Which Pillow Filling is Best? Each Pillow Type Explained

Pillows are an important part of our comfort during naptime. But which pillow filling is best? We spend up to 2500 hours a year lying on a pillow. When you use the wrong pillow fillings, you won’t enjoy your sleep and wake up the next day tired.

So it’s important to choose the right pillow fillings for a good night's sleep. The challenging part is choosing the right stuffing for you. With numerous options to choose from, you can easily make the wrong choice especially if you’re ordering online. The good news, you can still order different stuffing to customize your pillow to your liking.

which pillow filling is best

What Type of Pillow Filling Should You Consider?

The best pillow fillings are a personal preference and each person has a unique type. What works for someone else may not be the best for you resulting in neck pain and severe discomfort. Check out some of the most common pillow fillings available on the marketplace.

Down Pillow Fillings

Down pillow fillings are the softest, coziest, and fluffiest fillings on the market. They are natural and durable compared to the synthetic options. Down feather pillows are different from regular feather fillings. They are fluffier, larger, and chunkier than the normal feathers.

You can either choose between down or feather but avoid combining both. The two combinations don’t give the same feeling and you might end up with a messy pillow filling. You might not find pure down fillings but at least choose a pillow with 75% down and 25% feathers.

Down Pillow Filling Pros & Cons


  • Comfortable, fluffy, and lightweight
  • Durable with a lifespan of up to 10 years
  • Malleable allowing you to mold them to your liking
  • Breathable, ensuring you keep cool during the night
  • Can be biodegradable and recycling is recommended


  • Tricky to clean
  • Need regular fluffing to reduce flat areas
  • They are expensive
  • Some people consider harvesting feathers from birds inhumane

Memory Foam Pillow Fillings

Memory foam pillows are popular now and come in shredded or block foam. The block foam is simply covered with a pillowcase and shipped as a finished product. Shredded memory foam is malleable with better contouring characteristics.

The shredded foam is more comfortable and offers good head support when you sleep. Memory foam fillings are made of synthetic polyurethane making them durable and highly efficient.

Find the best memory foam pillows on the market: The Best Memory Foam Pillows 

Memory Foam Pillow Filling Pros & Cons


  • The pillow contours and offer awesome head support
  • The shredded foam never clumps together
  • They are great for heavy sleepers


  • They release an unpleasant chemical odor
  • They retain heat causing you to sweat throughout the night
  • They are expensive

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Latex Pillow Fillings

Latex pillows are luxurious with a high price tag to match their class. They are mostly made of organic or natural latex and are hard to extract. The most popular type of latex is the Talalay, for its breathability characteristics. You can choose your fillings to either come in a shredded or block foam making it easy for you to manipulate to suit your needs.

If you prefer a malleable option, the shredded latex is better, softer, and feels like snuggly hugs from clouds. Latex pillows offer outstanding support to your head, neck, and shoulders allowing you to sleep comfortably all night.

Find the right latex pillow for you with our Best Latex Pillows - Market Guide

Latex Pillows Pros & Cons


  • They are adjustable
  • They have an open-cell design to keep you cool all night
  • 100% natural and eco-friendly materials
  • Soft and snuggly


  • They can be expensive
  • They have a strong rubber odor
  • They can be too soft resulting in uncomfortable support that lifts your head too high or low  

Cotton Pillow Fillings

This type of pillow fillings is available everywhere and is made from 100% natural and organic cotton. They are eco-friendly and vegan conscious for those who prefer it. Most cotton pillows are mixed with memory foam or polyester adding contouring features to them.

Cotton pillows are gentle, soft, comfortable, and snuggly. They are great for kids and the whole family with hypoallergenic features. The cotton is also an awesome temperature regulator, reducing hot flashes from trapped heat while you sleep.

pillow filling types

Cotton Pillows Pros & Cons


  • 100% natural and organic
  • Vegan and environmentally friendly
  • Cool temperature regulators
  • Hypoallergenic and perfect for the whole family
  • Comfortable and snuggly
  • Best for side sleepers


  • The fillings are prone to clustering over time
  • They have a short lifespan

Polyester Pillow Fillings

Polyester is a great alternative to down filling pillows. They are affordable with similar properties for people with a tight budget. Polyester is synthetic that is comfortable and adjustable.

