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Duvet vs. Comforter – What’s the Difference?

Particularly in the U.S., we tend to think “duvet” and “comforter” are interchangeable terms. The differences between the two types of bedding are slight, but important — particularly when choosing which will work best for your bed.

This article seeks to clear up any confusion over the differences between a duvet and a comforter. Our editors will also take an in-depth look at the characteristics, benefits, and special considerations for duvets and comforters so you can determine the best choice for you.

The Differences between a Duvet and a Comforter

Below, we’ve provided a quick comparison of the two products. Keep reading for a more in-depth look at these differences and what they mean in terms of care, affordability, comfort, and longevity.

 

Duvet

  • Intended to be used with a duvet cover
  • Easier/cheaper to change styles, as you don’t have to replace the whole set, only the cover. Most duvets you’ll see are a white or off-white color.
  • Can be easier to clean if using a cover, just throw the cover in the wash
  • Can be used without a top sheet, as the duvet cover can function as one

 

Comforter

  • Made with a built-in cover
  • Come in all sorts of colors and patterns to fit any style.
  • Often machine-washable, but some are made with materials that require special cleaning requirements, such as down.
  • Should be used with a top sheet
  • May also function like a duvet if I duvet cover is used

The main difference between a duvet and a comforter can be summed up as follows: A duvet is designed to be covered, while a comforter is designed with a built-in cover. Truly understanding the pros and cons of the two bedding items, however, requires a deeper look.In most basic terms, the difference between a duvet and a comforter can be summed as follows: A duvet is designed to be covered, while a comforter is designed with a built-in cover. Truly understanding the pros and cons of the two bedding items, however, requires a deeper look.

Duvets

Translating literally to “down comforter” in French, a duvet is a soft, plush quilt stuffed with different fillings. Originating in Europe, it was traditionally stuffed with down, the soft, fluffy inner fibers of ducks and geese that naturally insulate heat. Now, in addition to down, duvets are often stuffed with firmer feathers or synthetic fibers. Most duvets are white or off-white in color.

Duvets are designed to be used with a protective covering known as a duvet cover. Like a pillowcase protects a pillow, the duvet cover protects the duvet from spills, body oil, and damage.

Duvets come in a variety of colors, designs, and fabrics, including cotton, silk, flannel, and blends. Duvet covers fit over the duvets and are usually sealed with buttons, ties, or a zipper.

Most duvet covers are easily washed by a conventional household washer. Duvets themselves, on the other hand, typically require special cleaning. Many must be dry cleaned, though others may be machine washed and air dried on occasion. Be sure to abide by the care instructions on the label of your duvet to avoid damaging the material or compressing or distorting the filler.

Comforters

The duvet’s American counterpart shares a similar construction to the European version, with layers of fabric filled with down, feathers, or synthetic fibers and held in place with stitching.

Speaking broadly, comforters often include less stuffing than duvets. As a result, a comforter may feel less fluffy and may lay flatter than a duvet. Because comforters tend to be less heavy, they may need to be supplemented with a top sheet and/or quilt on chillier nights.  

As noted, comforters are designed to be used without a duvet cover. Often sold in complete sets with sheets and pillowcases, they come in many different colors and patterns.

Although the lack of cover requirement can make comforters a simpler choice, it doesn’t necessarily make them easier to clean. Not all comforters are machine-washable, and the models that do not require dry cleaning can be bulky and difficult to squeeze into household washers.

To act as a hygienic buffer between the sleeper and the comforter, a top sheet is typically included in comforter sets. However, to protect a comforter against additional spills, stains, and other damage, many sleepers choose to a duvet cover with their comforter as they would a duvet.

Which Should You Choose?

The differences between a duvet and comforter are slight enough that shoppers can easily struggle to choose the best option for their bed. If you are unsure of whether a duvet or comforter will work best, consider these points to help inform your buying decision:

Price

You can find duvets and comforter prices that satisfy a huge range of budgets. However, the extra cost of a duvet cover may add to its total expense. Once the duvet is stained or damaged beneath the cover, it may become impossible to clean and need to be replaced.

Comforters may also require replacement following serious damage and tear. However, this type of bedding does come with a cost-friendly perk: comforters are often bundled with sheets and pillowcases and sold as sets. Shopping these economical sets tend to be less expensive than buying bedding items a la carte.

Cleaning

Both duvets and comforters can be difficult to clean, and many duvets require professional dry cleaning. However, a duvet cover can make cleaning easier, since the cover can be stripped off and washed. When choosing to purchase a duvet or comforter for your bed, consider your lifestyle habits: do you like to eat in bed or do you have small children or animals that may cause contribute to spills and stains on your bedding?

Warmth and loft

Packed with less filing, comforters are traditionally thinner and less warm than duvets. That’s why many comforters are paired with top sheets, blankets, and quilts in colder regions. Alternatively, duvets tend to be plusher and loftier. Heavy and warm, covered duvets are designed to lie right over the top, fitted sheet of the bed without requiring additional blankets for comfort or warmth.

Style

For shoppers who like to change up their bedroom decor and bedding frequently, a duvet might be a smart choice .With a duvet, you can easily and inexpensively transform your bedding by simply sliding on a new duvet cover.

Ease of use

As a duvet owner, one of the trickiest parts of making your bed can be putting the cover on. Some shoppers may prefer the relative simplicity of a comforter, which requires minimal set up.

Additional Resources

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