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I kinda have a thing for luxury bedding — especially quality down pillows.
It all started 10 years ago when we decided to buy the same down pillows that we had slept so well on during a stay at a Hampton Inn hotel.
That was the first time I learned that you can actually buy the exact same high-quality bedding that you’ve enjoyed while staying at hotels.
We ordered directly from the Hampton Inn website and received Pacific Coast pillows — a combination of duck feather and 75% down:
We still have those pillows, and we’ve used them every night since then. In fact, once we made the switch from “regular” store-bought pillows to high-quality down pillows, we’ve never gone back to traditional sleep pillows.
Here’s my original review of the Hilton hotel pillows we purchased.
How To Tell It’s Time For A New Pillow
Today, our Pacific Coast down pillows are still fine to sleep on — but they’re rather wimpy after 10 years of use.
It’s not until I held one up next to a brand new down pillow that I realized just how lifeless our old pillows were!
You can see the difference here — on the left is our old Pacific Coast down pillow, on the right is our new Cuddledown down pillow:
Technically, you’re only supposed to keep a pillow for 1 or 2 years, believe it or not. That’s because of the build-up of body oils, sweat, etc. that accumulate on your pillow night after night… week after week… month after month… and year after year! (Yuk.)
Plus, your head is heavy (10 lbs. on average), and bearing the weight of your head night after night will eventually wear your pillow out, cause it to flatten, and reduce the amount of support it provides.
The National Sleep Foundation says to determine whether or not it’s time for a new pillow, you should fold it in half and see if it stays that way. If it does, then it’s time for a new one. But if it springs back to its rectangular pillow shape, then that pillow still has good support and some life left in it.
This video from Cuddledown shows how to do the pillow fold test:
Okay, but down pillow fans like me will appreciate this…
If you spring for a quality down pillow and take good care of it, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart says you can get 10 or 15 years out of them. ~NBC News
…That’s what I’m talkin’ about!!!
You really do get your money’s worth out of an expensive set of down bed pillows — as long as you take good care of them and air them out a lot.
The Type Of Pillows We Like Best
This is the type of support that my husband and I crave from our pillows:
- Hubby sleeps on his back most of the time. I sleep on my side.
- Hubby likes medium to firm support. I like very light support.
- Hubby likes the My Pillow best. I like 100% down pillows or 50% down / 50% feather pillows best.
- Hubby sleeps with one “medium” My Pillow most of the time. I sleep with 2 “soft” down pillows. (Sometimes hubs likes to switch it up and sleep on a “medium” down pillow, but it has to be scrunched up into a ball before he puts his head on it — for the right amount of support.)
The bottom line is how you sleep at night determines the type and firmness of pillows you need.
I like “soft” support that can be customized the way I want it to fit around my head — because I toss and turn a lot at night. Hubby likes “medium to firm” support — because he sleeps like a rock, doesn’t toss and turn, and doesn’t want to have to think about his pillow.
Here’s what Cuddledown says about sleep position and pillow firmness:
- Stomach sleepers need “extra soft” pillows to allow the head to sink to just the right level.
- Side sleepers need a “soft” pillow to cushion the head.
- Back sleepers need a “medium” pillow to provide more support for the head and neck.
4 Reasons I Personally Love Down Bed Pillows
#1 – One reason I’ll never be without down pillows is because down blocks out sound so well!
To block out noise, I just lie on my side — with 1 down pillow underneath my head, and 1 down pillow over the other side of my head. Sounds in the room are almost completely drowned out by the “soft” down that’s inside those pillows.
I use this strategy whenever:
- My husband starts snoring in the middle of the night.
- I’m trying to sleep while my husband is watching TV.
- Fireworks or other loud noises from the neighbors are loud late at night.
#2 – In addition to their noise-blocking feature, down bed pillows are perfect for side sleepers — especially if you suffer from frequent neck strain like I do (from being on the computer long hours at a time each day).
I don’t go to a chiropractor any more, but I used to go regularly — until he gave me these DIY tips for back and neck pain and these stretches for neck pain:
- Quick Tricks To Alleviate Neck Pain
- Yoga Stretches & Physical Therapy Stretches That Work For Neck Pain
I actually use my “soft” down pillow instead of doing the “towel roll” that he mentioned.
