What is a Down Comforter?
It takes comfortable bedding to get good sleep at night. And, that’s where down comforters come in to offer warm, luxurious and cozy sleep.
A down comforter is a type of bed cover that’s filled with down feather for ultra comfort. Down feathers are soft, fine feathers obtained from goose.
The feathers are quilted or stitched to keep them in place. The feathers hold heat to keep you warm during cold nights for restful sleep, each night.
A down comforter’s fill power or warmth rating with higher lofts and thicker fill levels represent more warmth. This means that a comforter with a 700 fill-power rating is warmer than one with a 600 fill-power rating.
Down is natural, ultra-lightweight and offers consistent temperature. And, its warmth to weight ratio is like no other. With a light weight on you, the more relaxing your sleep becomes.
Down is also breathable for dry nights. The feathers don’t clump for consistent coverage. After repeated washing, the feathers bounce back to their original position. As a result, a down comforter retains its insulation properties and loft for many years.
The natural properties of down make it also ideal for summer comforters. Unlike synthetic fills, down is consistent in temperature.
The exterior fabric on down comforters is usually made of polyester, cotton, sateen or silk.Although down comforters are expensive, the benefits they offer are worth their price tags. For instance, they’re durable for long-lasting use.
Duvet vs. Comforter
A duvet is a bed cover with a stuffed fill in the form of a flat fabric. Also known as a duvet insert, duvets are also sold as “comforters.” However, unlike comforters, they’re not used alone on beds.
Duvets are often paired with a duvet cover for slipping over the duvet as is the case with a pillow and pillowcase. Duvet covers can feature ties on the inside corners or buttons (or snaps) along the open edge. The former supports non-slip duvet use.
Duvet covers are also sold in sets. Duvets sold in sets usually come with up to four pillowcases and the cover, depending on the comforter size.
Types of Down Comforters
Down comforters come in varying fill types and sizes. Despite the many brands of down fill comforters out there, they’re only available in three major types:
Unlike goose fill, duck fill is less costly. However, it provides the same level of comfort and warmth. Duck fill, just like goose fill, is often supplemented with other bird feathers. Down and feathers are collected during molting to fill a comforter.
White down and feathers are popular and in higher demand because they’re less visible through the blanket fabric. However, down and feathers can be in other darker colors such as gray.
Goose and ducks have a natural color variance that doesn’t impact the warmth or quality of a comforter.
Traditionally, goose fill is used to puff down comforters. Also known as the undercoat, the down is made up of small feathers meant to keep geese warm. In turn, it keeps you warm and feeling nice during cold months.
Synthetic is a popular down fill alternative. A blend of fibers such as cotton, polyester and wool are used as synthetic fills.
Down alternatives used in comforters include cotton fibers, gel fibers, cotton, polyester, cotton-polyester and blend fibers. Gel fiber offers the highest level of softness among down alternatives, making it the most expensive.
Found beneath feathers, down cluster is the loftiest (fluffiest) part of the feathers of a goose or a duck. Down cluster offers greater warmth than the major part of feathers.
Some manufacturers specify the percentage of down cluster in their comforters or blankets. A comforter with a higher fill power and quality has a higher down cluster percentage.
The Best Type of Down Comforter Fill
Which down comforter fill is the best? Every type of fill has pros and cons, meaning the best fill is based on varied personal preferences.
High quality comforters usually feature the traditional, goose fill type. However, it’s too costly for those working on a tight budget. Unlike other feather fills, goose fill is the warmest.
Duck fill consists of duck feathers and down instead of those of a goose, hence some people consider it “less authentic.”
Unlike goose fill, it’s less expensive because duck down is cost-effective. Therefore, it’s ideal for buyers on a budget. With proper care, your goose down fill comforter can last for many years.
Natural feather fill is lightweight and has insulating properties, explaining why it’s a popular choice. On the other hand, synthetic fills have fluctuating temperatures atop being heavier.
