Have you ever taken a bite of an extremely good piece of cake only to be severely disappointed by nasty fondant on top? That’s the dessert equivalent of having a perfectly constructed bed topped with a lumpy, sad, hand-me-down blanket. Even if your body doesn’t cuddle up against it, what goes on top of your mattress, sheets, and pillows is as essential as everything else. It’s not just what you (and everyone else) sees, but it can also make a big difference in how well you sleep (and truly, what’s more important than that?).
When it comes to bed toppers, you’ve got two main options: duvets and comforters. I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is a duvet cover? They look alike, and their names are often used interchangeably (confusing!), and, um, they both do the exact same thing. But—but!—each option has crucial pros and cons. So get cozy, stuff that thick blanket in the trash, and get ready to make an informed bedding upgrade.
What Is A Duvet?
A duvet is a soft, flatter version of a comforter that is usually filled with synthetic fibres or down such as feather or wool. Unlike a comforter, they’re not supposed to be quilted or stitched. Duvets are meant to be a type of insert, and are sold separately from other duvet covers or coverlets. This makes it so you can mix and match them with other bedding, without being tied to a whole set that comforters usually come in. Duvets are usually warm enough that you don’t have to use additional sheets or blankets with them.
For this reason, duvets are great if you hate spending a lot of time making the bed or fussing with a top sheet because a duvet with any sort of cover can easily be removed and washed instead. Duvets themselves are usually dry clean only, which is more expensive and time-costly. Mind you, you can still use sheets, as they’re still probably easier to wash than a duvet cover.
Translating literally to “down comforter” in French, a duvet is a soft, plush quilt stuffed with different fillings. Originating in Europe, it was traditionally stuffed with down, the soft, fluffy inner fibres of ducks and geese that naturally insulate heat. Now, in addition to down, duvets are often stuffed with firmer feathers or synthetic fibres. Most duvets are white or off-white in colour.
Duvets are designed to be used with a protective covering known as a duvet cover. Like a pillowcase protects a pillow, the duvet cover protects the duvet from spills, body oil, and damage.
Duvets come in a variety of colours, designs, and fabrics, including cotton, silk, flannel, and blends. Duvet covers fit over the duvets and are usually sealed with buttons, ties, or a zipper.
A conventional household washer easily washes most duvet covers. Duvets themselves, on the other hand, typically require special cleaning. Many must be dry cleaned, though others may be machine washed and air dried on occasion. Be sure to abide by the care instructions on the label of your duvet to avoid damaging the material or compressing or distorting the filler.
Often called a comforter (confusing, I warned you), the big distinction is that a duvet is designed to be shoved inside a cover. It’s also quilted and filled with something warm—down or an alternative, usually—but it’s plain and not particularly cute. That’s where duvet covers come in. This bedding requires accessorizing, y’all.
- Easy to care for. Because these don’t really get dirty (they’re tucked away inside other fabric), you don’t have to clean them as frequently. Save on time and your dry-cleaning bill, hell yeah.
- Great for mixing it up. A duvet is a smart option if you treat your bed like a mood ring that changes colours every few minutes. Covers can be super inexpensive and are easy to store, so stockpile a bunch and switch up your look at a moment’s notice.
- Cheap! It’s literally just a stuffed bag of fluff! You can usually get a duvet for pretty cheap (especially if you don’t care if the insides are down or an alternative).
- If you’re someone who doesn’t like to make your bed or is indecisive about patterns, duvets are considered an easier blanket to use. You don’t need to have a whole array of flat top sheets, shams, flat sheets and the like.
- You really only need the duvet cover to add to your room. Duvet covers come in a collection of different fabrics, so you can buy one that works best for your bedroom (or a few to mix things up), and you’ll be pretty much all done!
- You shouldn’t wash the actual duvet itself and really only need to wash the duvet cover, which also makes laundry a little easier.
- The warmth really depends on what the duvet is filled with. It’s one of those blankets that might be great in the winter, and then you can use the duvet cover on its own in the summer.
- Have to buy another piece. A lot of sheet sets come with duvet covers, but not all do—meaning you may have to invest in yet another bedding piece if you go this route.
- Changing. Covers. Is. The. Worst. You’ll probably need to enlist a friend’s help with this. Consider yourself warned.
- They don’t stay put. Most covers these days come with ties on the inside corners to keep your duvet in place, but not even the strongest ones are a match for dreaded duvet drift. Within a week or two, you’re going to wake up with the bulk of your bedding lumped toward one side.
- Duvets have the potential to get really messy. With the down and the different sizes of duvet covers, it can be difficult to keep everything in place. If your duvet cover is a bit too large, the duvet itself can be tangled inside the cover, and you’ll need to rearrange everything more than once.
- Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t look for a duvet cover that does have a little leeway because you want to make sure your duvet stays puffed for maximum warmth. But finding a proper duvet cover can be difficult and, depending on the one you want, it can be expensive as well.
What Is a Comforter?
A comforter is a fluffy, thick, quilted blanket used as the top blanket on your bed. Sheets or additional thin blankets can be used under them. Comforters are typically filled with synthetic fibre materials such as polyester or cotton blends. They are usually quilted or stitched in some pattern so that the material is secure and in place and distributed evenly.
Comforters are typically sold in bedding sets or bed-in-a-bag sets with other coordinating pieces such as sheets and pillow shams, all being in the same bed size. This means that they are meant to be the final piece, and so not meant to be covered with anything or need any additional accessories. This makes decorating your bed very simple.
Comforters are also usually very easy to wash, and can either be hung dried or machine dried on a low and gentle setting.
The duvet’s American counterpart shares a similar construction to the European version, with layers of fabric filled with down, feathers, or synthetic fibres and held in place with stitching.
Speaking broadly, comforters often include less stuffing than duvets. As a result, a comforter may feel less fluffy and may lay flatter than a duvet. Because comforters tend to be less heavy, they may need to be supplemented with a top sheet and/or quilt on chillier nights.
As noted, comforters are designed to be used without a duvet cover. Often sold in complete sets with sheets and pillowcases, they come in many different colours and patterns.
Although the lack of cover requirement can make comforters a simpler choice, it doesn’t necessarily make them easier to clean. Not all comforters are machine-washable, and the models that do not require dry cleaning can be bulky and difficult to squeeze into household washers.
To act as a hygienic buffer between the sleeper and the comforter, a top sheet is typically included in comforter sets. However, to protect a comforter against additional spills, stains, and other damage, many sleepers choose a duvet cover with their comforter as they would a duvet.
Comforters are thick, soft, quilted blankets with insulating filling inside—usually down or a comparable alternative—and can come in plain white or in colourful prints. They’re designed to be tossed on top of the bed straight out of the box, and they don’t require a cover to keep them protected or make them cute. TL;DR: They’re bed toppers for the fashionably lazy.
- Cute as-is. No need to buy an additional cover to zhuzh it up—comforters come in tons of cute patterns, prints, and even textures.
- It is often sold in sets. To make your bed dressing even easier, a lot of comforters are sold in sets with coordinating pillows or blankets, kind of like a chic bed-in-a-box situation.
- One simple piece. The only thing worse than folding a fitted sheet is stuffing a duvet inside a cover. Avoid that drama with a comforter in one easy piece.
- If you’re someone who likes to plan out what your bed looks like and want to have everything from the pillowcases to the top sheets match, then a comforter is the way to go. Not only can you mix and match your preferences, but they often come in a bed-in-a-bag set so you can have a matching set!
- Comforters don’t need to be accompanied by a top sheet which means that you don’t have to worry about constantly shifting the comforter and it is covered around. They stay in place, and you can just drape it over your bed.
- You can easily wash most comforters without needing to strip off a cover first. Just plop it into the washing machine and wash with the rest of your loads.
- They’re pretty inexpensive, and if you grab them in a bed-in-a-bag set, then you’re getting even more bang for your buck.
- Not for the fickle. If you like to change your bedding like you change your clothes, a duvet may be a cheaper and more practical option than a dressy comforter you’ll be sick of in three months.
- May go flat on you. The stuffing in your comforter will, eventually, start to wear down, and when that happens, it’ll need to be replaced. But you may not be able to find the same one, leaving you with a mismatched set.
- Might be a pain to clean. Some are machine washable, but many are dry-clean-only. If you are known to toss all your shit on your bed when you come home or are generally a clean freak, you might be stuck with an expensive bill from the cleaners.
- They’re not always easy to wash. Though you can throw most comforters in the washing machine, some of them might prove to be a little too large for some machines, which means you may have to trek to the laundromat.
- Remember that not all comforters can be placed in the wash. Some of them need to be dry cleaned and only dry cleaned. If that’s the case, it’s recommended that you use some sort of cover like a top sheet. If you use a top sheet, then it could become a pain to have to make your bed in the morning because now you have to deal with arranging both covers as opposed to just one.
Which Should You Choose?
The differences between a duvet and comforter are slight enough that shoppers can easily struggle to choose the best option for their bed. If you are unsure of whether a duvet or comforter will work best, consider these points to help inform your buying decision:
You can find duvets and comforter prices that satisfy a huge range of budgets. However, the extra cost of a duvet cover may add to its total expense. Once the duvet is stained or damaged beneath the cover, it may become impossible to clean and need to be replaced.