#3 – Down pillows are so easily moldable to whatever shape you want them in. I call it the “squishability” factor.
I usually fold in half (or bunch up) a down pillow before placing it underneath my head at night. Then, as I wriggle into my favorite sleep position on my side, the down pillow fills in all of the nooks and crannies.
I keep another down pillow between me and the headboard at all times.
#4 – Now don’t judge… but hubby and I sometimes work on our laptops from our bed. And we even eat from our bed at times. Since our master bedroom has the biggest TV with the best sound — it’s perfect for watching sports and for binge-watching movies.
A down pillow makes a great tray-like surface to hold a plate of pizza or a hot bowl of soup! Other pillows are too firm and don’t have the same cradling-factor.
My Favorite Cuddledown Pillows
So… when the folks at Cuddledown asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their bedding products, I jumped at the chance to try their down pillows — because I knew that my previous down pillows were going to be a hard set to beat!
I’ve visited the Cuddledown Outlet in Freeport, Maine before — but I wasn’t in need of new pillows then.
But now?… Now, after 10 years of using the same pillows, we can definitely use some new down bed pillows!
I love how Cuddledown pillows are custom made by hand in Yarmouth, Maine every time someone places an order. Here’s how their down pillows are made:
We got our start in 1973 — during the first oil crisis — making down comforters in Yarmouth Maine and selling them to our friends. Back in those days, down comforters were a European tradition that hadn’t yet made it to the U.S. But oil prices were high and down comforters were a great way for New Englanders to turn down the thermostat at night and still stay warm. We had such success selling locally that we took out advertisements in magazines such as Yankee, Down East, and The New Yorker. People from all over the country started ordering from us and, just like that, the Cuddledown catalog was born. ~Cuddledown
Since we enjoyed our very first set of down pillows so much (the Pacific Coast ones like you find in Hilton hotels), I wanted to make sure that we got a new set of pillows that were a similar match.
These are the Cuddledown pillows we got:
Our dreamstead Cuddledown pillows are a hypoallergenic 50% White Duck Down / 50% Small White Duck Feather blend.
From the website: “You’ll feel the perfect combination of the loft and softness from down and the support and spring-back qualities of small goose feathers.”
We got 1 “soft” (19 oz. of down) and 1 “medium” (26 oz. of down) Cuddledown pillow — both are queen size.
The differences between the 2 firmness levels are very subtle. The easiest way to tell is to look at them side by side — but it’s not a dramatic difference. In this photo, the “soft” down pillow is on the left and the “medium” down pillow is on the right:
The “soft” pillow is slightly more floppy than the “medium” pillow — which feels like it has a little more substance and structure to it. (Because it does.) But… if I only had Cuddledown “medium” pillows in my hands (without anything to compare them to), I would call them both “soft” pillows. That’s how minor the differences are to me.
Internally and quality-of-sleep-wise, those extra 7 ounces of fill give you a pillow that’s ever-so-slightly more firm. However, both are soft enough for my personal taste and “not too firm” at all.
I tend to gravitate to the “soft” one most often.
Any Downsides To Cuddledown Pillows?
I’ll be honest, when I first took the Cuddledown pillows out of the box, I was nervous that they were going to sound slightly “crunchy” up close to my ears — you know like some mattress protectors do. But these Cuddledown pillows DO NOT sound crunchy in any way!
The only reason they sounded slightly different to me at first is because the outer material is not a “regular” cotton fabric, like I’m used to.
Instead, it’s a “double-stitched downproof, smooth 280 thread count, 100% cotton cambric” — a much higher quality cover fabric, actually. (Downproof fabric — or downproof ticking — is a tightly woven fabric that prevents the feathers and down from working through the cover of pillows!)
Generally, the higher the thread count the softer the pillowcase will feel. However, a Consumer Reports article said, “Thread counts between 200 and 400 are fine. Within that range, a higher number may provide a softer feel. With counts over 400, the main difference is price.” ~PillowCase
Other than my initial impression about the high-quality cover fabric, I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about these pillows.
