What Is a Duvet Cover? | Sleep Foundation (2024)

Key Takeaways

  • A duvet is a plush, top-layer blanket traditionally filled with the soft layer of down found beneath the feathers of a goose or duck, but today’s variations can include down-alternative, wool, or polyester fills.
  • A duvet cover is a fabric shell that protects the duvet, similar to a pillowcase, and is usually easier to clean. Duvet covers are made from various materials including cotton, flannel, and silk, each with its own benefits.
  • A comforter is typically thinner, designed to be used as is, and is generally more budget-friendly, while duvets are fluffy and warmer, and usually used with a duvet cover for protection. These days, many comforters and duvets are designed to be used interchangeably with or without duvet covers.

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While duvets and duvet covers originated in Europe, they are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as well. If you are considering a duvet for your bedroom, you may want to also consider a duvet cover to protect it.

Duvets come in varying sizes and are made with different materials. It can be difficult to decide what type of duvet to choose. We will take an in-depth look into duvets and duvet covers to help you make an informed decision. We will also go over some of the main differences between a duvet and a comforter.

What Is a Duvet?

A duvet is essentially a plush, top-layer blanket traditionally filled with the light, soft layer of down found beneath the feathers of a goose or duck. Given their history as down-filled blankets, duvets derive their name from the French word for down. However, variations today can be filled with other materials, such as down-alternative, wool, or polyester. What sets a duvet apart is its pillow-like structure which efficiently traps heat for warmth, without being heavy or restrictive. A duvet is often encased in a protective shell, known as a duvet cover, that is removable and interchangeable.

An all-season duvet should keep a sleeper warm in cool weather, but also cool in warm weather. The fill power of a down duvet can help you determine the feel you are looking for. A lightweight summer duvet typically has around 400 fill power. For colder temperatures, a fill power of around 600 or more may be best. A duvet with between 400 and 600 fill power is comfortable for most sleepers all year long.

The shell of a duvet is designed to keep the fill in place and to reduce bunching. The shell can be stitched with a variety of patterns to keep pockets of fill evenly distributed throughout the duvet. A duvet cover is used to protect the shell and fill of the duvet. A complete duvet set typically consists of a duvet insert, duvet cover, and pillow shams to match the duvet cover.

What Is a Duvet Cover?

A duvet cover encases your duvet for added protection. Similar to a pillowcase, a duvet cover has one side open to make it removable. The opening may be closable with buttons, snaps, ties, or a zipper to keep the duvet from slipping out.

One of the functions of a duvet cover is to keep the duvet insert cleaner for a longer period of time. Duvets need extra protection from body oils, sweat, and spills, as they are often used without a top sheet. Many duvets are difficult to clean or dry clean only, which can get expensive.

The duvet cover is typically much easier to wash than a full duvet or comforter. Duvet covers are lighter and thinner than the duvet and are usually machine-washable. It’s helpful to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for the duvet and the cover to be sure they are properly maintained.

If you are interested in changing the look of your bedroom, a duvet cover can be an easy and relatively inexpensive solution. Most duvets come in white or off-white, but there are many duvet cover options that can offer a new pattern or pop of color to your bedroom.

A duvet cover can also change the feel of a duvet or comforter by encasing it in a new layer of fabric. Some sleepers opt out of using a flat sheet in exchange for a comfortable duvet cover.

What Is a Duvet Insert?

The duvet insert is another way to refer to the duvet itself. The main reason for specifying it as a duvet insert is to distinguish it from a duvet cover.

Duvet inserts typically come in solid, light colors, such as white or off-white, since they go inside a duvet cover. Duvet covers complement the look and feel of a duvet insert while also providing a layer of protection.

What Are Duvet Covers Made Of?

While choosing the type of fill you want in a duvet is important, remember to consider the duvet cover as well. Lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton tend to be the most common option. However, there are many other options as well. Typically, fabrics made from natural materials are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, but they also tend to be more expensive. Here are a few fabric options available for duvet covers:

Cotton is the most common fabric used for duvet covers, possibly because it’s light, soft, and breathable. Cotton regulates temperature well, keeping you warm on a cool night and cool on a warm night. For those who appreciate an easy-to-clean fabric, cotton may be a suitable choice.

There are many varieties of cotton to choose from. Organic cotton is becoming increasingly popular with shoppers who want a cotton duvet cover with the added benefit of sustainable manufacturing practices. Other high-quality cotton options, such as long-staple Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton, tend to last longer than traditional cotton.

Flannel can help sleepers feel warm on a cold night. The fabric feels soft and is made to be durable. Most flannel duvet covers are easy to clean and machine-washable. The downside of flannel is that it can be quite warm on a warm night, so you may need to purchase multiple duvet covers in order to switch them out for the seasons.

Silk duvet covers are lightweight and breathable. As a natural product, silk is known to regulate body temperature more effectively than most synthetic materials. The cool, smooth fabric can be used year-round. Silk has many benefits, but it typically comes at a higher price-point. You do not need to wash silk as often as other fabrics, but when you do, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. If the silk duvet cover is machine-washable, it is best to wash it in a protective bag and then hang it to dry.

Duvet vs. Comforter

While they are both considered the top layer of bedding, there are marked differences between a duvet and a comforter.

