How we test pillows: woman&home's expert review process explained

Find out how we test pillows, discovering the lengths we go to ensure the pillows we recommend are the best according to our strict review process

Line up of pillows for testing to show how we test pillows
(Image credit: Future)

Testing pillows may seem like a dreamy task, and while sleeping on the job is no real hardship, we do take it very seriously indeed. As experts, it's our job to ensure we are only recommending pillows with a level of unrivalled confidence because we have genuinely tried and tested each one. 

Ascertaining what makes the best pillow for one individual is not an easy task, but that's why we entrust our diverse team of experts, to carry out a stringent process of personally reviewing each one testing comfort, unique qualities, materials and more. 

We've tested the latest pillows from big-name brands, as well as smaller independent retailers who are making innovative alternative filings and more to help you choose the best pillows currently on the market – and it is current because we pride ourselves on updating our reviews with regularity. 

Through our thorough and honest reviews, you'll find the best sleep aids that are worth spending on to provide a level of trust and assurance when buying online.

How we test pillows for our expert buying guides

Quite simply we use the pillows in our own homes to genuinely test the sleep quality to the fullest. To truly determine comfort, support and quality we've slept on each of the best pillows over a week, if not more, to see how they fair. 

To maintain fairness for each review our experts change up their sleeping patterns to establish how each pillow holds up to the various sleeping positions.

Here we'll give you an honest insight into the full process of how we test pillows, from choosing and evaluating each one:

How we choose pillows to test

Compilation image of pillows to show the process of how we test pillows

(Image credit: Future)

It all begins with our editing process to first determine the latest pillows on the market, exploring all the different types of pillows to ensure a wide range of product recommendations. 

When selecting the pillows we take into account all the things that matter to different individuals, from hypoallergenic pillows to aid those with allergies, animal-friendly credentials for vegans and the best affordable options to cater to all budgets.

Determining the best pillow will differ from one individual to another, depending on their sleep style, for instance, a side sleeper may prefer the best thin pillow to suit their sleep style while a front sleeper might desire more cushioning for comforting support. For those who run a little hot throughout the night the best cooling pillow is a better consideration.

There are also allergies, material preferences and of course budget to take into consideration for every style of sleeper. Therefore our dedicated team of pillow reviewers takes the time to review each pillow based on these considerations.

How we test comfort

Pillow testing on bed on bamboo bed sheets pillows stacked and styled on bed

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant)

Without question, the most important quantifiable quality of any pillow is comfort and is therefore our first consideration. So how do we test comfortability? It's quite simple, our testers will sleep on each pillow every night for at least a week then up to a month, to gauge a clear picture of how it stands up to the test of time. 

The first step is to assess how well we slept throughout the testing period because if a pillow doesn't provide supreme comfort it determines if we would recommend it as a legitimately good sleep aid. We note if we wake with any sense of discomfort from pressure points around the neck because this would be a clear indication that our comfort levels have not been met.

We test each pillow over several nights in a range of different sleeping positions - front, side, back to ascertain the comfort and support of each pillow in each position.

After sleeping on each for a few weeks we compare if the pillow still offers the same level of comfort – we don't want to be lured into a false sense of security if, after a few weeks, the plumpness has dwindled. But if this was the case, the pillow would not make it through onto our buying guides because it would have failed our testing process. 

We also regularly revisit our reviews many months down the line to state if the pillow is still ticking all the comfortability boxes. 

How we test materials

Pillows lined up to show how we test pillows for our expert buying guides

(Image credit: Future)

Pillows are generally made of memory foam; microfiber filling; feather and down; latex and wool. We ensure all our testers have a hands-on experience with the different types of pillows to determine how different each one feels. 

As aforementioned we make sure we are completely inclusive by having an option within each of our pillow-buying guides to suit all personal preferences so whether vegan or looking for a hypoallergenic pillow there's a tried and tested option for you.

We test the breathability of each material, assessing how cool/breathable each pillow felt, questioning whether our head and/or neck had overheated during the night.

