The Secret to Keeping Your Throw Pillows Fluffy

decorative throw pillows

It’s hard to keep your pillows nice and fluffy in a world that just wants to smash and flatten pillows.  My family is the chief family of pillow abusers.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think decorative throw pillows are much happier being used that being protected as if they are an endangered species.  Even though we call them decorative throw pillows the truth is, they are there to serve us, not just look pretty.

I’ve been meaning to tell you this well-known secret.  And then I got a reminder in the form of a comment on this post about Tracy’s home::

cheap throw pillows

Crystal, there is a secret.  You know how I show you all my yard sale and thrift store items but then I also talk about investment pieces?  Like how I think a rug is really worth paying good money for?  Same goes for a bed–you spend a big percentage of your life on a bed, get a good one.  And an upholstered pieces, especially the family sofa should be the best you can afford.

I feel the same way about pillows, or at least, what goes inside a pillow.  But, the best thing about pillows is that good ones don’t necessarily cost more. I grew up with a mom who was conscious about the shape of pillows, I’m guessing she didn’t know the secret so she had to be all “Gary, don’t lay on those pillows on the sofa they’ll get flat, you are ruining them”. Because of my upbringing, I  had flat pillow worry syndrome. Maybe you have this condition as well?  I have a little love of pillows and I certainly didn’t and don’t want them to get flat or lumpy!

decorative throw pillow insertsRestoration Hardware

The cure? Feather inserts. You know how you have a pretty fabric on the outside of the pillow but the outside isn’t the only part of the pillow.  There is something inside too. Sometimes I’m in a thrift store and I hopefully pick up a pillow and it’s all weirdly lumpy and eerily close to only being two-dimensional.  Oftentimes it’s a homemade pillow that someone stuffed with batting.  Batting is okay for stuffed toys or a decorative tooth fairy pillow for your daughter’s bed.  But batting won’t hold up to men laying their heads and other such things on them day after day.  And batting certainly won’t fluff.

My guess is there is some type of synthetic alternative out there that people love, but I haven’t found it yet.  My favorite, most fluffable, abuse-taking pillows have always been feather filled. The kind where every now and then, you’ll feel a sharp end of a feather poking through the insert into a fleshy part of your body.  That’s the stuff.

cheap decorative throw pillowsPottery Barn Synthetic Pillow Inserts…hmmmm

Feather pillows will take all of your (and your husband’s) abuse and then obediently fluff back up every time.  For years. I’ve washed my inserts in the washer and dried them in the dryer. You can be fancy and order feather inserts from a store or do what I do and next time you are at Home Goods buy a few pillows you like but make sure they are feather pillows with removable covers.  Check for a zipper on the outside pillow cover to make sure you can easily remove the insert once you are sick of the outside fabric.  That way you get a pretty, non-losing-its-shape pillow now, and a great insert for years and years.

throw pillow cover

I’ll still buy a pillow if it doesn’t have a zipper because I know one day I can cut off the cover and still have the feather insert.  If I LOVE a pillow but the insert is cheap and not feather I may still consider purchasing it IF the cover is removable. But, I almost always refuse to waste my money on a new pillow if it’s not a feather pillow and if the cover can’t be removed so I can put a feather insert in it when I get home.

decorative pillows

*Disclaimer, I’ve been known to purchase non-feather filled, beautiful pillows from Target but they are always second string, protected and maybe put on our bed–not my first line of defense.  I wouldn’t fill our sofa with 5 non-feather Target pillows and expect good results.  But ONE non-feather pillow among feather pillows will survive because naturally, your husband will reach for the cushy feather pillow over the non-feather one.  The gray and jute pillow on our bed is from Target (polyester filled *cringes*) but since it’s purely for looks, it’s getting along just fine.

It’s just a waste for me to use a pillow that I can’t have with feathers.  Because it will go flat and ugly in a week here at my house.

