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Duvet vs. Comforter: What Is a Duvet?

Duvet. Doo-vay. Doesn’t it sound super fancy? That’s because it’s French – “duvet” is actually the French word for “down,” which is a nod to its traditional stuffing of goose down or feathers. A duvet typically serves as the top layer of bedding. Some sleepers prefer to forego a top sheet when they use a duvet since the duvet cover serves much the same purpose as a top sheet. This is, in fact, pretty standard practice all over Europe, and very common in the United States.

duvet on bed

4 Benefits of Sleeping with a Duvet

  • Easy to Clean
  • Comfortable
  • Time-Saving
  • Available in Many Styles

Choosing the perfect bedding for your new mattress can be overwhelming – but also inspiring and exciting. Loading up with pillows, bed linens, shams, comforters, and, yes, the duvet and duvet cover can fill you with a sense of anticipation about crawling into bed and getting a great night’s sleep. The right bedding can help create a soft, cozy, perfect sleeping cocoon that lets you get the restorative sleep you need. A plush, soft, welcoming duvet set is often the perfect final touch to your bedding.

What Is a Duvet?

Oddly enough, a duvet is like a big bag – it’s made of various types of fabric sewn together to form a large pouch, then filled with down or some type of down alternative that’s nice and soft – and cozy. The wide range of down alternatives may include polyester, silk, wool or other feathers. Synthetic down alternatives allow you to find a hypoallergenic duvet if you have allergies but still want the feel and quality of natural down. Synthetic duvets are also usually less expensive than their natural down counterparts, and silk is also a good choice if you need a hypoallergenic duvet but still want a natural fiber.

The duvet is the piece of bedding that goes on the very top of the bed. It’s plush and decorative when the bed is made up, and it keeps the sleeper nice and warm during a good night’s sleep. A typical duvet is almost always plain white, but you can dress it up with a duvet cover and so it matches your other bedding and décor. You might hear the inner part of a duvet referred to as the duvet insert, to distinguish it from the cover.

The duvet has its roots in Europe, where it was traditionally stuffed with goose down because of its effectiveness as a thermal insulator. Most duvets feature intricate stitching throughout that helps hold the stuffing in place, so it doesn’t move around, getting flattened in some places and clumping up in others. Before you buy one, look at the stitching to make sure it’s solid, high quality, and doesn’t run across the layers of fabric in straight lines only – this kind of stitching won’t hold the fiberfill in place. And be sure the stuffing is evenly distributed throughout the duvet so that you have a nice, consistent loft and texture throughout.

4 Benefits of Sleeping with a Duvet

Now let’s explore the duvet’s many benefits in a little more detail.

1. Duvets Are Easy to Clean

cleaning glove and brush

Because your duvet will have a removable duvet cover, it’s extremely easy to clean. There’s no dry cleaning required, and the cover is typically light enough to be machine washable without being too bulky for your machine. Anytime you need to freshen it up or deal with any spills or stains, simply whisk off your duvet cover, throw it in the washer and dryer and then replace. Voila! (that’s French – like “duvet”).

You don’t actually need to wash your duvet very often, especially if you’re regularly washing the cover. Make sure to check your duvet’s label, though, because some may require dry cleaning. Since the covers are so easy to remove and wash, duvets make perfect bedding choices for children’s rooms and guest rooms.

2. Duvets Are Comfortable

Two people using comfortable duvet

Duvets are warm, but surprisingly light. They’re also amazingly soft, fluffy and cozy, so snuggling up under a duvet can feel like burrowing into a cloud. If you choose a duvet for your bed, you’ll be nice and toasty under it without having to add a top sheet or additional blankets. And if you choose a version stuffed with traditional goose down, all the better. Like the best bed sheets, there’s something magical about goose down – so plush and lofty.

You can actually find duvets in varying weights to support your ideal sleeping temperature – there’s a winter weight, designed for the average sleeper in a winter bedroom, a classic weight for warm sleepers in a heated bedroom, and a summer weight for those who tend to get overheated at night or who keep their bedrooms super toasty. You can often measure the weight of a duvet by its fill power – the higher the fill power, usually the heavier and warmer weight is the duvet. Fill power ranges typically from 450 to 900 – for reference, a 700 is pretty plump! And if you choose a duvet with natural fiberfill, like duck or goose feathers, you’ll find that it’s more breathable than you likely expected.

