Down vs Down Alternative Pillow

Down vs Down Alternative Pillow

What is the Difference?

This is a common question among consumers regarding what to choose- down or down alternative pillows. Down pillows provide a naturally made, delicate and soft headrest which will make your head feel like it is among the clouds. They are also easier to clean and maintain their supportive qualities for long. As a contrast, down alternatives are harder to clean, but most are washable by machines. But down alternatives also mimic the softness and comfort of down pillows but are better for people who are sensitive to allergies. Down alternatives are also recommended for those who are on a strict budget.

Down vs. Alternative Pillows: How They Feel?

  • Down Pillows

Down pillows are soft, plushy, silky, comfortable and inviting to sleep on. Since they are so soft they mould to the shape of the head. has a detailed discussion about it.

  • Down-Feather Pillows

They can feel hard due to the presence of quills, but the addition of down clusters does make it softer.

  • Down Alternative Pillows

Done alternative pillows are made up of puffs of polyester which mimic the feel of the softness of down pillows. So they are soft to touch and almost have the silkiest feel which down pillows have. But they are not as fluffy and can even appear to be flat.


Down pillows are made from the feathers which are found under the outer layer of feathers of ducks and geese. Since it is a natural substance so there are questions on whether it contains allergens or not. While the feathers are cleaned thoroughly during the manufacturing process, but questions still remain. Down alternatives don’t face this problem since they are made from synthetic materials.


Down pillows are made up of natural clusters and so they tend to last longer, around 8-10 years. Down alternatives are made up of synthetic fillings which makes them last for just up to a year or two. Moreover, down pillows are more washable whereas washing down alternatives can make them clumpy. Although machine washing can be used.


Down pillows are made from the feathers of waterfowls which makes them more expensive since they are from a limited resource which incurs more care and money to maintain. On the contrary, down alternatives are made from synthetic or cotton clusters which are cheaper to produce. So if you are on a tight budget, going for down alternative pillows would be recommended.


Down pillows are stuffed with clusters of feathers which are found in the chest area. These feathers are just plucked from the water birds while they are held upside down and sometimes the skins rip off as a result as well. On the other hand, down alternative pillows are stuffed with synthetic polyester or cotton, which are made from crude oil products and can be toxic.

  • Down or Down-Feather

In the case of both down pillows or down feather pillows, the stuffing comes from the geese or duck itself. The feathers or clusters are plucked either from a live bird which has a chance of injuring them in the processor by taking the necessary materials from the birds who are harvested for their meat. Regardless, it is not very Eco-friendly.

  • Down Alternative

Down alternatives are made from synthetic polyesters and cotton, which are easier to harvest and cheaper to produce. But they are made from fossil fuels, which are harder for the environment to break down when compared to the natural clusters used in down pillows. Even though they are recyclable, the recycle logo is rarely seen on these pillows.


Down pillows use clusters which naturally traps air for insulation but it also allows for a natural regulation of air through it. This makes the pillows soft and breathable. Down alternatives, are cooler because they don’t trap heat, but they also don’t allow the proper circulation of air through them.

Down pillows are more breathable, soft and fluffy. It is like sleeping on a cloud. But these are also really expensive.  On the other hand, down alternatives are cheaper and mimic the softness of down pillows. Overall, the decision comes down to your needs, preferences, and budget.

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