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Duvet vs. Comforter - What’s the Difference?

Duvet vs. Comforter
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updated: February 20, 2024

If you’ve recently set up a wedding registry or started decorating your own place, you may have realized how overwhelming the sheer number of bedding options can be. From fitted and flat sheets, to down pillows and Euro shams, just outfitting your bed requires you to make dozens of choices. One of the most common conundrums is choosing between a duvet versus a comforter. Is there even a difference between the two—and does it really matter when it comes to bedding?

First: What is a duvet?

Definition and characteristics

If the word “duvet” sounds charmingly French, that’s because it is, indeed, a French word. It simply translates to “down.” Duvets (often called “duvet inserts”) look like white comforters and while they are often stuffed with down, you’ll find many alternatives like cotton and synthetic fibers. Though you can use it on its own, most choose to protect it with—you guessed it—a duvet cover. The shape of a duvet cover is similar to a large bag, and usually is secured by buttons.

Materials used in making a duvet

The outside of a duvet is commonly made from cotton, polyester, or a blend of both, for greater durability and softness. Duvets are often filled with goose down, wool, or down alternatives (for those with a feather allergy) and the materials used in the insert determine the warmth and insulation levels.

Pros and cons of using a duvet

Bedding is a big deal, after all, you spend a large portion of your life surrounded by your bedding. Before investing in a duvet cover and insert, consider these pros and cons.

Pros

  • Adjustable warmth levels with easy-to-add or remove layers for customized comfort.
  • Wide range of duvet cover options for any design aesthetic.
  • Durable and long-lasting bedding option.
  • Easy to remove a duvet cover for cleaning and maintenance.
  • Provides insulation and warmth during colder seasons.
  • Lightweight and breathable for year-round use.
  • Can be used with or without a top sheet for convenience.

Cons

  • Duvets are often bulky and take up more space on a bed or in storage.
  • Cleaning a duvet insert may require a larger washing machine.
  • They may be too warm or heavy, especially during warmer seasons.
  • Duvets may require additional duvet covers, which can add to the overall cost.
  • Can develop clumps or lose their fluffiness over time without proper washing or care.
  • Putting the duvet inside the duvet cover can be challenging.

How to choose the right duvet for your needs

Selecting the right duvet cover for your needs is easier if you keep these few things in mind.

  • Size: Determine the size of your duvet and choose a duvet cover that matches its dimensions. (The size—twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, etc.—correlates to the size of your mattress.) Consider the width, length, and depth of your duvet to ensure a proper fit based on your bed size so you don’t end up with too much sagging or overhang.
  • Material: Material makes a big difference, both with breathability, warmth, and softness. Cotton is a popular choice for proper airflow, keeping you comfortable throughout the night. Microfiber is another option, which offers a soft and smooth texture while wrinkle-resistant and easy to care for. Other materials like linen, silk, or blends can provide different textures and warmth levels, too.
  • Design and style: You can choose a duvet that coordinates with your bedroom decor and reflects your personal taste. Duvets are available in endless colors and patterns, from solids to checks, plaids and stripes, and anything in between. The closure type is another consideration, whether you prefer a button, zipper, or ties, based on your preference.
Brooklinen Down Comforter size Full/Queen

Brooklinen Down Comforter size Full/Queen

What is a comforter?

Definition and characteristics

A comforter is a type of bedding filled with insulating materials, such as down feathers, synthetic fibers, or a blend of both. It’s typically sewn together with a decorative fabric cover and used for warmth and comfort while sleeping. Comforters are a popular choice for bedding due to their all-in-one nature, as they come in pre-filled and ready-to-use form—eliminating the need for separate layers or covers. Comforters offer a wide range of styles, colors, and patterns, so you can easily enhance your bedroom space, while keeping warm as needed.

Materials used in making a comforter

Comforters are typically made using a variety of materials. The outer shell of a comforter is often crafted from cotton, polyester, or a blend of fabrics. The filling usually consists of natural materials like down feathers for superior warmth and insulation, or synthetic fibers such as polyester for a hypoallergenic and less expensive option.

Pros and cons of using a comforter

Your bedding is a mainstay of your bedroom and you likely spend hours there—so it’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons before making your selection.

Pros

  • Provides warmth and insulation for colder seasons.
  • Eliminates the need for separate layers, since they are pre-filled and ready to use.
  • Offers convenience for quickly making and styling a bed.
  • Comes in a wide range of styles, colors, and patterns, to fit almost any decor.
  • Offers versatility with fill materials, such as down feathers or synthetic fibers, for desired warmth level.
  • Can be easily cleaned and maintained, since many are machine washable.
  • Offers a lightweight and breathable bedding option for year-round use.

Cons

  • May be too warm for those who prefer a cooler sleeping environment.
  • Difficult to adjust the warmth level, since comforters typically have a fixed level of insulation.
  • Often bulkier and takes up more storage space.
  • Cleaning and maintaining comforters may be more challenging, due to their size and filling.
  • Allergy sufferers may need to carefully select a comforter with hypoallergenic filling to avoid triggering allergies.
  • Comforters can lose their shape over time or the filling may clump.
Best for Colder Seasons
APSMILE Luxurious Goose Feathers Down Comforter California King - Ultra-Soft Fluffy Duvet Insert, 750 Fill-power Hotel Comforter, 57oz Medium Warmth Bedding for All Season (104x96, Solid White)

APSMILE Luxurious Goose Feathers Down Comforter California King - Ultra-Soft Fluffy Duvet Insert, 750 Fill-power Hotel Comforter, 57oz Medium Warmth Bedding for All Season (104x96, Solid White)

How to choose the right comforter for your needs

Choosing the right comforter may seem a little overwhelming, given all the options available. You may find it easier to start with the comforter filling, which contributes to the overall warmth. Down provides the ultimate warmth and loft, but may not work for those with a feather allergy. Synthetic fillings, such as polyester, are better for hypoallergenic choices, but may lack the breathability and warmth control down feathers offer.

