DOWN 101

What is Down?  |  What are Feathers?  |  Duck vs. Goose  |  Grey vs. White  |  From Raw Material to Bedding Quality


Buying natural filled bedding products involves many decisions that can be quite overwhelming. With all the variables involved, it can seem like the options are endless. We have gathered helpful information to guide you.

What is Down?

Down is the light, fluffy coating beneath the feathers of ducks and geese. Each down cluster is made from thousands of tiny fibers, like little cotton balls between the bird’s skin and feathers. Ounce per ounce down is the most efficient insulator for bedding products. It is not only lighter weight, but also has the unique ability to “breathe” allowing excess heat and humidity to escape and allowing you to reach an ideal temperature. Down clusters are naturally very durable, it is not uncommon for people to use a down bedding item for a dozen years or more before replacing it. Down is also naturally flame retardant, making it an excellent choice for safe sleeping.

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What are Feathers?

Feathers are the outer coating of protection for ducks and geese. They are the rigid plumage found on the outside of waterfowl, and can range in size from 1cm–6cm. Products containing feather will be heavier than down, but also offers more support. At DOWNLITE, we only use feather in pillows and feather beds. A comforter filled with feather would feel quite heavy, and wouldn’t offer the same insulation as down.

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Duck vs. Goose

Although all birds have feathers and down, virtually all down and feathers come from geese and ducks. Generally, the larger the bird and the colder the climate in which they live, the larger the down cluster and the higher the fill power of the down. Thus, goose down normally has the larger/better clusters. High quality down can be found in both ducks and geese. But duck down and feathers are less expensive than goose down and feathers for two primary reasons: 1. It’s perceived as slightly inferior in quality to geese, and 2. The worldwide supply of duck down far exceeds that of geese.

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Grey vs. White

Down and feathers can come in various shades ranging from pure white to black-speckled grey. The industry has placed a premium on white feathers and down due to its ability to visually blend in better when filled into white bedding products. However, the color of the feathers and down has no relevance to its quality.

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From Raw Material to Bedding Quality

About 75% of the world’s production of feather and down comes from Asia, with the remaining source being mostly Eastern Europe. Farmers sell the birds for their meat, and the down and feather becomes a by-product. This is then purchased and shipped to manufacturers for processing.

After the feathers and down are procured, they must be washed, sterilized and sorted for use in bedding and apparel. First, down and feathers are sent through huge washing machines that wash and rinse the raw goods to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. We wash our RestAssured® down two times with bluesign™ certified detergents to ensure it is thoroughly clean. The fill is dried and sterilized in a steam dryer at temperatures between 250-275°F. The sanitized material is then sorted in large separating machines which produces different qualities of filling based on various sizes of feather and down.

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