WHAT IS A WOOL PILLOW?

man in bed with a wool pillow

A wool pillow is made using wool as the filling material. Wool is a natural, renewable, and sustainable material. It is produced using the fleece of a sheep. The coat of a sheep can be harvested every 12 months.

Wool pillows have seen a recent surge in popularity thanks to their high comfort level, consistent support, and breathability. These pillows have a soft plush feel that tends to hold its shape.

If you’re looking for a pillow that provides consistent support, regulates temperature, and is hypoallergenic – a wool pillow could be for you.


WOOL PILLOW GUIDE

close up of some organic wool

Looking for something specific?  Jump straight to what you want to know about wool pillows…

What Is Wool?  |  The Benefits  |  The Disadvantages  |  How to Wash  |  How to Dry  |  Wool Blend Pillows  |  Frequently Asked Questions


WHAT IS WOOL?

two sheep with wool coats

Wool is a natural hair-like fiber that is obtained from the fleece of a sheep, alpaca, llama, or goat. The fiber is made from a protein called keratin. It is this natural protein that gives wool its unique set of characteristics, including its distinctive durability and structural integrity.

Wool is produced by hair follicles found in the skin of a sheep. It has been prized across the centuries for its durability, breathability, and warmth. It is a 100% renewable and biodegradable material.


BENEFITS OF A WOOL PILLOW

woman sleeping on a wool pillow

What are the advantages of a wool pillow? Below we run through the key features and benefits of wool pillows that make them such a popular choice for sleepers.

COMFORT

The greatest benefit of a wool pillow is its comfort. Simply, put they are just incredibly comfortable. They have a plush soft feel that provides plenty of support.

And, they come with a zipper that allows you to open them up and adjust the fill level of the pillow. By adding or removing wool you can tailor the pillow height to your precise requirement.

Additionally, wool fiber has an inherent to retain its shape and bounce. This means they quickly return to their original shape after being pressed or squeezed. This prolongs their lifespan and means you’ll get plenty of comfortable service from your wool pillow.

HYPOALLERGENIC

Wool is a natural material and is often a good choice for people that suffer from allergies. It is hypoallergenic and less likely to trigger an allergic reaction compared to other types of pillow.

Wool pillows are also dust-mite resistant. The lanolin compound found in natural wool repels dust mites and helps keep them away. This is great news for people that suffer from asthma.

BREATHABLE

Wool is a naturally breathable material. It allows warm air to escape from the surface of the pillow while you sleep. This improves comfort and prevents your face from becoming too hot during the night. If you are a hot sleeper – this will be a welcome benefit.

CONSISTENT SUPPORT

Wool pillows provide a consistent level of support. If you want a pillow that retains its shape and loft – you will not be disappointed. With a wool pillow, you can expect the same level of head and neck support night after night.

Thanks to wool’s ability to bounce back into shape after being compressed they offer a level of consistency not found in other types of pillow.

TEMPERATURE REGULATION

woman sleeping on a pillow

Wool pillows perform strongly when it comes to temperature regulation. Thanks to their breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Wool pillows regulate temperature by allowing hot air to escape through the wool fibers – keeping the sleeping surface cool on warm nights.

It also has an insulating ability. Wool will help keep you warm on cold nights by retaining a comfortable level of warm air between your face and the pillow surface. These dual cooling and insulating properties help maintain a comfortable temperature while you sleep.

ORGANIC WOOL

Organic wool is farmed in a way that excludes the use of a list of common chemicals. These chemicals include processing agents and preventative treatments that combat lice and flies. Look out for GOTS certification when shopping for organic pillows.

It is a premium type of wool that commands a high price and is not widely available. However, if you want a pillow that has been made using as few chemicals and toxins as possible – an organic wool pillow is for you.

MOISTURE WICKING

Wool fibers have the ability to absorb moisture. And, wool pillows demonstrate this impressive moisture-wicking ability to a tee. The wool filling draws moisture away from the pillow surface and absorbs perspiration during the night. This will help keep you cool, fresh, and dry while you sleep.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Wool is a natural, sustainable, and renewable material. It is an eco-friendly choice. Wool is sourced from the fleece of a sheep. And, this coat regenerates itself every 12 months.

