Many people believe that your character defines the pillow’s filling. You can find a perfect pillow according to your preference, whether you want a firm, soft, supportive, high loft, or low loft; it all depends on the type of filling you choose for your pillow and the quantity that is used.

Every individual needs a different pillow filling, as there is no single filling which works for all.

Types of Pillows

Each variety of pillow filling has its pros and cons which appeal to different people with sleepy heads. Some people may benefit from one pillow while that same pillow may result in neck pain for others, so every individual needs a unique set of pillow fillings. Try different types of pillow fillings for yourself.

Follow this summary of different pillow filing types to identify the best filling:

Down Pillow Filling

Bird’s feathers have an undercoat which is called down. To be more specific, it is the fluffy part present at the bottom of the bird’s feathers. The down carries its loft 3-4 times longer when compared to the synthetic alternative. It is very soft.

European or Hungarian goose down is considered as the best quality of filling type.

Down clusters are pure in nature, and white and more abundant when compared to other types of filling. When you buy a real down pillow, then it has only down – no feathers. However, many people sell down in combination with feathers.

Feather is one economical way to add volume to the pillow filling. Sometimes the feather’s quills stick to the pillow and poke on your face. Purchase high quality down filling for its longevity.

  • Very cuddly, light, and soft in nature
  • Malleable, which is why it tends to hold its shape well
  • Offers excellent support to the head and neck
  • Highly durable
  • Retains and absorbs body heat, which makes the pillow feel uncomfortable and warm
  • Requires consistent fluffing
  • Difficult to clean
  • Incredibly soft, leading to inconsistent support that may elevate the head too high or low
  • Expensive
Best for
Down pillow filling is recommended for all sleeping positions; it works well for all sleepers.

Feather Pillow Filling

This filling has an association with down filling, but it is a cheaper version. However, we advise users to spend the extra money and buy real down.

When compared to down, feather quills have a natural ability to assemble with each other or may lay flat. With time, feather pillow filling becomes uncomfortable and flat. For slow degeneration, the manufacturers include some clusters of down with the feathers.

  • Cheaper in comparison to down
  • Moldable
  • Cuddly and light to sleep
  • Results in unpleasant and lingering odor
  • Requires constant fluffing to maintain the pillow loft, as quills become flat
  • Cleaning is difficult
  • Absorbs and retains body heat which makes your and warm
Best for
Feather pillows are best for side and back sleepers. If you think that you can accept the negative features of a feather pillow, then opt for it rather than down pillow filling.

Polyester Fiberfill Pillow Filling

Polyester fiberfill pillow filling is cheaper and one of the best options available on the market. It is lightweight and easy to clean. The filling is not very breathable, so it may result in your pillow being warm, as it absorbs and retains body heat.

The fibers of the pillow filling tend to become clumpy, which makes it feel lumpy and flat. Avoid using polyester fiberfill pillow filling unless you specifically need a cost-effective option.

  • Extremely cheap
  • Easy to clean and lightweight
  • Pillow filling easily clumps, which requires frequent adjustments and results in a lumpy pillow
  • Has short lifespan due to clumping issue
  • Potentially hazardous to environment and health, as manufacturing of polyester fiber involves usage of nasty chemicals, such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and others
  • Not malleable
  • Not breathable, so you will feel warm
Best for
Polyester pillow filling is best for side and back sleepers. The sleepers who have a habit of sleeping on their stomach may also like polyester pillows if they are not thick.

Shredded Memory Foam Pillow Filling

Memory foam is made with polyurethane and other chemicals. It is because of these substances that it emits a robust, nasty odor. The off-gassing of these volatile organic compounds is a well-documented issue. It is concluded from some studies that memory foam may be toxic.

Other than that, memory foam pillow filling is neat. It retains shape, almost like magic, making it desired by many people.

Memory foam pillows comprise of a solid box-shaped loaf. Memory foam retains its shape, but they are non-malleable unless you sculpt or squish it. It is because of this issue that many individuals prefer shredded memory foam, which is moldable, as the memory foam is torn into pieces.

  • Malleable
  • Does not clump
  • Offers excellent support
  • Has chemical odor
  • Potentially dangerous due to off-gassing
  • May get soft and become extra thin when body heat is absorbed, causing the pillow filling to deliver inadequate support, as it may not elevate your head
Best for
Memory foam pillows maintain their shape, so they are perfect for back sleepers. Shredded memory foam pillows work best for side and back sleepers.

