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What Is a Duvet Cover?

Tyler Joseph (TJ) Thomas


Sometimes you’re in the mood for a final piece of bedding that makes a statement, but a neutral-colored duvet can make this stylish upgrade difficult to achieve.  Luckily, duvet covers exist.

Duvet covers are a decorative layer of protection for your duvet (or comforter) that often enhances the look of your bedding. However, because the term “duvet” is used rather generally, understanding the difference between duvets, duvet covers, and comforters can get confusing.

In our post, we discuss the difference between a duvet and its cover and also offer tips on what to keep an eye out for when shopping for a duvet cover.

What Is a Duvet?

Duvet is French for “down.” Down is a material constructed from the quill-free, fluffy clusters beneath a goose or duck’s feathers. These clusters are used to fill the inside of a duvet.

Duvets are essentially flat fabric bags stuffed with goose or duck down or down alternatives like feathers, wool, or synthetic fibers. Similar to a comforter, they are the final piece of a bed set and act as a warm cover. The terms comforter and duvet are sometimes used synonymously, but they are not the same.

Unlike comforters, duvets are usually sold alone rather than with a set of bed sheets. The outer shell material of a duvet is most commonly cotton. However, duvets do not carry the finished look a comforter does. Providing a finished look is the job of a duvet cover, but what exactly is a duvet cover?

Duvet vs. Duvet Cover

While often thought of as one-in-the-same, duvets and duvet covers are very different. Allow us to clear up any confusion. From now on, we will refer to a duvet as a duvet insert. A duvet insert and duvet cover are meant to work in tandem.

As we mentioned above, duvet inserts are a type of bedding fashioned as a flat bag and filled with material. They can vary in fill, thread count, and size but are meant to occupy the inside of a duvet cover.

The most simple definition of a duvet cover is a giant pillowcase for your duvet insert. This type of bedding acts as a removable cover meant to preserve the life of your insert. They are usually complete with hidden zippers, buttons, or ties to keep the duvet insert from shifting. Duvet covers are light weight and much easier to keep clean than an insert. Similar to comforters, duvet covers come in a variety of decorative colors and patterns. Some brands even offer them as part of a bedding set.

What to Look for in a Duvet Cover

Duvet covers are sold in multiple materials, thread counts, and sizes. Be sure to consider the type of duvet insert you use, the type of sleeper you are, the climate you live in, and your insert size before purchasing a new protective cover.


Duvet covers are available in multiple materials, such as cotton, flannel, linen, and silk. The kind you choose will depend on the climate you live in, the type of sleeper you are, and perhaps your choice of duvet insert. Whether or not you need a hypoallergenic duvet can also affect your material preferences.


Cotton is the most common material on a duvet cover. Its breathable nature is the perfect match for the summer months and natural warmth of an insert. If you are a hot sleeper or find your insert to sleep especially warm, a percale woven duvet cover is the best option. Percale weaves are crisp in texture, cool feeling, and especially durable.


On the contrary, flannel duvet covers are a popular choice for cold weather. Traditionally made from wool, flannel is now available in cotton and synthetic material as well. Flannel’s loose weave allows air pockets to form between the fabric’s fibers. These air pockets make for an excellent thermal insulator, keeping you warm throughout the winter.

Linen and Silk

Another important factor to consider is if you suffer from allergies. Some consumers report goose and duck down to leave them with a runny nose, puffy eyes, and itchy throat. Duvet inserts with an alternative fill, like synthetic fiber or wool, calm these allergic reactions.

The material of your duvet cover can also guarantee an allergy-free sleep. Silk and linen offer great allergy relief and are beneficial for sensitive skin too. These materials may not be as light weight as cotton but are still fairly breathable.

Thread Count

For a soft and durable duvet cover, opt for a thread count within the 300 to 600 range. Remember, higher thread counts are warmer.

Additionally, try to keep away from thread counts above 600. Sometimes an exceptionally high thread count results in weak material. This is because some companies add low-quality yarn into their weave then market a misconstrued number.


Most companies sell duvet covers sized for their duvet inserts, specifically. If you already have an insert and are searching for a new removable cover to style it with, order it 1 to 2 inches longer and wider than the insert. This extra space will ensure a proper fit and account for potential shrinkage.