Although some feathers undergo hypoallergenic processing, synthetic fills are often ideal for persons with allergic reactions.
If you’re uncomfortable with duck or goose down fill comforter for personal or ethical reasons, a synthetic comforter can provide you with the comfort and warmth you need each night.
Specifications of a Down Comforter
Fill power is the fill volume in every ounce of space. Down comforters with high fill powers up to 600 have high insulation properties and fluffiness (loft), making them ideal for use in winter.
Down comforters with lower fill power are comfortable and cool enough for use in warm climates. This means that a comforter with a lower fill power is not necessarily of poor quality.
What’s important is choosing the right comforter for the most suitable application area. Here’s how to choose the best fill power when shopping for a down comforter.
Fill power of 400 or below is ideal for light and soft warmth in summer or warm climates. Such comforters can also be used with one or more blankets in cold weather.
Fill power ranging from 400 to 599 provide the best warmth for all seasons. Depending on your nightwear, the comforters can either be too cool or warm.
The temperature conditions in your home, the number of blankets you use and the climatic conditions of your geographical area can also influence the warmth and coolness of your down comforter.
Opt for fill power of at least 600 if you want a down comforter to use in winter or cold climatic conditions. 600 to 799 fill power provides lighter weight and added warmth. Over 800 fill power offers the highest insulation ideal for winter.
Comforters with a high thread count are tightly woven and of a softer quality. Tight weaving with higher thread count ensures down fill is held well for a durable down comforter.
However, a balance might exist between the weaving and thread count. Otherwise, a high thread count could indicate inferior weaving construction and/or poor quality fabric.
Comforters with low thread count can easily lose down fill as with the case of old down comforters. A good comforter has a thread count of at least 300.
However, if working on a budget, opt for one with a lower thread count to use with a duvet cover.
Down fill can easily move inside a comforter, hence the need for fabric construction to hold it in place. It ensures fill doesn’t move from one end of the comforter to another.
Comforters often have narrow and long channels sewn into the outer fabric. They often feature a certain pattern such as a stitched box. Fabric construction keeps fill evenly distributed for improved insulation.
Construction designs also make it easy to move fill when airing your comforter, after washing it or simply when fluffing it out. Available in all kinds of stitching styles and construction designs, a down comforter comes in any of the following patterns or stitches.
Comforters with this design have the bottom and top layers sewn to create a diamond pattern to prevent fill from moving around.
Diamond Quilted (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
Baffles (fabric strips) are sewn to create fill compartments in between a comforter’s bottom and top layers. Down fill expands completely within the compartments or baffle walls for the highest fluffiness (loft) to ensure you get optimal cushioning.
Baffle Box (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
The comforter features sewn walls around its outer edges, creating a connection between the bottom and top layers. Featuring either sewn-through or baffle box constructions, gusseted comforters offer maximum loft because the edges extend heights of the construction.
Baffle box stiches are used for the baffle box construction design while box stitch for sewn-through construction patterns.
Gusset (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
A comforter’s bottom and top layers are sewn in small circles. It allows fill to move around within the sewn compartments.
Ring Stitch (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
Just like a ring stitch, karo step stitch allows fill movement. Baffled or sewn-through, the cross-stitches create open boxes or compartments where fill can easily move around.
Karo Step (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
A comforter’s bottom and top layers are sewn in vertical and horizontal rows. Unlike a box stitch, it allows more free movement of fill within the comforter fabric.
Sewn-through Channel Stitches (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
A comforter’s bottom and top layers are sewn to create a box pattern. It restricts fill movement, unlike the channel stitch above.
Sewn-through Box Stitches (Image courtesy of Wayfair)
Another important part of a down comforter is the fill used. Choose from duck down, goose down, down alternative and down cluster options. The price and quality of the comforter will vary based on its fill type.
Cotton is breathable and softer than other fabric options such as polyester, making it an ideal material for your comforter’s outer fabric.
Down Comforter Accessories
Down comforters come with various accessories such as pillows, covers or protectors and storage bags. Therefore, it’s important to choose comforter accessories for different reasons.
