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Love the soft, fluffy feel of a traditional down pillow, but not so fond of the allergies it provokes or the fact it’s made from animal products? The answer might lie in a down alternative pillow.

Down alternative pillows seek to imitate the feel of a down pillow by using cotton or polyester fibers with many of the same qualities. In contrast to down pillows, down alternative pillows are more affordable, less morally questionable, and less likely to provoke an allergy attack. What’s more, they’re often just as comfortable, and they won’t trap heat.

Sound like a dream come true? Keep reading for our full guide to down alternative pillows. We’ll delve into more details about their benefits and drawbacks, and provide some advice about the best down alternative pillows currently on the market.

In-Depth Reviews

  • Pros

    1. Soft, dual-layer down alternative fill creates a cloud-like surface for the head and neck

    2. Breathable organic cotton cover helps the pillow stay cool

    3. 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty

  • Cons

    1. Stomach sleepers might prefer a thinner pillow

    2. May require frequent fluffing

Price Range

$105 – $125


Down Alternative



The Saatva Down Alternative Pillow stands apart from its competitors thanks to its multi-layered fill. Clusters of polyester down alternative line the base of the pillow to form a support layer that keeps your head and neck on an even plane, while a top layer of silky-soft microdenier fibers recreate the luxurious plushness of real down.

The cover is composed of organic cotton, which is both soft and breathable. Thin piping runs along the seams to prevent rips and tears that can lead to fill escaping. The mid-level thickness will be ideal for many back sleepers, as well as side sleepers who don’t require too much loft. The moldable construction makes it a good choice for those who enjoy snuggling with pillows while they sleep.

Customers can add two cotton sateen pillowcases to their order for an extra fee, and those who purchase two queen or two king sizes will receive a discount of $20 and $40, respectively. Shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S., and each order is backed by a 45-night trial and a one-year warranty.

  • Pros

    1. Plush fill made of PET fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles

    2. Shell composed of soft, smooth cotton sateen

    3. Each order backed by a year-long sleep trial

  • Cons

    1. Not machine-washable

    2. Frequent fluffing required to distribute fill evenly

Price Range

$45 – $85


Shaved microfiber fill



The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow has a luxuriously plush feel. The fiber fill is composed of PET material, which is derived from recycled plastic bottles. This makes the pillow a good choice for those with environmental concerns as well as animal-conscious individuals, those with allergies to real down, and other great candidates for down alternative bedding.

A cotton sateen shell encases the fill. The fabric is silky-smooth and breathable, and the weave produces a lustrous sheen. Brooklinen does not recommend machine washing the pillow, nor should you iron it. Instead, spot clean the cover if stains occur or dry clean when the entire pillow needs to be refreshed. Customers can choose from standard and king sizes, as well as a Euro-style option with a square shape.

The Down Alternative Pillow’s sticker price is quite affordable, even compared to similarly constructed models from other brands, and Brooklinen offers free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Each customer receives a generous 365-night sleep trial with their purchase, during which they can use the pillow and return it if they are not satisfied.

  • Pros

    1. Three firmness options

    2. Breathable Lyocell cover made from recycled plastic

    3. Recycled PET fibers regulate internal airflow

  • Cons

    1. May feel too soft for sleepers who prefer responsive pillows

    2. Not machine-washable

Price Range

$55 – $70


Recycled PET fibers


Soft, Medium, Firm

Eco-conscious shoppers looking for a luxuriously soft down alternative pillow should look no further than the Buffy Cloud Pillow. The pillow is made from recycled materials, and it comes in three firmness levels. All three offer generous cushioning to relieve pressure in the neck. 

Each pillow’s core features PET fibers made from 24 to 30 recycled water bottles. This fill encourages internal airflow and creates a plush, lofty feel. A Lyocell shell made from recycled plastic encases the pillow. The fabric is breathable and soft to the touch, and it has moisture-wicking properties. This makes the pillow a great choice for people who live in warm or humid climates, as well as those who tend to sweat at night. 

