Down or down alternative? When buying a new comforter, it’s an important question. Both types of comforters have their pros and cons, and the right option for you will depend on personal preferences and budget. We’re here to help make your bedding decision easier – and to make sure you sleep well. Below we explain what each option is, and compare the differences between down and down alternative comforters.
To begin, watch this video to learn more about down vs. alternative comforters and four things to know before you buy:
What is a Down Comforter?
A down comforter is filled with clusters of down feathers, the light and fluffy feathers used for insulation underneath a bird’s contour feathers. In comforters, down from geese and ducks is most common. A or comforter made with goose down is known for having a high level of warmth, comfort, and breathability.
An important thing to keep an eye on when looking at down comforters is their fill power. Fill power is the amount of space one ounce of down fills. Fill power ranges from 550 (low) to 800 (high) with higher fill power being associated with higher quality.
Real down feathers will have a higher fill power than synthetic fill. This means true down has a denser fill that withholds its fluff per ounce better than down alternative fill.
Down feather comforters are also known for their insulating ability in the winter and for helping to keep you cool in the summer, ensuring a good .
What is Down Alternative?
Also referred to as synthetic down or faux down comforters, down alternative comforters are made of synthetic materials designed to replicate the fill and properties of natural down. Some of the materials used to achieve this include cotton, rayon, and polyester fibers.
Comparing Down vs. Down Alternative
This depends on preference, but down comforters are typically known as the more comfortable option. Down is soft and is usually lighter than synthetic materials. This isn’t to say that down alternatives are uncomfortable, though.
Alternative comforters can be filled to essentially match the fill power of natural down comforters, but they will be bigger and heavier. That said, for those who enjoy a more substantial , this could be considered a benefit.
Warmth & Breathability
One of down’s biggest strengths is that it’s both great at insulating and is very breathable, meaning the down allows moisture vapor to be transmitted through the material. Providing the best of both worlds, down comforters are able to deliver the warmth you need during stretches of cold weather and the air movement you need when the weather warms up.
In regards to warmth, down alternatives can achieve the same properties as real down, but it will take more synthetic material, resulting in a larger comforter. When comparing breathability, though, down alternatives aren’t known to breathe as well since they don’t possess the same properties as natural down.
Ease of Washing
When it comes to cleaning a down comforter, things get a little trickier. Best practice is to spot clean or wash them only every couple of years, and many need to be professionally cleaned. If you do try to wash your comforter on your own, pay special attention to the care instructions and be prepared to spend some time cleaning it.
This is where down alternative comforters have a major advantage. Taking care of them is much easier, and machine washing is acceptable. If you’re looking for lower-maintenance and worry-free cleaning, synthetic down is the safe choice. A cover is another option, so you can remove and just the cover and not the entire comforter.
Though some controversy surrounds the topic, many people claim to have an allergic reaction to down. In reality, people aren’t allergic to the feathers themselves, but to the dust particles on the feathers. Hypoallergenic down comforters are available for , but they will also be more expensive.
If you’re worried at all about an allergic reaction, synthetic down comforters are naturally hypoallergenic. This is the safe choice for anyone who has experienced a reaction to down bedding in the past.
It’s pretty standard for a down comforter to last 10-15 years. If you take tremendous care of a quality down comforter, it wouldn’t be uncommon for it to last even longer.
Down alternative comforters will still last you several years, but aren’t nearly as durable. They’ll start to lose their fluffiness and shape earlier, causing owners to replace them more frequently.
Because down is collected from geese or ducks, it is more expensive than synthetic options. Down alternative options are available for as low as $20-$30 with higher-quality comforters available under $100. Down comforters typically start closer to $100 and can exceed $300.
Another factor in cost is the thread count of the comforter or duvet cover. Again, quality and price can vary greatly, so keep in mind the options as you shop. Read our guide to Understanding Thread Count to learn more on the topic.
Pros & Cons of Down Comforters
Think down is your best choice? Here’s a quick recap of the benefits and considerations of choosing a natural feather comforter. Keep these points in mind as you shop:
- Incredibly comfortable
- Great warmth & breathability
- Very durable
- Difficult to wash
- Potential to cause allergic reaction
- More expensive
Pros & Cons of Down Alternative Comforters
Leaning towards a down alternative duvet or comforter? There are some distinct features and benefits to weigh before you head to checkout. Take a look at this checklist:
- Easy to wash
- Less expensive
- More material for same warmth
- Less breathable
- Less durable
Now that we’ve compared down vs. down alternative options, you’re ready to choose the right comforter for your bed. From a and to a with , you’re sure to find the perfect with the right for a great night’s sleep.