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Down vs feather guide: how to choose?

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When it comes to choosing things like throw pillows, bedding, a new comforter, or a sleeping pillow, you may see features such as “down” or “feather”, but is there a difference? 

The simple answer is: yes there is.

Down and feather are vastly different in structure, comfort, and price. 

Below with Polysleep, your mattress specialist, you will learn more about the differences between down vs feather and how to choose the best option for yourself or your family.

Down vs feather: What is down? What is feather?

An unmade bed including its sheets and pillows

Down and feather are found primarily on all birds, ducks, geese, etc. However, there is a distinct difference between the two in almost all aspects.

Down

Down is a soft grouping of fluffy feathers located near the skin of a bird, typically on either the chest or the belly. 

Down is also commonly referred to as “undercoating”, as it essentially is the coating between a bird’s skin and feathers.

Down is harvested from the skin of either ducks, geese, or swans

However, many prefer the down of geese. This type of feather is considered to be the ultimate luxury, so as you can imagine it comes with a rather large price tag.

Feather

Feather is found on the wings and backs of almost all birds

They are usually flat in shape, with a quill running down the middle of each, you may feel this poke through a feather pillow or duvet.

Feathers used to make things such as pillows and bedding are harvested primarily from ducks or geese. 

Because feather bedding is less “luxurious” than those made of down, it is relatively cheaper in comparison.

What is the difference between down and feather?

A gourmet platter on a bed among the sheets

While both come from ducks and geese, they differ in many aspects.

Warmth

Down is a breathable material that provides heat. It is an exceptional insulator in comparison to feather. 

The difference between down and feather is that feather is more flat and heavy, and, therefore it requires more to provide the same quality of insulation, potentially compromising comfort.

Weight

Down vs feather in weight is no comparison. 

Feather is a much larger material and  is heavier in weight. Everybody knows what a feather looks like, however in comparison to shape, down is similar to that of a dandelion head.

Support

Down is a long-lasting material that offers great “bounce back” for support and comfort, time and time again. 

While feather does not last quite as long and is often heavier. It holds its shape longer than down.

Comfort

In terms of comfort, both have quills. 

However, down quills are often so small you cannot see or feel them, while feather quills often poke through the material, poking you. 

Price

Feather is far less expensive than down, although for a good reason. 

For example, a high-quality down pillow may cost upwards of $200, but it will provide you with absolute comfort and support for a long time. 

On the other hand, feather pillows range from $25 to $75 and do not last nearly as long.

Bedding: Which one to choose?

A clean bed with its set of sheets and pillows

When it comes to purchasing new bedding, pillows, or even throw pillows there is no “one size fits all”. Each piece is offered filled with different material, specifically down vs feather.

Duvet

A duvet is a type of soft quilt. It is a bag, filled with either down, feather, or a synthetic alternative, surrounded by a removable, washable cover. 

Deciding between feather and down is often a hard decision for many purchasers. Let's discuss a few pros and cons of both below.

Feather is often heavier than down, but it can be more supportive. It is an excellent choice to use all year round as it keeps you warm without making it “too” hot. 

Down is a very warm, well-insulated material. It is lighter, more durable, and much longer  - upwards of 5 years.

Feather, however, contains quills that often make their way through the duvet and poke you while you're sleeping. Feathers can escape from the duvet resulting in less overall support. 

Down, while more durable, often comes with a much higher price point than feather. More people tend to find they are allergic to down clusters .

Comforter

A comforter is a type of bedding that consists of two separate pieces of material, sewn together, and filled with a specific material. 

Comforters containing feathers often provide less comfort, softness, and flexibility . 

When it comes to comforters made of down clusters, Hungarian goose down is often the most preferred as these geese are much larger providing large clusters. 

The bigger the cluster, the higher the fill power, resulting in higher quality, softness, and fluffiness.

On the other hand, feather is much more preferred in the use of things such as throw pillows. 

These types of pillows are often used as decor rather than for actual comfort. 

It provides a lower, more affordable price range for throw pillows and holds the shape better.

Sleeping Pillows

In regards to sleeping pillows, some pillows use both down and feather, while others use only one or the other. 

Down pillows are softer, more fluffy, and more expensive . 

Feather pillows often do not hold their shape as long as they lose feathers over their lifetime.

Overall

Down clusters are often preferred in bedding items such as duvets, comforters, and sleeping pillows.

Learn more: Duvet vs Blanket vs Quilt

A large bedroom with two beds

Down vs feather vs foam pillow

Down, feather, and foam pillows are among the most common types of pillow material. 

Foam pillows are made of soft, spongy material rather than down clusters or feathers.   One of the most popular types of foam pillows is memory foam, also called “viscoelastic foam”.

Polysleep developed for its mattresses and pillows a new generation of hybrid foam, named “viscoelastic hybrid foam”.

While memory foam pillows offer different levels of comfort from pillow to pillow, Polysleep has manufactured a pillow that is customizable within itself. 

It consists of four layers of hybrid foam for support, each of which can be removed or added by the customer for their customized supportive pillow.

Compared to down or feather’s ones, foam pillows represent one of the best options for sleeping pillows. 

Viscoelastic hybrid foam pillows are durable and very resilient. They ensure great support for your head and neck. 

In terms of comfort, these hybrid pillows are soft and like they do not contain quills, there are no risks of being poked. Moreover, they do not compress as flat as down pillows, so your night is not disrupted. 

Some other important points to notice are that they are vegan and breathable which reduce potential allergies.

Our tips to choose and take care of your down or feather bedding

Choosing the perfect bedding comes with a lot of research and learning the best tips and tricks for caring for it.

For down bedding we recommend:

  • Spot treatment for any stain.
  • Machine wash : a third of the amount of detergent normally used and  a delicate cycle
  • Either air dry or tumble dry on the lowest setting

Choosing the right bedding for you does not have to be hard, by using our recommended factors you can purchase the perfect bedding every time.

Learn more: The pillow guide

The pillow labeled Polysleep


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