Storage bags help keep comforters clean and tucked away when not in use. They can be made from cotton or synthetic materials. Cotton is breathable and provides protection from dirt and dust, making it hypoallergenic.
A good storage bag comes with a zipper and opens up like a suitcase for easy placement of the comforter. They usually fit in closets or under beds, and come with handle for easy carriage or transportation. They can also be machine washed.
Comforter pillows are also filled with down for ultra comfort. Just like down comforters, they vary in fill power and thread count. They can be light and lofty, with high breath ability based on the materials they’re made of.
Cotton allows for free flow of air through the pillow. They’re filled with down or synthetic fill, which influence their costs. Down comforter pillows are more expensive than those with synthetic fills.
Proper care ensures the pillows last long.
Comforters can also come with covers to create a barrier and offer protection from allergens such as dust mites. They often average 10 microns in size. Therefore, a good protector has small pore sizes to keep out allergens.
Covers can also be sewn with an interior fabric for added protection. Bound seams prevent allergens from escaping. Cotton is breathable and soft, keeping the cover humidity-free and offers comfort. They can also be machine washable for easy care.
Top Down Comforter Manufacturers
The market is full of thousands of comforter manufacturers that produce high quality down comforters. Ranging from known, popular brands to less known manufacturers, here’s a review of two down comforter manufacturers.
Founded by Rich and Viclei, Brooklinen is the manufacturer of beautiful, affordable and comfortable yet high quality bedding for the end consumer.
The manufacturer is keen on producing high quality bedding using premium materials. Brooklinen follows in the footsteps of brands such as Everlane and Warby Parker, ensuring that customers have direct access to its products.
The online-based linen company manufactures sheets, duvet covers, comforters, pillows, towels, blankets and related bedroom accessories such as throws and candles.
Brooklinen down comforters and other products are available in varied solid colors, patterns and stylish mix-and-match sets to suit varying customer styles.
Dedicated to manufacturing and selling top notch home furnishings, Cuddledown offers cozy beddings. It makes high quality products coupled with exceptional customer service, making it a go-to brand for all kinds of bedding.
Founded over 5 decades ago in 1973, the company only manufactured down comforters at the beginning. During that time, the world was experiencing the first energy crisis and increased oil prices that made it expensive to heat homes.
The efficiency and warmth of the comforters made them popular in England. It meant people could keep warm even without heating their houses. The warmth and comfort that came with using the Cuddledown down comforters made sleeping easy and waking up in the morning difficult.
With increasing product popularity, the company quickly grew and expanded across the country with its base in Yarmouth, Maine.
Today, the company has grown to offer synthetic and down comforters, apparel, sleepers, towels, feather beds, pillows, blankets, sheets, mattress pads, and bath and sleepwear. It also manufactures home décor items and accessories.
The company uses the finest materials to handcraft its down bedding. With detailed care and quality check processes, customers have access to only the best that the company has to offer.
Cuddle down sources the best materials and techniques worldwide to ensure its consumers get the best comforters and other types of bedding. The products are rigorously tested for safety and quality before being made available on the market.
Maintenance and Cleaning
The kind of care you accord your down comforter will determine its functionality and lifespan. It doesn’t matter whether you bought it at $150 or $800.
Most comforters today are machine washable for easy care. However, it’s important for you to read the care instructions your specific comforter comes with even before buying it (for the best care).
The more you use your comforter, the more often you need to wash it. This is bound to reduce its lifespan or cause it to wear out sooner than a comforter you use a few times in a year.
Proper storage when not in use is key to preserving the quality of its fill. Store your down comfort in dry, airtight storage if you only use it in winter.
Consider using a duvet cover to reduce the frequency of washes, extend the quality and lifespan of the fill, and keep your down comforter clean. A duvet cover is like a pillowcase for your comforter.
However, note that it can make your comforter more bulky.