I’m certain that these Cuddledown pillows will play an important role in our good nights’ sleep for the next 10 years… or more.
And since I’m going to be diligent about fluffing and airing out these down pillows, I’m pretty sure they’ll last a good long time!
Care instructions from Cuddledown: Fluff on a daily basis. Air outside to keep smelling fresh. Spot clean small stains with a mild detergent and thoroughly dry area with a handheld hair dryer. Machine wash warm with our Fine Fabrics Wash, or your preferred [low-sudsing] mild detergent. Thoroughly dry on low to prevent mildew. To keep down from clumping during the drying process, we recommend using down fluffers in the dryer.
Oh, and there’s one more thing I’ve learned about caring for down bed pillows and making them last longer…
You shouldn’t make a habit of using them to prop your back — when watching TV or reading a book in bed, for example. The reason? Because that reduces the amount of air circulating through them, thus reducing their life. Down pillows need lots of fresh air!
Customer Service At Cuddledown
From my first correspondence with them to my last, they showed that they genuinely cared about our sleep… and our comfort.
Since we like these pillows so much, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to stick with Cuddledown when it comes time to order our next set of down bed pillows. They’ve impressed us so much — both the quality of the pillows themselves, and the knowledge & kindness of the people who work there.
Who knows… maybe I’ll step things up in our guest bedroom and put some fresh new down pillows in there, too!
I do know that I plan to order Cuddledown pillows as wedding gifts in the future — because luxury bedding is such a classy gift.
It’s been 3 years, and we are still using these Cuddledown pillows every single night on our master bed… and loving them!
Even after 3 years of regular use, they still look like new and have the same amount of fluff that they had the day we got them.
How I’ve been cleaning and caring for these pillows:
- Every single day, I keep each pillow inside a zipped pillow protector — and then put a pillowcase over that. I like to stick with hotel-quality bedding — because it’s so durable and lasts much longer. So I bought these pillow protectors. Oh… and if you want a luxury pillowcase, I recently found these silk pillowcases! They’re awesome because they don’t hold onto dog fur (if you happen to let your dog on the bed like we do) — in addition to all of the healthier skin and hair reasons that everyone raves about. I also like how these pillowcases have an “envelope” closure system — so the pillow can’t sneak out. I’ve been using them nightly for a few months now and they’ve never snagged either!
- Every other time that I change the sheets on our bed, I remove the pillows from their pillowcases and zippered covers, manually fluff them up a bit, and then leave them to soak up fresh air and sunshine all day on the porch.
- Once a month or so, I toss my Cuddledown pillows (without their pillow protectors and pillowcases) into the clothes dryer. There’s a setting called “rapid refresh” that lightly steams what’s in the dryer while fluffing and drying at the same time. This is perfect for bedding like pillows and comforters! I always include 4 large wool dryer balls inside the dryer — to help with the fluffing.
I have to admit that I don’t regularly “fluff” these pillows after each night’s sleep — as they recommend. (Because who has time for that every morning? I’m lucky my bed even gets made!) Fortunately, my Cuddledown pillows don’t seem to be any worse off from this little bit of neglect on my part.
I also haven’t machine washed them yet — as the company recommends. (I know… 3 years!) But I give them so much fresh air, sunshine, and dryer misting that they just don’t seem to need a good cleaning yet. I guess I don’t feel like all of the innards need to be thoroughly soaked and then thoroughly dried just yet. I have machine washed down pillows before, and they always come out just fine — so I’ll probably be washing these for the very first time real soon.
And now you know… that’s how I keep my Cuddledown pillows in good shape. Because I definitely want them to last 10+ years like my previous set of down pillows did!
Here are a few helpful bedding hacks that I’ve learned:
- Want to make your bed quickly like hotels do?… Here’s how to do triple sheeting without the need for a duvet cover!
- You know how bed sheets come out of the dryer all tangled?… Here’s the secret to drying wet bed sheets fast without becoming a wadded up mess.
- And if you don’t want your (large) dog sleeping on your bed any longer… Here’s a quick tutorial for no-sew XL orthopedic dog beds!
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).