Top 10 Reasons to Avoid a Goose Down Pillow

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

The term goose down pillow has become synonymous with the word pillow. Most first-time pillow buyers automatically gravitate towards a goose down pillow because they think they should.

If that’s you, or if you’re just not sure if a goose down pillow is right for you, here is our top 10 list for who/when NOT to buy a goose down pillow.

While goose down pillows are rightfully considered as the peak of luxury – as it pertains to pillows – they aren’t right for everyone, or for every situation.

A quick note before we begin: If you love goose down pillows, and enjoy sleeping on them, then ignore this list, and continue using yours.

This list is for those who are generally happy with most types of pillows and are on the fence about what to purchase.


1.) Cost

Goose down pillows can get expensive!

A good down alternative pillow can be purchased for a fraction of the price, and will last nearly as long as a good quality down pillow.

the features and benefits of a down alternative pillow

If you’re not a fussy sleeper and your budget is limited, save your money, and buy a down alternative pillow instead. These pillows are usually filled with blown polyester – which has a texture remarkably similar to actual down.

They come in soft, medium, and firm densities just like down pillows and are similarly soft and squishy.

Not only are polyester pillows more affordable, but they are easier to maintain as well.


2.) Maintenance

A goose-down pillow isn’t for you if you’re not in the habit of maintaining things. Goose-down pillows aren’t “high maintenance”, but they do require a bit of love – like most natural materials.

They need to be washed and dried correctly, and they should not be abused in any way.

Down fill is quite delicate and needs to be handled gently. Down pillows are expensive as it is, and only get more costly when you need to replace them more often than you should.

If you are the type to “set it and forget it”, an alternative material is probably best for you.


3.) If you are a side sleeper

Again, this matters if you don’t really care about what type of pillow you use. 

If you’re a side sleeper, and you don’t have a preference, opt for something more affordable.

a woman sleeping on her side

Side sleepers generally require a firmer pillow that offers more support. Firmer pillows have a higher fill weight. More fill = more money.

Needless to say, firm goose-down pillows can run very expensive!

If you are a side sleeper and prefer the softness that down provides, check out down surround pillows. They are ideal for side sleepers.

Down surround pillows – also referred to as “chamber pillows” – contain an inner chamber filled with feathers for support and structure, surrounded by outer chambers filled with goose down for a plush surface feel.

They provide the loft that a side sleeper needs, but don’t feel rigid or blocky like memory foam pillows.

a cross-section of a chamber pillow

4.) If you are a stomach sleeper

Goose down pillows aren’t impossible to use if you’re a stomach sleeper. They’re just not optimal. 

Stomach sleepers need a pillow that’s of shallow depth, yet consistent all the way through. Down pillows tend to crater where your head sits.

a woman sleeping on her stomach


Generally, stomach sleepers are steered towards a “soft” pillow.

Since there isn’t much fill inside of a soft pillow, you end up being squarely at mattress level – which doesn’t result in the correct amount of support.

Soft density goose down-filled pillows are generally a bad choice – regardless of your sleeping position.


5.) For children

For the same reason as people who don’t like to maintain a pillow, children are also not the optimal user of a goose down pillow. Children tend to abuse a pillow, particularly with pillow fights.


children pillow-fighting in bed


If you’ve noticed down leaking from your children’s pillows, that’s probably the reason why. If your child doesn’t have a pillow preference, stick with something more affordable.

Children’s bedding tends to get replaced more often. That being the case, down pillows for a child are probably not the best choice. 


6.) Allergies

If you have allergies, then you probably already knew this one. If you’re purchasing a pillow(s) for someone with allergies, it might be best to stay away from goose down filled pillows.

When in doubt, just ask the person who will be using the pillow, but in general a down alternative pillow is the best way to go.


7.) If you prefer a pillow with a consistent form

Goose down pillows, even firm-density varieties, tend to compress down. If you have a large head or a large frame, you probably prefer a pillow that keeps its shape.

a pair of chamber pillows on a chair

If you enjoy the plush feel of a goose down pillow, try a feather/down blend pillow – like a 5/95 pillow. These pillows are filled with 5% down, and 95% feather. The feather fill provides consistent support, while the goose down offers a soft, and plush feel.


8.) If you fall asleep regardless of what you’re sleeping on

If you’re the type that can fall asleep anywhere, and anytime, save your money and purchase something cheaper. You’ll probably never truly appreciate what a goose down pillow offers.


9.) If you like to wash your pillows often

If you’re the type that needs his or her bedding to be spotless constantly, a goose down pillow is not your best choice.

a pillow being placed inside of a washing machine

Goose down fill is a delicate material, and frequent washing puts a lot of wear on the fragile feathers. Frequent washing (multiple times per month) will greatly reduce the lifespan of a goose down pillow.

If you aren’t very picky about pillow type and feel the need to wash your pillows often, a polyester-filled pillow might be a better option. They are cheaper and can stand up to the abuse.


10.) If you prefer a lofty pillow

People who prefer a lofty pillow also prefer for the pillow to stay lofty. As we mentioned, down pillows do compress, and whatever little loft they provide soon disappears under your head.

a gusseted pillow on a bed

If a lofty pillow is your preference, you would probably appreciate the following pillow types: 5/95, memory foam, or shredded latex.



There you have it, that’s our list! Goose down pillows are definitely a crowd-pleaser. They get all of the shine when it comes to pillows, and deservedly so. But not everyone needs, or will like a down pillow. 

Before you spend your money, take a look at what you really need, what your habits are, and your lifestyle, and make a choice appropriately. 


Did we miss anything? Do you think something else should be added to this list? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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