Can I buy a 100% down pillow?

Posted by Stefan Hunter on 1st Mar 2021

Can I buy a 100% down pillow?

We often get this question and wanted to cover this topic for our readers. So the quick answer is that there is no such thing as a 100% down pillow. This is because short of an an army of workers with tweezers - it is very hard to achieve over 90% down clusters in any economically feasible way.

Down is a natural material that comes from the underside of ducks and geese. Down provides warmth, softness and excellent heat retention. Because down is a natural material it is very common for down and feathers to be mixed together. Fiber which is the broken pieces of down clusters is also present and comingled in as well with down and feathers. Many consumers confuse down and feathers being the same material. They may have had a bad experience with a feather pillow and associate down being the same as feathers - they are not. Down typically costs ten times more than feathers and offers a completely different usage.

Down does not equal feathers

Feathers come from the wing and back of ducks and geese and feels completely different then down. Down or formally 'down clusters' are three dimensional clouds of softness. Feathers are flat'ish and more two dimensional in nature. Down is perfect for pillows, blankets and comforters. Feathers are great for some types of pillows, throw pillows and feather beds. Down is light, quiet and provides soft comfort, feathers are heavy, noisy and more often used for support. One of our most popular pillows is a chamber pillow construction which has a core of feathers blanketed by down on the top and bottom. This yields a pillow with the support of feathers on the inside and the softness of down on the outside. Because down is an expensive filling material this is a great way to enjoy a pillow at a cost friendly price point.

Product Labeling

When we make our down products there are very strict FTC guidelines for what can be called down and how to reference the filling material on the law labels attached to filled bedding. By law an item has to have 75% of more down clusters to be called down. Often times as a manufacturer, we will label bedding items as 75% down when in fact the item likely has more than the minimum 75% down requirement. This is done simply because modifying the fill content labels requires a break in the process and it is more efficient to use a basic label with the minimum requirements.

Duck, Goose, Grey Or White

Down filling comes in multiple colorations, but for purposes of most consumer items they are bucketed into white or grey. In truth the white down coloration leans more towards a yellow'ish tint. Grey down itself can range from brown to grey, but it is bucketed into 'grey' for labeling purposes. White is no better than grey in terms of filling performance - and the only reason for using one over the other is personal preference. Oftentimes down bedding uses white fabric - so the white filling option is paired with it to coordinate color wise. The challenge is that down being a natural material,  it is highly common to have pieces of non-white down mixed in and this is called flecking. A grey filled down item will show less flecking because the stray bits of white down are more obscured with grey filling behind white fabric. In reverse, it is easy to see pieces of dark down mixed with white down and we have consumers asking what it is wrong with an item (Nothing is wrong - its just a natural item and variations in the filling are very common).