Soft, medium, and firm options are available. Our testing found the softest model best for stomach sleepers, who appreciated the flatter sleep surface. Back sleepers on our team enjoyed the medium model’s balanced feel. The firmest model should appeal to side sleepers, offering extra support to keep their spines aligned. 

Standard and king sizes are available, and Buffy ships free to the contiguous U.S. You have 7 nights to test out the pillow before you are charged for the purchase. After the week trial, the Cloud Pillow is backed by a 45-night return period.

  • Pros

    1. Down alternative fill composed of plant-based material for above-average cooling and durability

    2. Cotton cover feels silky-smooth to the touch

    3. Fully machine washable for easy care

  • Cons

    1. Above-average price-point

    2. May be too thick for some stomach sleepers

Price Range

$135 – $150


Plant-based down alternative fibers



Most down alternative pillows are fairly inexpensive and suitable for shoppers with limited funds, but a high-quality design and premium materials elevates the Sweet Zzz Plant-Based pillow over many competing models. The down alternative clusters that make up the fill are derived from plant-based matter, resulting in exceptional breathability. The fill also resists clumping quite well, so the pillow’s expected lifespan is longer than average.

A cover made of smooth cotton encases the pillow, making it suitable for people with sensitive skin who experience irritation or discomfort with coarser fabrics. The entire pillow is completely machine washable, saving you time and money whenever a cleaning is needed. Wash in cold water on a gentle cycle with like colors, then tumble dry low. Queen and king sizes are available.

All customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free ground delivery with their Plant-Based Pillow order and Sweet Zzz’s shipping rates for Canadian shoppers are reasonable. Your purchase includes a 50-night sleep trial, as well as a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty that covers structural defects.

  • Pros

    1. Breathable 100% cotton cover regulates temperature

    2. Removable shredded memory foam for a customizable feel

    3. 100-night sleep trial

  • Cons

    1. Foam might retain too much heat for hot sleepers despite the breathable cover

    2. May emit slight off-gassing odor at first

Price Range

$75 – $85


Shredded memory foam core with down alternative microfiber outer chamber



The Silk & Snow Pillow has a highly adjustable design for sleepers who are unsure of their loft needs or have needs that change from night to night. This model offers a thoughtful, chambered construction at an affordable price.

A cover made from 100% cotton encases the pillow. The breathable fabric helps keep the surface cool. The outer chamber features down alternative fill for a plush initial feel. Shredded memory foam makes up the core, offering plenty of cushion for the head and neck to relieve pressure. The shredded design also facilitates more airflow than a pillow with a solid foam construction.

The pillow loft measures 3.5 inches when it first arrives, but customers can remove the shredded memory foam to achieve a loft that best suits them. Two sizes are available: standard and king. You can wash the pillow shell in household machines.

Silk & Snow ships free to the contiguous U.S., and the company offers a 100-night sleep trial. Customers can return pillows after the 30-night break-in period. Pillow purchases are backed by a 3-year warranty.

  • Pros

    1. Breathable, GOTS-certified organic cotton cover

    2. Shredded latex and kapok fibers gently cradle the neck to relieve pressure

    3. Fill can be added or removed to adjust the loft

  • Cons

    1. Not suitable for sleepers with a latex allergy

    2. May be too bouncy for people who prefer a fluffy feel

Price Range

$89 – $109


GOLS-certified shredded latex and GOTS-certified kapok fibers



The Avocado Green Pillow’s cover and core are made from materials that boast certifications from the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). These certifications ensure the components were sustainably grown and processed in an eco-friendly manner.

The pillow shell is made from GOTS-certified organic cotton, which is naturally breathable and helps regulate temperature. GOLS-certified shredded latex and GOTS-certified kapok fibers in the pillow core cradle the head and neck to relieve pressure, while the shredded design encourages airflow. Sleepers can add or remove fill to customize the pillow for their needs, and each purchase comes with an extra bag of fill. Thanks to the adjustable design and the mid-range feel, our testers across sleeping positions enjoyed the pillow, particularly those weighing up to 230 pounds.

Three sizes are available: standard, queen, and king. The pillow cover is fully removable and machine-washable, but you should only spot clean the core materials. Customers living in the contiguous U.S. are eligible for free shipping. The Avocado Green Pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 1-year warranty.

