Duvets are very trendy and upscale, not only in name but in style
We're seeing duvets everywhere, even at the major discount chains. They are priced higher than comforters and some people may wonder what the differences are that warrant this special attention.
While you can find duvets (pronounced doo-VAY[s]) that are filled with synthetic fibers, that is not their intent. They have been popular in Europe for a very long time - centuries, in fact - due to the fact that the best duvets are filled with down. At the high end, goose down is used; the middle quality incorporates duck down, and on the lower end a down/feather or feather/down blend (ratios may be listed on some). Now, they're also manufactured with synthetic fibers.
Historically, duvets are the same as comforters and quilts. A comforter can be filled with any material and is not as temperature-friendly. Duvets, when filled with down and with a cotton cover added will breathe. They will keep you warm when it's cold and just right when it's not. In addition, the loft and tog values will affect the comfort ranges. Tog ratings are scaled to indicate the ability to keep warm air trapped within. A higher tog rating means added warmth.
Like comforters, duvets are crafted using what is known as the baffle box. This is the stitching that runs in squares or channels through the outer and inner materials. The baffle is what prevents the filling from losing its form or migrating and clumping unevenly. When the interior shifts, you'll suffer cold spots while sleeping.
A duvet with down filling may need cleaning every third year or so - if it has a cover. Natural fills will also last longer than synthetic fibers and a good quality duvet can grow old gracefully with care - as long as thirty years. Do avoid sitting on a duvet or the down and/or feather fill will wear down and lose its ability to trap air for warmth.
Duvets are typically used instead of a top sheet and they are generally made of white fabrics. That is why duvet covers are most often used. The covers are washable while down-filled duvets must be cleaned professionally. There is often confusion between the terms: "duvet" and "duvet covers." Many people - and even some retailers - define a duvet as the cover. To set the record straight: the duvet is the "comforter" and the duvet cover protects the duvet (or even a comforter).
You'll find silk and satin duvet covers that are very stylish and they are quite beautiful. However, they won't breathe like a cotton cover. Silk covers typically shouldn't be washed, but cotton covers are launderable at home.
Note that for those with allergies, down-filled duvets may not be a good choice. They can harbor dust mites and without frequent washing will only become worse.
Duvets and comforters will last longer when tucked inside a protective cover
Think of them as giant pillowcases. They protect the pillow and its stuffing, whether it be down or a synthetic fill. Comforters are convenient because they're less expensive and already are widely made in a number of color coordinating sets.
Duvets, on the other hand, are generally white. The best ones, as we know, are filled with down while other non-traditional fills are coming on the market. To protect the whiteness of the outside of the duvet and prevent a certain amount of dust mites from congregating on the inside, covers do some of the work for you. In addition, they're easy to wash and don't typically require a trip to a professional laundry - unless they're silk.
Covers also give you a chance to dress up a room with the colors and patterns of your choice. Some are reversible as well. They are sold alone or in sets with pillow shams. Cotton is generally preferred for its breathability, which allows the duvet to do its job and trap and dissipate warm air. Silk is very popular, but only the brave - and the very careful souls - will attempt to wash a silk duvet cover at home. You can also find other materials, such as velvet, satin, or a synthetic. You can even make your own.
Another advantage to using a duvet cover is it allows you to double up on duvets (summertime and fall) to reach a wintertime tog rating. (The higher the tog rating, the warmer the duvet.)
For quality duvet covers, look at the thread count. On the low end, you'll find a T150, which should be bargain priced. The finer covers are rated T180, T220, and above. Remember that even some quality cottons may be a bit stiff at first, but will soften with laundering and use. Sizing may vary among manufacturers, so be sure you know the size of the duvet before purchasing a cover.
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