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Simple Life Hacks

Which Pillow Is Best? The Ultimate Guide To The Best Pillows

We spend a third of our life face or head down on our pillow so it makes sense to find our perfect pillow match. But with a mind boggling amount of choice, from goose or duck feather and down to anti-allergy microfibre fills, how do you decide what pillow’s best for you? We’re here to help you choose wisely so you can enjoy a fabulous night’s sleep.

What are pillows actually made of? 

The quality of your goose feather, goose down or duck feather pillow will determine how well you sleep. Many people prefer a blend of feather and down, or an ‘anti-allergy’ microfibre pillow, but check the product description carefully.

But product labels can be misleading. In an independent test, we found down and feather fibres, broken feather quills and dust in one well-known retailer’s 90% White Duck Down pillow. Another contained 80% pure feather with large quills, plastic, red threads, dust and other muck, despite advertising as Luxury White Duck Down.

How do I find a high quality pillow?

Choosing a pillow is a personal matter. What suits one person may not suit the next. But there’s one thing we all want in a pillow, and that’s a little luxury. This means looking beyond the sales blurb to ensure we’re not paying top dollar for poor quality goods.

Before buying a pillow, check the product specifications. Does it state the cover type and filling blend? What about the origin of the fill? Don’t be afraid to ask if you can take the pillow out of its packaging so you can feel it either. You don’t want hard feather quills poking you at night.

The best way to ‘try before you buy’ is to source the same pillow you’ve enjoyed sleeping on in a hotel. Tielle products are in 5000 hotels worldwide. Otherwise, buy one pillow and sleep on it. If you like it, buy more.

How much down and feather should I look for in a pillow?

Most natural pillows are a mix of feathers and down. Down provides insulation and warmth; feather offers structure and support. A high quality down pillow filling will contain larger-than-average down clusters to help trap more air, and provide a sumptuously warm and cosy sleep experience.

Quality fillings also extend a pillow’s life. While there’s no ‘best for everyone’ pillow, many people find a 70% feather and 30% down pillow offers the perfect balance of softness and support. Your sleeping position and other personal preferences also affect what suits you best.

 

What to look for in a pillow:

You want your pillow to provide the perfect balance of comfort and support.

Casing:

Dust mite proof covers including those with the Nomite mark enable people with dust mite allergies to enjoy natural bedding. Following a hygienic wash, the filling is encased in a tightly woven down- and feather-proof fabric cover. Zipped pillow protectors also help to keep out sweat, dust mites and stains. A quality Microfibre pillow can feel just like a natural fill, and is a good mite-proof alternative.

Filling:

A pillow only needs 60% down to advertise as a down pillow. The rest may contain feathers, plastic, threads and dust. The pillow’s fill power is also important, as this affects its ability to fluff up and keep you warm and snug. While the product description may help you understand more, buying from a reputable supplier is really the only way to ensure you’re getting the product you want.

Ethically sourced:

Tielle works closely with a limited number of partners to properly source and manufacture quality products. All our fillings are supplied with the assurance that the feather and down is sourced only as a by-product. Our suppliers are also monitored to ensure they practice the highest standards of animal welfare.

 

Which type of pillow filling is best – feather, down or microfibre?

There’s a dizzying array of pillow fillings, from luxury Hungarian goose down and duck feather to goose feather and down. While it’s easy to be seduced by product descriptions, the best pillows are tailored to our sleep needs. Softer fillings are better for front and back sleepers. Firmer pillows offer more neck and shoulder support. If you suffer from dust mite allergies, you may want to ask, can you wash it easily? If not, luxury microfibre or hollowfibre pillows may be best.  See Which pillow is best for me and my sleeping style? to find your match.

Duck feather and down pillows

Duck feather and down pillows combine naturally insulating down clusters with feathers that provide bulk and support. Generally, the more down it has, the softer the pillow. The higher the feather fill, the firmer it will be. While many people find a 70% feather and 30% down pillow provides the perfect balance of softness and support, your sleeping position – whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach – and other personal preferences can affect what suits you.

Goose feather and down

Goose feather and down pillows offer a cloud-like softness many 5* hotels love. Their larger than duck down cluster sizes provide puffiness and warmth, while the feathers deliver weight and support. European and especially Hungarian goose down is considered some of the finest in the world. The birds’ large down clusters produce a high-quality fill that is durable and beautifully lightweight and warm.

Microfibre

Affordable and hypoallergenic, Microfibre is popular with side sleepers that need gentle firmness and those that sneeze and wheeze in the night. Breathable and easy to wash in a large capacity machine, a high quality microfibre pillow can also feel similar to a natural fill. Go for a microfibre pillow with piped edging and a zipped pillow case for added dust mite protection, and to stop fibres sneaking out.

 

What size pillow do I need for my bed?

There are three classic UK pillow sizes: standard, superking and square. If you want to create that luxury hotel bed look [link to blog article] and feel at home you’ll want a mix of standard or superking pillows, square pillows, cushions and a bolster too.

 

  • Standard  48cm x 74cm; 19 x 29” – An all-time favourite pillow shape suitable for most beds.
  • Superking – 50cm x 90cm; 20 x 36” – A larger than average pillow. Lay two across a 6ft superking bed or one on a 3ft single bed.
  • Square – 65cm x 65cm; 26 x 26″ – A big, ultra-comfy pillow perfect for leisurely bedtime reads.
  • Cot bed – 36 x 58cm; 14 x 22″ (pls confirm) – A beautifully proportioned size for toddlers and children over 24 months sleeping in cot beds
  • Travel pillows – 40 x 50cm; 16 x 20” – A take anywhere pillow for luxury sleeping on the go.

 

Which pillow type is best for me and my sleeping style?

