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Best Polyester Pillows

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Written by

Lauren Fountain


Polyester pillows are a firm favorite with anyone on a budget. Soft, cuddly, and breathable, it’s not surprising they’ve become one of the most common pillow types.

Made with hundreds of fluffy polyester fibers, or poly fibers, polyester pillows can be tailored to suit the needs of side, back, or stomach sleepers. Polyester is quick-drying and can usually be machine-washed to keep the pillow fresh.

Tempted by the benefits of a polyester pillow, but not sure whether it’s right for you? We’ll discuss everything you need to know to make the right decision, providing buyer advice as well as our recommendations for the best polyester pillows on the market today.

The Best Polyester Pillows

Product Details

Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow

Best Overall

Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow

Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow
Price: $59 - Standard $79 - King
Fill: Shaved microfiber filling
Firmness: Plush, Mid-Plush, Firm
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Those who need extra time to test out new pillows
  • Three firmness options for varying levels of support
  • Smooth cotton sateen shell
  • 365-night trial period
Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow

SF readers get the best price at Brooklinen

The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow boasts a versatile design that appeals to different types of sleepers. Customers can choose from three firmness levels, depending on how much they would like their heads to sink. Side sleepers are more likely to gravitate toward the firm option, while back sleepers may prefer the plush or mid-plush levels instead. A 6-inch profile keeps the head and neck comfortably elevated without compromising spinal alignment.

The fill consists of down alternative microfibers with a soft, lightweight feel reminiscent of real down, but without the allergy potential. An animal-free design also makes the pillow a good option for consumers who enjoy the feel of down but would rather not purchase animal-derived products. The cotton sateen shell is soft and smooth, creating a comfortable surface for those with sensitive skin, and the fabric is breathable enough to promote decent airflow. The edges are double-stitched to prevent fill from escaping.

Brooklinen offers discounts for customers who purchase more than one Down Alternative Pillow. These discounts can save you up to 20% on your order. The company’s 365-night sleep trial also far surpasses the return periods for most competing pillow and bedding brands.

Quince Premium Down Alternative Pillow

Best Value

Quince Premium Down Alternative Pillow

Quince Premium Down Alternative Pillow
Price: $80 - Standard $90 - King
Fill: Down alternative microfibers
Firmness: Medium soft, medium firm
Who it's best for:
  • People who are allergic to real down
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who want a pillow that comes with a long trial period
  • Choose from two firmness levels
  • Breathable fill and cover promote cool sleep
  • 365-night sleep trial for all orders
Quince Premium Down Alternative Pillow

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Quince pillows

Although most polyester pillows are affordably priced compared to other pillow types, some models sacrifice quality to cut costs even further. With the Quince Premium Down Alternative Pillow, you’ll get the best of both worlds – a durable, well-constructed pillow that also carries a reasonable sticker price. To sweeten the deal, Quince offers free shipping for all orders and the company’s trial period spans an entire year.

You can select from two firmness levels for your pillow. The medium soft option provides the plushest surface, creating a cloud-like feel for the head and neck, while the medium firm option is more supportive without sacrificing the fill’s gentle cradling. Those who are allergic to down shouldn’t experience any symptoms, and the pillow does not contain any animal-based components. A smooth, breathable cotton sateen shell encases the fill.

The entire pillow can be washed and dried in household machines for quick and convenient care. You may also have the pillow dry cleaned if you prefer this method. Standard and king sizes are available.

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Best for Side Sleepers

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Price: $120
Fill: 75% Latex and 25% Polyester Fiber
Firmness: Medium, adjustable
Who it's best for:
  • People with sharp pressure points around their necks
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who prefer pillows with adjustable loft
  • Contoured design delivers excellent head and neck support
  • Reduces pressure on the shoulders and neck
  • Encourages spinal alignment for side sleepers
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

SleepFoundation readers get 20% off. Discount automatically applied to cart.

The Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow from Eli & Elm features a contoured U-shaped design that allows you to lie comfortably on your side without compromising your spinal alignment – a common source of pain and pressure points for people who primarily use this sleep position. In contrast, traditionally shaped pillows often create too much of a barrier between the head and neck, leading to alignment issues.