Another consideration is the construction of the comforter. If you’re concerned about the filling shifting or clumping, you may prefer a baffle box or box stitching. Care and maintenance are important factors too, especially if you’re concerned about how easy it is to machine wash or if machine washing is even an option with down.

Like other bedding choices, comforters run the gamut with pricing, so you can find one for smaller budgets or more luxurious choices. There are also a variety of styles and designs, so you can pick one that works best for your decor.

Comparing a duvet and comforter

Though often confused, a duvet and comforter are not quite the same piece of bedding, though both are excellent choices for layering on your bed. If you’re still unsure which one would make the best addition to your bedding, keep these main differences in mind.

Materials used

Both duvet inserts and comforters come in natural and synthetic options. Down feathers are a popular choice and offer excellent control for the level of warmth with both. A duvet may give you more options since you can choose a different material for the outer cover versus the duvet insert, while you can only choose one outer material option for a comforter.

Construction

Duvet construction typically consists of a removable cover and an insert, whereas comforter construction involves a single-piece design with the outer material and filling permanently stitched together. There’s no need for a separate cover for a comforter.

Warmth and insulation

Both a duvet and a comforter offer varying levels of warmth and insulation. If you want to control the temperature with your bedding, choose warmer filings, such as down, or cooler options, such as polyester.

Maintenance and care

Maintenance and care are essential considerations for both, since you likely use either a duvet or comforter on a regular basis. Duvets are easier to clean, since they offer the ease of removing the outer cover. The inserts may prove a little more challenging, if the material (such as down) isn’t machine washable or if it’s too large for your washing machine.

A comforter may have the same challenges for washing and doesn’t benefit from a removable cover either, which could be a problem for someone who prefers more frequent washing.

Style and design

Both a duvet and comforter offer endless style and design choices, including patterns and colors. A duvet may offer a few more embellishments, such as buttons or zippers for enclosures, but both offer variety for design choices.

A duvet gives you the “fluffier” look, which some may prefer for a more relaxed style. And keep in mind, you can change out the style of your duvet by simply selecting a new outer cover. On the other hand, a comforter may look more sleek and easier to layer with other bedding, such as blankets.

Duvet sizes vs. comforter sizes

Another style and design aspect worth considering is the size of a duvet or comforter, since they measure slightly differently. Size is important, since you may prefer something with more overhang or greater coverage area. The most common sizes for each are:

Twin/Twin XL

Duvet: 64 inches x 89 inches to 70 inches x 88 inches

Comforter: 66 inches x 86 inches to 68 inches x 88 inches

Double/full

Duvet: 80 inches x 89 inches to 90 inches x 94 inches

Comforter: 81 inches x 86 inches to 84 inches x 88 inches

Queen

Duvet: 88 inches x 90 inches to 90 inches x 94 inches

Comforter: 86 inches x 96 inches to 88 inches X 100 inches

King/California King

Duvet: 104 inches x 90 inches to 108 inches x 94 inches

Comforter: 102 inches x 88 inches to 110 inches x 98 inches

Which one should you choose?

Choosing a duvet versus a comforter ultimately comes down to your preference—both offer benefits for sleeping. Here are the main considerations if you’re still deciding which to choose.

Choose a duvet and insert if:

  • You like to change up your bedding style and design.
  • You prefer something removable and easier to wash.
  • You like a fluffier, loftier look for your bedding.
Brooklinen Luxe Sateen Duvet Cover size King/Cali King in Graphite and Steel Oxford Stripe

Brooklinen Luxe Sateen Duvet Cover size King/Cali King in Graphite and Steel Oxford Stripe

Choose a comforter if:

  • You prefer one piece, versus two.
  • You like a layered, more streamlined bedding style.
  • You want a style that’s ready to go.
APSMILE Luxurious Goose Feathers Down Comforter California King - Ultra-Soft Fluffy Duvet Insert, 750 Fill-power Hotel Comforter, 57oz Medium Warmth Bedding for All Season (104x96, Solid White)

APSMILE Luxurious Goose Feathers Down Comforter California King - Ultra-Soft Fluffy Duvet Insert, 750 Fill-power Hotel Comforter, 57oz Medium Warmth Bedding for All Season (104x96, Solid White)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Which is better, a comforter or duvet?

Choosing a duvet versus a comforter for your bed is purely a personal preference. A comforter is ideal for those who want to care and maintain one piece, versus both a cover and an insert for a duvet. Comforters are great for layering and simple to add to a bed right out of the bag, whereas a duvet offers a looser, fluffier look and needs both a cover and insert.

Do hotels use duvets or comforters?

You’ll find duvets in a large number of hotels and lodging choices. This is not only most likely because of the softness and comfort duvets provide, but because duvet covers are easier to clean and maintain versus comforters.

Which is fluffier—a duvet or comforter?

A duvet typically provides a greater amount of fluff, simply because the insert doesn’t have as much stitching and box construction as a comforter. The inner material influences the amount of fluff, or loft, such as down feathers or a synthetic filling.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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