  • Pros

    1. Polyester down alternative fill has a soft, luxurious feel

    2. Dual-chamber design offers a balance of cushioning and support

    3. Breathable cotton shell

  • Cons

    1. Side sleepers may need a firmer and thicker pillow

    2. Might require frequent fluffing to ensure the fill doesn’t clump up

Price Range






The Company Store LaCrosse LoftAIRE Down Alternative Dual Chamber Pillow is a plush model that captures the luxuriously lofty feel of a hotel pillow. It’s a great option for sleepers who love pillows that you can sink right into at the end of a long day.

The pillow is filled with polyester that mimics the softness of down without the animal sourcing. The dual chamber design features an inner and outer core. The inner core contains firm fill for support while the outer core has a softer composition that compresses deeply under the weight of your head. The shell is composed of 250 thread count cotton.

You can choose between three sizes — standard, queen, and king, measuring 3, 4, and 5 inches thick respectively. Due to the medium feel, our product team recommends the pillow for back sleepers, since it’s supportive and thick enough to elevate the head without cranking it too high. Stomach sleepers typically need a thin pillow to avoid neck pain, so we recommend the standard pillow for these sleepers. Side sleepers will likely need a firmer, thicker pillow to support the head and neck.

The Company Store offers free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Orders under $75 incur a $8.99 flat rate shipping fee. You may return the item within 30 days for a refund minus a small shipping fee.

Best Down Alternative Pillow Video

In the video below, our product testers explore some of our top down alternative pillow picks. Watch the video to get a better idea of how each pillow looks and feels.

What is a Down Alternative Pillow?

Down alternative pillows are made with polyester fibers, or more rarely cotton fibers, that are designed to mimic the properties of down. The fibers are spun in such a way as to have a soft and fluffy feel that rivals down, but at a much lower price-point. Down alternative pillows may include technology such as gel fibers to boost attributes like softness and cooling.

Despite being more affordable than real down pillows, down alternative pillows are lightweight and huggable, just like the real thing. While actual down is made from the softest feathers of ducks and geese, down alternative does not contain any animal parts. This makes down alternative a good choice for ethically minded consumers and people who suffer from allergies.

How to Choose a Down Alternative Pillow

As they’re made of fluffy synthetic fibers, most down alternative pillows have a low-to-medium loft and a fairly soft feel. They’re relatively adaptable and can be made to suit most sleeping styles. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of down alternative pillows, and provide advice on how to choose the right loft, firmness level, size, and shape.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Down Alternative Pillow

Many down alternative pillows appear similar at first glance. Furthermore, bedding companies can often use confusing marketing terms to vaunt the advantages of their products. This makes it difficult to compare pillows from different manufacturers, making it even trickier to know which pillow is right for you.

Understanding the primary factors that influence pillow performance is key to knowing what attributes to look for. We’ve provided a summary of the most important factors to help you find the pillow that best suits your sleeping style.

The loft of a pillow refers to how high it sits. Pillows with a thicker loft will keep your head at a sharper angle compared to flatter pillows. Since down alternative pillows tend to compress when you lie on them, you may consider buying a pillow with a slightly higher loft. Alternatively, you can buy a down alternative pillow with extra filling and adjust it until you find the loft that allows your head to sit at a comfortable angle.

The support provided by a pillow is determined mostly by its loft, firmness, and contouring ability. Most down alternative pillows offer a medium level of support, which should be sufficient for most sleepers, but may cause neck strain in those who require closer contouring or a firmer surface. Some sleepers may find that scrunching the pillow into shape can help bolster the neck.

Firmness Level
The tighter a pillow is packed with down alternative filling, the firmer it will feel. That said, down alternative is inherently fluffy and there’s a limit to how firm it can get. Those who need a firmer surface may prefer a buckwheat or latex pillow.

Pressure Relief
Although they don’t contour to the same extent as memory foam pillows, down alternative pillows are much softer than buckwheat or latex pillows. As a result, common pressure points that tend to form in places like the ears shouldn’t be a problem with a down alternative pillow.

