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The Ins and Outs of Custom Pillows

(written for DREA Design)

They are touched, hugged, tossed about, leaned on, and sat upon. Custom pillows bring a feeling of warmth to your home but are also the most handled soft furnishing around. As such, there are considerations beyond aesthetics that go into their purchase and maintenance.

The Inside Counts:

What’s in your custom pillow affects price, comfort, and lifespan. Synthetic filling is less expensive, has a shape, and is free of allergens, but they do not last as long and can flatten after some time. Natural fill pillows last longer and can be re-shaped, but are pricey and allergens can cause problems.


• Foam is a good choice if you are looking for form and firmness. It is also easy to maintain. It is said that bacteria and mildew cannot live in foam and that dust mites are less likely to survive in a foam pillow. Smaller foam pillows can be washed in a home washing machine on the delicate cycle and air dried, but larger foam pillows will need a front-loading commercial washer.

• Polyester stuffing is inexpensive and durable. This synthetic material emits no odors and is allergen-free. It will be necessary to clean them regularly as they absorb sweat but they can be machine-washed. If often leaned upon, pillows with polyester stuffing may lose their shape and flatten.

• Polystyrene beads-type filling is used for beanbags but can also be used with custom pillows. They are light and can be reshaped but do not offer much support.


• Cotton filling is cool and light and allows air circulation. It is also soft and pleasant to the skin but costs more.

• Wool absorbs moisture, keeps warm, and does not lose shape. Like cotton, it is not cheap.

• Down feathers are the most expensive stuffing and generally used in sleeping pillows but is sometimes used for boudoir custom pillows. They are lighter, softer, and warmer as they act as insulators, but they do not hold shape and are allergens.

Removable Covers Add Life:

Custom pillows with removable covers last longer, requiring less frequent washing. It is a must to have covers for down feather pillows. Washing such pillows is not recommended because drying the feathers properly is difficult. Wool-filled pillows can be given cotton covers for softer skin contact. Plain pillow covers may be machine washed. Covers with decorative buttons and less sturdy fabric require hand washing. Embroidery, appliqué, sequins, beads, or tassels on a pillow cover means dry cleaning. What’s inside and outside custom pillows is equally important in making them both functional and ornamental.

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