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A good pillow is worth investing in. Why? We humans spend about one-third of our lives asleep—meaning we spend a lot of quality time with our pillows. Of course, there is some back-and-forth about what makes a pillow great—but many agree that down pillows are some of the most luxurious and splurge-worthy around.
“If you love punching your pillow into just the right you-sized ergonomic shape, then a fluffy and full down pillow is for you,” Betsy Moyer, interior designer and co-founder of Retreat, says. “They are known to hold your shape and can adjust to your needs if you are a revolving sleeper like I am.”
When shopping for a down pillow, there are a few things you should look out for. First, you’ll want to make sure the down filling inside your pillow was responsibly-sourced—meaning, no animals were harmed to source the filling. Keep an eye out for Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and the IDFL Down Standard (IDS) certifications, as these indicate responsibly-sourced down filling.
After that, you’ll want to pay attention to the pillow’s filling: Is it made from duck or goose down, and what’s the breakdown between down clusters and more traditional feathers? Then, you’ll want to take a look at its fill power, too. (The higher the fill power, the loftier and more insulating the down inside the pillow is.) Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to the pillow’s density: Is the pillow soft, medium, or firm? (Obviously, there’s no right answer to this last question—just an answer that’s right for you.)
As you shop for the down pillow of your dreams, we have a few cozy picks for you to consider. Peruse some of our favorites below.
Best Overall: Parachute Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: 750 | Density: Soft, medium, firm | Materials: European white down and down and feather fibers, sateen cotton shell | Care: Dry clean or machine wash cool on gentle cycle | Certifications: RDS, OEKO-TEX
There’s a lot to love about Parachute’s Down Pillow. For starters, it's filled with RDS-certified European white down, so you can sure the down filling was responsibly-sourced. And since the pillow boasts a fill power of 750, you can trust that the down filling is high quality and insulating, too.
The hard thing about shopping for pillows is that one person’s too firm is another person’s too squishy—a problem Parachute circumvents by offering its down pillow in multiple densities. Choose between a sink in-worthy soft pillow, a supportive firm pillow, and a medium pillow that strikes a balance between the two. And since the pillow is available in both standard and King sizes, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding an option that suits your bed.
To seal the deal, the down pillow comes inside a soft cotton shell—and for your convenience, the entire pillow is machine-washable. Simply wash the pillow on a gentle cycle and tumble it dry on low.
Best Budget: puredown Feather and Down Pillow, Set of 2
Sizes: Standard, Queen, King | Fill Power: Not listed | Density: Medium | Materials: Goose feather and goose down fill, cotton shell | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle | Certifications: RDS, OEKO-TEX
Down pillows are typically on the high end when it comes to pricing, but it is possible to find budget-friendly options. This two-pack found on Amazon is one of the best affordable options out there—each pillow is made of a feather and down blend that's affordable yet still has a luxe (and supportive) feel. It's only available in one firmness level (medium), so side sleepers and those who like a firmer pillow might need to look elsewhere.
These pillows are encased in a 100 percent cotton shell, and can be machine-washed for easy maintenance. Finally, these pillows are RDS-certified, which is not always the case with budget-friendly down.
Best Splurge: Boll & Branch Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: Not listed | Density: Soft, medium, firm | Material: Down fill, organic cotton shell | Care: Spot clean, dry clean if needed | Certifications: IDS, OEKO-TEX
Boll & Branch’s Down Pillow ticks all the boxes. In fact, it ticks boxes we didn’t even know we had. First things first: The pillow is filled with responsibly-sourced down that meets the IDFL Down Standard. It comes inside a soft organic cotton shell, which is designed to keep all those down feathers firmly inside the pillow while you sleep at night—no stray feathers poking out.
Additionally, Boll & Branch takes its commitment to quality a step further: Before arriving at your doorstep, your pillow will be triple-washed with a Bluesign certified detergent. It can't be machine-washed, though, so take note that you'll have to have it dry cleaned when it needs sprucing up.
Best Firm: Snowe Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: 750 | Density: Soft, medium, firm | Material: White duck down fill, cotton sateen shell | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle | Certifications: RDS, OEKO-TEX
If you love a firm pillow, you’re in luck. Snowe’s widely beloved Down Pillow comes in several firmness options, but their firm pillow is a stand-out. Filled with premium white duck down, it feels both fluffy and supportive—perfect for side sleepers. And since it boasts a fill power of 750, you can trust that when we say premium, we mean it. The pillow is also RDS-certified, so you can rest assured knowing its fluffy filling came from a responsible place. And since it comes inside a soft cotton cover, it should feel just as cozy on the outside as it does on the inside.
