What pillow should I buy?
July 20, 2013 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I need to purchase three pillows. I have the internet, Costco, Sam's Club, WalMart, Target, Kohls, and the other usual suspects from whom I can purchase the thing. What's the best pillow to gt?

I know a lot will depend on personal preference about how firm I want it to be, or whatever...

My main hope is to avoid buyer's remorse. I often find that when I just go to [Big Store] and pick up the thing I need that they have in stock, I slowly get dissatisfied with it over time and realize I should have been more intentional and picked up a better one. Costco in particular does this to me, as they seem to stock a lot of almost-great-but-not-quite midrange stuff. I could easily see going there, seeing a down pillow and thinking, "Great!" and then a month later realizing it's not nearly as comfortable as a somewhat more expensive down pillow from specialty retailer.

I don't think I want a foam pillow, although I am willing to experiment if there's a good return policy for pillows that have only been drooled on for one night. I am somewhat open to the idea of a pillow filled with something like buckwheat, just to try it out... In fact, I'm OK with purchasing three different kinds of pillows so I can compare and contrast and figure out what I like going forward.

What do I need to know to make a good purchase? Pretend I don't have any budget concerns.
posted by jsturgill to Shopping (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have an Ikea near you? The last time I was there I was impressed not only by their selection but by the way everything was clearly labeled - some were for side sleepers, some were for back sleepers, different materials, etc.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:18 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not near me, but it would be a fun road trip and is a possibility.
posted by jsturgill at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2013

Yeah. IKEA is amazing for this sort of thing. And of course they have them all over the beds in the sleeping section, so you can give 'em a whirl while you're there.
posted by mykescipark at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2013

I thought of Ikea too. Some items you can get online.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2013

Just a word of warning about IKEA pillows... although I find my IKEA pillows very comfortable (and their selection is great!), I have found that they are difficult to fit into pillowcases. I've had this problem with three different sets of IKEA pillows - I've tried IKEA pillowcases and non-IKEA pillowcases, and still, no luck. Because the pillows are comfy and because I am a bit of a cheapskate, I've just given up and now the pillows pop out of the pillowcase and look kind of messy unless I constantly cram them back in.
posted by gursky at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2013

Ooh, I popped into this thread to say Ikea, too. They have a wide selection and in our experience they have held up well.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2013

a good return policy for pillows that have only been drooled on for one night.
Please don't do that. Would you buy a used pillow? Buckwheat was too noisy for me. I usually have good luck at Marshalls orTJ Maxx--I take my own laundered case, slip it on over the plastic wrapped pillow, and see how I like it.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had great luck with Ikea pillows.

Re gursky's warning: Don't get lured by the lower prices into the "standard" pillows, because those are smaller than American "standard" pillows. And I think the biggest pillows they sell, which might also seem tempting because they're so affordable overall, are too big. You want the medium size.

It's possible, too, that they do better with sham-style or envelope style pillowcases rather than the ones that are open at one end. The former is what I use at home for the most part, and I've never had a problem with pillows fitting.

I don't think Ikea has a wide selection in terms of stuff like memory foam, buckwheat, etc. though I make a beeline for the down section when I'm there, so maybe I've just never noticed. You might do better at Bed, Bath & Beyond if you want novelty stuffings.
posted by Sara C. at 1:48 PM on July 20, 2013

Since you're considering alternative fillings, I'll just pop in to say avoid natural shredded rubber/latex pillows. It's like foam rubber but all shredded up into little pieces. I got one of these things and it stunk for two years. You don't want weird smells when you're trying to go to sleep.
posted by Askr at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2013

Have you ever slept at a hotel where you liked the pillows? I called the four seasons and ordered pillows from them directly after I slept there and realized I didn't notice the pillows, which for me is like a jackpot!
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm a fan of limp pillows (droop-in-half-over-my-arm kind of limp) and I am getting along well with this buckwheat pillow. Removing about half of the hulls did the trick for me; ymmv, but then again, that's the beauty of adjustable filling. Noise has not been an issue for me because once I shape the pillow, it stays put.

Other buckwheat pillow-related questions on the green have recommended looking for such a thing in your local Asian market/neighborhood, a great idea if you're near or visiting one.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:29 PM on July 20, 2013

I know a lot will depend on personal preference about how firm I want it to be, or whatever...

This is hugely important and I don't think can be divorced from a useful answer. Most basically, are you a side, back or stomach sleeper? You want three pillows; are they all for you? A good pillow is something of a holy grail, sometimes depending on years of "breaking in" and its reaction to laundering. My current favorite is a camping pillow from REI but I would never offer its like to guests, who would consider it a pathetic little ketchup packet of a pillow and me a thoughtless host. Get three different kinds and let them sort themselves out.
posted by Morrigan at 5:58 PM on July 20, 2013

This is perfect timing. I just got back from a few days in a high end hotel and realized my pillows sucked. I started hitting discount department stores, TJ Maxx had a great selection, ymmv.
posted by msamye at 7:21 PM on July 20, 2013

I went through pillows from everywhere and was frustrated with how fast they died. I walked into Macy's and an employee in the pillow department approached me and asked if I wanted to be fitted for a pillow. This was mostly her asking me what I liked, then running around grabbing pillows for me to try while laying on on of their display beds. She also made sure my neck wasn't bending too much & considered how I slept. It was ridiculous, but so worth it. I love the pillow I bought from her help! If you have a Macy's by you, go in and ask if they have a pillow expert working.
posted by haplesschild at 12:40 AM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I LOVE my pillow from Target. It is a memory foam and down all in one pillow, firm yet cushy. I can't fine a picture of it online (mostly because I recognize the box but not the actual pillow). It is on the pillow aisle at the end on a real shelf because it comes in a box, part of the front of the box is open so you can squeeze the pillow and I believe it was Fieldcrest Luxury.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:10 AM on July 24, 2013

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