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The 4 best comforters we tested in 2021

Comforter FAQs



Connie Chen/Insider


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

A comforter and duvet are similar and the terms are used interchangeably today. Technically speaking, a duvet is just the insert and doesn’t have a fabric shell over it. It requires a duvet cover for both protection and aesthetic purposes. A comforter contains both the insert and a fabric shell, so you can lay it directly on your body, if you want.


Can you use a duvet cover on your comforter? 

Yes, and we recommend it! Most comforters these days also come with corner loops or tabs so you can put a duvet cover over it. A duvet cover protects your comforter from your body oils and is easier to wash.


What’s the best comforter for couples? 

Couples may want a King-sized comforter, even if you sleep on a smaller bed. A King-sized comforter offers ample coverage for two people and limits blanket hogging throughout the night. If blanket hogging remains an issue, or if you and your partner have vastly different sleeping temperatures, we recommend getting two separate and smaller comforters so each person can sleep exactly how’d they like.


How do you wash a comforter? 

It depends on the material. If it’s made from a synthetic material, it’s fine to wash it in the machine with a gentle detergent. If it’s made from down, it’s best to only air dry or put it in the dryer on air fluff.


How do you put a duvet cover on your comforter? 

We recommend the “burrito” method: Turn your duvet cover inside out, then lay your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter’s corner tabs. Roll the duvet cover and comforter together like a burrito, towards the zipper or buttoned opening of the duvet cover. Fold the duvet cover opening around each corner and close it with the zippers or buttons. Unroll the burrito bundle back towards the opposite end. 

Another method: Start with the same steps of turning your duvet cover inside out, then laying your comforter on top of it. Fasten the duvet cover ties to the comforter’s corner tabs. Reach into the opening and grab the farthest corner on either side, and pull it out of the opening. Repeat this step with the other side.


How do you style a comforter?

To keep your bedroom look interesting, switch out the duvet cover. “Regularly changing out your duvet covers and shams let you easily change the look of your bedroom without entirely having to redecorate — whether it’s changing the color, material, or design of what’s on the duvet cover, sometimes it’s just a light touch that you need to turn an entire room around,” said Sarah Abitbol, the CEO of Riley.


What is down? 

Down is the soft, light, and fluffy clusters of fiber from the underbelly of a duck or goose. It’s highly insulating, breathable, and lightweight, which is why it’s used to make bedding like comforters and pillows, as well as outdoor clothing. 

According to the American Down & Feather Council, a comforter must contain at least 75% down cluster to be labeled as a down product. The remainder of the bedding usually contains feathers, and you can check the label of your comforter to find the exact percentage breakdown of down and feather.


Is goose or duck down better?

Duck and goose down are equally insulating and durable, but duck down is generally cheaper and less fluffy. Because geese are larger birds than ducks, they have larger down clusters, which loft more, take up more space, and compress to a smaller size. Goose down also doesn’t smell as much as duck down. 

If you want the lightest, fluffiest, and warmest comforter — and you don’t mind paying a little more — look for goose down. Still, duck down is an effective option that we also love and recommend.


Is down ethical? 

Since down comes from birds that are already being raised for food, it is a sustainable byproduct. As we mention in our guide to the best down pillows, “farms, processing plants, and factories are usually independently audited to ensure humane practices. A certification you can look for is the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). It ensures that the Five Freedoms of animal welfare (which include access to fresh water and food, comfortable shelter, and freedom of movement) are followed; prohibits live-plucking and force-feeding; and evaluates the entire process from farm to final product.”


What’s the difference between down and down alternative? 

Down is natural, while down alternative is made from synthetic materials like polyester. Down alternative mimics the feel and insulation of natural down and is ideal if you don’t want to spend as much money or if you avoid animal products.

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