You can wash these pillow fillings in a washing machine and a dryer without damaging them. Unfortunately, the quality declines quickly and loses its shape often, requiring frequent fluffing.

Polyester Pillows Pros & Cons


  • Affordable and comfortable
  • They are great for people with allergies


  • Retains heat, making people sweat too much during sleep
  • They are not durable and lose their shape throughout use
  • The fillings clump easily and need frequent fluffing

Buckwheat Hulls Pillow Fillings

Buckwheat pillow fillings have gained popularity over the past couple of years. They originated first in Japan and are made of Buckwheat hull shells. It takes 10 to 12 pounds of buckwheat hulls to make one pillow. Buckwheat pillows are great temperature regulators and are perfect for people who sweat frequently during the night.

These pillows are comfortable and comfortable naturally to your head’s shape with a firm but balanced support.  They are also durable with a long lifespan. The steep price tag makes them less prominent due to cheaper options available.

Buckwheat pillow fillings are also heavy, make annoying noises as they move around, and collide inside the pillow. The noise can be a hindrance, especially for light sleepers. They can also be a little firm and uncomfortable to some sleepers.

Buchwheat Hulls Pillows Pros & Cons


  • They are durable and can last for a few decades
  • The hulls promote airflow making the pillows breathable
  • They offer great support to the neck and head
  • Best for people who prefer firm mattresses


  • They make annoying noises when shifting head positions
  • They are heavy and too firm for some sleepers
  • They are expensive

Kapok Pillow Fillings

Kapok is made of Ceiba Pendandra, a local tree found in Mexico. They are used in other things but are popular in pillows. They have the same cotton texture making them soft, gentle, and fluffy. If you’d like an organic option, kapok pillows are the best alternative. In a pillow, you’ll find a collective of different seeds for a silky feel.

These pillows are great for people who have allergies. You can now enjoy the soft and plushy pillow without worrying about toxic materials in your pillow. The downside of these pillows is the lumps they develop after a while. In addition, kapok pillows support your head well but don’t manipulate easily.

kapok pillow filling

Kapok Pillows Pros & Cons


  • 100% natural and organic
  • Eco-friendly and free of chemicals and toxins
  • They are soft, snuggly, and gentle


  • Highly flammable
  • They are not malleable like other pillows

  • They get lumps after a while

Wool Pillow Fillings

Wool pillow fillings are great for all seasons. They can keep you warm during the winter season and cool during the summertime. The wool is comfortable, soft, and plush. Unfortunately, wool pillows are not readily available and require custom orders making them expensive. In the long run, the wool clumps together and sag making it uncomfortable especially during the hot seasons.

Wool Pillows Pros & Cons


  • Breathable and offer great temperature regulations
  • Comfortable with great neck support
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 100% natural and organic
  • They are environmentally friendly and biodegradable


  • They have an unpleasant smell
  • Pillow fillings lump together
  • They are not moldable
  • Some people think it’s inhumane

So Which Pillow Filling Is Best For You?

Pillows are a personal preference and when you get the right one, you hold on to it. A good fit should be affordable, breathable, and never lumps. When choosing a pillow, make sure it ticks all your standard requirements. Since pillow fills are used in different settings apart from bed pillows, you have plenty of options to pick from. You can choose from the most comfortable, softest, adjustable, and affordable. If you’re on a budget, memory foam pillows with gel-infused beads are a good option.

For bean bag chairs, poufs, or throw pillows, the fillings don’t matter so you can choose whichever one you like. If you want to spoil yourself, you can pick the wool, down or goose or duck feather fillings for that luxurious feeling. Just make sure, you choose the pillow filling that is best for you.

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