If you care about convenience as much as you care about comfort, you’ll be delighted to know that Snowe’s Down Pillow is machine-washable. To freshen it up, gently wash it with cold water and tumble it dry on low. (Snowe recommends washing it on its own to keep it in tip-top shape.)
Best Medium-Firm: Brooklinen Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: Not listed | Density: Plush, mid-plush, firm | Material: Down clusters and feather fill, sateen cotton shell | Care: Spot clean, dry clean if needed | Certifications: Downmark, OEKO-TEX
Looking for a pillow that falls between firm and plush? Brooklinen’s Down Pillow is for you. It's filled with fluffy down feathers and clusters, and it comes encased in a soft cotton shell. And since it’s available in three different densities—plush, mid-plush, and firm—you can make sure your pillow is exactly as squishy or supportive as you want it to be. Brooklinen recommends their mid-plush pillow for back sleepers, but it's versatile enough that it can work for side and stomach sleepers as well, depending on your preference.
If you're worried about allergies, you'll be glad to know that all of Brooklinen's down pillows are treated with antimicrobials to ensure the down is as clean as can be. Plus, the Downmark certification means you're guaranteed an ethically- and sustainably-sourced pillow.
Best Soft: Tuft & Needle Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: 650 | Density: Soft | Materials: North American duck feathers and down, cotton shell | Care: Machine wash cold | Certifications: IDFL, OEKO-TEX
Many down pillows come in a few different densities, giving you the choice between a soft pillow, a firm one, and a somewhere-in-between one. But Tuft & Needle’s Down Pillow doesn’t give you the option. Instead, it’s focused on being the best squishy pillow it can be. And boy, does it deliver.
The plush pillow is made up of two parts. On the inside, you’ll find a thick feather core, which should help the pillow maintain its shape over time. Right outside that center, you’ll find a fluffy layer of down feathers. These softer-than-average feathers lend the pillow its signature squish. And according to Tuft & Needle, the lightweight down feathers should also keep you from getting too hot while you sleep.
Both layers of feathers are sourced from an RDS-certified supplier, and they come encased in a soft cotton shell. For your convenience, the entire pillow is machine-washable—so long as you wash it in cold water and dry it on low heat. And while the pillow isn’t available in more than one density, it is available in two different sizes.
Best Down + Foam: Allswell The Supreme Pillow
Sizes: Standard, King | Fill Power: Not listed | Density: Medium-firm | Material: Down feathers and polyester fiber fill, memory foam core, cotton shell | Care: Machine wash cold | Certifications: RDS
If you love the idea of a down pillow but need extra support, Allswell’s Supreme Pillow is an excellent pick—though it’s not made from down through and through. Instead, it’s made up of two distinct parts: a supportive memory foam core, and a fluffy layer of down feathers and down alternative fibers just outside it.
This combination leaves the pillow feeling thicker and firmer than your average all-down option—making it a great pick for side sleepers. The memory foam core gives the pillow some supportive firmness and helps it maintain its shape over time, while the fluffy outer layer will still give you that cloud-like experience you expect when investing in a down pillow.
Like many down pillows, Allwell’s Supreme Pillow is available in two sizes: standard and King. But given its unique design, it isn’t available in multiple densities. (Thanks to its memory foam core, it’s bound to feel pretty firm—no matter how thick the down layer is around it.) And though only a fraction of the pillow is made from down feathers, the pillow is RDS-certified.
Best for Allergies: The Company Store Legends Hotel Best Down Pillow
Sizes: Standard, Queen, King | Fill Power: 600 | Density: Soft, medium, firm, extra firm | Material: Hypoallergenic white European down fill, cotton shell | Care: Dry clean only | Certifications: RDS, OEKO-TEX
Finding a hypoallergenic down pillow can be tough. The problem isn't necessarily with down itself, but rather the fact that dust mites and allergens tend to accumulate in the down fibers more readily than polyester and memory foam fibers. Therefore, those with allergies need to wash their pillows more regularly, and should use a good pillow protector.
The Company Store's Legends Hotel Best Down Pillow is filled with RDS-certified hypoallergenic white European down with a fill power of 600. This fluffy filling comes inside a soft cotton pillowcase, which has been double-stitched to ensure that no feathers sneak through the fabric to poke you while you sleep. To top things off, it's available in a whopping four densities and three sizes, plus comes with a lifetime guarantee to ensure you'll be using it for many years to come.
