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What's the Difference Between a Duvet and a Comforter?

Some of the most frequent questions we get here at Au Lit are about duvets and comforters. So many of our customers have the exact same questions: What is a duvet, and what makes it different from a comforter? What is a duvet cover, and do I need one?

If you've ever wondered this yourself, you're not alone! We're here to help, and we've rounded up our most frequent questions about this topic below, along with our answers. Enjoy!

What is a Duvet?

If you open a French-English dictionary and look at the word "duvet", you'll see that the literal translation is "fluff", and that's exactly how we like to think of a duvet. A duvet is made from two pieces of fabric sewn together, and stuffed with any form of insulating material, be it goose down, feathers, or synthetic fibres. A duvet is fluffy and insulating, and designed lay on top of your sheets and keep you warm at night. Think of the fluffy topper on a hotel bed: puffy, light, and cozy.

Baffle box construction on our Lausanne Duvet

So what keeps all of the goose down or synthetic fibres from shifting to one side? The answer is baffle boxes. Once the top and bottom pieces of fabric of the duvet have been sewn together, the whole thing is then sewn in stitched squares, or pockets. Each of these closed pockets is stuffed with a uniform amount of down (or other fibres), and when air becomes trapped within the "wall" of each pocket it results in a fluffy, airy duvet.

What is a Duvet Cover?

Brooklyn Duvet Cover

Just as your pillow needs a pillowcase on top, your duvet needs a duvet cover. A duvet cover is a protective outer layer for your duvet, made from two pieces of fabric sewn together with a zipper or button closure (which makes it easy to take on and off of the duvet).

A duvet cover can be made from any kind of fabric, be it simple and plain, or decorative and textured. Because duvet covers are easily removed, you can switch them out during different seasons, or if you'd like to change the look of the room. Think of a duvet cover as the jacket of the bed; protecting your clothing underneath, but easily changed depending on your outfit or mood.

What is a Comforter?

Example of a Comforter

This is often where our customers get the most confused. What IS the difference between a comforter and duvet, and why do retailers use the term interchangeably? A comforter is a thick, quilted blanket designed to keep you warm in bed. It's typically filled with a layer of synthetic fibre-fill, which is stitched throughout all of the blanket's layers to keep them in place.

So how do you know which one is which? Unlike a duvet, a comforter is a standalone piece and does not require a duvet cover to go on top of it; instead, it simply lays on top of your flat sheet. Many comforters are made from patterned or coloured fabrics and are meant to be used as a combined functional and fashion piece. Comforters are usually sold in sets with coordinating pillow shams or accent pieces.

Duvet or Comforter, Which One is Right For Me?

To decide which piece is best for you, consider your lifestyle and your needs. If you live in a house with pets or kids, or stains and spills are a frequent occurrence (hello, Sunday paper and a coffee!), a duvet and duvet cover may be the best option for you. If there's an accident, you can easily remove the duvet cover and toss it in the wash. With a comforter, you'll have to wash the entire thing - which can be cumbersome due to it's large, bulky size.

Secondly, how often do you like to change your bedroom style? Do you like to change colours with the seasons, or switch all of your bedding over to flannel in the winter and linen in the summer? With a duvet cover, you can easily change your bed's "jacket" as often as your mood changes, but with a comforter you're limited to the colour and/or pattern of the piece.

Thirdly, do you prefer to sleep with or without a top sheet? With a duvet cover, sleeping without a top sheet is easy peasy - you can just throw it in the wash with your sheets each week. With a comforter, you'll need to wash the whole thing weekly, which isn't always as simple.

Looking for more information? Explore our entire line of Duvets here (they're 20% off during the month of November!