Think about your sleeping position before buying a natural or microfibre pillow. Soft fillings are more suitable for back and front sleepers, while a firmer pillow is preferable for side sleepers. Fillings such as microfibre or feather pillows in anti-allergy casings may be better if you suffer from house dust mites. If you’re a bedtime reader, you may also want an extra firm pillow or to invest in oversized superking size pillows or extra large pillows to prop you up and support your back and neck. Memory foam pillows and curved pillows can also provide neck support.

Side sleeper: 

Go for a firm, high pillow that will help keep your spine and neck aligned. Placing a pillow between your knees while you sleep can prevent pain in the lower back. Tielle choice: Marquis Duck Feather and Down Pillow or the Down Surround Feather and Down Pillow for their high quality feather content offering comfort and support.

Front sleeper:

If you’re a front sleeper, you need a pillow that protects your back and neck. Go for a soft pillow and consider tucking one under your stomach to support your lower back. Tielle choice: European Goose Down or the Duck Down Pillow for their cloud-like softness and gentle support.

Back sleeper:

Choose a soft pillow that won’t throw your head too far forward and put stress on your neck. Tielle choice: European Goose Down or our Duck Down Pillow for their soft down filling and fantastic natural loft.

Mixed or combination sleeper:

No pillow will completely satisfy your needs if you toss and turn at night. Your best bet is to go for a medium height pillow that offers support for side sleeping and the shallowness needed for back sleeping. Tielle choice: Savoy Duck Feather and Down Pillow or the Rosewood Goose Feather and Down.

 

I have allergies – which pillows should I buy?

Hypoallergenic pillows & anti-allergy bedding

Can you be allergic to your pillow? No, but you can have a dust mite allergy, and a warm pillow is a dust mite’s dream home. To tackle the sneezing, coughing or asthma/eczema flare-ups that often accompanies allergies, many people invest in hypoallergenic pillows and anti-allergy pillows. These have a tightly woven outer casing dust mites can’t penetrate, or are made from natural fibres that dust mites can’t live in, such as silk or wool.

The best hypoallergenic pillows are often made from high quality microfibre. This fibre can feel much closer to a natural fill than budget materials such as hollowfibre or foam. If you love natural fill pillows, a quality feather and down fill in a high density case with double stitch seams may be all you need to protect against dust mites allergies.

Other allergy-fighting tricks include keeping bedrooms dust- and clutter-free, and cleaning mattresses, carpets and rugs which dust mite love. A tightly woven zipped pillow protector will also protect you from allergens and prolong your pillow’s life. Wash sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers weekly at 60° to kill the dust mites/eggs, or use an anti-bacterial laundry cleaner for a lower temperature, energy-saving wash.

 

How can I tell if I need a new pillow?

There are two ways to test pillow quality and to see if your pillow needs replacing:

Saddlebag test

An easy way to find out if you need a new pillow is to lay your pillow across your arm. If it folds over your arm like an old saddle bag, it’s reached the end of its life.

Press test

To test pillow quality, place the pillow on a firm surface and press down in the centre. A good quality pillow fill will spring back into shape as soon as you lift your hand.

 

How do I care for and wash my pillows?

Can you wash feather and down pillows?

Yes, you can. However, we recommend professional laundering for pillows, duvets and other bulky items for best results. Laundries can also advise on how to remove stains. You can find your local Textile Services Association approved laundry or cleaners by calling 0207 843 9490.

How to wash and dry natural fill pillows for best results

Feather and down pillows are usually washable up to 40° in a large capacity machine, but always check the label. If washing pillows in a home washing machine, tumble dry until completely dry. Pillowcases and pillow protectors are fully machine washable at 60°, though washing at a lower temperature is kinder to the environment. Always read the washing instructions before you attempt to clean pillows or get stains off.

Can you wash microfibre pillows?

Yes, you can. However, we recommend professional laundering for pillows, duvets and other bulky items for best results. Laundries can also advise on how to remove stains. You can find your local Textile Services Association approved laundry or cleaners by calling 0207 843 9490.

How to wash and dry microfibre pillows for best results

Our microfibre pillow is washable up to 40° in a large capacity machine. If washing microfibre pillows in a home washing machine, tumble dry on a cool setting until completely dry. Pillowcases and pillow protectors are fully machine washable at 60°, though washing at a lower temperature is kinder to the environment. Always read the washing instructions before you clean pillows.

Where do hotels buy their pillows from?

Hotels need pillows that can deliver a great night’s sleep night after night. Responsible hotels also want assurance their pillows are ethically sourced. Pillows from a specialist linen supplier will provide longer lasting luxury than your average high street retailer. Tielle supplies homes with the same high quality, ethically-sourced pillows its parent company, Tradelinens, sells to hotels.

What pillows do hotels use?

Most luxury hotels prefer natural fills such as goose or duck feather and down, or a high quality microfibre. Budget hotels often use a synthetic filling such as hollowfibre. Pillow menus are becoming increasingly popular, enabling guests to choose the pillow best suited to their needs.

What do hotels look for in pillows?

Hotels need luxury pillows that provide guests with a great night’s sleep. They also need pillows that will survive the rigours of hotel life. A hotel quality pillow made from high quality ingredients will last around three years – that’s 1000 sleeps – before losing its ability to fluff up and offer effective support.  A good quality pillow will also bounce back well after being washed.

Where to find hotel quality pillows

The simple answer is a hotel! If you enjoy a great night’s sleep, ask the concierge for the pillow supplier’s name and replicate that hotel feel at home.

Where do hotels buy their pillows?

In short, specialist linen suppliers who can deliver on hotel style and quality. Tielle has pillows in over 5,000 luxury 5* hotel and boutique bedrooms around the world. Some, including our Savoy pillow, are even named after the luxury hotels we supply.