They offer a level of comfort microfibre (synthetic) pillows often lack. While there is no best pillow filling for everyone, the better the quality, the more luxurious it will be to sleep on, and the longer it will last. Your sleeping position and health needs will also determine the best pillow for your needs. For more on finding the perfect pillow for your front, side or back sleeping style, see our guide to the best pillows for your sleeping position.
Feather or Down Pillows - What’s The Difference?
A duck or goose pillow differs in the size of its down clusters and % of feather and down. Goose has a larger cluster size than duck down, offering excellent puffiness and warmth. Feathers add weight. Most natural filled pillows are rarely feather or down, but a mixture of the two. A pillow with a high feather content such as our Marquis Duck Feather and Down pillow offers more structure and support than a pillow with plenty of down.
Feather v Down
While goose feather is softer than duck feather, most duck feather pillows and goose feather pillows are combined with soft down for exceptional comfort and warmth.
Cheaper than down
More structure than down
Mouldable and malleable
Goose down pillows contain clusters that are generally larger than duck down clusters, creating a softer, warmer down filling for pillows. European goose down pillows are considered the best due to their pure white larger than most down clusters.
Ultra light and warm
Soft and cuddly
How To Find The Best Quality Feather & Down Pillows
Both feathers and down can create pillows that offer a luxury sleep experience. However, they differ in softness and feel. Down comes from the bird’s belly and is softer, lighter and more insulating than the bird’s outer feathers. This scarcity can make the best down pillows expensive to buy.
For this reason, the quality and quantity of a pillow’s down content is often reduced to keep costs low. As Tielle founder, Robert Lancaster-Gaye, says: “Many sins can go on within a pillow. In one [external] pillow test we found down and feather fibres, broken feather quills and dust despite it being advertised as 90% White Duck Down.” Another so-called luxury item contained 80% pure feather with large quills, plastic, red threads along with a lot of dust and muck.
To help consumers feel they are buying the best down pillows, pillows often get fancy names such as ‘hotel down pillows’’. However, a pillow only needs 40% down to be classed as ‘down’ under European labelling standards. Additionally, a down surround pillow – a common construction comprising a feather core surrounded by down - can be noisy and lumpy if the down isn’t evenly distributed. All Tielle down pillows comprise 70-100% high quality new (Class 1 feather & down) or recycled down.
What to look for in your pillow:
Many pillows are a mix of feather and down, offering a balance of softness and structure. Even if they’re labelled goose down pillows they can consist of 40% or less feather. The quality of the feather is therefore as important as the down. All Tielle feather and down filling for pillows are composed of Class 1 fillings (EN 12131), indicating the highest level of quality.
To get the perfect balance of comfort and support:
Check the fill and casing: As a pillow only needs 60% down to advertise as a down pillow, the rest could be made with cheaper and less comfortable feathers. Tielle down pillows contain a minimum of 70% down and a higher-than-average fill power to keep you warm and snug.
Check the label: Nomite® and Downafresh® are two pillow labels worth looking for. The Downafresh® label gives assurance that your feather and down product meets stringent European hygiene and cleanliness requirements (EN 12935). The Nomite® mark means your pillow consists of a down- and feather-proof fabric that prevents dust mites from passing through. All Tielle feather and down products are Nomite® and Downafresh ® certified for a happier night's sleep.
Check the reviews: Poor cleaning and manufacturing processes can create a less than dreamy down filling for pillows full of feather fibres, broken feather quills and dust. The best down pillows will help you sleep better and feel healthier. See what customers have to say about their pillow purchase before investing in it yourself.
Buy to last: A pillow that’s responsibly made from high quality ingredients will last around three years – that's 1,000 sleeps – before losing its ability to fluff up and offer effective support. You can also keep your duck or goose down pillows light and lofty for longer by giving them a regular shake.
Read our ultimate guide to the best pillows to find out which pillow suits you best.