While the pillow’s cover is made of a stretchy cotton and polyester blend, the fill is composed from a blend of shredded Talalay latex and polyester batting. The latex is soft yet springy to cushion and support the head, while the batting provides extra padding to keep the pillow from feeling too firm. This pillow offers adjustable loft, meaning you can add or remove the fill to increase or decrease the overall thickness.

The Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow is also a good option for hot sleepers thanks to its breathable cover and fill materials. To clean the pillow, remove the fill before washing and drying the cover in your household machines.

Compared to other pillows with latex fill and adjustable loft, this model is very reasonably priced. Eli & Elm also offers free ground shipping for all orders. You may return the pillow if you aren’t satisfied within 45 days of the original order, even if you’ve used or cleaned it.

Casper Original Pillow

Best for Back and Stomach Sleepers

Casper Original Pillow

Casper Original Pillow
Price: $65 - Standard $85 - King
Fill: Crimped Polyester Microfiber Fill
Firmness:  Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • People who prefer not to buy animal-derived goods
  • Those who want a pillow that’s easy to clean
  • Value seekers
  • Available in two loft levels
  • Fill designed to resist clumping and shifting
  • Fully machine washable
Casper Original Pillow

Save 10% off your cart with code SF10

For back and stomach sleepers, the ideal pillow will provide adequate support without elevating the head – otherwise neck and shoulder pain is likely to occur due to poor spinal alignment. The Casper Original Pillow is available in two loft levels, 5 or 6 inches, so people who favor the back and stomach positions can choose the design that best suits their needs. Those who want a plusher feel should opt for the thicker profile, whereas the thinner model offers a slightly firmer and more supportive feel.

The down alternative fibers effectively recreate the plush feel of real down without posing risk to people with allergies or using animal-based materials. The fill is crimped to give it a more adaptive feel. This also makes the material less likely to clump or shift to one side, so you shouldn’t need to fluff the pillow too frequently. A crisp cotton percale cover encases the fill. The material is quite breathable, allowing the pillow to sleep cool throughout the year. You may wash and dry the entire pillow in household machines.

The Casper Original Pillow carries an affordable price-point, and those who buy two pillows will receive a discount. Casper also ships for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. and provincial Canada. Your order includes a 30-night sleep trial and a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What is a Polyester Pillow?

Polyester is a synthetic fabric that’s present in many linens, from clothing to bed sheets to upholstery. As polyester grew in popularity over the last century, it largely replaced cotton as a pillow filling. When it’s used in pillows, polyester is usually referred to as poly fiber or fiberfill. This describes the way it’s been spun out into airy, lightweight fibers that feel somewhat similar to cotton.

Although not quite as soft as down alternative pillows, many people associate polyester pillows with the feel of a traditional feather pillow, at a much lower price-point. Polyester pillows are soft, lightweight, cuddly, and somewhat moldable. They compress well, and by adjusting the fill, they can be tailored to virtually any sleep position. Their affordability and versatility has led to them being one of the more common pillow types currently on the market. Polyester pillows usually have a cotton cover to enhance breathability.

How to Choose a Polyester Pillow

Now that we’ve discussed what a polyester pillow is and shared some of our top picks, we’ll go more in-depth about how to shop for a polyester pillow. Along with some general buyer tips, this guide covers the pros and cons of polyester pillows, as well as advice on who is best-suited to a polyester pillow.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Polyester Pillow

Many polyester pillows look similar at first glance, leading some manufacturers to make lofty and exaggerated claims to encourage buyers to choose their pillow above the rest. Having a basic understanding of the components that make up a pillow and how they affect its functionality can help you see past these claims and choose the pillow that’s best for you.

Loft: Pillow loft refers to how thick a pillow is. Thicker pillows raise the head higher up off the mattress. They are best-suited to side sleepers, who need the extra lift to prevent shoulder pain and a cricked neck. Back sleepers tend to prefer medium-loft pillows that keep the head at a comfortable distance off the pillow, and stomach sleepers need hardly any loft at all. Polyester pillows can be made with any loft and are often adjustable.

Support: The amount of support a pillow provides is directly related to how high and how firm it is. Polyester pillows can be quite high, but they’re not usually very firm. This makes them unsuitable for sleepers who need extra head and neck support.

