Polyester vs. Cotton Pillow (9 Differences You Should Know!)

Are polyester pillows comfortable? Do cotton pillows last longer? What do you REALLY get with each type of headrest?

When choosing between polyester vs. cotton pillows, you should know the differences between each.

These differences include comfort, durability, price, and how long they last.

We’ll go over both types of filling materials and help you decide which one is best for you.

Polyester Pillow Filling 


  • Cheap
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • Various firmness levels are available


  • Clumps shorten the life of the product
  • Health and environmental hazards (chemicals are used in the production of polyester fibers)
  • Not moldable
  • It can feel warm because it’s not breathable

Cotton Pillow Filling


  • Odorless
  • Natural, no toxic materials
  • Breathable, cool


  • Cotton can become lumpy and uncomfortable over time (although it resists clumping better than wool)
  • Firm, not very malleable

So, what is the difference between cotton and polyester as pillow stuffing? 

Cotton Pillow Filling

What is Cotton?

Cotton is a natural fiber used for centuries. 

It grows well in many climates and conditions.

The material has a natural feel that many people enjoy. 

Cotton is hypoallergenic; it’s safe for people living with allergies.

Cotton pillows

Given the prevalence of cotton, one could assume that these cushions would be popular.

But synthetic cushions such as memory foam and polyfill have changed the market. 

Those have left natural fiber pillows in the minority, and they are hard to find.

But if you find them, they come in various sizes and styles, making them easy to match with any decor.

There are many models that have zippered openings for adding or removing fill.

We know natural fiber cushions for their better breathability and heat absorption property. 

Not just this, plant fiber beddings are free of allergens, synthetics, and chemicals, making them appropriate for everyone. 

Some natural fiber pillows need to be hand-washed, but some are machine-washable (check the care tag!).

Example of cotton pillow: Magnolia Organics Organic Headrest

Polyester Pillow Filling

What is Polyester?

Polyester fabric (Fiberfill) is a man-made material. It is made to look and feel like cotton. 

Often, synthetic materials are blended with natural fibers to give them a more natural appearance.

Most bedding sold worldwide is cotton-polyester blends.

Polyester fabrics are manufactured with chemicals and contribute to environmental pollution. And it’s hard to recycle.

Polyester Pillows

Over the years, polyester has become the most common material used for making pillows. 

This is because it is the cheapest cushion type. 

Another reason people choose these types is that they are machine washable. And they do not absorb smell like cushions made of natural fibers. 

Polyester is used as a filling, but covers are typically made of cotton or a polyester blend. 

Polyester pillows are very light. The pads of this type tend to flatten out, so they won’t last as long.

Example of Polyester Pillow: Bare Home Luxury Fiberfill Headrest

Fiber pillows are sometimes marketed as cotton pillows in some stores. In other words, the cushion cover is cotton, but the padding is polyester. It is better to research before buying to separate cotton from fiber to avoid disappointment.

Polyester Vs Cotton Pillows

FeaturesCotton pillowPolyester Pillow
MaterialNatural organic cottonSynthetic fiber
CostCostlier than fiber pillowsCheap
SoftnessSoft but firmSofter than cotton cushions
BreathabilityBreathableNot very breathable
WashabilityGets soggy when washing (harder to dry than polyester)Easy to wash and dry
DurabilityBetter durabilityNot as durable as cotton
PopularityNot easy to findMost popular pillow material
Sleeping positionAll positionsSide, back and stomach sleepers
HealthSuitable for people with allergiesMight attract dust mites
EnvironmentalBetter than polyesterNot environmental friendly

#1 Cost Factor & Availability 

Compared to cotton, synthetic fabrics are way cheaper. 

Artificial fibers are widely available compared to cotton. 

It is easy to find a polyester type of pillow. You are much more likely to see it in any store that sells beddings. 

These come in different shapes and sizes, offering a nice variety. 

As polyester pillows have increased in popularity, people use fewer natural fiber cushions. 

The unavailability of plant fiber cushions has also affected the price. 

A natural plant fiber headrest may cost a reasonable amount if you want to purchase it!

#2 Softness

Although the cotton is soft, it feels firm compared to other popular pillow fillings. 

Polyfill and down, for example, are more compressible.

Plant fiber padding may not be very malleable. It is not easy to change its shape.