How to Clean a Down Comforter
A down comforter can make your bed warm and cozy, especially in winter when there’s need to keep your body warm. Clean your comforter often to keep it clean and fluffy. It can look as good as new with routine maintenance and cleaning. Here’s how to care for your comforter.
Assess the status of your comforter.
Heavy or prolonged use of your comforter can cause its outer fabric to wear out. Look for loose feathers (an indication of a tear), rips, stains, mold or any other conditions that may go unnoticed.
Use a needle and a matching thread to repair tears on your comforter. Clean spots as soon as you notice them.
Clean your comforter professionally not more than once a year.
Get your comforter cleaned professionally only if it’s extremely dirty or stained. Regular washing can harm the fluffiness of its down fill, an element responsible for heat retention to keep you warm.
Frequent washing can also rip natural oils from your comforter’s down, rendering it less effective. Moreover, it may also shrink due to regular washing.
Remove the comforter from your bed for cleaning in your bathroom, laundry room or patio.
Consider using a duvet cover to protect your down comforter from regular washes. In that case, you only wash the duvet cover when it gets dirty.
Wash your comforter in a large front-loading washing machine. Avoid top-loading machines because they feature an “agitator” in the middle that can easily rip off your comforter fabric.
If you don’t own a front-loading washing machine, it’s better to take the comforter for professional cleaning. A local Laundromat is likely to have the right washing machine for cleaning down comforters.
The washing machine should be large enough to leave additional air space. It’ll ensure your comforter is cleaned inside out due to better water and detergent penetration into the fabric.
Make sure that your washing machine is designed with the capacity to accommodate the size of your comforter. Check the machine’s user manual or search for the information online.
Wash the comforter gently with warm water, mild detergent and a delicate cycle. Cold or hot water can damage your comforter fill. Submerge it in water and use bleach for white down blankets.
Before loading your comforter into the washing machine, run it for a couple of minutes to ensure the detergent and water mix well for even washing.
Rinse cycle the comforter twice and remove it to squeeze out water before running the spin cycle. This makes the comforter fabric lighter to ensure it spins effectively.
Remove the blanket from the washing machine once the wash cycle comes to an end. Expect it to look smoother, less bulky and flatter than it was before you began washing it.
Wet down fluff may cause a white comforter to appear discoloured, but that’s nothing to worry about. The discoloration disappears as the comforter dries up.
Consider air-drying the blanket; lay it out in open air on your hanging lines. Down dries slowly and thus the blanket may take longer to dry. Do not leave it hanging on the lines in breeze to protect it from mildew growth.
Fluff the comforter, change the hanging sides often to prevent mildew growth. Air-drying is also recommended before using your drying machine to help reduce energy consumption.
Unless you’re short on time, always use low heat setting when machine-drying your down comforter, to minimize shrinking.
Dry your blanket alongside unlaced canvas sneaker shoes, dryer balls or tennis balls covered in socks to break up clumped feathers and fluff the blanket. The items can also ensure your comforter dries faster.
Whichever way you decide to dry your down comforter, fluff it periodically. Keep an eye on it to ensure the process runs smoothly. Make sure the fabric is drying evenly, but not in patches.
Knead and shake the comforter to fluff the down and distribute it evenly. Check for clumps all over the blanket to break up. Presence of clumps means the comforter still needs more time to dry.
Let the comforter dry out completely. Depending on the heat setting and drying method, the drying process can take up to 12 hours. This means you must be patient as the blanket dries. Give it enough time to dry out completely.
Once the comforter is dry, either keep it for storage or spread it back on your bed.
Whether you want to replace your old down comforter, add one to your existing collection or buying your first down fill comforter, it’s important to purchase the right blanket for you.
With many brands on the market, and comforters available in all kinds of sizes, styles, designs and colors, it becomes necessary to choose the right comforter for your unique needs.Read on the next buying guide for down comforters to help you make an informed buying decision. We hope it’ll help you buy a comfortable blanket you’re bound to use for many years to come.