Buying Guide to Down (and Down Alternative) Comforters

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Down comforters use one of nature’s best insulators to create a luxurious, all-natural bedding option for the ultimate sleep experience.

While down comforters may be more expensive than other options, they are a great investment as a quality down comforter can last for years if properly maintained. Plus, with comforter and duvet covers you can easily transform your comforter anytime you want create new look for your bedroom.

Here’s what you need to know to find the perfect comforter.

DownComforters

What Is Down?

Down is the light, fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of geese, ducks and other waterfowl that protects them from the elements.

Down is warmer than synthetic insulation, is very lightweight, and with the proper care comforters made of down can last for decades. Down comforters are also great year round solutions as they are breathable for optimal comfort in warmer temperatures, while the down insulation also provides optimal warmth in colder weather.

Why Is Fill Power Important?

The quality of the down is directly related to its fill power rating, the higher the fill power the better the down will insulate. High-quality down has a high fill power and is much loftier than down of a lower quality. That means down comforters with high fill power require fewer ounces of down to create a lightweight comforter that generates the same level of warmth. A fill power rating of 550 to 750 is considered very good, while a fill power rating over 750 is considered excellent.

Does Down Trigger Allergies?

Down itself typically doesn’t trigger allergies. Lower quality down can harbor dust particles, debris or other non-down materials, causing a reaction in sensitive people. However, high-quality down is cleaned extensively according to strict industry standards, and is less likely to cause issue. If someone in the household is prone to allergies, high-quality down comforters or down alternative comforters are recommended.

What Is Down Alternative?

Down alternative comforters are constructed of synthetic fill fibers designed to mimic lofty down clusters. Most synthetics used in down alternative comforters are also completely hypoallergenic and will not cause allergies, as long as they are kept clean.

Down alternative comforters require more synthetic fill to match the same warmth that natural down provides, so they are a heavier weight comforter. Also, synthetic fibers gradually break down regardless of how well they are cared for, so down alternative comforters need to be replaced more frequently than down comforters.

Thread Count

Thread count is the number of thread woven into a square inch. The finer the thread, the higher the thread count, and the smoother and lighter the fabric will feel. Thread count on a comforter is an indicator of the quality and texture. Quality comforters generally have a thread count of at least 260, while luxury comforters have higher thread counts that result in weaves that are tighter and stronger to prevent down from escaping.

Benefits of Baffle Box

Quality down comforters are sewn with baffles to prevent down from shifting and settling. Baffles are vertical walls of fabric sewn inside the down comforter that create separate boxes for the down. Baffles provide depth to the down comforter and keep the goose down in place. When goose down settles, cold spots occur. Baffles secure the goose down filling and help it stay evenly distributed to eliminate cold spots.

Your New Down Comforter:

You may notice that your comforter doesn't seem as fluffy as the displays in the store when you first bring it home. That's because the comforter was compressed in transport and it's not permanent. Just shake out the comforter and put in on your bed. In about 72 hours, it will perk up to its full fluffiness.

Maintaining Your Down Comforter:

Down comforters should only be cleaned once every two to three years, so a comforter cover or duvet cover is essential. Comforter and duvet covers protect the comforter and unlike the comforter can be laundered regularly.

Shake out your comforter on a weekly basis to fluff it up and redistribute the down throughout the comforter. One of the benefits of down is fluffiness can be restored with a few simple shakes. Airing comforters outside on cool, breezy days can help maintain the loft of the down. Comforters can also be placed in a dryer on low to no heat with some dryer balls in order to fluff.

Washing Your Down Comforter:

For best results, wash the comforter in a large-capacity machine at a Laundromat or have it professionally laundered.

When laundering the comforter yourself, here are some helpful tips:

  • Go to a Laundromat and choose a front-loading washing machine without an agitator in the middle. Agitators can be rough on the comforter's fabric and put unnecessary strain on the seams.
  • Select the delicate cycle, a warm water temperature, and use a mild laundry detergent.
  • Dry the comforter using low to no heat and make sure the comforter is completely dry. Double-check to make sure there are no wet spots or clumps, if it’s even a little damp it can become moldy.

Storing your down comforter:

Down needs to be able to “breathe” and must always be stored in a storage bag or container made of a breathable material such as canvas. Storing a down comforter in a plastic storage bag will trap moisture and promote mildew.

Comforter & Duvet Covers

Down and down alternative comforters should always be placed inside a cover to protect the comforter. Down and down alternative comforters can also be referred to as duvets and the covers may be referred to as comforter covers or duvet covers. Comforter and duvet covers keep the comforter clean and are easy to wash. They also come in a variety of styles and colors so you can easily transform your comforter anytime you want create new look for your bedroom.

Comforter/Duvet Clips

Snap-on clips prevent your comforter from shifting inside the cover. They also help ease your comforter into the cover more quickly and easily since they hold the corners in place.

Storage Bag/Container

Down comforters cannot be stored in a plastic storage bag because plastic will trap moisture and promote mildew. Down must always be stored in storage bag or container made of a breathable material such as canvas.