How to Make Your Goose Down Pillows Last Longer

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

A goose (or duck) down pillow is the pinnacle of luxury bedding.

Provided that you are not allergic, a down pillow is one of the best investments that you can make for your bedroom.

Splurging money on an expensive goose-down pillow might sound like an unnecessary luxury, but they’re well worth the money. Not only are they much plusher than any synthetic material, but they last much longer as well.

You will replace a cheap polyester pillow two or three times before you’ll have to replace a good down pillow. With the proper care, a down pillow will definitely last a while.

goose down pillows on a bed


What is awhile? 

A down pillow should last you anywhere between 5 to 8 years.

If you take care of it properly, it could even last up to 10 years. With proper maintenance and care, 10 years is a lot more realistic than you might think!

Here are some tips on how to take care of your down pillows, to ensure that you get the most out of your investment.


Use a pillow protector

Most people use a pillowcase with their pillows – it’s pretty standard. Pillow protectors, however, are not as commonly used.

A pillow protector is one of the easiest ways to protect a pillow. A pillow protector not only keeps your pillow free from stains, sweat, oil, and other contaminants.

They also keep unwanted bugs out. Dust mites will transform a once plump and fluffy pillow, into a flat mess.


a pillow encased in a pillow protector


Keeping your pillows clean means having to wash them less often. The more you wash a pillow, the sooner the fill inside breaks down.

The moral of the story is – down clusters do not handle abuse very well. 

A good pillow protector will keep your pillows looking clean and fresh, keep pillow-destroying pests out, and elongate the life of your pillows.



Launder properly

Generally speaking, you’ll want to wash your pillow once every 3 to 4 months.

When you wash your pillow, do so properly, according to the washing instructions on the tag. Down is very fragile in nature, and needs to be taken care of.

The instructions will likely indicate washing in cold water, on your machine’s gentle setting. Use a mild detergent – liquid preferably, not powder.

Also, avoid bleach, and liquid fabric softeners (more about this in the next section).

Avoid adding other items or clothing to the machine, and remove any pillowcases or protectors before washing.


a pair of pillows in a washing machine


Ideally, you’ll want to wash two pillows at a time to decrease the available space inside the washer or dryer. A solo pillow will tend to bounce around too much.



Dry properly

After you have properly washed your down-filled pillow, you’ll have to dry it properly. Wet or damp down can easily attract and grow mold.

So drying the pillow thoroughly is key.

Dry the pillow(s) on your lowest heat setting, and toss a set of wool dryer balls in there to help keep the down fluffed and clump-free.


a set of wool dryer balls which are placed in the drying machine



The wool dryer balls also soften fabrics as well. You can use them instead of dryer sheets when doing laundry.

If you prefer to let your garments air dry outside, start the process early enough in the day so that they are dry by night. Down clusters, because of their shape, can hold several times their own weight in water.

Depending on the temperature, a pillow will take several more hours to completely dry than regular clothing items.


Fluff your pillows when you make your bed

If you don’t use pillow protectors, fluff your pillows daily.

Your pillows will be covered in a thin layer of dust, dandruff, etc. Keeping your pillow as clean as possible will make them less attractive to dust mites.


a woman fluffing a down pillow


Fluffing your pillows also serves a second function. When you wake up, you’ll probably notice that the pillow has taken on an indent from where you slept on it.

That indent also causes compression to the down inside. Compression wears the goose down fill over time.



Rotate your pillows every night

All pillows have a common wear pattern, and the majority of it is usually where the pillow meets your head and your shoulder(s). Your head and shoulders are a high friction area – and that friction causes wear and stress on the down clusters.

Regardless of which position the pillow is in, your head will be around the center of the pillow. Your shoulders, however, align with the edges.

To ensure that your pillow wears evenly, rotate it every night (or when you make the bed in the morning). The portion that was at the top of the bed, will now face the foot of the bed.



Repair it, don’t replace

From time to time, you may notice that a few down clusters have leaked out – which isn’t a big deal. 

If on the other hand, you notice that a handful or more has leaked out, then you probably have an edge or a seam that has busted open.

Your first instinct might be to replace the pillow outright – but repairing a pillow is actually quite easy – especially if you have basic needle and thread skills.

You can purchase replacement down fill in increments as little as 1/4 lb, which is usually enough to refill and repair your average pillow, at a fraction of the cost of a replacement.


a handful of replacement fill for a pillow


To repair a down pillow, locate the hole, and enlarge it if necessary. Replace the missing fill, and then sew the opening shut with a needle and thread. 

It’s that simple!

The entire process should take less than 5 minutes.

If you need more information, this guide is about refilling a down comforter, but the process is more or less the same.



Don’t abuse it

Avoid using your down pillows for anything other than sleeping. That means no punching your pillows out of frustration, no pillow fights, etc.


a couple having a pillow fight in bed

As mentioned earlier, down clusters are fragile in nature, and friction can really take its toll. A down pillow should only be used for sleeping!



Don’t compress

For the same reasons as above, avoid compressing your pillows for storage.

It might be tempting to vacuum seal a pillow when it’s not in use, but it will reduce your pillow’s lifespan. The compression just adds more friction to down, which is a fairly fragile material, to begin with.


pillows being compressed for storage



Use the proper density

Finally, use a comforter of the proper density for you.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, use a soft density pillow. If you’re a back sleeper, use a medium-weight pillow. And if you’re a side sleeper, use a firm pillow.


a woman in different sleeping positions

Pillows that are too soft, or too firm receive much more abuse than a pillow of the correct density.

Think about it – if your pillow is too firm, you will press down much harder to squish it down. If your pillow is too soft, you might scrunch all of the down towards the middle to make it loftier.

All of that abuse just wears down the fill inside.


Final thoughts

Following the guidelines above should get the most out of your down pillows. If you maintain your pillows correctly and avoid unnecessary abuse, they will last for years to come.

And if you decide to only follow one of the steps above – use a pillow protector. We can’t stress it enough. There’s a reason why it was the first tip on the list.

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