Overall, we recommend Parachute’s Down Pillow (view at Parachute). It's RDS-certified, so you can trust that its down filling was responsibly sourced, and its 750 fill power makes it one of the highest-quality options on offer. The pillow is available in three densities (soft, medium, firm) and two sizes, and since it's both machine-washable and dryer-friendly, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping it fresh.
If you’d rather save than splurge, though, we recommend the puredown Feather and Down Pillow Set (view at Amazon). Filled with an RDS-certified down and feather blend, this set of two pillows feels much more expensive than it is.
What to Look for in a Down Pillow
It may sound strange, but down pillows aren’t all filled with the same thing. Some are filled entirely with down (fluffy clusters found on the bird's undercoat), while others are partially filled with feathers. Down clusters tend to compress more easily than feathers, which is why down pillows have that signature squishy-soft feel.
Even beyond that, though, filling can range from pillow to pillow. How? Some pillows are filled with duck down, while others are filled with goose down. Goose down clusters tend to be more insulating than duck down clusters, so goose down pillows often boast a higher fill power than duck down pillows. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snag a high-quality duck down pillow (or a low-quality goose down pillow).
A pillow’s fill power tells you how lofty, insulating, and high quality the down inside the pillow is. The higher the fill power, the fluffier your pillow will be. Take note that fill power tells you nothing about how firm your pillow is; rather, it'll tell you how much loft your pillow will have, and how well it'll retain its shape. In general, a fill power around 600 and above is considered great.
When shopping for down pillows, you’ll often have the choice of a few different densities—typically, soft, medium, and firm. (Sometimes, you’ll even see extra-firm.) These densities indicate the thickness and firmness of the pillow, as well as how much you can expect your head to sink into it when you go to bed at night. Side sleepers should look for a firmer people for better support, while back and stomach sleepers should stick with a soft or medium pillow.
Down filling is an animal byproduct, and some suppliers source their down more responsibly and more ethically than others. If you want to ensure that birds were not harmed in the making of your down pillows, choose a product that has been certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Downmark, or IDFL Down Standard (IDS). If a down pillow—or a brand that sells down pillows—has received this certification, its down filling should be ethically sourced.
What's the difference between down and down alternative pillows?
There’s a simple difference between down pillows and down alternative pillows: They’re filled with different stuff. Down pillows are filled with down clusters and feathers—both of which come from birds (specifically, ducks and geese). Down alternative pillows are filled with polyester fibers. Down alternative pillows are considered to be much better than down pillows if you have allergies, plus they're also less expensive and use no animal byproducts.
How do you wash down pillows?
Good news: Many down pillows are machine- and dryer-friendly, so you can toss them in the laundry for a quick, convenient clean. Many brands recommend that you wash a down pillow on its own, typically on a gentle cycle in cold water. And many suggest drying your pillow on a low tumble dry cycle or an air dry cycle—often with a few wool dryer balls thrown in to speed things up and to keep the filling in your pillow evenly dispersed. All that said, though, it’s always a good idea to check the care instructions for your particular down pillow before tossing it in the wash.
How long do down pillows last?
You should expect to replace your down pillows every 5-10 years, and potentially even longer if you keep them in tip-top shape. "If your pillow has flattened beyond fluffability or if the cover is a little too yucky despite your machine wash, maybe let them go,” says Moyer.
Why Trust MyDomaine?
When you’re investing in a pillow you plan to rest your head on every night, you want that pillow to be great. The only problem? One person’s just right may be another person’s too firm—and it may even be someone else’s too soft. So when researching this article, MyDomaine writer Lindsey Lanquist didn’t just look for quality—she also looked for variety.
Lindsey started by prioritizing down pillows that were either RDS, Downmark, or IDS-certified, because these standards indicate that the down filling the pillows is responsibly sourced. She then prioritized pillows that were available in several densities (typically, soft, medium, and firm) and at least a couple sizes (typically, standard and King). She also considered fill power, price, and care instructions, taking expert recommendations into account.
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Gao, Jing, et al. “Structures and Properties of the Goose Down as a Material for Thermal Insulation.” Textile Research Journal, vol. 77, no. 8, Aug. 2007, pp. 617–626, doi:10.1177/0040517507079408