Duvets or Comforter: What’s The Difference Between?

It’s a question most of us have had at one time or another: what’s the difference between a duvet and a comforter? At a glance, they look the same. Both are multi-layered, thick blankets used as the top covering on your bed. Each type can be found in a huge variety of colors and prints. Both are stuffed with some type of filling material and do a great job of keeping you warm at night.

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However, there are differences in how each type of bed covering is made. Duvets and comforters have different features, even if they serve the same primary purpose. Learn more about the differences between duvets and comforters and find out how to choose which option is best for you.

Duvets

A duvet is basically a stuffed blanket. It’s filled with down, feathers or synthetic material. When you shop for a duvet, you’ll notice that they’re only sold in a white or off-white color. This is because a duvet needs a cover. 

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Duvet covers are like giant decorative pillow shams for your duvet. They come in virtually every color, print and fabric texture imaginable, from silk to cotton to chenille. Duvet covers are sewn shut on three sides, with a opening that includes buttons, ties, snaps or a zipper for closure.

A duvet can be thicker and fluffier than a comforter, and may be so warm that you don’t need any other type of covering on your bed. Duvets are often more expensive than comforters because of the higher fill level and the additional expense of buying duvet covers.

Covers are one of the main reasons some people prefer duvets instead of comforters. You can change the look of your bedding as often as you wish by simply switching out one duvet cover for another. If you enjoy making seasonal décor changes, a duvet cover is an ideal way of switching up your bedroom décor every few months. Also, if you live in a hot climate, you can store the inner duvet during the hot months and use an empty duvet cover as a lightweight bedspread.

Often, people use the duvet cover instead of a top bed sheet. It’s as soft as a sheet and can be easily washed. A duvet won’t get tangled around your legs at night the way a simple top sheet can. The biggest downside to duvet covers is that they can be difficult to put on. It also can be hard to get the filling evenly distributed inside the cover. This can result in your bed looking lumpy instead of smooth and neat.

Although you don’t have to wash the duvet itself often, it will need to be cleaned periodically. Because of its size, you will probably need to have it professionally cleaned. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how—and how often—to clean your duvet.

Duvet Pros

  • A duvet’s thick, fluffy profile makes your bed look plush.
  • Duvets offer a warmth that cannot be matched by any other type of bed covering.
  • You can easily change the look of your bedroom by simply changing the duvet cover.
  • Duvet covers are easy to wash and easy to store.
  • You may not need or want a top sheet if you have a duvet.

Duvet Cons

  • Duvet covers can be hard to put on properly, especially by yourself.
  • Duvets are generally more expensive than comforters. 
  • Duvet filling shifts over time, resulting in a lumpy appearance and uneven coverage.
  • Duvet inserts must be professionally cleaned.

Comforters

A comforter has a layer of stuffing sandwiched between two pieces of fabric. It is sewn through like a quilt, to keep the filling material evenly distributed. The layer of filling material can be thick or thin and made of feathers, down or synthetic fibers. A comforter may have the same color on both sides or have different prints or solids on each side.

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A comforter is ready to use straight out of the bag. It’s usually longer than a duvet and hangs lower on each side of the mattress than a duvet. Depending on the way you like your bed to look, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. If you like a layered bed, with a dust ruffle, top sheet and additional blankets, a comforter may be ideal.

Unlike a duvet, if your comforter gets dirty, you have to wash the entire thing. This can be an issue if you don’t have access to a large-capacity washing machine. Most laundromats have washers large enough to accommodate a comforter, however. 

Related: Warm And Cozy This Winter With Down Comforters

If you live in a warm climate and the comforter is too heavy for you, simply fold it down at the foot of the bed when sleeping. You may find that the comforter isn’t warm enough during the wintertime—especially if you’re accustomed to the thicker pile of a duvet. If so, you’ll need to purchase additional blankets to stay warm at night.

Comforter Pros

  • Comforters are ready to use straight out of the bag.
  • It’s easy to find coordinating bed-in-a-bag sets that include a comforter, pillow shams and sheets.
  • Comforters drape nicely over the bed and layer well.
  • The filling material in a comforter usually remains evenly distributed.
  • Comforters are generally thinner and lighter than duvets.
  • Comforters may be less expensive than duvets.
  • You can wash a comforter at a laundromat instead of paying for professional cleaning.

Comforter Cons

  • You cannot change the cover when you want to redecorate.
  • If you like changing your bedroom décor several times each year, comforters are bulky and take up a lot of storage room.
  • A comforter may not keep you warm enough in cold climates.
  • Top sheets and other blankets are usually necessary on a bed that has a comforter.
  • They can be difficult to wash unless you have access to a large-capacity washing machine.

Duvet and Comforter FAQs

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What kind of filling is used inside duvets and comforters?

Duvets are usually filled with down, down and feathers, or a down alternative. Down is a term for the soft and fluffy inner feathers that insulate ducks and geese from the cold. Goose down is fluffier than duck down and is the type most commonly used in duvets.

Some duvets may be filled with a mixture of down and synthetic fibers. If you want a duvet filled with down only, look for “All down” or “Pure down” on the label. A duvet can be labeled as a down duvet and only contain 30 percent actual down. If you are allergic to feathers, you may still be able to use a down duvet if it is filled with cleaned and sterilized down. 

Comforters can also be filled with these materials, but it’s most common to find comforters with synthetic fibers between its outer layers. Synthetic fillings may be required if you have severe feather allergies. Whatever type of duvet or comforter you buy, make sure you follow the label’s care instructions, so you do not damage or compress the filling. 

What do the terms “fill power” and “fill weight” mean?

Fill power is a number that indicates how much space is occupied by one ounce of down. Higher quality down has a higher fill power; therefore, a higher number indicates a thicker, warmer duvet. For example:

  • 400:Lightweight for warm weather
  • 400-600: Good range for year-round use
  • 600-800: Extra warmth in cold weather
  • 800 and above: Maximum warming power

Fill weight indicates the ounces of down inside the duvet. A higher fill weight equals a heavier duvet.

Can I put a cover on a comforter?

Yes, if you want to change the look of your bedding, you can put a duvet cover on a comforter. The result will not be as fluffy as if you use a duvet insert, but it can be an affordable way of updating your bedroom décor

Which lasts longer: a duvet or a comforter?

It really depends on the quality of your duvet or comforter. Expensive filling materials and high-count fabrics cost more than standard fibers and polyester/cotton blends, but they are also usually more durable. Therefore, there are no rules on whether a comforter or duvet will last longer. As with most textiles, you get what you pay for.

I like plain white bedding. Do I have to buy a cover, since the duvet is already white?

You can use a duvet without a cover, but it’s not recommended. Just as your pillowcase protects your pillow, a duvet cover protects your duvet insert from body oil, spills and damage. All of these factors can shorten the life of your duvet. You can easily find a plain white duvet cover in a variety of fabrics.

How can I keep my duvet insert from bunching up inside the cover?

Be sure to buy a duvet and cover that comes with internal fasteners to keep the duvet and cover connected. These may be ties, buttons or zippers. If your duvet and cover lack built-in fasteners, this tutorial shows how to make a simple snapping system to keep your bedding connected. Note that if you make your bed daily and smooth out the duvet, it will help keep the filling evenly distributed.