It is also bio-degradable. So, when it reaches the end of its life cycle it can be properly disposed of and the material returned naturally to mother earth.

If you want to reduce your organic footprint avoid choosing a synthetic pillow filling and reach for something natural such as wool. Other natural pillow types include kapok, bamboo, down, and buckwheat hull pillows.

ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT

The height of a wool pillow can be adjusted. They come with a zipper that allows easy access to the wool filling inside. By removing or adding wool you can adjust the fill volume of the pillow. This means you can choose a loft that meets your exact personal preference – great news for back and stomach sleepers.


DISADVANTAGES OF A WOOL PILLOW

stack of pillows on a bed

What about the drawbacks? What are the cons of a wool pillow? Here are the key disadvantages of wool pillows you need to be aware of.

COST

First up is the cost. Wool is a natural material and this means they are a premium option. Wool pillows are more expensive than synthetic pillows. They are a premium product and if you’re shopping on a budget you may want to explore cheaper options.

DISTINCT AROMA

Wool has a distinct natural scent. And while some people find it pleasant and reassuring – it is not to everyone’s taste. While the smell is subtle and tends to fade over time there is no getting away from the fact that they have a unique aroma.

If you are sensitive to strong or new smells try sampling a wool pillow before you commit to buying one. You don’t want to be disappointed when your new pillow arrives.

DIFFICULT TO SHAPE

Wool pillows can be difficult to shape. Wool fibers have strong structural properties that allow them to bounce back into their original shape once pressure is removed.

If you like to squeeze and shape your pillow before switching off the light you’ll be disappointed with how a wool pillow resists your efforts. Wool pillows offer consistent support and retain their natural shape.

CLEANING

Wool pillows can be difficult to clean. In general, they come with additional washing and drying requirements compared to regular pillows. Wool is a natural material and special care is needed when washing and drying to prevent damaging the structure of the material.

Many wool pillows will require a hand wash while others can be washed using a gentle cycle in a washing machine. You’ll need to take a look at the pillow label for specific instructions. Check out our guide below on how to wash and dry a wool pillow.

WOOL SENSITIVITY

Some people have a natural sensitivity to wool. The material can cause an itchiness and unpleasant feeling when it comes into contact with the skin of certain individuals.

While this is a very small percentage of the population it is a characteristic that makes a wool pillow unsuitable for some. If you have a sensitivity to wool – then it’s best to choose an alternative pillow type. Comfort is key.


RELATED

Kapok Pillows

Bamboo Pillows

Buckwheat Hull Pillows

Down Pillows


HOW TO WASH A WOOL PILLOW

lady holding out hand and smiling

Washing a wool pillow can be a challenge. They tend to have special washing requirements that prevent you from throwing them in with a regular laundry cycle.

You should start by checking the label and following the instructions for your pillow. Improperly washing a wool pillow can cause permanent damage. In general, most wool pillows can be washed using one of the methods described below.

HAND WASHING

To hand wash your pillow you’ll need to use either a bathtub or a large basin. If you have a big sink that might do the trick too. Basically, you’re looking for something that allows you to completely submerge the pillow in water.

Begin by adding cold or tepid water to the tub. Wool cannot be washed in warm water as it will damage the fibers. Then add your hand washing detergent and mix it through the water.

Get your wool pillow and remove it from the pillowcase – it can be washed in a regular wash. Submerge the pillow in the soapy water. Make sure it is completely submerged and no parts remain above the water.

Leave the pillow in the water for 10 minutes. This allows the detergent time to work its way through the wool and contact all areas. Then begin massaging the pillow. Gently squeeze it to work the detergent through the wool.

Continue to massage the pillow for 5 minutes – then you’re done. Remove the pillow from the tub and squeeze to remove as much soapy water as you can. Drain the water from the bathtub and replace with cold water.

Return the pillow to the tub and submerge it in the water. Gently massage the pillow to remove the soapy water. Continue to rinse until the water coming from the pillow runs clear and contains no soap residue.