Unlike memory foam pillows which can come molded to any form, most down alternative pillows come in a classic rectangular shape. They can be further pummeled to fit the space you need, but left alone they will usually spring back to their original shape. Down alternative pillows are somewhat high-maintenance in that they must be constantly re-fluffed to avoid flattening out and developing lumps.

Pillows can cost well into the hundreds of dollars depending on their materials and build. Down alternative pillows tend to be among the cheapest, although shoppers should keep in mind that they’ll need to be replaced every few years.

Quality Materials
The quality of the materials used to make a pillow have an impact on its durability, as well as its ability to provide support and pressure relief. Poor-quality materials may feel welcoming at first but are usually quick to break down. Down alternative made with polyester fiber is usually not very high quality. If you’re concerned about this, look for a pillow that blends down alternative with shredded memory foam or latex to make it more resistant.

Many sleepers appreciate the ability to mold their pillow to some extent. Down alternative lends itself well to this, taking on any form you punch it into and returning to its original shape afterward.

Temperature Regulation
A pillow that traps heat can be terribly uncomfortable, especially for those who run hot or who live in warm climates. Luckily, down alternative pillows have a breathable structure and are known for staying cool throughout the night.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Down Alternative Pillows?

Down alternative pillows are cool, soft, and allergy-friendly. What’s not to love? The following are some of the major pros and cons.

  • Soft and Lightweight: Down alternative comes close to rivaling real down for softness, and since it doesn’t weigh very much, it’s easy to move.
  • Cruelty-free: For those who like the softness of down but prefer to keep the animals out of it, down alternative may present a more ethical choice.
  • Allergy-friendly: Some pillows may trap dust, but in general, down alternative is usually made of synthetic fibers that don’t provoke allergies as real down would.
  • Easy to care for: In contrast to other pillow types, most down alternative pillows can be machine-washed and -dried.
  • Punchable: Like real down pillows, down alternative pillows are highly scrunchable and can be molded into the user’s preferred shape.
  • Affordable: Down alternative pillows are one of the cheapest types of pillows, with a much lower price tag than real down.
  • Sleep cool: Whether made of polyester fiber or cotton, down alternative doesn’t trap heat, and the fluffy composition of the pillow allows room for airflow to keep the temperature neutral.
  • Adjustable firmness: Many manufacturers offer the option to add or remove filling so users can customize the loft and firmness according to their sleeping position.
  • Odor-free: Down alternative is usually made of polyester microfiber or cotton, neither of which has a strong smell.
  • Easy to find: Down alternative is one of the most common material types, and consequently there is a wide range of down alternative pillows to choose from.
  • Not durable: While down alternative pillows can be re-fluffed to some extent, most down alternative pillows gradually lose their fluffiness and get flatter over time.
  • Loose conforming: Down alternative doesn’t conform as closely as materials like memory foam, which may affect its ability to provide pressure relief in sleepers with more sensitive needs.
  • Poor support: As with a real down or feather pillow, down alternative is known to compress significantly under the sleeper’s head, which can lead to neck and shoulder pain in side sleepers or those who weigh more than 230 pounds. A gusseted edge may help mitigate this problem.
  • Noisy: Down alternative can produce some noise when shifting positions, and some down alternative pillows also have a crackly cover.
  • Lumpy: Some sleepers may find their pillow feels increasingly lumpy as the contents clump together.

Who is Best Suited to a Down Alternative Pillow?

Down alternative pillows sleep cool and are versatile enough to be used for any sleeping position. They also present an attractive alternative for allergy sufferers or those concerned about the ethics of animal products.

  • Sleepers of Most Positions: Because they can be adjusted for firmness and loft, down alternative pillows work well for stomach, back, and side sleepers. Stomach sleepers should find that low-loft pillows flatten out nicely to reduce twisting of the neck. Firmer, higher-loft pillows can be scrunched into shape for back and side sleepers or those with a more eclectic sleeping style.
  • Sleepers Who Have Down Allergies: Down alternative is an allergy-free option for people who suffer from allergies to animal dander. Most down alternative pillows are also resistant to dust mites and mold.
  • Hot Sleepers: Down alternative pillows are highly breathable, making them popular with those who sleep hot.
  • Those Opposed to Animal Products: Down pillows are soft and luxurious, but they present an ethical problem for people who try to avoid animal products. The next best thing is down alternative, which offers many of the same advantages without the moral dilemma.

