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Duvet vs. Comforter: What’s The Difference?

Malena Piper

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Both duvets and comforters serve the same purpose: they are the large blanket on top of a bed and are meant to keep you when you sleep. The terms duvet and comforter are used interchangeably and considered to be the same, but they have slight differences:

  • Comforters are a quilted blanket that typically comes in an array of different textures and designs while duvets are a fabric bag filled with down.
  • Duvets are a large, fiber-filled bag paired with a duvet cover, a pillowcase-like encasing, to protect them.

Comforters provide ease of shopping as many are sold in “bed-in-a-bag” sets with coordinating sheets, while duvets are easier to care for as the thin cover is all that needs to be frequently washed. Though duvets and comforters have similarities, the two bedding systems have a sizable impact on how well you sleep so it’s vital to choose accordingly.

What Is A Duvet?

Popularized in Europe, duvets are soft, quilted bags traditionally filled with down and praised for being a natural insulator. Nowadays, you can also find duvets filled with feathers or synthetic fibers in addition to down.

Duvets are designed to be placed inside of a duvet cover, a sealed pillowcase made to protect your duvet from stains and wear. Duvet covers are often decorative while the duvets themselves are not. In fact, duvets alone are very plain and neutral in color.

Advantages of a Duvet

Duvets are praised for being fluffy and lightweight, yet insulating. In comparison to comforters, duvets generally have a higher fill power, a measurement of the filling’s fluffiness and insulation. Due to how soft duvets and their covers are, many duvet users choose not to use a top sheet alongside them. It’s still an option that can protect your duvet cover from dirt and wear. Additionally, using a top sheet with your duvet makes laundry a bit easier— just wash the top sheet frequently and you won’t need to wash the cover as often.

Duvets are easy to care for as they don’t need regular washing. All you need is clean the duvet’s cover, and washing a thin cover is much easier to clean than a comforter or the duvet itself. The cover also gives peace of mind as the duvet is guarded against stains and wear.

Depending on the filling you choose, duvets and their covers can be quite affordable. You may even want to purchase multiple duvet covers so you can easily switch up the decor of your bedroom without spending a lot of money.

Looking for the right duvet size for your mattress? Check out our duvet sizes and dimensions guide to choose the best fit. 

Downsides of a Duvet

Technically, duvets do not need a cover to function, though it will be particularly vulnerable to dust, bodily oils, and germs.  However, working with a cover can be cumbersome and difficult. If the duvet is not properly secured to its cover with ties—or lacks ties completely—it risks falling out of place, being particularly disruptive when you’re already in bed. Resolving this may require removing the duvet from its cover entirely and reinserting it, another inconvenience.

Not all duvets have the same amount of overhang as comforters. While you can purchase a larger duvet to accommodate this, it’ll be more costly.

Although they don’t need frequent washing, duvets usually need to be dry-cleaned separately from their covers, which can be an added cost and requires going to an external cleaner. It may be tempting to just machine-wash a duvet, but to maximize its lifespan, dry-cleaning is often the better option.

What Is A Comforter?

Comforters are a ready-to-use, durable, and fluffy quilted pouch generally filled with synthetic fibers or down filling.  They tend to have less fill power than duvets, making them feel somewhat flat, but also cooler, appealing to those who often sleep hot.

Contrary to a duvet, comforters are usually just one part of your bed set and are meant to be layered with a top sheet. Comforters are commonly sold in bedding sets, available in a variety of different designs, and are paired with coordinating sheets. Most popular in the United States, comforter sets offer simplicity and an ease-of-use to its users. Plus, to make shopping easier, they sell many comforter sizes to coincide with standard mattress sizes.

Advantages of a Comforter

Comforters come in countless patterns, designs, and textures. Many comforters are available in matching “bed-in-a-bag” sets offered at an affordable price, so you do not need to go shopping for other bedding accessories. It offers a simple experience as comforters are ready to use straight out of the bag alongside their matching accessories.

In comparison to duvets, comforters are larger and have more hangover on the sides of the bed, which can be aesthetically pleasing. Although comforters lack the need for a cover because their outer casing is durable as is, many people still choose to use covers on their comforters to receive the same benefits as duvets.

Downsides of a Comforter

Without a duvet cover, comforters are more vulnerable to stains and require more regular washing. Since they are large and bulky, washing and drying a comforter can be a time-consuming process. If they do not fit inside of your washer, they may need to be washed at an external laundry mat. Depending on the comforter, some need to be dry-cleaned, which can be expensive and a hassle.

Although decorative comforters do not need a cover, they will need a top sheet as comforters typically are not as soft as duvets on their own and can be uncomfortable.