  • Fill: Duvets are typically stuffed with more fill than comforters. Duvets are fluffy and airy, while comforters are often a bit thinner.
  • Covers: Duvets are meant to be used with a duvet cover, but comforters come with a more finished shell. Typically, a comforter is used with a flat sheet instead of a cover. However, covers can be used on either a duvet or a comforter for added protection, ease of cleaning, or to change the appearance of a bedroom.
  • Temperature: The extra fiberfill found in a duvet provides warmth and helps regulate temperature on a cold night. While there are comforters that can be used year-round, a standard comforter may require an additional blanket for warmth in the winter months.
  • Pricing: Since duvets are traditionally filled with down, they tend to be more expensive than most comforters. Comforters are generally more budget friendly and can be purchased as part of a full set of bedding that includes matching sheets and pillowcases. Duvets are usually sold separately from other bedding.
What Is a Duvet Cover? | Sleep Foundation (2024)


Is a duvet cover enough? ›

It is similar to quilts, comforters and bedspreads but has its own differences. The duvet (pronounced "due-vay") is like a comforter, only with a washable and replaceable cover. As water would ruin the stuffing, duvets usually are mostly not washable and therefore duvet covers are needed.

What is a duvet cover set for bed? ›

A duvet cover is used to protect the shell and fill of the duvet. A complete duvet set typically consists of a duvet insert, duvet cover, and pillow shams to match the duvet cover.

Is duvet cover the same as bed sheets? ›

Made from sheeting, the duvet cover is a decorative and protective covering for an insert—the duvet—that comes in various weights and fillings; the Matouk Down Collection offers a variety of options from down-alternative to goose, duck and Eiderdown. The duvet can be used with a flat sheet or on its own.

Is a duvet a bed cover? ›

Although many people use the word “duvet” to refer to the duvet cover, technically a duvet is a comforter, usually plain white and filled with down, while the duvet cover is the fabric envelope that fits over the duvet and closes down one side with large buttons, ties, or a zipper.

Do you need a sheet with a duvet cover? ›

Comforters and duvets are often difficult to launder. Some are dry clean only, and machine-washable options may be too bulky to fit in your home washer. A top sheet helps keep a comforter or duvet clean longer. Since top sheets are much easier to wash, you can refresh your sleep surface more often with less hassle.

Can you sleep with a duvet without a cover? ›

Do I need a duvet cover? You don't technically need a duvet cover for your duvet insert. However, a duvet cover will protect the duvet from getting dirty or torn, and they determine the look and feel of the top of a bed.

Is it better to get duvet cover or comforter? ›

A duvet cover adds a layer of protection, so some damage that may render a comforter unusable might just require a new cover for those using a duvet. Duvet covers are also usually machine washable, making it easier to refresh the surface. Both duvets and comforters vary in price based on their materials.

What is the two duvet trick? ›

If your goal is to create a plush sleep spot, then inserting two duvets into one insert really works. “If you're going for an extra-fluffy look, doubling up on duvets will certainly do the trick,” Bird says, noting that it ticks two important boxes: adding comfort and creating a luxurious experience.

What do you put in a duvet cover? ›

Fill Your Cover With a Duvet Insert or Comforter

A duvet insert and comforter are effectively identical bedding pieces—soft, often cotton shells filled with lofty down or down alternative—that are ideal for use within a duvet cover.

Can I cover myself with duvet cover? ›

Use the duvet cover without the insert by laying it on your bed just as you would a flat sheet and use it to cover yourself. This can also really help to extend the life of your duvet when it's not being used as often. The duvet cover acts as the perfect multipurpose substitute.

Do you put a comforter in a duvet cover? ›

The Main Difference Between a Comforter and a Duvet

The insert fits into the duvet cover like a pillow in a pillowcase. A comforter is ready to use once you buy it — it does not need a duvet cover or cover of any kind. However, you can use a duvet cover on a comforter if you wish.

What is the difference between a bedspread and a duvet cover? ›

In comparison to a duvet cover with an inner, it is light weight and perfect for layering. A bedspread is designed to completely cover a bed, right down to the floor and can be quilted to give it a thicker, heavier feel.

Can you wash a duvet? ›

You can and certainly should wash your duvet — most can be either machine-washed or hand-washed, depending on what the manufacturer recommends— you will usually find this information on the care label. Cleaning your duvet is absolutely essential.

Why use a duvet instead of a comforter? ›

Duvets tend to be thicker, heavier, and warmer than comforters. The loft will be affected by the fill materials and how frequently you fluff it, while both the fill and cover materials can influence the warmth. Comforters are usually thinner than duvets, so they're often not as warm.

Is a duvet just a blanket? ›

So, what is a duvet? On a basic level, a duvet is a quilted blanket filled with a natural or synthetic filling — such as down or down-alternative — that is protected by an interchangeable cover. Unlike a comforter, its unique pillow-like structure traps heat without weighing you down.

Is a duvet cover used as a blanket? ›

Yes, you can use your duvet as a blanket if you prefer. A duvet is a thick, quilted comforter typically used as a bed covering. While it's designed to be used with a duvet cover, which can be removed and washed, it can also be used as a warm and cozy blanket.

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