Differences Between Down and Feather Pillows

A lot of people think that down pillows and feather pillows are one and the same, but that’s where they’re wrong. While it is true that both down and feather fillings come from either a duck or a goose, there’s a world of difference between the two when it comes to the bedding industry.

Simply put, feather pillows are made from feathers found in the outer layers like the wings and back. Down pillows, on the other hand, are made from insulating fibre clusters found beneath the protective feather covering. Down can also be found on the underbellies of these birds. Down is a lot softer than feathers and considered premium quality. Feathers, on the other hand, are more rigid and less expensive.


The biggest difference between down pillows and feather pillows is the quality. Down is softer, fluffier and lasts longer. Down clusters also easily return to their original shape, which is why it is the most popular pillow filling on the market. Feathers in the meantime are considered stiffer and more rigid. They also have a tendency to flatten over time. However, many feather pillow users like them because they provide good support to the neck and shoulders.


Because down feathers are softer, they are also considered premium not only in quality but also in price. You’ll get less down fibre than feathers from a single bird, which explains the high price of down pillows. Some of the most expensive down pillows can fetch hundreds of pounds each. Feather pillows, however, are more affordable. It is also good to note that feathers remain firmer under compression compared to down pillows, so it makes a good choice for those looking for a thicker pillow that provides good support.


Since down pillows are softer, they are perfect for people who like to sleep on their stomachs. Many of us know from experience that sleeping in this position twists the neck. If you’re using a firm pillow, your neck is angled upward which can cause stiffness. Using a soft pillow like Down will allow your neck to rest more naturally and comfortably.

Duck feather pillows are suitable for side and back sleepers. This is because the neck, upper spine and shoulders need firmer support when sleeping in these positions.


Down and feather pillow fans will always argue about comfort, with each side claiming to be better than the other. It all boils down to personal preference. Down pillows are made from softer fibre clusters without quills, which feathers have. This means you won’t have to worry about quills sticking out of pillow casings and poking you in the face. Down pillow fans also claim that feather pillows tend to flatten out over time because the feathers will stick together after years of use.

Feather pillow users compensate for possible sticking quills by choosing pillows made with tightly-woven cambric covering. You can also choose pillow covers with a high thread count to avoid poking feathers. Feather pillows also provide better head and neck support compared to down pillows.

Whatever pillow you choose, make sure to keep it away from moisture. Poor drying, humidity and other elements can shorten the lifespan of your down and feather pillows. Oil (from face creams or your natural oil) is another common enemy, which is why it is important to use a protective cover for your pillows to preserve the filling inside.

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