3. Duvets Are Time-Saving

If you choose to sleep European style, with no top sheet under your duvet, you can shave off a few minutes of bed-making every morning. You simply straighten the duvet, rather than sorting out a tangled mess of top sheet, blankets, and comforter. Perfect! This approach could be especially good for kiddos who are just learning to make their beds, saving them the extra step of smoothing out that top sheet and blankets. And if you just hate making your bed, a duvet may be the bedding of your dreams. Bonus tip: Because you’re using fewer pieces of bedding, you’ll also have less laundry to do!

4. Duvets Are Available in Many Styles

With the large variety of duvet covers available, using a duvet as your top layer of bedding gives you a great deal of added versatility. Changing your style is as simple as putting on a new duvet cover – and a new duvet cover is usually much less expensive than a whole new comforter/quilt set. You can decide how you’d like your duvet to fit, too. Duvet sizes are usually the same as bed sizes, but if you want yours to drape over the sides a bit more, simply choose a duvet that’s one size larger than your mattress size.

Duvet vs. Comforter

Sometimes, the words “duvet” and “comforter” are used interchangeably to describe any outer bedding, but that’s inaccurate. Though duvets and comforters are both used similarly, they are pretty different in terms of construction and care. A duvet is a specific type of bed cover, which is different from a traditional comforter, quilt, etc.


Because of their down – or synthetic – filling, duvets are much fluffier than quilts and comforters, which tend to be thin and flat since they are stuffed with much less filling than the duvet.

A typical comforter, for example, will need to be supplemented with sheets and blankets, especially during the colder months, whereas a duvet gives plenty of warmth on its own. That said, it is possible to find a down comforter – the difference is that it would be made of decorative fabric and would not come with a separate cover. And, since it has no protective cover, a comforter will need to be washed on a regular basis to keep it clean and fresh.

Another major difference between the two is how they’re constructed – a duvet, remember, is meant to be used with a cover. A comforter, in contrast, is just the one piece. Comforters are often sold as part of an entire bedding set that may also include bed sheets, pillow cases, pillow shams and even bed skirts, which can make them a more economical choice overall. Unlike a duvet, a comforter should always be used with a top sheet in order to keep a hygienic barrier between the sleeper and the comforter.


Make note that comforters, especially if you have a queen or king size bed, can be bulky, so make sure you have a washing machine with a large enough capacity to be able to accommodate washing your comforter on a regular basis. A duvet cover, by contrast, is extremely thin and can be washed in a home washing machine very easily.


Keep in mind that if you sleep with a comforter and want to change the color and style of your bedding, you’ll have to replace the entire comforter. While it’s easy to since it’s made of decorative materials with no protective cover. Whether you use a duvet or a comforter is completely a matter of personal preference – while some sleepers favor a duvet because of its versatility and ease of care, others prefer the simplicity of the comforter. And who says you have to pick just one? Maybe you go for the lighter, thinner comforter during warmer months, while you stick with a duvet when it’s colder and you need to ramp up the softness and coziness factor.

Duvet Covers

A duvet cover is an amazing piece of bedding that adds personality and versatility, while also protecting the life of your duvet over time. The cover is simply a sleeve into which you place the plain white duvet insert – kind of like sliding a pillow into a pillow case or sham. The cover protects the duvet inside from stains, spills, tears, etc., and the easy switch-out of your duvet cover lets you change the look of your bedding anytime you’d like. You can find luxury duvet covers in a wide range of materials and weaves, including linen, percale, and sateen – you can even find flannel duvet covers.

Along with being versatile, duvet covers are easy to clean. They fold up nicely for storage, unlike the duvet insert, which can be kind of bulky. They usually fasten with buttons, ties or zippers, which keeps the duvet securely inside its cover, while also making it easy to remove and switch out whenever you want. Some duvet cover sets include fasteners on the outside that you can use to help hold them in place on your bed.

Choosing a Duvet and Duvet Cover

Since you’ll spend roughly a third of your life sleeping, it’s important to invest in bedding that you love. You want a bed cover that helps you sleep easy and comfortable – all night, every night. A good duvet, together with the best pillow and quality sheets, is like a little piece of heaven – you can sink into it at the end of a long day and let it carry you away to Dreamville. If you’ll think about all the considerations presented here, you’ll be able to find the perfect duvet and cover set that is stylish, warm, cozy and comfortable.