What to Consider Before Buying Pillow Inserts

Good cushioning doesn’t have to be hard to find.

woman sleeping on pillows and blankets
Treat your head to something heavenly.Ketut Subiyanto

A great pillow can be so elusive. If they aren’t too soft, too hard or too flat and flimsy, you’re constantly having to fluff them back into shape. That’s why pillow inserts are so welcome. Instead of buying a ready-made pillow with no say in what goes inside of it, you get the cover and the stuffing separately. Whether you’re filling a throw pillow for the couch or one for your bed, here are the inserts to shop for.

Utopia Bedding Throw Pillows Insert (Pack of 2, White) - 18 x 18 Inches Bed and Couch Pillows - Indoor Decorative Pillows
The poly/cotton outer material and siliconized fiberfill is designed for a more dense look.Utopia Bedding

For size, it’s best to go with inserts that are around two inches larger than the pillow cover on all sides. This will guarantee that your pillow doesn’t look saggy and malnourished. But there are exceptions to the rule. If your cover is 18-by-18 and smaller, the best insert will be just one inch larger (19-by-19). Meanwhile, pillows that are 24-by-24 and up need inserts that are three or four inches larger.

Foamily Set of 4-18 x 18 Premium Hypoallergenic Stuffer Pillow Inserts Sham Square Form Polyester, 18" L X 18" W, Standard/White
Custom high-grade fiber filling protects your nose from allergens and other irritants.Foamily

As with regular pillows, the possibilities for what goes inside them might seem virtually endless. Polyester is the most common filling for inserts, and it offers superior density and hypoallergenic quality. The material is also faster-drying and less likely to flatten out and become hard than cotton. But cotton has its benefits too; it’s all-natural, and since its fibers are so breathable, it’s cooler than polyester.

EDOW Throw Pillow Inserts, Set of 2 Lightweight Down Alternative Polyester Pillow, Couch Cushion, Sham Stuffer, Machine Washable. (White, 18x18)
The microfiber fill offers medium support and enhances the pillow’s ability to spring back into shape after a lounging session.EDOW

One of the reasons polyester is such a popular insert fill is because if you are primarily going for decorative value and the beauty of the cover is more important than what goes inside of it, polyester is an inexpensive option compared to pricey down and feather. You’ll also spend less time fluffing it up since it holds its shape, and because polyester doesn’t absorb much water, it’s easy to wash and dry.

Basic home14x24 Decorative Throw Pillow Inserts-Down Feather Pillow Inserts-Oblong-Cotton Fabric-Set of 2-White. …
Rectangular shaped for couches and bedrooms, it has stitching designed to stop the fill from spilling out.Basic Home

Don’t sleep on the benefits of down and feather, though. For one, they’re so good to sleep on. Feathers bring firmness, heft and support to the pillow game, while down offers softness and comfort. The ideal balance is 10 to 25 percent down and 90 to 75 percent feathers, but for pillows that are more for sleeping than decoration or back support, a near 50/50 balance will work about right. Though it will be more expensive due to the higher price and percentage of down, when your head rests on top of it, you’ll appreciate the extra softness—even if you have to fluff it back into shape when you get up.

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