Bed pillows and throw pillows in a bed.hxdbzxy/iStock/Getty Images
Pillows, both bedding and decorative, can be filled with a variety of materials including natural feathers, foam or man-made fluff known as fiberfill. Whatever the filling, pillows are manufactured with several degrees of firmness. Although personal preference plays a part in pillow choice, a rule of thumb is that a pillow should be firm enough to support your head and neck, but soft enough for comfort.
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Synthetic fiberfill is a man-made material that has been spun, coiled or textured to create a dense mass of soft fibers. Fiberfill can be loose or in the form of a flat batt or thicker matt. In pillows it is most often used loose or in a rolled batt. Olefin, a polypropylene and polyethylene fiber, is used as fiberfill, primarily in linings for outerwear. Acetate, derived from plant-based cellulose and acetic acid, is also made into fiberfill and is used as a pillow stuffing. Most pillows stuffed with fiberfill are filled with polyester, according to Penn State University Extension. Polyester fiberfill is just a type of synthetic fiberfill.
Polyester fiberfill pillows are usually less expensive than down or goose feather pillows. They are also non-allergenic and are resistant to mildew. Pillows stuffed with loose polyfill may be prone to clumping and matting. Some polyester fibers are engineered to have hollow air cores which helps them resist matting. Polyester fiberfill batts, or thin flat sheets of fiberfill, may be rolled in a flattened shape to fill a pillow, which makes it less likely to become lumpy.
Polyester Fiberfill With Other Fillings
Synthetic fiberfills of any type can be blended with down to increase softness and durability. Polyester fiberfill batts can also be wrapped around a foam-core pillow to soften the lines. Synthetic down is a type of filling made with finer polyester gel fibers that mimic down's ability to form to the contours of the sleeper's head and neck.
Care of Pillows
Synthetic fiberfills, including polyester, can be machine washed and dried. Wash two pillows at a time for a balanced load, and use warm water and gentle detergent. Tumble dry fiberfill pillows on high heat with a few tennis balls to decrease lumpiness. It may be necessary to hand fluff pillows after removing them from the dryer by pulling fiber clumps apart with your hands through the pillow ticking.