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Down — made from the soft and warm material underneath the feathers of geese and ducks — is a popular material for comforters. However, it can also be expensive, allergy-inducing, and difficult to clean and maintain. For this reason, synthetic materials have been developed to mimic the feel of down while avoiding its pitfalls.
Down alternative comforters are made using these synthetic materials with a down-like performance. There’s a huge diversity of down alternative comforters in terms of their composition and price, and as a result, it can be a daunting task to know which one is the best for you.
In this guide, we’ll help you find the best down alternative comforters. In addition to recommending our top picks, we’ll also review the essential background that you need to make an informed purchase.
The Best Down Alternative Comforters of 2019
Editor’s Pick – Buffy Comforter
Best Value – Superior Down Alternative Comforter
Best Luxury – Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert
Best All Season – Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert
Best Winter-Weight – Chezmoi Collection Goose Down Alternative Comforter
The Buffy Comforter takes the top spot as our Editor’s Choice because of its innovative and eco-friendly design. Both the fill and the shell of this comforter break from tradition in terms of the materials that are employed. The fill is made with a polyester that is spun from recycled plastics, and in fact, an average of 50 recycled plastic bottles are removed from the environment for each Buffy Comforter.
But it’s not just eco-friendly; it’s also lofty and airy, providing plenty of warmth year-round without being too hot. The shell is made with a fabric that comes from Eucalyptus and combines both softness and breathability.
Buffy offers free shipping for the comforter and also offers a full refund if you decide within the trial period that this comforter isn’t the right fit for your needs.
For those looking for a low-cost, high-value down alternative comforter, the Superior Down Alternative Comforter should jump to the top of the list.
It gives sufficient warmth thanks to its 100 ounces of polyfill, and this polyester is held in place using baffle-box stitching. That stitching also gives the fill more space within each sewn compartment to keep its loft, preserving warmth during all seasons. The shell uses microfiber to maintain a smooth and soft feel.
This combination of fill and shell materials is hypoallergenic and fully machine-washable, so this comforter is easy to maintain and keep clean.
From a respected luxury bedding company, the Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert contains a microfiber fill designed for superior softness and insulation. The 100-percent microfiber fill is encased in a pure sateen cotton shell. The shell is stitched in a baffle-box style to keep the microfiber evenly distributed throughout the duvet and enforced with double-stitched piping seams.
An Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified-product, the Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert is free of harmful chemicals and synthetics. The duvet can be washed and dried in conventional machines, just make sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and five-year warranty. Plus, Parachute ships free to all 50 states.
The Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Duvet Insert comes from esteemed mattress makers Tuft & Needle, known for their signature quality mattress, commitment to honest practices, and exceptional customer support. In addition to foundations, sheets, and accessories, T&N manufactures bedding — like the Down Alternative Duvet.
The oversized duvet is crafted with a polyester fill designed to mimic the feel of down while resisting clumping and sticking. The polyester is encased in a pure cambric cotton shell with duvet loops to attach to the cover.
The duvet comes in a choice of two weights: light and medium. The light version features sewn-through stitching while the medium features baffle-box stitching — both designed to keep the filling evenly distributed. Both versions are oversized compared to traditional duvet standard sizes, and can be washed and dried in conventional machines according to manufacturer instructions.
T&N offers free shipping within the continental U.S. The T&N Down Alternative Duvet is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty that covers defective materials.
The Chezmoi Collection Goose Down Alternative Comforter is our pick to help get you through the winter. Its 79 ounces of polyester fill delivers a significant amount of warmth for its weight, and customers report high levels of satisfaction with this comforter even on cold nights. Its heat distribution stays even thanks to the box-stitching that helps hold the fill material in place.
The cover is also made from polyester, and this makes the comforter easy to machine-wash and also prevents allergy issues associated with down. Even with all these benefits, the price of this Chezmoi comforter is accessible even for customers on a budget, making this both a good value and a great choice for winter warmth.
If you’re the type of customer who wants to know the details about what separates one product from another, this guide is for you. To help you know about down and down alternative comforters, we’ll review the most useful background and terminology. This can help you sort through the information that you need to be an informed consumer.
Down is a powerhouse fill material for a comforter thanks to its ability to offer serious warmth and softness in a lightweight package. However, it has some serious limitations, and down alternative comforters can replicate the feeling of down while offering several advantages. We’ve listed both the pros and cons of down alternative comforters and duvets below.
Fill materials in down alternative comforters are normally synthetic but can also include other materials as well. Within each category is a range of quality and composition.
There are also several other materials that may be used in comforters instead of down that we’ll describe below, but normally the term “down alternative” is reserved for synthetic materials specifically designed to have a feel of down.
Fill power is a term commonly used with down comforters that refers to the amount of space (volume) is taken up by 1 ounce of the down. More fill power generally means more warmth. This term is not used quite as much with down alternative comforters but may still be used in some cases to give an indication of expected heat potential.
The term that is used for the outside fabric surrounding the comforter is the “shell.” A diversity of materials may be used for comforter shells:
The terms “duvet” and “comforter” are often used interchangeably; however, there are a few key differences between them. Perhaps most significant is the fact that comforters are designed with a built-in cover, while duvets inserts are meant to be used with a duvet cover. This means duvets can be used without a top sheet, and may be easier to clean since you need only remove the cover and throw it in the wash. However, many comforters are machine washable.
As noted, alternative down comforters are typically significantly cheaper than true down. That said, prices may range from under $30 for a value option to over $300 for a luxury model.
Many companies commit to organic, natural materials when filling their alternative down comforters. These earth-friendly fills are free of toxins and chemicals, ensuring you breath easier at night. One common example of organic, down-alternative filling is recycled bottle water fibers.
As with down and other types of comforter, down alternative comforters and duvets come in standard bedding sizes: twin, queen/full, and king/California king. However, as with all bedding, dimensions may vary among different brands. For example, one company’s twin-size comforter or duvet may sit on top of a twin-bed, while another may hang over the edges.
Down alternative comforters are available in virtually every color and pattern imaginable. On the other hand, duvets tend to be white since they are intended to be used with a cover. Duvet covers can be found in a vast array of designs, enabling you to easily update your bedroom’s decor.
A down comforter is an investment, and with the proper care you can get many years of excellent use from it. Here are three key tips to caring for your down comforter.
First, shake it out regularly. This helps to redistribute the down and maintain the loft of the comforter. If you notice any material coming out of the shell, make sure to repair it quickly.
Second, clean it properly. Follow any instructions from the manufacturer. If it can be washed in a machine, don’t use hot water, and only use a light or mild detergent. Top-loading washing machines should be avoided because they tend to put more twisting pressure on the fill. Dry cleaning is controversial as some manufacturers recommend it, but it can in some cases damage a down comforter.
Third, store it cautiously. Down should never be stuffed tightly in a box or in a plastic bag as this will compress the down and trap in any moisture or dirt. Instead, if you need to store it (such as in the summer), fold it up and keep it in a dry place (such as a closet). Ideally, you can fold it and store it in a cotton bag that keeps it contained but allows airflow through the bag and the comforter to keep it fresh.