Remove the pillow from the water and wrap it in a clean dry towel. Gently squeeze and twist the pillow to drain excess water. You now have a clean hand washed wool pillow.

MACHINE WASHING

picture of a washing machine

If your wool pillow is suitable for machine washing you’re in luck. You can avoid having to do a separate hand wash and save yourself some time.

Begin by removing the pillow from its pillowcase. Place the pillow in your washing machine and balance the load with towels or other laundry. Select the appropriate cleaning cycle – a gentle wash that includes a spin dry works best for wool.

Wool should be washed in cold or cool water. Check the label on your pillow for the recommended washing temperature and set your machine accordingly. If you use too high a temperature you may shrink the wool. Add your detergent and start your wash.


READ NEXT

Best Latex Mattress

Pros & Cons of Memory Foam

Best Memory Foam Mattress


HOW TO DRY A WOOL PILLOW

young lady asleep in bed on a pillow

Depending on the requirements of the pillow, you have two options – hand drying or machine drying. Some pillows will have to be hand dried while others can be machine dried.

HAND DRYING

You can dry a wool pillow by placing it out in the sun. Put a clean blanket or towel on the floor and place your wet wool pillow on the blanket. Leave to air dry for 6-8 hours before turning over and repeating the process.

When the pillow feels dry to touch take it inside and hang it near a dry heat source such as a stove or radiator. Allow at least another 24 hours to completely dry out. You now have a clean, dry, and air-freshened pillow.

MACHINE DRYING

If your pillow is suitable for machine drying you can complete the process much faster. Follow the instructions on your pillow label for best results. In general, machine drying a wool pillow will include the following steps, see below.

Place your wool pillow in the dryer and balance the load with other fabrics of a similar color. Add some dryer balls to the load – these will beat the pillow and restore its fluffiness while it dries.

Set the dryer to low heat or air dry to prevent damage to the wool fibers. Wool fibers retain moisture more than other fabrics so it will take longer to dry compared to your regular laundry cycles.

Start by setting the timer to 45 minutes and check dryness when done. If it still feels damp put the load on for a further 30 minutes. Repeat these steps until the pillow is completely dry.


WHAT IS A WOOL BLEND PILLOW?

basket of wool

A wool blend pillow is made using a mixture of wool and some other type of synthetic material to make the pillow filling. The most commonly used additional material is polyester.

These pillows combine the characteristics of natural wool and synthetic polyester to create a new hybrid pillow. The ratio of wool to polyester varies but 60% wool, 40% polyester is a popular make-up. Woolrich pillows are made using more wool.


WOOL PILLOW FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

woman smiling and pointing direction

What Is an Organic Wool Pillow?

An organic wool pillow uses organic certified wool as the pillow filling. Organic wool is produced following a strict set of rules that exclude the use of certain chemicals. Look out for GOTS certification when shopping for an organic wool pillow.

What Is a Wool Pillow Cover?

Wool pillow covers are generally made from cotton. It is very rare to find a pillow cover that is made from wool. When people speak of wool pillow covers – they are referring to a regular pillow cover that is used to cover a wool pillow. Cotton is the go-to fabric for wool pillows and is an excellent choice.

Do Wool Pillows Cause Allergic Reactions?

Wool allergies are very rare. However, some people have a sensitivity to wool that causes skin irritation on contact. If you have a sensitivity to wool, you should avoid a wool pillow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JOSH HARDY – Senior Editor

Josh is senior editor at Mattress Comfort Guide. He is an industry expert with over 30 years of experience in the bed and mattress industry. Josh is a native of Albuquerque and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He holds an M.S. in Project Management and a B.S. in Earth & Planetary Sciences.

He has worked in both the retail and manufacturing industries where he has held consultancy roles on mattress design and technologies. Josh has a particular interest in how different mattress types complement body size and sleeping position, and deliver optimal lumbar support. Josh is a keen sports fan and when he’s away from the office he likes to play basketball and catch the New Mexico Lobos games with his two sons at the Pit.


logo banner