Polyester pillows compress well. They are soft, lightweight, and somewhat malleable.

You can adjust them to fit almost any sleeping position by adjusting the fill. 

#3 Breathability 

Polyester pillows get heated and feel uncomfortable when you sleep in a warm room!

They have limited breathability and, with time, get sticky due to body heat and sweat!

Polyester cushions usually have a cotton cover to enhance breathability.

Plant fiber cushions maintain their temperature over time, as they are organic, and have better breathability than polyester.

#4 Washability 

Polyester pillows are machine washable and take a shorter time to dry up. 

However, polyester pads lose their form soon when wet. 

Not just this, they also get lumpy and lose their consistency. 

You can wash some cotton cushions in a washing machine. 

Others, however, should be hand washed. 

The care label will tell you what you should do.

When washing your plant fiber cushions, use a gentle cycle and a mild detergent in lukewarm water.

You can dry them on a low setting after they have been washed. 

Add a dryer ball or a tennis ball to the dryer for extra-fluffy cushions. 

Fluff the cushion every 30 minutes or so, and continue drying until the buffer is completely dry.

But as said before, check the care tag for any specific instructions.

The cotton cushions can get clumped and hard-surfaced because of compressions. 

#5 Durability

No matter which headrest you use, they have to be replaced. 

The difference is how long it lasts before being replaced.

Cotton fibers last longer than a synthetic fiber cushion. 

Polyester cushions get clumpy and compressed over time if not fluffed.

The cotton cushions take a long time to get compressed and flat like other cushions. 

However, natural fiber can serve much better than polyester. 

It can hold weight for a prolonged period and maintain its form and structure. 

But the durability can be affected if you wash your buffer frequently. 

#6 Popularity

Unexpectedly, cotton fiber beddings are hard to find.

Over the years, synthetic filling types such as polyfill and memory foam have advanced in popularity over plant fiber fillings.

These materials have relegated plant fiber to a minority position as a filling.

#7 Sleeping Positions

A cotton pillow is very versatile and will fit almost any sleeper. 

They are suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers (and for combination sleepers). 

But note that it won’t conform to the shape of your head like a feather or memory foam. 

Polyester-filled pillows are best for side sleepers and back sleepers. 

They are also helpful for stomach sleepers if they aren’t too thick. 

In back, neck, or shoulder pain, they are not recommended. 

Polyester pillows tend to compress under the head’s weight, providing poor support.

#8 Health Concerns

They manufacture polyester products using chemicals, meaning that we might inhale toxic gas as we sleep. 

Chemicals can also cause skin problems.

Cotton fabric is natural, free from synthetic materials, and hypoallergenic. 

They’re better suited for people with allergies.

#9 Environment Friendliness 

Polyester is harmful to the environment as it’s made from fossil fuels.

It is difficult to recycle. 

Biodegradation can take over 100 years. 

Its production also releases pollutants into the air and disposes toxins in the water.

Is cotton durable? Yes and no.

Although it is a natural fiber, traditional cotton is not friendly.

Cotton is mainly produced in dry and warm areas, but it needs a lot of water to grow. 

Because there is not much rain in these areas, most water comes from irrigation. 

But there is usually a shortage of water in those areas anyway.


Polyester Vs Cotton–Which One to Choose?

Suppose you want to buy an inexpensive cushion? In that case, look for a polyester. 

They are available at bedding stores. 

Again, if you sleep on your stomach or side, the polyester cushions can be the best option in terms of comfort. 

Polyester pillows are easy to maintain; all you have to do is toss them into the washing machine. 

And they do not get soggy, and they dry up faster. 

If you want to buy a chemical-free cushion, natural plant fiber should always be your choice. 

Free of chemical contents doesn’t sound bad at all!  

They are soft, breathable, and firm, so they should support your neck, head, and shoulders. 

Also, they last longer, and you do not need to replace them often. 

The Botton Line

Filling (sometimes referred to as stuffing or filler) gives your headrest its character.

Your pad can be soft, firm, supportive, low, or high loft, depending on the type of filling and the quantity used. 

There is not one perfect filling for all types of sleepers. 

Whichever filling you choose, make sure the case has a zippered opening so you can add or remove the stuffing.

Similar Posts