Firmness Level: While a pillow must be firm enough to maintain the head and neck aligned, a pillow that’s too firm can cause pressure points. This is especially true for side sleepers, who commonly experience pressure build-up on the ears. Generally, polyester pillows provide sufficient cushioning to alleviate this kind of pressure.

Pressure Relief: Materials that conform more closely tend to provide better pressure relief. While poly fiber doesn’t attain the superior pressure relief of memory foam, it does a fairly good job of contouring to the head and neck in order to reduce pressure points.

Shape: Pillow shape is not only a matter of aesthetics. Many pillows feature flared ends, raised areas, or other features that are meant to enhance support for the head and neck. Polyester pillows, however, usually have a traditional rectangular shape that allows even distribution of the fibers inside.

Price: Given that pillows usually need replacing after a few years, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest pillow available. However, a cheap pillow can wreak havoc on your back and neck and make it difficult to find a comfortable position. That’s not to mention the fact that cheaper pillows usually deteriorate faster, which means you’ll have to fork out money sooner for another one. The best policy is to do your research and try to find a pillow that offers good value for your money.

Quality Materials: Within pillow types, there can be vast differences in feel and durability depending on the quality of the materials. This also applies to polyester pillows, which often offer better longevity and enhanced features if you’re willing to pay just a little more.
Moldability: Many sleepers prefer a moldable pillow that can be scrunched into shape to suit their sleeping position. Polyester pillows can be molded to a certain extent, but they tend to regain their original shape almost immediately.

Temperature Regulation: For those who sleep hot, temperature regulation is one of the most important features of a pillow. Luckily, polyester pillows score fairly well in this category, with a loose-packed construction that allows room for airflow. If you have serious problems staying cool at night, try choosing a pillow with a breathable cover and cooling technology such as gel infusions or phase-change material.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Polyester Pillows?

Polyester pillows mimic the light, fluffy feel we associate with the feather pillows of our youth, but for a significantly more affordable price. However, the low price may come at the cost of support and durability.

Pros Cons
  • Affordability: Polyester pillows tend to be the cheapest models on the market.
  • Ease of Care: In contrast to other pillow types, most polyester pillows can be machine-washed and tumble-dried.
  • Temperature Neutrality: Due to their airy construction, polyester pillows don’t build up as much heat as other pillow types.
  • Weight: Polyester pillows are lightweight and easy to move for sleepers who frequently shift positions.
  • Softness: Those who suffer from pressure points should find that polyester pillows do a good job of cushioning sore spots.
  • Customizability: In many cases, users can add or remove fill to adapt a polyester pillow for any sleep position.
  • No Strong Smells: Polyester pillows rarely present any odors when first unwrapped. Additionally, polyester is a hypoallergenic material, unlike feathers, buckwheat, or latex.
  • Poor Support: Poly fiber often shifts and flattens under weight, and sleepers may find the pillow fails to keep the head and neck aligned.
  • Lumpiness: Polyester is prone to clumping together, and users may find that the contents distribute unevenly and must be constantly re-fluffed.
  • Short Lifespan: Polyester pillows are among the least durable pillows, and may need replacing as soon as 1 to 2 years after purchasing.
  • Noise: Some polyester pillows rustle when moved, which may be a problem for sensitive sleepers.
  • Dust Mites: Polyester pillows leave plenty of room for dust mites, which can trigger allergies in some sleepers.
  • Not Sustainable: Polyester is derived from petroleum and may be problematic for sleepers who are concerned with their impact on the environment.

Who is Best Suited to a Polyester Pillow?

Polyester pillows can be successfully used by stomach, side, and back sleepers alike. They’re popular with sleepers who like a soft, fluffy pillow, as well as with those who are sensitive to smell. Polyester pillows are commonly favored by sleepers who fit the following categories:

  • All Sleep Positions: By adjusting the fill of a polyester pillow, users can change the loft and, to some extent, the firmness level. In this way, sleepers can adjust the pillow to suit the high loft needed for side sleeping, or the lower loft needed for stomach and back sleeping.
  • Those Sensitive to Odor: Polyester pillows don’t off-gas like memory foam or polyfoam, nor do they give off strong smells as buckwheat or feather pillows are prone to do. This makes them a suitable choice for those who are sensitive to smell.
  • Those Who Prefer a Plush Pillow: Poly fiber is inherently soft and fluffy, and most polyester pillows are on the plush side. This is good news for sleepers who prefer sinking into their pillow, as well as those who commonly suffer from pressure points in the ears or other sensitive areas.

