Duvets vs. Duvet Covers vs. Comforters: Key Differences
If you're in the market for a new top layer of bedding, the varying terminology out there might be confusing to you. Do you need a duvet or a comforter? And what's the purpose of a duvet cover?
Duvets are one of the most popular bedding options out there, but not many people know what the term refers to exactly. Although the word "duvet" is sometimes used interchangeably with "comforter," these refer to two different things.
In this guide, we explain the differences between duvets, duvet covers, and comforters and answer your most common bedding questions to help you determine what's right for you.
What are duvets and duvet covers?
A duvet is the top layer of bedding. It's usually made out of cotton. Sometimes, a duvet is referred to as a duvet insert. Typically, a duvet is a plain white color and is filled with natural or synthetic materials such as down feathers, down alternatives, wool, or polyester.
Duvets originated in Europe. The word “duvet” comes from the French word “down,” referring to the soft and fine layer of feathers under the tougher exterior feathers on the bellies of geese and ducks.
Traditionally, European duvets were always filled with down. If someone says they sleep "European style," that generally means they use a duvet.
A duvet cover, on the other hand, is the part of the duvet set that zips around your duvet insert. A duvet cover comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Duvet covers allow you to customize the look of your bed based on your personal preferences. Many people match their bedding style and duvet cover set to their bed sheets and pillowcases for a more cohesive design.
What is a comforter?
A comforter is an American counterpart to a duvet. Unlike duvets, which are usually white, comforters come in a variety of colors and patterns and don't need a cover. Comforters can often be bought as a set with color-coordinated sheets, pillow covers, pillow shams, and in some cases a bed skirt.
Like a duvet, a comforter is a huge fabric bag filled with stuffing such as down, wool, silk, cotton, or synthetic fillings like down alternative. There's typically less stuffing in a comforter, making it slightly flatter and cooler than a duvet.
Unlike a duvet, which is protected by a cover, comforters are typically used with a top sheet for hygienic purposes, as this creates a barrier between the comforter and the sleeper’s body.
Duvets vs. duvet covers vs. comforters: key benefits and drawbacks
There are quite a few differences between duvets, duvet covers, and comforters. The main difference is that a duvet is actually two pieces (a cover and insert), while a comforter is only one piece.
There are also many differences between duvet sets and comforters when it comes to material, price, feel, and more. In order to make the best purchasing decision for you, you should take these differences into account.
Below, we're going over the top pros and cons of duvets, duvet covers, and comforters so you can find a high-quality bedding set that suits your personal preferences.
Benefits and drawbacks of duvets and duvet covers
Every type of bedding has its pros and cons. Here's a list of the key benefits of duvets and duvet covers:
- They're easy to clean: Since they’re used with and protected by a duvet cover, the cover is what needs regular washing—not the duvet. This protective layer can help keep body oils, skin cells, and more from getting in your duvet. You should, however, check the manufacturer instructions on your duvet set to see if the pieces are machine washable or if they need dry cleaning.
- They have a lot of versatility: You can change the look very easily by changing the duvet cover.
- They allow you to make your bed easily: Making a bed with a duvet is extremely easy since you don’t have to worry about the top sheet—you’ll only need to adjust your fitted sheet as necessary.
- They help you stay warm: A full duvet with extra fiberfill will ensure you have a warm and fluffy blanket for the cold winter months.
- They come in a variety of materials: Duvets and their covers come in a variety of materials, which you can customize for your personal preferences. You can find down duvets or duvets filled with synthetic fibers, like down alternatives, and you can find sateen, percale, and linen duvet covers.
Duvets and duvet covers also have a few drawbacks. The main ones include:
- They can be challenging to work with: Inserting a duvet into a duvet cover might be challenging.
- You might need to purchase items separately: A duvet isn't usually sold as part of a bedding set. You'll have to either mix and match or find a set that includes a duvet cover and buy your duvet separately.
Benefits and drawbacks of comforters
Of course, there are plenty of reasons to choose a comforter as your top layer of bedding. Here are the main advantages of using one:
- They're ready to use: Comforters are ready to use out of the bag. There's no need to get a cover, making it also the more economical option.
- They come in unique colors and designs: Comforters come in a huge variety of beautiful colors and patterns, so you can easily find one that suits your style and complements the rest of your bedding.
- They can help you create a layered look for your bedding style: Comforters provide a layered look to your bed which might appeal to some.
- They come in a variety of custom materials: Similarly to duvets and duvet covers, comforters also come in a variety of materials. You can customize the feel of your comforter for more breathability or more warmth—whichever you prefer.
There are a few downsides to comforters as well. Here are the top drawbacks:
- They require regular maintenance: Comforters need to be cleaned regularly because they’re used without a cover. They're also hard to clean—fitting them into the washing machine might be difficult. (Learn more about how to clean a comforter and other types of bedding.)
- They can cause it to take longer to make the bed: Making the bed in the morning takes longer since you have to deal with a top sheet, fitted sheet, and bed covers.
Frequently asked questions
Do you put a comforter in a duvet cover?
You don’t need to put a comforter in a duvet cover—but if you wish, you can use it as a duvet and put it inside a duvet cover for hygienic purposes or a different look.
Can you sleep with just a duvet cover?
Although the primary purpose of a duvet cover is to add a protective layer to a duvet, you can use it by itself instead of a light summer blanket.
Do you use sheets with a duvet?
You don’t need a top sheet with a duvet, but you do need the duvet cover, as well as the bottom sheet for your bed.
Is a duvet warmer than a comforter?
There's typically more filling in a duvet, making it slightly warmer than a comforter and therefore more suitable for winter months.
How much do duvet covers and comforters cost?
Duvet covers and comforters can both vary in terms of cost, with the material being the biggest price factor. Duvet sets (which usually include a duvet cover and pillow shams) can range from as low as $60 to $70, all the way up to a few hundred dollars. Keep in mind you may have to purchase the duvet insert separately.
Similarly, comforters can range anywhere from $75 to $200+. Synthetic materials tend to cost less than higher-end materials, like linen and premium cotton.
Does thread count matter when it comes to duvets and comforters?
Commonly, people relate thread count directly with quality. While a higher thread count can mean better quality fabric in some cases, this isn't always true.
Check out our full article on the ideal thread count for popular bedding materials for more information.
Shop high-quality duvet covers, comforters, and other bed sets with Saatva
Duvets, duvet covers, and comforters are all different types of bedding. You should aim to purchase the bedding set that works best with your personal preferences.
Saatva offers a variety of bedding and bed sets, including duvet covers, comforters, and sheets. All of our bedding products are made from high-quality materials that are durable, breathable, and comfortable.
Saatva also offers a wide range of high-quality mattresses and other bed accessories to complete your bedroom. Check out our selection of mattresses and take our online mattress quiz to find your perfect match.