The difference between goose down and duck down

Written By: Maddie Liseblad

Consumers shopping for a down jacket or down bedding will often hear terms such as goose down and duck down. Is there a difference between the two? And if so, should it be considered when purchasing down products. The short answer is yes.

What is down?

Normal feathers are the rigid layer of feathers that can be found on the outside birds such as ducks and geese. They generally look flat and their two-dimensional structure have little to no insulation value. Down is the light, fluffy coating that can be found underneath that outside layer of feathers. The bulk of down grows on the breast and underbelly of birds. It is this part that is exposed to water and keeps the birds warm.

Unlike regular feathers, down feathers are three-dimensional and have soft fine filaments. The warmth that is created with down feathers comes from something called “lofting.” Basically down feathers expand or “loft” to fill space and trap pockets of air within the soft filaments and that creates little insulating pockets. The more down clusters a jacket or a comforter contains, the higher it can loft and in turn the warmer the jacket or comforter is. The highest quality down tends to come from mature ducks and geese living in cold climates.

Duck down vs. goose down

So what are the differences between duck down and goose down? There are four basic differences.


Clusters of duck down tend to be smaller in size than goose down. That’s only natural because ducks are generally smaller than geese. But, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, if a young goose is used as compared to a mature duck, then the mature duck will have larger size down.

Fill power and resilience

Goose down generally tends to have a more valuable marketing image as compared to duck down. The International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL) states goose down is generally thought of as being a better product than duck down. This is because goose clusters tend to produce higher fill power and be more resilient and durable than duck down. This means the goose filaments are able to trap more air, and thus provide more insulation. The general rule is the larger the down clusters, the warmer the jacket or comforter. So in general, a 95 percent goose down jacket will be warmer than a 95 percent duck down jacket. However, keep in mind a high quality duck down can be better than a mediocre quality goose down.


Duck down is generally less expensive to buy than goose down. The main reason for this is because there are far more ducks than geese when it comes to worldwide supply. In addition, duck down is perceived to be slightly inferior in quality in the US marketplace.


The USDA requires that all down that is imported into the country is pre-washed. In addition, some coat and bedding manufacturers wash their down again before using it in production. It is therefore highly unlikely an untrained nose will notice much of a difference between goose and duck down. However, there are some who claim there is a difference in smell between goose down and duck down and they say diet is the main reason. A duck’s diet tends to be more diverse than a goose’s diet as geese only wear grass. Thus they claim goose down has less of an odor problem.


Removing a stain from a down coat

Written By: Maddie Liseblad

Ugh. That favorite down jacket now has been a big stain on it. What needs to be done to remove it? The key is to know how to tackle the stain as soon as possible, and doing it the right way. Different types of stains calls for different treatments. And time is of the essence. The longer a stain is allowed to set, the harder they become to remove.


There are essentially three types of stains to be aware of:

  • Greasy stains – These tend to be the stains that worry most people. It can be substances such as various oils, butter and machine grease.
  • Non-greasy stains – these types of stains are generally produced by items such as tea, coffee, fruit juice, ink and coloring.
  • Combination stains – are exactly what they sound like, meaning more than one substance and they usually combine greasy and non-greasy elements. It can be tea with cream, a salad dressing or even a lipstick stain. This type of stain may require two treatments.

How to remove stains:

Greasy stains

It is recommended to try an absorbent first on a down jacket. They are easy to use and won’t harm the fabric. An absorbent substance is something like cornstarch or corn meal. Place the jacket on a steady, flat surface and dust some of the absorbent substance directly on the stain. When the absorbent material begins to look caked, brush or shake it off the stain. This procedure most likely will need to be repeated until the stain is gone.

If the greasy stain hasn’t been completely eliminated by the absorbent substance, a second step is to rub a little laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid directly on the stained area. Then let it sit for a little bit before washing the coat. Complete instructions on how to wash a down coat can be found here.

Non-greasy stains

Place the jacket on a steady, flat surface. The best treatment tends to be to sponge the stain with cool water as soon as possible. If this doesn’t work, try soaking the part of the jacket with the stain in cool water. Depending on how stubborn and large the stain is, it may need to sit in cold water for half an hour or longer. If some staining still remains, gently rub liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid into it and rinse with cool water. Then wash the coat by following the instructions found here.

Combination stains

These types of stains may require double treatment. Place the jacket on a steady, flat surface. First take care of the non-greasy element of the stain and then the greasy element. Sponge the spot with cool water as described above, and then work either laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid into the stain. Rinse it off and allow to dry. If the stain remains, re-do the second step by rubbing in laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid. After removing the stain, follow these instructions and wash the coat.

There are some important basic rules when it comes to stain removal. Number one and two are the most important and apply to treating every stain and spot imaginable.

  1. The quicker the stain is treated, the better. Ideally, treat the stain within moments of its occurrence. If a stain is allowed to set, the chances are higher that it will become a permanent spot.
  2. Identify the staining agent. Is it a greasy stain, a non-greasy stain or a combination stain? It will help determine the plan of action.
  3. Remove as much as possible of the staining agent before treating the spot. Scrape off or wipe off as much as possible. If the staining agent is a solid, try gently scraping off excess with a dull knife, a spoon or a spatula. Please note to be careful not to spread the stain or damage the jacket when removing excess staining material.
  4. Handle stained items fairly gently. Keep in mind that excessive rubbing, squeezing or folding can cause the stain to penetrate more deeply.
  5. Don’t use heat. Heat can make a stain virtually impossible to remove. The only good time to use heat is if the staining agent is wax.
  6. Start working from the center of the stain and go in an outward direction. This movement tends to work best for all stains and helps avoid leaving a ring around the cleaned area.

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