Buckwheat Hull’s Pillow Filling

Buckwheat Hull’s pillow filling is firm but highly breathable and malleable, so it is considered to be the ideal pillow filling.

  • Provides superior support when compared to other pillow filling types; aligns according to the shape of your head and neck
  • Breathable, which means it allows the air to flow, keeping you cool
  • Has long lifespan
  • Moldable; offers extreme support and holds its shape
  • Pillow filling is eco-friendly
  • Makes a rustling noise that is very disturbing when you shift
  • Massive pillow, as the 20” x 26” pillow weighs around 8 pounds
  • May be too firm for some individuals
Best for
These pillows work best for the back, stomach, and side sleepers.

Microbead Pillow Filling

Microbeads are also called uniform polymer particles. They are the synthetic alternative to Buckwheat Hull’s pillow filing. However, the two fillings share characteristics; they both promote airflow and are malleable.

The microbeads lose their volume and become flat more quickly in when compared to other pillow filling types.

  • It is breathable, keeping you cold at night.
  • It is malleable, holding your shape and offering excellent support for the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Produces chemical odor that is potentially dangerous
  • No available varieties of loft or firmness; most are medium-soft or medium-firm
  • Microbead pillow filing has a short lifespan, so it quickly degenerates and flattens down with use
Best for
Microbead pillow filling works best for back sleepers.

Shredded Latex Pillow Filling

This pillow filling is gaining popularity and provides excellent support to your head and neck, retaining a soft feel. This popular latex pillow filling is sold in a solid box shape that is not moldable. The shredded latex pillow fillings are malleable.

The manufacturers call the pillow filling natural latex, which includes a blend of natural and synthetic material.

  • Breathable and keeps you fresh at night
  • Eco-friendly
  • Moldable
  • Has a rubbery odor
  • May be too soft for some individuals due to inconsistent support that elevates the head either too high or low
  • Expensive pillow filling
Best for
Shredded latex pillow fillings work best for back and side sleepers.

Kapok Pillow Filling

Ceiba Pentandra, or Kapok, is a type of tropical tree found in Mexico. The flowers of this tree produce a cotton-like, fluffy material that contains seeds. The soft fiber is light brown and is also known as silk cotton. It has a smooth quality, which makes it an excellent alternative to polyester or down filling.

The qualities of Kapok makes it a favorite material for filling pillows, life preservers, and upholstery.

  • Eco-friendly
  • Potentially free from toxic materials that are in foam pillows
  • Has a soft texture, which makes it a good alternative for those accustomed to down or foam pillows
  • Highly flammable
  • Tends to develop lumps similar to polyester foam pillows
  • Not moldable, so does not hold shape
Best for
They work well for all sleeping positions.

Cotton Pillow Filling

Cotton pillow filling is a natural filling that is readily available. These pillows are comfortable and are breathable. The fibers of the cotton will clump with each other after some time. You can search for cotton filling, which is available in combination with synthetic fibers, such as polyester.

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Washable and soft
  • Cooler in comparison to foam and synthetic fills
  • Clumps with time, resulting in a lumpy pillow
  • Filling needs to be frequently replaced when compared to other filling types
  • May be noisy
Best for
The support of the cotton pillow filling depends on the sleeping position. Usually, it is considered best for the side sleepers.

Water Pillow Filling

Water pillows include a plastic reservoir that is wrapped in polyester foam or an alternative, such as fiberfill. Water pillows are a favorite due to their unchanging and reliable support.

  • Supportive, keeping the head elevated at all times
  • Aids in relieving pain
  • Adjustable; you can adjust it to be either thick or thin according to your desire
  • Not moldable
  • Some can be wrapped in fiberfill, which may be too soft
  • Have potential to leak, making your mattress and pillow wet
Best for
Works best for sleepers who sleep on their backs, but side sleepers will also appreciate it.

Wrap up

There are many pillow varieties available on the market. The pillow types mentioned are the popular and mainstream pillow choices readily available these days. All these pillow types offer pros and cons, so it depends on the individual to choose a pillow type accordingly.

We recommend you try a variety of pillows before you purchase one and check what materials the cushions are made of. Test different headrests in different sleeping positions, and monitor the overall comfort. This helps you make the right decision.

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