Back in the day I ran a bath and bedding department at a popular high-end department store in California. I really believed in what I sold and fell in love with the array of white goose down products in my department. I have never turned back and have slept with both goose down comforters and goose down pillows going on 35+ years now!
The first use of down originated in China around 3000 BC. But, it was not until the earlier 18th century that the “featherbed” became popular in many European countries. Many areas of Europe are cold and wet and many struggled to keep warm at night. It was popular to place multiple layers of linens, blankets and sheets to stay warm at night. In the 1960’s families began to see the benefits of using a single bedding item for warmth. Goose down was the solution to heavy layers on the beds. Magically, goose down is also cooler in the summer because of the natural fill and the cotton covers often used to envelope the down. It has breathable qualities and allows water vapor to pass through, wicking it away through the filaments while it retains warmth in the air pockets.
There are many types of down available on the market today. Don’t be mistaken by the lower priced down and feather filled comforters. Duck feathers are often used in conjunction with goose down and duck down, and are considered oily and have quite a gamey odor to them. Whereas white goose down has no odor and is luxurious, warm, soft and resilient. Feathers also have quills and do not insulate well. The quills can be sharp and travel through the comforter or pillow cover and will be somewhat uncomfortable. It’s very important to read the labels. Savings may translate into added duck feather fill to bring the cost down, so beware! Pure white goose down is considered to have hyperallergenic properties and is a great long-term investment. It is only quality, clean goose down that has these properties. Don’t skimp on price when investing in white goose down! There is a down bedding law label that describes the content of the material used to fill your down bedding but the label does not state where the down is from. Be sure to read the labels!
There are many measurements of quality for white goose down. Fill power is a measurement of loft. The larger the down cluster, the higher the fill power rating. It is measured by the number of cubic inches an ounce of down will fill under specific testing conditions. Fill power can range from 300 cubic inches per ounce to 900 cubic inches per ounce. The higher the fill power the higher the quality of the down.
Density is another attribute of down. More mature down clusters will have a thicker center and will insulate better compared to an immature down cluster of the same size.
Cling is another feature to measure down quality. Cling is found when tiny hooks develop on the individual filaments of a down cluster.
Color is important. White goose down is the best color as it creates a crisp, clean look under the duvet. Grey goose down is just as good at insulating but can create a look of dinginess under a white duvet.
Stitching for your down comforter is also extremely important. The best stitching is the quilt stitch or square stitch. These types of stitching prevents stuffing from shifting and clumping in certain areas for balanced warmth and equal loft.
Goose down is found around the world. But, there are three areas in particular that are popular for goose down.
- Canadian Goose Down. Canada is one of the most popular sources of Goose Down especially from the Hutterite communities of Alberta. Hutterite Goose Down is lightweight, soft and durable.
- Hungarian Goose Down Hungary is one of the largest exporters of Goose Down feathers. Down fill from Hungary is pure white in color and offers excellent thermal ability.
- Chinese Goose Down. Over 70% of the world’s goose down supply comes from China. Exercise caution as a lot of this down can be lower quality and mixed with feathers. It’s important to get all white goose down to avoid the odor and avoid the discoloration appearance of grey goose or other goose down.
Goose down pillows are super luxurious. These pillows can be folded and put in any position that you need easily. They tend to lose some of the down over time so don’t skimp when purchasing! Again, super important to get pure white goose down and no feathers! Caring for your pillows and comforters will be easier than you think. I have always washed my white goose down in the washing machine on delicate and put in the dryer to air dry. White goose down comforters and pillows should last anywhere from 10-15 years. My last white goose down comforter is on its last leg and I’ve had it for 12 years. I wash it often and it is beginning to get holes along the seams. I still consider it a worthwhile investment to replace!