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Comforters and Duvets – What You Should Know about Down, Microfiber and Wool
Posted by Pratham Simha
Looking to snuggle under your duvet? Depending on whether you want that “sleeping in a cloud” sensation, high power heat retention or just practical comfort in bed, your choice of comforter or duvet could be very different.
Early duvets (or comforters, quilts or ‘doonas’ for some) were made with down. If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about an ‘eiderdown’ instead of a duvet, it’s simply an abbreviation for an ‘eider down duvet’. Literally, that should mean a duvet stuffed with the soft breast feathers of the eider duck. But over time the name has been used far more generically. So you’ll want to check what’s really inside a duvet to make sure it’s the right one for you.
Soft Down or Stiff Quills?
Let’s start with down duvets. There is a difference between up-market duvets filled with real goose down, and less expensive versions using feathers or a mix of feathers and down. Down is softer, does not have hard quills, provides better heat regulation and is rarer. All of that makes it more expensive than the more plentiful outer bird feathers. Down duvets have ‘fill power’ ratings: the higher the rating, the fluffier and warmer the duvet. A fill power of around 600 is usually a good choice. Remember that while good goose down duvets and feather-down duvets are built to last, they cannot be machine-washed. Professional cleaning is then advised.
Microfiber – the Light Fantastic
Hot on the heels of the down comforter, the microfiber duvet using synthetic materials has a lot to recommend it too. While scientists haven’t quite achieved the same warmth as real goose down, microfiber can still do agood job in keeping you toasty-warm in bed. It’s also a comparatively light material, so it does not achieve the same high ‘snuggle’ factor as down. On the other hand, microfiber duvets are machine washable, recyclable and hypo-allergenic.
Less in the limelight compared to down or microfiber duvets, wool comforters are warm and well-insulating too. Lamb’s wool duvets repel dust mites and therefore help allergy sufferers. Machine washable and naturally fire retardant, they can be compared according to their GSM (grams per metre) rating. Higher GSM scores tend also to indicate thicker and more robust duvets. However, wool duvets will typically be flatter and heavier than down and microfiber versions.
Got It All Sewn Up?
A final word on the construction of a quality comforter. The sewing together of a duvet can have a marked effect on the warmth and comfort it gives you. ‘Sewn-through’ duvets may be less expensive, but the direct joins between top and bottom covers may lead to cold spots. Baffle construction avoids this by making the duvet out of many ‘boxes’ or baffles, individually sewn together so that the top cover is never directly sewn to the bottom one.