Since comforters typically have less filling than duvets, they may feel a bit flat and not be warm enough to insulate a person during the winter. A top sheet and extra blanket can help keep you warm, but the additional layers may be a nuisance when making your bed.

What To Consider Before Buying

When shopping for new bedding, there are several aspects to comforters and duvets you should consider, including your budget, the care guidelines for the blanket, and how long it will last. If you’re torn between the two options, these additional details can help determine whether a duvet or comforter best suits your needs and lifestyle.

Price

Comforters and duvets fall around similar price points based on the filling they contain. Generally, bedding with down fill is pricier than options featuring synthetic fibers or cotton. In addition, comforters and duvets featuring proprietary technologies and materials are an attributing factor for a high cost.

Something to consider is how a duvet’s longevity and cleanliness are maximized when paired with a duvet cover, though the cover will need to be replaced more frequently. Also, duvets rarely come in full bed sets or “bed-in-a-bag” bedding sets, so pillowcases and a fitted sheet will need to be purchased separately. For those wanting to mix-and-match their bed or purchase specific sheets, this is a perk. Though, for those looking for simplicity, purchasing additional accessories is a costly nuisance.

Contrarily, comforters are a straightforward purchase. They are frequently available in “bed-in-a-bag” sets, so you won’t need to worry about buying a fitted sheet or pillowcases. Also, comforters don’t always require a cover, so you potentially save extra money.

Maintenance

Duvets are easy to care for as they only need to be washed every two to three months. A cover protects the duvet from bacteria, stains, and dust, but must be washed every month. Still, washing the thin cover is a lot simpler than a large blanket. Oftentimes, the duvet and duvet covers have different cleaning instructions. Different products have different needs, so always check the care instructions. Still, the covers typically bode well just being machine-washed, while duvet bags should be dry cleaned.

Comforters, contrarily, tend to be much easier to clean and maintain. They contain only one piece, and many comforters can simply be tossed into a machine washer. Unfortunately, most comforters don’t fit inside washers and dryers, requiring a trip to a laundromat or dry-cleaner. Again, always check for their specific care instructions to be sure of this. However, comforters can be quite bulky and may need to be washed separately from other garments due to their size and filling.

Duvets can be troublesome to place inside their covers, especially if this is something you’ve never done before. It’s similar to putting a pillow in its pillowcase, only you’re working with much more product. Comforters don’t need to be packed into a cover—unless you choose to purchase a cover for it—and they can typically be laid out onto your bed without any added steps.

Product Lifespan

When maintained properly, both comforters and duvets can last a long time, upwards of 10 to 15 years. Encasing either product in a duvet cover can encourage a longer lifespan since these protect both bedding options against wear and tear, stains, or sweat.

FAQs

Can you put a comforter in a duvet cover?

Yes! Although duvets are commonly paired with duvet covers, they can easily protect a comforter as well. A comforter with a duvet cover provides the same functionality of a duvet with a duvet cover. Be sure that your comforter fits its cover well and that its color and design don’t show through the cover—a neutral-toned comforter or an opaque cover would achieve this well.

What is European Style sleeping?

European Style is a simplified sleeping style where an individual’s bed set only contains a duvet and no top sheet. Europeans initially popularized duvet usage, with the word “duvet” meaning “down” in French and describing goose or duck feathers. Comforter usage is not often seen in Europe and is more popular in North America.

How much bigger should a duvet cover be than a duvet?

A duvet should fill its cover well, plus or minus two inches of space. If you’re hoping for a tighter-fitting blanket, opt for a duvet larger than its cover or a cover that’s bigger than its duvet. A duvet cover sized too large for its duvet can be a bit of a hassle, as you will have to work around the extra fabric.

Do you need a duvet cover for your duvet?

Technically, duvets are completely usable without their covers. With this in mind, duvets alone are much more vulnerable to wear and will need more frequent washing, being a hassle for some. Also, plain duvets are not decorative, and they don’t usually come in many patterns or colors beyond a white or off-white.

What is the best comforter/duvet filling?

There is no one best filling for your comforters and duvets. The best filling depends on your needs and the feel you want your blanket to have. Several popular options include cotton, wool, silk, down feathers, and synthetic filling. However, most people tend to prefer down fillings due to their natural insulation, fluffiness, durability, and ability to keep you warm.

Conclusion

If you’re still deciding between the two, consider which fits your needs better. Would it be simpler to get a premade bed set or do you prefer versatility and fluffiness? Duvets offer ease of maintenance as you won’t have to wash extra sheets or a bulky blanket so frequently. Comforters provide ease of shopping, so you won’t have to worry about choosing separate bedding pieces and are available in countless beautiful designs.

Both comforters and duvets are essentials for your bed and comfort during the night. While blankets have unique upkeep, both are available in a wide price range to match anyone’s budget and lifestyle.

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