Benefits of a Duvet Cover

  • Duvet covers protect duvet inserts from dirt and damage, making them easy to care for and maintain. Some duvet inserts are laborious to launder because of their feather or down fill. Care instructions often recommend dry cleaning. Luckily, duvet covers are as easy to care for as a bed sheet. Rather than continually dry cleaning your duvet insert, simply toss your duvet cover into the washer once a week.
  • You can easily switch up the style of your room. Duvet inserts and duvet covers are sold separately, meaning there is no need to invest in an entirely new set to change the look of your bed. Rather, a duvet cover is the only piece of bedding you have to purchase.
  • Duvets are known for their minimalist look. Their fill tends to be warmer and heavier than a comforter, making additional layers like top sheets unnecessary. In turn, bed making becomes effortless. Simply place your duvet insert into its cover, fluff the pair over your fitted sheet and call it a day.

How to Apply a Duvet Cover

The only downside of the product consumers frequently report is the frustration of applying a duvet cover. This step is intimidating enough to make some people avoid the removable cover altogether. The following steps will ease the stress of simultaneously handling the cover and insert.

  1. Turn your duvet cover inside and out and lay it out on your mattress. The opening of the cover should be at the foot of the bed.
  2. Lay your duvet insert over your duvet cover, evenly aligning the two.
  3. If your duvet cover has inside ties, fasten them to the duvet insert now.
  4. Stand at the head of the bed and grab the end of both the duvet insert and duvet cover. Begin rolling both pieces of bedding down toward the foot of the bed, like a burrito. This step may be easier to complete with a partner. If you do not have someone to help you at the moment, you can easily move from side to side as you roll.
  5. Once there is no more fabric to roll, find the duvet cover opening. Move it down and around both ends of the rolled bedding, as if folding over a sandwich baggie.
  6. Secure the duvet cover with any zippers, buttons, or ties.
  7. Roll it back toward the head of the bed and fluff out as necessary.


What’s the difference between a duvet and a comforter?

The main difference between a duvet and comforter is their construction.

Comforters consist of a top piece of fabric, a fill, and a bottom piece of fabric. These three components are typically quilted together to make a single piece of bedding. Comforters are meant to be the final layer on a mattress and come in an array of colors and patterns.

Unlike comforters, duvets or duvet inserts are not stitched through. They are sewn in the shape of a giant flat bag then filled with down, wool, or synthetic fiber. Duvet inserts come in neutral colors like white or beige and are meant to sit inside of a protective duvet cover.

Can a comforter be used as a duvet insert?

A comforter can certainly be used as a duvet insert. Although a comforter and duvet insert are technically different, there are no consequences to placing your comforter into a duvet cover. This is a good option for people who want to change the appearance of their bed without purchasing an entirely new comforter set or a brand new duvet insert.

Which is better, a duvet or comforter?

It is challenging to establish either as better than the other. Instead, contemplate how much time you would like to spend maintaining your bed.

Duvet covers make caring for your bed much easier. Rather than frequently washing a hefty piece of fabric, you can simply remove the lightweight cover and wash it with your sheets. Some people find reapplying the duvet cover challenging, but the above steps should simplify this chore. Duvets are warmer than comforters so additional layers like top sheets are not necessary. This will reduce the amount of time you spend making your bed.

Comforters make styling your room easier because they are typically sold in bedding sets with a fitted sheet, top sheet, bed shams, and sometimes throw pillows. These layers may add to the aesthetic of your room, but also take longer to clean and assemble.

How do I keep my duvet insert in place?

Some people find their duvet insert migrates toward one side of their duvet cover. To prevent this, search for a duvet cover with inside ties. Inside ties are located on each corner of the cover and can be tied to the insert to keep it from shifting.

If your duvet insert does not have inside ties, consider sewing a strand of ribbon to each inside corner of the cover. You can then tie the ribbons to the duvet insert.

Do you need a duvet cover?

You can use a duvet insert without a duvet cover, but it is not recommended. Without a protective barrier, inserts will harbor dust, sweat, and dirt. Duvet inserts are more difficult to wash and dry than the typical comforter and may require frequent dry cleaning. To avoid this, many companies urge the use of a removable cover.


A duvet insert accompanied by a duvet cover is minimal in appearance and maintenance. When used collectively, the two can eliminate additional bedding layers, provide adequate warmth, and improve the overall durability of your bedding.

Duvet insert and covers simplification of bedding also alleviate stress surrounding laundry and bed making. Duvets are the best choice for people that are pressed for time or just enjoy changing the aesthetic of their room with each season.

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