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How to Choose Pillows and Duvets for Allergies

"Breathe", the Hypoallergenic, Climate Control Duvet from Allergy Best Buys

Our Recommended Pillows and Duvets at a Glance

Pillows for allergies:

  • FeatherFresh boilable duck feather & down pillows
  • Spundown Home-washable polyester-fill pillows
  • Child's Soft Support Pillow (Suitable for Adults Too)
  • Anti-allergy Pillow with Copper

See All Pillows ...

Duvets for allergies:

  • Silk Wash SuperCool lightweight boilable silk-&-cotton duvet
  • Natural Wool-filled Duvets for allergies
  • Spundown Home-Washable Duvets
  • Fossflakes Thermo-regulating Duvets
  • Breathe, the Hypoallergenic, Climate Control Duvet

See all Duvets ... 

Dustmites in your bedding - #1 allergen for asthma and rhinitis

Dustmite allergen, found within dustmite droppings, is one of the most common triggers for asthma, eczema and rhinitis. Dustmites thrive in dark, humid areas where there is a ready food supply of dead skin scales, so pillows and duvets provide an ideal environment in which they thrive.

If you are sensitised to dustmite allergen and your allergy is triggered by inhaling it when you're in bed, getting rid of them from your bedding is important. But killing dustmites is only half the battle. For complete avoidance you need to denature and eliminate the allergen too.

Hypoallergenic or Anti-allergy?

There is now a bewildering array of bedding on the market that claim to be "hypoallergenic duvets" or "anti-allergy pillows." For anyone with an allergic condition, making the wrong choice is not only an expensive mistake but could be a serious health risk.

"Hypoallergenic" means that the pillow or duvet is less likely to trigger allergies. "Anti-allergy" means that the pillow or duvet has been treated in some way to combat the development of dustmites or offer protection against their allergen.

Synthetic or natural-fill

Since the dustmite doesn't care what your pillow is filled with, the choice of a natural fill or synthetic is entirely personal, although recent studies at St George's Hospital, London and elsewhere have shown that synthetic pillows harbour more house dustmites than those filled with traditional feather and down.

But whichever filling is used, dustmites can be killed and their allergen denatured and destroyed when bedding is washed at temperatures of 60°C and above. It is essential, therefore, that any pillows and duvets you buy can endure repeated washing at this temperature or higher.

If washed frequently (at least once every three months and preferably monthly) at a high temperature, all pillows and duvets can be kept free of dustmites and their allergenic droppings.

Unfortunately pillows and duvets filled with 100% silk or other natural fillings such as cashmere, camelhair or pure goosedown cannot be washed at 60°C, if at all. Although they can be dry-cleaned, which kills the mites and removes some of the allergen, the amount is variable (20-70%). Dry-cleaning is also an unsuitable process for anyone sensitive to chemicals.

Many pillows and duvets filled with synthetic clusters are washable but most are restricted to a 40°C wash and low temperature drying programme, which means the dustmites and their allergen will not be removed.

Synthetic fabrics and fillings are also generally too hot for anyone with eczema, so natural fillings for pillows and duvets such as cotton or wool, silk, bamboo floss or feather-and-down are a cooler choice, particularly when they have a pure cotton cover. Polyester covers should be avoided as they are rarely dustmite-proof.

Synthetic-fill Pillows

Spundown Washable polyester-fill Pillows. We were pleased to find the Spundown brand of fibre-filled pillows and duvets that compress well into a domestic washing machine and can be washed at 60°C. We recommend them if you can tolerate synthetics.

Learn More About Spundown Pillows

 Child's Soft Support Anti-allergy Pillow. Some pillows say you can wash them, usually at 40°. But at this temperature, although dustmites may drown, their microscopic allergen won’t be removed.

Other pillows claim they can be washed at 60° but most won't stand up to regular washing and quickly become lumpy and misshapen. This is no good for anyone with asthma, eczema or dustmite allergy who needs their pillow washed frequently to denature dustmite allergen.

These Soft-support Washable Anti-allergy Pillows with advanced Smartfil® highly compressible fibre balls are the answer. They fit into any home washing machine and can be washed repeatedly at 60° without losing shape or comfort, destroying allergens in the process.

They can be washed at home, tumble-dried and back on the bed, plump and fresh, the same day.

Quick Tip: This pillow is also very comfortable for adults who like a softer, shallower pillow.

Learn More About the Child's Soft Support Anti-allergy Pillow


Natural-fill Pillows

FeatherFresh PillowsWe are very impressed with the FeatherFresh boil-washable natural feather & down pillows that have been specifically created for those with asthma, eczema, rhinitis or dust allergy.