Who is not suited:

  • Those With Back, Neck, or Shoulder Pain: Support is a weak point of polyester pillows, which tend to compress under the weight of the head. This makes it difficult to keep the head and neck aligned and can lead to neck and back pain. It may also cause pressure points in the shoulders for side sleepers.
  • Sleeper with Dust Allergies: Polyester pillows are a haven for dust mites, which may aggravate allergy or asthma symptoms in susceptive individuals.
  • Sensitive Sleepers: Polyester pillows may rustle slightly when you shift sleeping positions. This can cause sleep disruptions to people who are easily awakened.

Which Polyester Pillow Sizes Are Available?

Unlike memory foam pillows that are produced in a variety of orthopedic shapes, polyester pillows are almost always rectangular. They are usually sold in one of the following sizes, although the exact dimensions may vary by manufacturer:

  • Standard: At 20 by 26 inches, standard pillows are the smallest of the regular pillow sizes. They can be used not just on twin mattresses, but also on larger mattresses. Standard pillows are a good choice for anyone who prefers a smaller or more economical pillow.
  • Super Standard: The less-common super standard or “jumbo” pillows are 20 by 28 inches long, just slightly longer than the standard size.
  • Queen: The queen pillow is the most common type aside from the standard pillow. Measuring 20 by 30 inches, it’s perfectly suited to queen size mattresses and may occasionally be used on twin or full size mattresses.
  • King: After queen size pillows, measurements take a significant jump in length. The king size pillow measures a hefty 20 by 36 inches and can accommodate sleepers who frequently roll from side to side while sleeping. The greater length of a king size pillow may also be helpful when sitting up in bed.
  • Specialty: Common specialty sizes include extra-long body pillows for side sleepers, square Euro sizes, and cervical pillows with unique shapes that are tailored to provide better support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Polyester Pillows

How much do polyester pillows cost? 

Polyester pillows have an average price range of $10 to $20, making them the cheapest pillows on the market. You may even find polyester pillows for less than $10. Where available, polyester pillows of more than $30 tend to have additional special features such as gel infusions that justify the price.

How do I clean a polyester pillow?

Ease of care is one of the great advantages of polyester pillows, with most being machine-washable and dryable. Manufacturers may recommend using the gentle cycle and keeping it to low temperatures, although hot temperatures can be used in some cases to kill dust mites. Polyester dries fairly fast, but to prevent clumping and ensure even drying, it’s a good idea to add one or two tennis balls to the dryer. In cases where the pillow itself is not washable, the cover may be removable and machine-washable.

Where can I buy a polyester pillow? 

Polyester pillows are easy to find, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. When shopping online, you may be able to buy directly from the manufacturer, or through third-party websites such as Amazon. Take advantage of sleep trials, and don’t forget to take shipping fees into account when comparing prices.

How long do polyester pillows last? 

Polyester pillows have a below-average lifespan and usually need to be replaced every 1 to 2 years. The average lifespan of a pillow in general is 2 to 3 years, so while polyester pillows are less durable, the difference isn’t huge. You’ll know it’s time to get a new polyester pillow when you notice that the pillow begins flattening, losing support, and no longer responds as well to fluffing.

Are polyester pillows adjustable? 

Polyester pillows are adjustable to a certain extent. As they’re filled with hundreds of tiny fiber clumps, polyester pillows are quite amenable to being squished and hugged. Additionally, in many cases, users can open up the pillow to add or remove filling. This changes the loft and can make the pillow softer or firmer, although most polyester pillows will never get as firm as a buckwheat or latex pillow.

Do polyester pillows have an odor? 

Polyester pillows don’t emit a strong odor at first, and since most of them are machine-washable it’s easy to keep them odor-free. Because of this, plus the lack of natural allergens such as latex or down, they are a good candidate for most sleepers with allergies or those who dislike strong smells.

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About Our Editorial Team

Lauren Fountain

Certified Sleep Coach

Lauren is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with extensive experience researching and testing a wide variety of sleep products.

About Our Editorial Team

Lauren Fountain

Certified Sleep Coach

Lauren is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with extensive experience researching and testing a wide variety of sleep products.