Duvet vs Comforter – What’s the Difference?

If you’re looking for a bed cover, you have just as many options as you do beds. There are quilts, blankets, comforters, coverlets, duvets, and more. With all those options, things can get confusing pretty fast. The good news is there are a few ways to narrow down your search.

If you want a bed cover with lots of loft (height or thickness) and warmth, you might enjoy a duvet or a comforter. But what’s the difference? How do you pick between them? We’ll talk about it below.

Parts of a Duvet

A duvet is a large fabric bag filled with warming material like down, fiberfill, cotton, or other options. A duvet might feature sewn-through or baffle-box construction (more on that below), or it might only have stitching around the edges. Either way, duvets are almost always plain white because they’re meant to go inside a cover.

Duvet Cover

A removable duvet cover does exactly what its name suggests, it covers a duvet. While you technically don’t need a protective cover, you really should have one. The cover keeps things like dust, pollen, dirt, and other allergens out of your duvet.

A cover also makes duvet maintenance a lot easier because you can just remove the cover and wash it with your sheets, leaving your duvet behind. Another bonus of duvet covers is they come in different designs so you can change the look of your bedding.

Duvet Insert

A duvet insert is technically just another name for the duvet itself. Duvet inserts can have many different kinds of filling, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some common duvet fills:

Down

Down is the soft layer of feathers that protects geese and ducks from the cold. Down feathers are warm and have lots of loft, but they can’t go in the washing machine. Natural down has to be dry cleaned or it will clump.

Cotton

Cotton is great for hot sleepers because it’s breathable and cool. Cotton doesn’t have the same loft as down, so it won’t have the same thick look. On the flip side, cotton is machine washable, so you’ll never have to deal with the dry cleaner.

Fiberfill

Synthetic materials like rayon or polyester are also common in duvets. While they don’t have the loft of down or the breathability of cotton, synthetic fills are more budget-friendly than natural fills. Most of the time they’re machine washable.

Parts of a Comforter

Unlike a duvet, a comforter is a single covering that sits on top of your bed. A comforter’s cover is not removable. This setup has the advantage of being stylish on its own, but the disadvantage of being more high-maintenance. You have to wash the entire comforter every time you want to clean it; you can’t just take off the cover.

Comforter Cover

The comforter cover is sewn on using one of two main methods:

Sewn Through

With sewn-through construction, the top and bottom comforter covers are sewn together through the fill to create compartments for the stuffing. This keeps the fill in place and prevents clumping.

Baffle Box

Baffle box construction uses strips of fabric placed vertically between the top and bottom cover of the comforter to create 3-dimensional boxes for the fill. This construction gives a comforter a lot more loft than sewn-through has. It also prevents fraying by putting less pressure on the stitching.

Comforter Fill

Comforters can have the same range of fills that duvets do, including down, fiberfill, cotton, and more. Keep in mind that comforters don’t have a removable cover, so if you get one with a non-machine washable fill, you’ll be heading out for dry cleaning a lot more often than you would with a covered duvet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s fill power?

Fill power is how many cubic inches of loft one ounce of filling material produces. The more fill power a material has, the more loft it will produce in the comforter/duvet. A high-quality down comforter or duvet will have the most fill power, while comforters/duvets with synthetic fibers typically have the least.

Do I have to wash a duvet insert?

Depending on its fill, you may not be able to wash a duvet in water, but you should definitely clean it. If you have a duvet cover, you’ll only need to wash or dry clean your duvet around once every 6 months. If you don’t have a duvet cover, you’ll have to clean the insert as often as you would a comforter.

How often should I wash my comforter?

Comforters don’t have a removable cover, so you’ll need to wash them more than duvets. If you use a top sheet, you can wash your comforter every 2 or 3 months. If you don’t use a top sheet, you’ll have to wash it every couple of weeks.

Which is more expensive, a duvet or comforter?

Duvets can sometimes run pricier than comforters because you need to buy two pieces, but material impacts price more than whether the piece is a duvet or comforter. In both duvets and comforters, down costs more than cotton, and cotton costs more than fiberfill.

One thing that might keep the price of a comforter down is the fact that comforters often come in bedding sets, meaning you can buy a comforter with matching bed linens and pillowcases all in one package.

Which is bigger, a comforter or duvet?

Comforter and duvet sizes are made to accommodate standard mattress sizes, but normally, a comforter is slightly larger than a duvet. While a comforter hangs over the bed, a duvet better fits the exact dimensions of your mattress.

That means the look you’re going for might have an impact on your choice between a duvet and a comforter. If you want a lot of hang-over to cover your whole bed, get a comforter. If you want a bed cover that sits more on top of your bed, get a duvet.

Bottom Line

When it comes to the great duvet versus comforter debate, there really isn’t a clear winner. If you’re looking for a bed cover with tons of loft, warmth, and style, either a duvet or a comforter could work for you.

When it comes to being low-maintenance, duvets are a good choice because of their removable covers. However, if you’re looking for a matching bed cover and sheet set, a comforter might be a better option.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

James Nguyen, Sleep Expert James Nguyen

James Nguyen is Zoma's resident sleep expert and staff writer. James enjoys learning about the newest technologies in the mattress industry and doing deep dives into the science of sleep. He's tried nearly every gadget and gizmo in an effort to determine which sleep-promoting accessories can truly enhance your shut-eye. Outside of work, James takes his dedication to get healthy sleep seriously, and has even declared himself an "expert napper." James' research has been featured on Thrive Global and other media.

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