Originally made for use in hospitals where they are autoclaved and boiled for infection control, FeatherFresh Pillows can be washed at home at 60°C without going lumpy or losing their shape. You can even boil-wash Featherfresh pillows in your home machine at up to 90°C (200°F) to sterilise them.

Because the Featherfresh pillows have been created for those with asthma, eczema, you can buy them free of VAT.

Learn More About FeatherFresh Pillows

What about feather allergy?

For many years people thought that if you had asthma or allergies you were automatically allergic to feathers. True feather allergy is extremely rare. It has been identified only as a reaction either to quill mites in live feathers, to the protein in the droppings of pigeons, or to pigeon bloom, a waxy powder which coats the feathers of racing pigeons and that is implicated in the disease Pigeon Fanciers' Lung.

Today we know that the trigger for night-time asthma attacks, eczema flare-ups and rhinitis symptoms routinely described as "feather allergy" is an allergic reaction to the dustmite allergen in a pillow that has not been washed after several months' use. Other allergy triggers can be the oils and bacteria in a pillow or duvet filled with cheap, sometimes recycled feathers that either have not been properly washed and sterilised or to the chemicals commonly used to eradicate them.

Look for feather and down pillows or duvets with Downafresh® and/or NOMITE® accreditation. Bedding carrying these labels tells you that the cover is dustmite-proof and the filling has been properly cleaned and sterilised. You can wash pillows and duvets of this standard at home at 60°C to keep them free of dustmite allergen.

Natural-fill Duvets for allergies

Those of you who have discovered FeatherFresh Pillows will have already experienced the health benefits of sleeping on a natural traditional filled pillow.

Now we've found a beautifully made duvet that offers the same opportunity to enjoy a night of safe, supremely comfortable sleep. It can be layered with our Cellular Blankets to give perfect comfort control.


Wool-filled Hypoallergenic Duvets. Duvets filled with wool clusters are an excellent natural alternative to feather and down. The ones we have chosen are made in England and have an unbleached undyed cotton cover. The filling is anti-bacterial and naturally hostile to dustmites. These duvets are safe for asthma, eczema and chemical sensitivity. They're also incredibly comfortable and are a good medium weight - neither too hot nor too cold.

Learn More About the Wool Filled Duvet 

Synthetic Duvets for allergies

Spundown Home-washable Duvets. There are an awful lot of man-made duvets on the market that describe themselves as hypoallergenic.The Spundown fibre-filled duvet has been made with smartfil® technology that makes it compress well into a domestic washing machine. It can be washed at 60°C and tumble dried and is a good choice if you are going to wash your bedding frequently to keep it free of dustmite or pet allergen. We recommend it if you can tolerate synthetics.

Learn More About the Spundown Duvet

Fossflakes Thermo-regulating Duvet is the latest bedding to make it on to our recommended list. The feel of these beautifully made duvets is really soft and luxurious, like natural down but without the price tag. However unlike down-filled bedding which has to be dry-cleaned, you can wash a Fossflakes duvet at 60°C to keep it hypoallergenic For sleepers sharing a bed, differing body temperatures can mean one partner is boiling hot and the other pretty chilly. However the special filling in a Fossflakes duvet responds to the body temperature of each sleeper, so both you and your partner can enjoy the temperature that suits.

Learn More About the Fossflakes Duvet

"Breathe" the Hypoallergenic, Climate Control Duvet. The clever technology behind this superb, climate control duvet makes it an excellent choice for anyone with eczema, or any condition made worse by overheating. It's also a great choice for anyone who tends to get hot and sweaty in bed.

The secret is in the filling, which blends Smartfil® technology with a special fibre called Modal. Modal is derived from natural wood pulp and is exceptionally breathable, helping to wick moisture away from the body to prevent you waking in a hot, itchy sweat. Less overheating means more undisturbed sleep and more chance of feeling refreshed on waking.

Learn More About "Breathe" the Hypoallergenic, Climate Control Duvet 

Our recommended Pillows for allergies:

  • FeatherFresh boilable duck feather & down pillows
  • Spundown Home-washable polyester-fill pillows
  • Child's Soft Support Pillow (Suitable for Adults Too)
  • Anti-allergy Pillow with Copper

See All Pillows ...

Our recommended Duvets for allergies:

  • Silk Wash SuperCool lightweight boilable silk-&-cotton duvet
  • Natural Wool-filled Duvets for allergies
  • Spundown Home-Washable Duvets
  • Fossflakes Thermo-regulating Duvets
  • Breathe, the Hypoallergenic, Climate Control Duvet

See all Duvets ...