If there is one thing that I have discovered in the design and furniture world, you always get what you pay for. Forget the Odell’s sale they have (every) Friday and Saturday “only”…I firmly believe in finding a piece of furniture suitable to you and your family and saving up for it. If you find you need a couch where the springs won’t sag, invest in a good one. If it’s out of your price range right now, save a little longer, and you will be happy with the results.
This was re-affirmed to me again when I discovered a whole new category in this business a few days ago. I have been working on a boy’s bedroom (you’ll be able to see it in a later post) for my son, and I got down to the pillow inserts (you have to price everything). The company I was looking at had an insert for $65 dollars, and I thought I could beat that price, so I went searching. As I was searching, I discovered a wealth of information about down (sometimes called feather) pillows, and I thought I would share some of it with you. The joy of learning is that it never stops, right?
(photo from publicdomainpictures.net)
I’ve always assumed a down pillow was the pillow your grandma had, and it always went flat. Little quills came out every once in awhile and poked you. (Somehow they missed feather pillow courses in design school…maybe a new class needs to be started). Anyway, just to get us started, there is a major difference between feather pillows and down pillows. Who knew there were two categories? Obviously I’ve just had feather pillows. Down pillows have absolutely no spines in them, and they can last you a decade (if you take care of them) without going totally flat. And no surprise here, they cost you much more than the “down” pillows sold at box stores. There is literally another industry just dealing in high-quality, down pillows and comforters.
When I started searching down pillows (feather pillows are out), I started reading numbers with “fill power” after them. What was that all about? 550 fill power, 700 fill power, 800 fill power… ?????? I found a great explanation by Down and Feather Company. Here’s a basic rule to follow: the higher the fill power the higher quality pillow it is. 600 down fill came from a smaller, younger bird. 800 fill power clusters are more expensive because there are fewer, older birds. Keeping a bird alive for that long is time consuming and expensive, so it is harder to get 800 down fill, therefore, the pillow costs you more. This is the major factor to go by, but quality is also affected by what type of bird it came from (Canadian goose vs. European vs. Chinese), and how it was cleaned.
I was also seeing these types of numbers: 5/95. This is percentage of down that is clustered. A higher cluster count equals better quality.
Down pillows are machine washable, feather pillows are not. If anything, you could check the cleaning instructions and know if it was a down pillow or a feather pillow. I’ve not studied this long enough to know if manufacturers label there items clearly, but my guess in not. I would check if they say where the down came from…if it isn’t stated, your best bet would be China, where it might not have been carefully farmed and cleaned. And as we do a full circle back to the beginning, a good pillow will cost you a lot more. A common price I’ve found is the $300 range for a standard 20 X 26 pillow…not cheap.
For more information, I’ve located two very high quality sites you might want to peek at: Plumeria Bay and the Down and Feather Company. These pillows are labeled to show exactly what they are, where they came from, and how the down was cleaned. These are high-end pillows, but it will give you something to judge everything else by.
Now, am I in the market for a $300 pillow for my boy? Definately not right now, but I will be interested in looking at down comforters soon. I’ve had two very cheap ones (one is definately just feather and perfectly flat now) and the other is a synthetic fill, which has gobbed together in spots and left other spots empty. This makes a very lumpy comforter with cold spots, and I would definately consider spending my money on a good one.
I hope this gets you thinking the next time you are out shopping…that “great deal” is most likely just be a cheaper product, so watch out! Anyone have down or feather stories to share? Leave them as a comment, and others will enjoy reading them!