Selecting and Caring For Comforters or Duvets
It’s winter in the Midwest and we all want our beds to be warm and comfortable and either a down filled or down alternative filled comforters are the perfect choice. Here are some things to look for when purchasing a new comforter and tips for keeping it looking and feeling great for years.
First things first! What is the difference between a comforter and duvet.
- Comforter: A comforter is a decorative top layer for your bed. Comforters usually come with coordinating pillow shams or accent pillows. Comforters are filled with layers of material, such as polyester batting, down feathers, down alternatives, wool, or silk. They are stitched or quilted to keep the filling in place and evenly distributed. The thickness or loft of the filling material determines the weight and the warmth level of the comforter.
- Duvets: Duvets on the other hand, are similar to comforters in that they are filled with layers of material. A common fill is down feathers, but other options are down alternatives, polyester batting, wool, or silk.
Unlike comforters, duvets are generally plain white and are used as inserts for a colored or patterned duvet cover. Aside from being decorative, duvet covers also protect the duvet from stains and spills. This is important because duvets can often be expensive if made from natural materials. Duvets should fit snugly inside the cover and are usually sold separately from each other. If you change bedding seasonally or as your style shifts, a duvet and cover might be for you since it’s easy to switch up.
Now that you know the difference between the term comforter and duvet it’s time to decide if you would prefer down or a down alternative fill.
- Down Fill: Down is the light, fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of geese, ducks and other waterfowl that protects them from the elements.
Down is also warmer than down alternative insulation, is very lightweight, and with the proper care comforters made of down can last for decades. Down comforters are also great year round solutions as they are breathable for optimal comfort in warmer temperatures, while the down insulation also provides optimal warmth in colder weather.
- Down Alternative: Down alternative comforters are constructed of synthetic fill fibers designed to mimic lofty down clusters. Most synthetics used in down alternative comforters are also completely hypoallergenic and will not cause allergies, as long as they are kept clean.
Down alternative comforters require more synthetic fill to match the same warmth that natural down provides, so they are a heavier weight comforter. Also, synthetic fibers gradually break down regardless of how well they are cared for, so down alternative comforters need to be replaced more frequently than down comforters.
Other Details to Keep in Mind
- Fill Power: Fill power is known as the insulation quality of the down or synthetic filler. The fill power is the space that one ounce of down occupies (in cubic inches). The higher the fill power, the larger the percentage of fill clusters, thus increasing it’s insulating ability.500-600: The 500 or 550 fill power is perfect for the summer season or warmer home temps. This Fill Power range is known as good quality down comforters.
600-700: These are considered excellent quality comforters and provide optimal warmth. A 650 or above Fill Power maybe too warm for those who keep their thermostat at 70+ degrees Fahrenheit.700+: Fill Power of 700 and above is the most outstanding quality and comes with a hefty price tag. Usually only down comforters provide this power, the down is collected from molting geese, which are kept for breeding purposes. Major manufactures may have limited supply, as this rare down is not your-everyday-feather. These comforters are the fluffiest but also more rare in terms of available supply but the best for chilly climates.
- Thread Count: Thread count is the number of thread woven into a square inch. The finer the thread, the higher the thread count, and the smoother and lighter the fabric will feel. Thread count on a comforter is an indicator of the quality and texture. Quality comforters generally have a thread count of at least 260, while luxury comforters have higher thread counts that result in weaves that are tighter and stronger to prevent fill from escaping.
As with anything, construction of the comforter can make or break the quality, here are a few details about what to look for on the label.
- Baffle Box: These are the most desirable as the stitching connects a thin fabric to the top and bottom layers. This provides more depth, strength and loftiness in the bedding.
- Ring Stitch: This style consists of small rings stitched into the top and bottom layer of the comforter.
- European Bag: This is when there are no additional stitches in the fabric besides the parameter. This is not ideal for those who like even-feathered comforters. After time the down dumps into the corners, thus it “widdles” the middle.
- Karo Step: Either baffled or sewn through crosses, similar to small boxes, which limits the down movement in the comforter.
Maintaining Your Comforter
Once you’ve purchased the perfect comforter for your needs, you will certainly want it to last for years. Whether you plan on doing the cleaning yourself or having it professionally serviced and keep all the care instructions. It is very important that whomever does the cleaning know how the manufacturer suggests it be cleaned.
Here are few general cleaning and maintenance tips to follow.
- Fluff your comforter often, this will keep it uniform and prolong its life.
- Decorative Comforters should be cleaned at least once every two years, once a year if it is used as blanket. Even if your comforter appears to be clean, there are most likely there is unseen soiling occurring from body oil, make-up, spills, and soil from dirty hands, etc.
- Clean all matching or coordinating items; dust ruffles, shams, draperies, blankets at the same time to ensure any color loss is consistent.
- Spot clean as needed – always refer to manufacturer instructions.
- If the comforter was not pre-shrunk, you may expect 2-4% shrinkage…regardless of how it is cleaned.
- Duvets should be covered with a duvet cover. The duvet cover should be cleaned at least two times per year (more if it is exposed to daily use). Follow all the manufacturers instructions. Duvets themselves should be cleaned every two years.
In all cases, we recommend that you bring your comforters to a professional drycleaner. Whether it requires wet or dry cleaning, we have the proper equipment to make sure it looks great after cleaning. Just make sure to share the manufacturer instructions with us so we can test for colorfastness, etc.
Take advantage of our January SPECIAL OFFER and get 15% OFF all comforter cleaning.