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Care of Down-Alternative Pillows

Juan Ramirez

While choosing down-alternative pillows is often done to avoid allergic reactions, and to avoid any potential animal cruelty in the manufacturing of a product, down alternatives actually end up being the easiest to maintain.

Machine washing down pillows can ruin the stuffing permanently, making care and maintenance of these pillows difficult. Down-alternative pillows, with their synthetic stuffing, are much more forgiving and stand up to repeated washings and dryings.

What Material Is an Alternative to Down?

The bulk of down-alternative material is some form of reconstituted polyester. With West Elm down-alternative pillows, for example, the stuffing is comprised of 90 percent polyester fiber and 10 percent Lyocell, a cellulose fiber made from wood pulp cellulose. Sealy down-alternative pillow stuffing is made from clusters of microfiber strands, small and delicate enough to actually have a soft, cotton-like feel.

How Do You Clean Them?

As with down pillows, the best way to wash down-alternative pillows is to put them in a cold water wash on a normal cycle in your washing machine. Drop a teaspoon of liquid dish soap into the laundry water. When the washing cycle has ceased, place your down-alternative pillows in the dryer, on the "tumble dry low" setting. Do not dry down-alternative pillows on high heat, and never dry-clean down-alternative bedding.

How Do They Differ from Down Pillows?

Attempting to wash a genuine down pillow in the wash is often an exercise in frustration. The end result frequently is a ruined pillow with a fair degree of clumping and matting occurring inside. Unfortunately, this effect is usually permanent. The polyester-based stuffing in down-alternative pillows doesn't clump in the wash the way that down does, and may actually improve in consistency with further washings and gentle dryings.