So that’s the secret.  It’s not about how you abuse your pillow, it’s about putting the right thing inside them so you can abuse them. Use feather inserts. I even look for them now when I’m thrifting.  Sometimes you’ll find an ugly $1 pillow but inside is a lovely feather pillow insert.  I’ll buy that right up and get home and throw away the ugly cover and wash the insert in super hot water and dry it and it’s as good as new.

decorating blog

More Good Reads

My pillow Policy

How to simply and quickly make your own pillow covers@Love Some (I HATE to sew, but I’d even do this one, and then put a feather insert in it, of course!)

 Pillow Pinboard on Pinterest

Have you had a great experience with non-down/feather pillow inserts?  What about for people allergic to down?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments…

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Comments

  1. I just discovered this at Christmas when we stayed at a hotel with feather pillows. Morgan and I went shopping and bomight two for our bed. they fluff beautifully and now I’ll never, ever, ever go back.

    NO MO’ LUMPY PILLOWS!!!

  2. I had no idea you could wash feather pillow inserts! Thanks for that information, I’ve always been afraid to wash pillows…not anymore!
    Debbie :)

  3. You can also buy cheap feather pillows at IKEA. =)

  4. I agree that feather inserts are the best. I make and sell pillow covers on etsy, and they are what I use for myself, for photos, and what I recommend. I almost exclusively buy them from thrift stores. I go down the line squeezing til I hit a feather one!

  5. Great advice. I have a ton of throw pillows that just look odd after a few months of use, but I’m allergic to feathers so I’m not sure if feather pillows would work. I wonder if I could sort of double-cover a feather pillow to prevent allergic reactions?

  6. The other thing that’s awesome about feather inserts is that they allow pillows to stand up on leather! They don’t fall down like the fiber fill pillows.

  7. I love your blog, and have been reading it for months, digging through the archives and loving all of it. This is the single most helpful article I have read. Thanks so much!
    Anna

  8. I read this when you first wrote it and it has stuck with me. I have a few pillows that I like on the outside but the inside leaves a lot to be desired. I actually don’t have pillows on my couch at the moment because I don’t love the ones I have. But thanks to you that’s all changed. Today I went to Savers and scored four feather pillows for just under $30! I was thrilled and had such a hard time picking which ones I would get and which ones I’d leave there that I bought all four that caught my eye. One even had a cover over a cover that had a zip. So I scored two covers plus an insert for the price of one pillow. Thanks so much for sharing your great tip.

  9. After reading this, I started a weekly trip to Goodwill in search of feather pillow inserts. I have found 7 so far, all at $2.99 each. I also purchased some used curtains, fabric remnants and even a sweater to turn into pillow covers. The thrill of the hunt is half the fun!

  10. Agreed, through and through! Feather pillows are the only way to go. :) I’m pretty allergic to feathers, but feather pillows don’t seem to give me a problem at all, as long as I don’t use them as my main sleeping pillow. :)
    I do have a question for you — I’ve been eyeing and loving the floral pillows on your couch as I’ve been looking through your blog, and haven’t noticed a spot where you’ve mentioned whether you bought the covers or made them. In your photo above of the pillow covers, I’m looking at (and drooling over) the fabric on the top — with the white background, and brown/blue vines and flowers. If you happen to remember where you got those, I’d love it if you wouldn’t mind sharing the source! Who knows, I might get lucky on eBay if I know the original store. :-) Thanks so much!

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  12. While everything you said is true, feather pillows are durable, the product is extremely cruel. Ducks and geese have their feathers pulled violently out of their skin and they are left alive, bleeding and in shock and terrified. Then it all happens again once they grow back. You have to ask yourself if torturing innocent animals is really worth it when synthetic versions are available. Crate and Barrel’s version is superior.

  13. After reading this I decided to wash my husbands down pillow. The case ripped in the wash and consequently all the feathers clogged the washer. I had to scoop by the cupfull water out, then my husband had to take apart the machine to empty the filter. We used the wet dry vac to finish the job. It was the biggest mess I have probably ever made. It looked like a cat killed a flock of birds in there. In some ways it was comical except for all the work and inconvenience.

  14. Do you purchase inserts that are slightly smaller than your case?

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