One of the most asked questions I get is, “Where should I buy inserts?” There are so many options out there, and I have religiously stuck to a few major retailers over the years. But, I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind, especially when I’m asked for recommendations; what if there are better options out there that I don’t even know about!?
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
Not only are there so many manufacturers making pillow inserts, every single manufacturer uses different amounts and types of fill! Even when you think you’ve found the deal of the century, you possibly just bought a half full pillow insert… which is a huge bummer!
HOW CAN I HELP?
I came to realize that it is my sworn pillow dealer duty to be armed with this knowledge. Why should I hawk pillow covers if I can’t confidently tell you where to buy inserts?! I reached out to you on my Instagram Stories, to see where you like to buy inserts from. I received a variety of gracious responses, but the ones that I received multiple suggestions on, I tested out. It came to the following 5 companies:
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BREAKING (BAD) (and GOOD) PILLOW INSERTS DOWN (and feather)
That was probably too many puns to even be funny… but, I purchased 22”x22” down/feather inserts from each company, to fit the same 20”x20” pillow cover. Some companies did not have a 22”x22” size, as noted below. While initially, this may not sound like a fair comparison, the fill weight per size was also measured and factored into the rankings.
And, as you’ll see, the difference in sizing wasn’t necessarily a benefit! All inserts were weighed to the tenth of an ounce, measured, poked, prodded, and tested. Please note that no inserts were harmed during this experiment.
LET THE BATTLE OF THE INSERTS BEGIN!!
This is actually one that I use regularly (which is going to change to USED regularly). It really needs to step up its game and study what the other inserts are doing right. Their closest size is 23”x23”, and even though it’s a bigger insert, the fill per square inch was the lowest out of all five inserts tested. It had the second lowest base price, but it had the 2nd lowest total fill weight and lowest thread count. No wonder why their feathers stab me in my bodily crevices!
It did tie for 2nd place (with Restoration Hardware) on its stuffed look. I can only surmise it finished decently, because the feathers/down had more area to disperse (due to the larger insert size). It just needs to improve its grades in the other areas before I’d fully pass along this recommendation.
This one USED TO BE SUCH A GREAT DEAL at $19 (non-member price, and $15 member price). Guys. It has almost DOUBLED IN PRICE in 2023 to $36 (non-member price) and $27 (member price) with free shipping. I'm keeping the title on this one, because it looks like they sold out and got a little greedy.
The sizing threw me off, since I ordered a 22”x22” size, but it arrived as 22”x22” (24”x24”). I don’t even speak that pillow language, but once I read all of the fine print on their site, it appears that they size their inserts up. The 22”x22” I ordered was a 24”x24” size (it actually only measured 23”x23”). Be mindful of their sizing if you do order from them.
However, it still filled out that pillow cover, like a 2nd place quasi-boss and had the third highest fill weight. Due to the increase in price, I do not recommend it as highly anymore!
I really wanted to love this one, as it was the highest recommended insert! But, it consistently ranked low on nearly all markers. It was the second highest base price, yet the total fill weight was the lowest.
It is filled with 100% feathers, which I will be honest, was pretty disappointing. All of the other inserts used 95/5 fill and one had 90/10 fill. When I filled the pillow cover with it, I could instantly tell that it did not fill as well as the others. It unfortunately ranked in last place on its filled look. It was middle of the pack on the fill per square inch, so perhaps if the size was increased, it would have filled better??
This one can show up in nearly any square or lumbar size and make things go hmmmm. It had the second lowest insert base price, but when shipping was added, it had the highest total price. I did recalculate shipping based on location, but the shipping only fluctuated by a few dollars.
It was recommended by an interior designer, with the best fill material of 90/10 (90% feathers and 10% down- pump up the down to get a better pillow). With this one, keep in mind that you are getting a better quality fill material and it tied for the best stuffed look of the bunch! I would definitely check them out if you prefer a quality cover!!
I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive about picking an insert from Amazon to test. But, this insert came recommended by an interior designer, and ranked pretty well overall across the board, with the highest fill weight, highest thread count and tying for the best stuffed look.
If you are an Amazon Prime Member, it has 1 day shipping. I would say the ONLY negative about this cover is the price point (as it sits at the highest price), so if you need multiples of the same size, consider their set of two listings HERE.
THE NERDY NITTY GRITTY NUMBERS
WHAT WAS MEASURED (Data as of 3/3/2023):
BASE PRICE: Cost of the insert only.
SHIPPING: The only one that could possibly fluctuate, would be Wholesale Pillow Inserts depending on your shipping location. I will also mention that some of the retailers run sales and free shipping offers, which I did not take into consideration.
TAX: Sales tax, which will vary slightly.
TOTAL PRICE: Includes insert cost, shipping and tax.
LISTED SIZE: The manufacturers listed size on their website.
ACTUAL SIZE: Each insert was measured to double check this against the listed size. A half inch variance is pretty standard in pillow/insert sizing.
FILL: What amount of feather/down each insert is stuffed with. The more down, the more soft and luxurious your insert will be (and usually more pricey!).
WEIGHT: Actual weight of the insert and fill.
FILL PER SQUARE INCH: I added this one due to the difference of the physical insert sizes. Since all the inserts were not 22”x22”, I felt this would accurately show what the actual fill power is on a level playing field.
BASE PRICE PER OUNCE: I took the insert’s base price to determine how much the fill actually cost per ounce. The lower the number, the better.
TOTAL PRICE PER OUNCE: This is the same measurement as the above (Base Price per Ounce), but it is for the insert price, tax and shipping. Again, the lower the number, the better.
THREAD COUNT: While this is probably overlooked, it is an important measurement! This number is the thread count of the actual pillow cover (they are all 100% Cotton). The higher the thread count, the less likely you are going to have feathers/down poking through.
VISUAL LOOK WHEN FILLED: This is usually what we mainly base our purchase decision around, myself included! As you can see from the chart, a lot of these numbers are pretty close, so there wasn’t a lot of room for variation. Two tied for first (indicated by 1) two tied for second (indicated by 2), and one received last place (indicated by 3).
NOT TESTED, BUT APPROVED
If you’re really looking to stretch yo’ dollar, I would also recommend IKEA’s FJADRAR feather/down inserts. They are $15/each for a 26”x26” size. I have used this size multiple times for a 22"x22"pillow cover. While the fill quality is LOW, if you size way down on your pillow cover, they will work in a pinch!
CRACKING THE PILLOW INSERT CODE
I hope this provides some useful information for when you need to buy inserts next! I know that I am better equipped to provide insert recommendations, in case you don't read this full post, haha!! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below, I'd love to hear from you!
P.S. Next up… how to size inserts with your pillow covers!