Best Pillow Inserts


Let’s discuss everything you need to know about pillow inserts and how to make them look amazing in your home! Throw pillows are one of the best and easiest ways to update your home decor seasonally, or refresh a space with a new color scheme or style.

Pillow covers are often inexpensive, easy to store, and make an incredible statement on your living room sofa or bed. I interchange pillow covers quite often in our home; so much so that it is a running joke with our kids.

Have you ever considered what type of throw pillow insert is best? The pillow insert you choose makes a significant difference in the appearance of the pillows for your living room, bedroom and outdoors.

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pillow inserts stacked on stool

Throw Pillow Inserts

Throw pillows are a super easy way to update the decor in your home, but when you are considering purchasing pillow inserts, there are a few important things to think about.

  • Size – this is very important and selecting the right size is key
  • Fill material – there are many options to choose from that range from feathers to foam
  • Fabric – if you are using pillow inserts outdoors the exterior pillow fabric is important
  • Allergens – if you have allergies, selecting a hypo-allergenic pillow insert fill is helpful
two pillows stack on a chair

Pillow Inserts Sizing

This may seem like an easy decision; just select a pillow insert that is the same size as the pillow cover. Well…that’s not quite the right way.

The best way to get a lovely full, cozy pillow is to choose a pillow insert size that is at least one size larger than your cover. This fills in all the corners of the cover and ensures the pillow looks nice and fluffy! For example, if you have a 20×20 pillow cover you would want at least a 22×22 pillow insert if not larger.

Careful not use the same size insert as your pillow cover size as your pillow will look flat and lifeless.

blue chair with throw pillow and blanket

Pillow Inserts Fill

What pillow insert fill is the best? That all depends on what you like and if you have any allergies too. There is down, foam, down alternative and more. My favorite is down because it gives you pillows a luxurious feel and an elegant look.

Down filled inserts fluff up beautifully and are easier to arrange on your couch for a comfortable sitting position too. There just isn’t anything quite as nice as down filled.

Just like everything in life there are cons to down and feather pillow inserts. Occasionally feathers will poke through the fabric and come out of the pillow insert. Feathers can become more compressed and they need more regular fluffing vs. a fluffy cotton stuffing.

Down pillow insert are also a little more difficult to wash because how long they take to dry. If you have allergies, then down can be a problem too. At that point it’s best to find a down alternative blend pillow insert. Feather inserts are usually a little more costly too.

I have a mixture of feather inserts and down alternative pillow inserts. My favorite are still the feather inserts, but they others work nicely too.

blue throw pillows on a sofa

How to Wash Feather and Down Pillow Inserts

Before considering washing any pillow insert (both bed pillows and throw pillows) ensure the pillow inserts are machine washable on the label. You shouldn’t need to wash your throw pillows to often since they are more decorative, but your bed pillows should be washed frequently because of nightly use.

  • Remove Covers – Remove any cases or covers and wash them separately.
  • Check Over Inserts – In order to avoid a mess in your machine, check over the insert for any rips or tears and repair before washing.
  • Gentle Cycle – Use the lowest or delicate wash and rinse cycle on your machine and a low suds detergent meant for down feathers if you can.
  • Hot Water – You wouldn’t think hot water would be a good choice, but it does kill dust mites and wont’ harm the feathers.
  • Rinse – You may want to do a second rinse to eliminate and remaining soap residue.
  • Tumble Dry – Use a low heat delicate setting and check in between drying rounds to break up any clumps and ensure complete dryness!
wood patio swing with blanket and pillows

What is the Difference Between Down and Feather?

First off, down is more expensive than feather and let me explain why. Goose down feathers come from the fine, soft undercoating of the goose and feel very luxurious.

Pillows filled with just feathers are generally the back or wing feathers from the goose. These feathers are flatter and heavier and usually will break through a pillow cover more easily than down feather.

A lot of times goose down and feathers are used interchangeably, but they are different.

Final Tips

  • Use a permanent marker to write the insert size on the permanent tag for easy reference later.
  • Many pillow inserts are labeled as “down” but are in fact a mix of down and feathers. Not all down inserts are the same quality so watch that.
  • Traditional feathers are more likely to poke through your pillows.
  • Always size up with your pillow inserts. For example, if your cover is 20×20″, get a 22×22″ insert to achieve a more luxurious, stuffed pillow.
blue pillows on sofa


pottery barn pillow insert

Down Feather Inserts

These are my favorite down inserts as they are nice quality and feel soft and luxurious.

White Feather and Down Insert

This is a lovely combo of white feathers and down.

pottery barn pillow insert
white pillow insert

Set of Two inserts

Great affordable down insert options. Set of two $36.99.

blue and white pillows on upholstered bed

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One Comment

  1. Are there any 100% down pillow inserts that you recommend? I clicked the Pottery Barn link for “Down Feather Inserts” but the description says it’s “duck feather fill”, which I assume means feathers rather than down.

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