Comforters may also require replacement following serious damage and tear. However, this type of bedding does come with a cost-friendly perk: comforters are often bundled with sheets and pillowcases and sold as a set. Shopping these economical sets tend to be less expensive than buying bedding items a la carte.
Both duvets and comforters can be difficult to clean, and many duvets require professional dry cleaning. However, a duvet cover can make cleaning easier, since the cover can be stripped off and washed. When choosing to purchase a duvet or comforter for your bed, consider your lifestyle habits: do you like to eat in bed or do you have small children or animals that may contribute to spills and stains on your bedding?
Warmth And Loft
Packed with less filing, comforters are traditionally thinner and less warm than duvets. That’s why many comforters are paired with top sheets, blankets, and quilts in colder regions. Alternatively, duvets tend to be plusher and loftier. Heavy and warm, covered duvets are designed to lie right over the top, fitted sheet of the bed without requiring additional blankets for comfort or warmth.
For shoppers who like to change up their bedroom decor and bedding frequently, a duvet might be a smart choice. With a duvet, you can easily and inexpensively transform your bedding by simply sliding on a new duvet cover.
Ease Of Use
As a duvet owner, one of the trickiest parts of making your bed can be putting the cover on. Some shoppers may prefer the relative simplicity of a comforter, which requires minimal setup.
What Do You Need to Know Before You Buy a New Duvet?
If you decide that a duvet and duvet cover are best for your lifestyle, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping:
Check the fabric: Duvet covers are available in the same material as bed sheets such as cotton, linen, or polyester. Some people prefer to match the material of the duvet cover to their sheets while others like to mix and match materials.
However, if you don’t plan on using a top sheet, it is important that you love the feel of the duvet cover since it will be against your skin every night. Remember that a high thread count does not always indicate a high-quality fabric: typically, the best performing duvet covers in our evaluations have a thread count between 300-500.
Consider the differences between down and down alternative: You will need a duvet insert for your duvet cover. Down and down alternative duvets offer different benefits.
Down duvets, filled with bird feathers from geese or ducks, tend to be better insulating while still lightweight.
Down-alternative duvets are filled with synthetic fibres, which makes them typically less expensive, easier to maintain, and better for allergy sufferers.
Look at construction and fill power: The highest quality duvets will have “baffle-box” construction, which means there is an internal fabric that keeps the fill evenly spread out. Fill power indicates the amount of space the down takes up (so the higher the fill power, the warmer the duvet). For a super cozy duvet, opt for fill power above 600 while a lower fill power is great for summer months. Down alternative duvets may list the fill power equivalent.
Which Is Better?
Well, it all comes down to which you’d like to deal with. If you’re someone who likes simplicity and only having to pick up a cover or two, then a duvet is best. Though, if you’re someone who likes order and planning a little more, you can grab a comforter. Both come with their pros and cons, and it’s up to you where you stand in the great duvet vs comforter debate.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the differences between comforters and duvets, you might now be wondering, “What about price? Which one is more durable? Which is more popular?” Well, the simple answer is that everything varies from brand to brand. That said, there are a few generalities that might help guide you in your search:
- Pricing — While duvets and comforters tend to hover around the same price point, it’s worth noting that materials matter. A duvet or comforter that’s filled with down is typically going to be pricier than those filled with synthetic fibres. Additionally, special textile technology (like the added layer of merino wool in Casper’s duvet) often contributes to a higher cost. It’s also worth noting that duvets do not always come with duvet covers; they are often two separate purchases. So, when all is said and done, you might find that the comforter is less expensive.
- Durability — Some might argue that the duvet gives you more bang for your buck. The duvet cover is easily replaceable, so you can switch up the look of your bedding without having to sink money into a brand new duvet. With comforters, you’d have to buy a new one. Meanwhile, a duvet cover offers a layer of protection between your duvet and the outside world, which helps maintain the integrity of your duvet.
- Availability — Like with Casper, most bedding brands offer both comforters, duvets, and duvet covers. In fact, an increasing number of bedding brands are including duvet covers with their sheet sets. That said, the availability of these items frequently depends upon where in the world you are! For example, comforters are quite popular in the U.S.A, but many European and Asian countries prefer duvet.
Well, there you have it, sleepers. Now you know all about the differences between duvets and comforters, and you’re fully equipped to decide which is the right fit for you. But remember: most bedding brands do offer trial periods, so if you want to test either of these sleep accessories before you commit, you probably can!