Who is not suited:

  • Sleepers with Neck Pain: Down alternative pillows don’t always stay put like latex, and they don’t offer the close conforming of memory foam. This means they may not be suitable for people with neck pain, as this group needs sturdier support to keep the head, neck, and spine aligned. Those who do choose a down alternative pillow should opt for a higher loft than normal to compensate for the fact that the pillow will sink a little when lying on it.
  • Those with Sleep Apnea: Snorers and people who suffer from sleep apnea do best with a pillow that keeps the head elevated. This helps open the airway, reducing the chances of restricted breathing. Unfortunately, most down alternative pillows are not supportive enough to maintain the head at this angle. Sleepers who use a CPAP machine may also find this hard to accommodate with a down alternative pillow.
  • Sleepers Over 230 Pounds: Since down alternative compresses under weight, sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds may find it fails to provide sufficient support.

Which Down Alternative Pillow Sizes Are Available?

Down alternative pillows come in most of the standard mattress sizes. The exact dimensions may vary between manufacturers.

Standard – Standard pillows measure 20 by 26 inches. Their relatively small size makes them suitable for use with any size mattress, including a twin or full sized mattress. They’re also a good option for people who like sleeping right up to the edge of their pillow. Almost all manufacturers offer a standard option.

Super Standard – Two inches larger than standard pillows, Super Standard pillows measure in at 20 by 28 inches. This is a less common size, but may be a good option for those who need just a little bit more length. You may also see these under the name “Jumbo Pillow.”

Queen – The queen size pillow is one of the most common, in large part due to the popularity of queen size mattresses. At 20 by 30 inches, this size is ideal for a queen mattress or for anyone who wants a slightly longer pillow.

King – King size pillows measure 20 by 36 inches. This is significantly longer than a queen size pillow and may be perfect for sleepers who tend to shift from side to side throughout the night. It’s also long enough to make a useful prop when sitting up in bed.

Body Pillow – Body pillows usually measure 20 by 54 inches. Many side sleepers find that “hugging” a body pillow helps align the hips and knees in order to improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure points.

Frequently Asked Questions About Down Alternative Pillows

How much do down alternative pillows cost?

The average price for a down alternative pillow is between $20 and $30. High-quality down alternative pillows can range up to $80. Proprietary materials, cooling technology such as phase-change material or gel beads, and the quality of the cover can all raise the price-point.

How do I clean a down alternative pillow? 

Most down alternative pillows are machine-washable and can be tumble-dried on low heat. Adding a tennis ball to the dryer can help ensure the pillow dries evenly and stays fluffy. Always be sure to check the care instructions before washing the pillow for the first time, as some may be dry-clean or spot-clean only.

Where can I buy a down alternative pillow?

Down alternative pillows are easy to find online and in brick-and-mortar stores. This gives them another advantage over feather and down pillows, which are comparatively rare.

How long do down alternative pillows last?

The average down pillow lasts around 2 years before needing to be replaced. Machine-drying the pillow and fluffing it regularly can help boost the loft for a while, but eventually, the contents will flatten out and the pillow will be unable to maintain its original height. As this lifespan is on the short end for a pillow, it’s something to keep in mind when setting your budget.

Are down alternative pillows adjustable?

Down alternative pillows are adjustable in that users can add or remove filling to change the loft, and scrunch the pillow into shape. However, it’s not as common to find down alternative pillows with removable inserts or other personalizable features. Those who want a specific shape, such as a cervical neck pillow, would do better to look for a material that holds its shape, like memory foam or latex.

Do down alternative pillows have an odor?

Unlike real down or memory foam pillows, brand-new down alternative pillows have little to no odor. This is a major benefit for people who are sensitive to smell.

Still have questions?

Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market.

Send an email to [email protected] with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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