If you’re new to duvet covers, this guide will take you through key things to know when looking to purchase a duvet cover for your own bed, including why you need a duvet cover and what materials are best, so you can shop with confidence.
Technically, there is a difference between a duvet and a comforter. Traditionally, a comforter has been sewn with a cover that makes it able to be used without any additional cover while a duvet is made to go inside a cover. But in the United States, we use the terms interchangeably, and in most cases, these bedding products benefit from a cover for several reasons.
First, a cover protects the duvet. A duvet or comforter is often more difficult to wash because of its size and the nature of the fill material. A cover, on the other hand, can be easily removed and washed. The cover also keeps dirt, skin, or allergens from accumulating in the duvet.
Second, a cover lets you manage the feel of your comforter. You can select a duvet cover with the type of composition that you want and that feels most comfortable to you. This is less important if you use a top sheet, but it’s still nice to dictate the terms of how your duvet will feel.
Third, using a cover permits you to find a color or design that best suits your bedroom. Most duvets are just plain white and can show stains easily. Many duvet covers are available in numerous colors or patterns that can help give your bed a standout appearance.
A key aspect of a duvet cover is the nature of the materials used to make it.
There are quite a few options to choose from when deciding on the material for a duvet cover.
- Cotton – This is the most popular material for duvet covers given its softness. There is a huge range in terms of the quality of cotton and how well it is woven to form a duvet cover. While cotton can have moisture retention issues, it is still usually breathable enough for most sleepers, especially if it is well-made. Generally look for long-staple cotton (such as Egyptian cotton) that has a better track record of durability and will have a better feel.
- Linen – The flax plant is the source of the thick fibers that are used to make linen. The nature of these fibers is such that linen has a more coarse feel but holds up well over time and retains a lot of breathability. Given its thickness, it has a weightier feel that can work in all seasons, but customers should know that it will not feel smooth or silky at all. It also has a tendency to wrinkle easily.
- Flannel – Flannel is made by brushing fabric (such as cotton) to give it more loft. When you touch flannel, it tends to feel fuzzy and this gives it an element of thickness and warmth. Many people find flannel to be too hot in the summer but perfect in winter.
- Bamboo Rayon – This semi-synthetic material is made from the fibers of bamboo. It is known for smoothness and breathability and also for its durability. It may be blended with other materials such as cotton or polyester for additional softness.
- Polyester – This synthetic material is produced to take on many different styles, but in duvet covers and bedding it is commonly made to be sleek, stretchy, and highly breathable.
The weave refers to how a fabric is woven together to make a textile. Different weaves feel, breath, and wear differently, so it’s important
- Percale: this weave is a straightforward one in which one vertical yarn is wrapped over one horizontal one. The end result is a crisper and cooler cotton feel but one that is not quite as smooth or soft as sateen. It may also be called plain weave.
- Sateen: in this weaving method, the vertical to horizontal yarns are not one-to-one. The result of this weaving pattern is a smoother-feeling and sleeker-looking surface.
- Twill: twill uses a diagonal pattern that gives a more robust and slightly rougher feel to the cotton. Sometimes the material will be washed or treated to make it softer while maintaining the texture of twill.
Thread count (TC) is a measurement of the density of the yarns in a square inch of cotton. With more yarns, a cotton is normally stronger and softer, but this is also influenced by the quality of the yarns themselves. In general, look for thread counts around 300-600. Some much higher thread counts may be inflated by counting two-ply yarns twice (double counting). In addition, if you are going to use a top sheet between your body and the duvet cover, then a high thread count may not be a high priority.
Thread count is a term that is used for cotton fabrics, but other types of fabrics have other ways of being measured. For example, flannel uses weight (ounces) per square yard, with 5 or more usually being higher-quality flannel.
A duvet cover will have an opening on one side that allows you to place the duvet inside. Once the duvet is inside, you can seal or close the cover. There are different methods for closures including buttons, clasps, and zippers. None is inherently better than another, but some customers may have a preference for the look, usability, or convenience of one of these types of closures.
One issue that can arise with a duvet cover is the movement of the duvet within the cover. For example, it may become bunched up or overloaded to one side of the cover, requiring the whole blanket to be fluffed. To avoid this issue, most duvet covers are constructed with ties or other fasteners to attach the duvet to the interior of the cover. Most customers prefer a cover with some type of fastener to help keep the duvet balanced inside the cover.
Color and Design
This is straightforward, but obviously one differentiator in duvet covers is their exterior design. Some are single colors while others have patterns. Look for a cover that will fit in well with the layout and color scheme of your bedroom including the walls, furniture, and other bedding.
In addition to those primary factors to have in mind when shopping, there are a few other considerations to think through as you look for a duvet cover.
- Organic materials: some customers place a premium on organic materials, such as organic cotton. Look for GOTS certified textiles as this standard requires a high level of commitment to organic practices.
- Return policy: some duvet covers are sold with a return policy that allows you to try out the cover in your bedroom for a period of time (usually 30-60 nights) with the option to send it back for a refund if you don’t like it. Make sure to look at the details of the return policy if you are for any reason unsure about the cover you’re purchasing.
- Cleaning: duvet covers are designed to protect your comforter, so they’re normally pretty easy to clean. But it can be wise to check and make sure there aren’t any onerous cleaning instructions. And remember to always follow the manufacturer’s listed cleaning method in order to prevent damage to the cover.