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Enemies of Feather & Down

by David Smith

Have you ever wondered why your pillows go flat or turn yellow? When you wash your bed linens and remove your pillow case are your pillows starting to turn yellow? With proper care and maintenance, you can slow the yellowing process and in some cases revitalize a pillow with a few turns in the dryer.

Have you ever wondered whether or not you should spend the extra money on our Hungarian goose down 800 fill power down products or perhaps save some money and purchase a 600 fill power product? Whichever you choose you can add years, and perhaps decades, to your luxury down pillows with proper care and maintenance.

#1 Compression Test For Pillows:

The Compression Challenge

It is impossible to avoid compression. After all, you are sleeping on your pillow, and that means you are compressing it. But it is important to understand how feather pillows and down pillows respond to compression or being compressed, over time. In fact, even 600, 700 and 800 fill power down clusters respond differently over time when compressed. The larger the down cluster the higher the quality and more resilient it will be to compression. They will remain supportive and resilient longer than a 700 fill power or 600 fill power down cluster. They will respond more favorably to being fluffed either by hand or fluffed using the dryer. When it comes to compression products, items that you sleep 'on' like; pillows, feather beds or down mattress toppers the higher the fill power the longer it will last.

Down Compression

The higher the fill power the higher the quality and the higher the quality the longer it will last. Larger down clusters are just more resilient than smaller ones and will allow your down pillows or down mattress toppers to last longer assuming you take the proper care to keep the next two (2) enemies of feather and down, moisture and oil, from reaching those down clusters or feather. Our down fill power comparison chart on our How to choose fill power page is the best illustration of how to compare the different fill powers and down cluster. When it comes to fill power bigger is better. Because down pillows last longer than feather pillows many use this as the primary reason down pillows are better than feather pillows. Properly cared for our luxury down bedding made with hand selected Hungarian goose down will last decades.

Feather Compression

Feathers have no 'fill power' and smaller feathers are better when compared to down clusters where larger down clusters are better. However, feathers have a much greater challenge than their down cluster counterpart at remaining supportive over time. Feathers have a spine and filaments that radiant from that spine that can and do break under compression. Over time the feathers break and crack reducing the support and longevity of your feather pillow. Over the course of many years more and more of the feathers break during the compression of sleep. Over time you will find a greater chance you will be 'poked' by a feather making its way through the fabric or ticking used to contain those feathers. Properly cared for our luxury feather pillows filled with Hungarian goose feather have been known to last decades.

#2 Moisture Affecting Your Down and Feather:

Moisture is everywhere

We are not talking about the moisture and humidity outside because you probably don't sleep outside. But the level of humidity inside your house; moisture from your hair and from your body while you sleep, can have a significant impact on the longevity of your luxury down bedding. Regardless of the temperature It's not really something we think about it terms of its impact on our down bedding or our sleep environment but its impact is very real.


Why do my pillows go flat? Humidity plays a significant role in the longevity of your bedding environment and in particular your luxury down bedding. Humidity destroys down causing it to lose its loft and its ability to insulate. Your pillows will go 'flat' more quickly or lose their loft and be less supportive impacting your pillows usefulness. Now you can see why we recommend occasionally throwing your pillows in the dryer. Drying them on a regular basis allow your pillows to 'fully dry' and regain most of their original loft and support. We are NOT saying dry your pillows every day but our experience has been that if you can get your pillows 'fully dry' on a regular basis you can extend the life of your pillows. Our SleepTemp down comforters are designed very specifically around this issue. To learn more about How to choose down comforters.


The moisture in your hair can shorten the life of your pillow but the use of a pillow protector or pillow case can help reduce the impact. But your hair does contain and trap moisture especially if you typically take your bath in the evening. Not completely drying your hair before you go to sleep will significantly impact the life of your pillow and cause your pillow to yellow prematurely. Your pillow will go flat and lose its resilience the more your pillow is exposed to moisture from your hair.


There are many reasons why you weightless in the morning than you do in the evening and it's not because your body has had a chance to digest dinner from last night. One of those reasons is that you perspire while you sleep. The average person can lose as much as 1 liter of water overnight and that 'water' has to go somewhere and it's usually into your down comforter, feather bed or pillows or combination. Do NOT underestimate the impact a duvet cover and your flat sheet can and will have on the amount of additional, and potentially unwanted warmth, they can add to you bedding environment.

#3 How Oils Can Change the Color of Your Pillow:

Skin and lotions

Why do my pillows turn yellow? The oils from your skin are another enemy that is difficult to overcome but can definitely be managed. Those same oils are also responsible in large part for the yellowing you may see on the 'shells' or 'ticking' of your down pillows, feather beds and down comforters over time. The oils from your skin take years to actually impart any yellowing but the oils from lotions applied after an evening bath do the real damage to the cotton's used to make the down shells. Bathing habits are understandably difficult to change but the lotions and perfumes that are applied sooner rather than later will reach the luxury down feathers and goose down clusters inside the cotton shells.

How to Make Your Comforters, Pillows & Feather Beds Last Longer

Compression we can't really do anything about given the intended use for pillows and feather beds or mattress toppers. Moisture can at least be managed with much of the technology we currently have within our home today but a dehumidifier may be a good place to start even though it isn't all that practical depending on your room or your aversion to associated 'white noise'. How do I keep my pillows from turning yellow? The oils from your skin can't be changed in any reasonable way but they too can be managed using a more practical solution. Lotions are perhaps the most manageable in terms of the amount applied and when. But the real, and perhaps most practical solution, to the enemies of down haven't changed and they begin with Duvet Covers, Pillow Cases and a Pillow Protectors.

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