We  look at the supposed hypoallergenic properties of those materials that state that they have those benefits, by judging if any allergies were kept at bay. 

To test the materials we look at the potential for those little niggles that might have someone regretting their purchase such as microfibre fillings that clump or feathers that poke through the casing.

How we test ease of cleaning

pillows on a kitchen countertop above a washing machine

(Image credit: Future)

Cleanliness is key when it comes to pillows because not only are they used every day, but they are exposed to skin sebum, hair oils and saliva daily therefore we take into account how easy it is the wash the pillows at home or whether they require external professional cleaning. 

Ease of cleaning is always included in each review to give customers total transparency on the upkeep and future maintenance because washing bedding is important for hygiene. 

To test the cleaning process we try to wash each pillow to ensure it holds up to its end of the bargain for any claims for ease of washing

care labels on two pillows to demonstrate how to wash pillows properly

(Image credit: Future)

How we test value for money

Finally, we note the value for money of each pillow, and whether our night's sleep was price appropriate. We test pillows across a broad spectrum of different comfort levels and budgets so costs most definitely factors. For instance, most innovative pillow designs can be very expensive and therefore we feel it's our job as experts to fairly assess if the price tag is worth it. 

Likewise, if there's a budget pillow that has been gaining rave reviews we want to test it ourselves to see if the credentials stand up to our strict testing methodology to avoid the notion of 'buy cheap, buy twice.' 

How we test value for money for all our pillows is to ensure each offers unparalleled comfort levels throughout testing and to ascertain if we feel that will continue well beyond - i.e. do we feel the quality is made to last?

Our expert testers

As W&H's lifestyle editor, it is my job to source the best in the business when it comes to reviewing products for all of our buying guides across the homes and lifestyle vertical. For pillows, I enlisted the help of my expert team of in-house shopping writers along with additional expertise from an external team of experienced reviewers who dedicate their professional lives to researching and testing all manner of bedding to make sure you're getting the very best guidance. 

Hannah Holway.
Hannah Holway

Hannah is the UK Shopping Writer for woman&home. She's reviewed everything from the best pillows to wine subscriptions and is especially interested in sustainable alternatives to well-known products, as well as homeware and accessories. Before joining our in-house shopping team, Hannah also explored evolving shopping trends at New York Magazine’s The Strategist UK, researching everything from face masks to status candles.

Kenedee Fowler
Kenedee Fowler

Kenedee Fowler is a shopping writer based in the United States. She joined woman&home in September 2022, and ever since has been sharing her expertise with the brand to help readers source gifts for any occasion and on any budget, reviewing products so you don’t have to. Before joining woman&home, Kenedee was a home editorial fellow for Insider Reviews, where she wrote in-depth reviews and articles across the home vertical.

author profile of Louise Oliphant
Louise Oliphant

Louise is an experienced homes e-commerce writer, who has written across writes across woman&home, Real Homes, Ideal Homes, Livingetc, and Homes and Gardens. 

Bursting with bags of bedding expertise from her time working for luxury bedding and homeware brands in previous life as a PR, Louise specialises in sleep content. But aside from helping readers get essential shut-eye, she also writes various content across home decor and shopping trends, from buying guides and reviews. 

Ysanne Brooks

Ysanne Brooks comes from a family of wordsmiths, artists and jobbing journalists. Among other things, her somewhat lengthy career includes 10 years working on specialist magazine 25 Beautiful Kitchens, nine of those as editor.

For more years than she cares to reveal in public, she’s opined on planning, designing and buying for all areas of the home. She’s too long in the tooth to be a tech geek but she knows what’s what when it comes to beautiful, useable products that make modern living just that little bit more comfortable.

The right pillow is the icing on the cake of any comfortable bed, offering an invitingly plush place to rest your head after a long day - so finding the perfect pillow is essential to ensure the best night's sleep.

Before choosing the right pillow for you know that our expert testers also ensure that every one of our pillows is individually tested and written up to gain a more in-depth review, from the Simba Hybrid Pillow Review to the Silentnight Airmax Pillow. We intend to make your buying journey as easy yet comprehensive as possible.

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.