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Blanket, comforter or duvet? Polysleep helps you choose!

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Whatever the season, one thing is certain: you will need something to cover you and keep you comfortable while you sleep!

However, the ideal cover to keep you comfortable can take many shapes: like a classic blanket, a comforter, or a duvet. 

But, what are their differences? What are their advantages and disadvantages? And above all, which one should you choose according to your situation? 

In this article, Polysleep, your hybrid mattress specialist, helps you make the right choice.

What is the difference between a comforter, a blanket and a duvet? 

What is a comforter? 

 

A comforter with toile de Jouy patterns

 

In this context, a comforter is a bedding accessory, just like a blanket or duvet. It is most often used as the top layer you can slip under to sleep in warmth. 

It is made of a fabric that serves as an envelope for its filling, which is traditionally made of down. However, other materials are also used, such as feathers, wool, silk, or synthetic materials

The outer fabric contains various insulating materials and can be made of different materials as well. However, natural fabrics, such as cotton, are the most recommended.

For the record, the comforter first appeared during the Middle Ages, mainly in present-day Germany and Denmark. The tradition was that a bag filled with down was given to newlyweds to insulate them from the cold. 

What is a blanket? 

 

Dog asleep on a sofa blanket

 

A blanket is much simpler to define than a comforter. It is simply a large piece of fabric made from an insulating material. 

Its purpose, like the comforter, is to allow people to sleep at a comfortable temperature. 

From Antiquity to the Middle Ages, blankets were first made of wool. In the twentieth century, synthetic fabric will quickly play the role of “fleece” in their construction. 

Other materials are also used, like microfibers or acrylic fabrics.

Blankets can be used as a layer under which a sheet is placed, usually more comfortable on the skin than a blanket. 

You've probably already experienced it: a blanket directly on the legs can sting, especially if it is made of wool! The sheet helps prevent this unpleasant feeling. 

Finally, besides its primary function, blankets can also have a decorative function. It is not uncommon to see a blanket used as an ornament covering a bed. In many cases, the blanket can also have many decorative elements such as embroidery.

So, knowing that the blanket serves much the same function as a comforter, what is the main difference between a comforter and a blanket? Answer: their construction and the way they are used!

So, in the case of a blanket, the insulating material will also be the material that is in contact with your skin. In the case of a comforter, the insulation is done primarily by the filling (which is usually not true with a classic blanket). 

The envelope, in addition to holding the filling, is usually designed to be soft on the skin, since a comforter can be worn directly without a cover. 

What is a duvet? 

 

Backpack and school book placed on a duvet bed

 

Let’s start with a little bit of etymology: "Eiderdown", a synonym of duvet, is a term of Danish origin, deriving from the word "ederdun" which means "eider duvet". 

What is an eider? It is a duck, not very common, found in Nordic countries. It's very expensive. 

Thus, a quilt is very similar to a comforter. It is also made of an outer fabric that can be natural (like cotton or silk) or synthetic, and its role is to hold the filling. The filling can be of natural origin (down, goose feathers, duck feathers, etc.) or synthetic (polyester, siliconized fibres, etc.). 

There are two types of duvets: 

  • The so-called "fluffing" duvet is very thick. In its classic version, the filling is made of feathers, which makes it heavy. In its modern version, it contains more down. As a result, they are lighter, while still maintaining their fluffiness. 

  • The flat duvet is made of two layers of fabric one on top of the other, covered with stitching and usually full of decorations. Between these layers, there are usually several layers of synthetic filling or natural filling (down + feathers). The stitching is often diamond shaped.

You might say: "so it's a comforter!”. You would be right for thinking so at first, but despite a close resemblance between a duvet and a comforter, important differences remain, starting with their sizes. 

In short, a duvet is smaller in size than a comforter: it covers only the flat surface of the mattress, excluding the pillow/bolster, and does not fall on the sides like a comforter. This is why it is also used to cover other layers (sheets, blankets). 

It can also serve a decorative function, just like an embroidered blanket! 

So, what are the differences between a comforter and a duvet? We saw that the components of a duvet and a comforter can be very similar, so their differences must lie in the way they are manufactured. 

The differences between a blanket and a comforter are again applicable here. What’s more, a duvet provides more of a cocooning aesthetic to your bedroom once it's laid on your bed. 

Comforter vs. blanket vs. duvet: advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and disadvantages of a comforter

 

Close up of a white comforter made of flower pattern

 

If made of down: 

  • The softness of its outer cover

  • Warmer than a simple blanket, depending on its characteristics

  • Lighter filling if made of goose or duck down

  • Its insulating properties

  • Its breathability

If made of synthetic materials: 

  • Less sensitive to humidity and water 

  • Causes few or no allergies


  • More expensive if made of down

  • Potential allergies caused by feather down, for example

  • Loss of insulating properties if the down is wet

With all this talk about warmth and insulation, you might think that a comforter is only for use during the winter. False! You can choose instead a silk comforter, which is far cooler.

This weak point during the cold season becomes its strong point in the summer: by storing less heat, it allows you to minimize the risk of sweating profusely during hot nights!

Generally speaking, a comforter will be greater in weight and size, and is therefore primarily intended for the bedroom. 

So it will not be ideal to keep you warm on the couch while you watch TV or Netflix. For that, choose a blanket or a duvet instead! 


Advantages and disadvantages of blankets

 

Close up of a brown blanket made of wool

 

  • Can be just as warm as a comforter depending on the material

  • Wide selection of materials: 

  • Wool (e.g. Merino and Mohair, very fine and soft) 

  • Microfiber, perfect for every season 

  • Hollofil Fleece, both soft and highly insulating, without sacrificing air circulation. 

  • Acrylic, both warm and strong. 

  • Reduced risk of allergies 

  • Excellent decorative accessory 

  • Less bulky

  • Lighter weight 

  • Practical: can be used anywhere


  • Less pleasant on the skin if made of wool: using a sheet underneath is recommended

  • Avoid wool blankets if you are allergic to wool


Advantages and disadvantages of duvets

 

A close up of a brown duvet

 

Finally, the duvet: being similar to comforters, its advantages and disadvantages will also be similar. 

  • Warmer than normal blankets

  • Softness of the outer layer: can be in direct contact with skin

  • A nice variety of fillings: 

  • Either synthetic filling (e.g. polyester) which is easy to maintain (high tolerance to humidity). 

  • Or natural filling

  • Down: lightweight, it traps air optimally for great insulation, while allowing for optimal ventilation. 

  • Down + feathers: more affordable, this type of filling will not retain heat as well as down. It offers a good compromise given the lower price.

  • Available in two types: classic (fluffier) and flat (less bulky). You can choose between them to give a more or less pronounced "cocooning" style to your room!

  • Compact and easy to carry


  • Small sizes

  • Possible allergic reaction if made of down or down and feathers

  • Delicate maintenance: follow the manufacturer's recommendations carefully 

  • Feather stems can break and prick you: make sure the weave is tight.


Learn more: Weighted Blankets

A couple in bed under a heavy sheet also called a weighted blanket

 

Which one should you choose and why?

 

Warmth and fluffiness

The answer here is simple: when it comes to heat retention, down is the winner

So, if you are susceptible to being cold, you should choose this type of insulation, and therefore a comforter or a duvet would be best for you

Indeed, these two types of covers use down for their filling. Moreover, down offers an optimal fluffiness while remaining light. It is the best insulator. No wonder it is found in the warmest coats in the country! 

The combination of feathers and down is also interesting because it is more affordable. However, a feather is flat! Therefore, comforters and duvets that are made of feathers are generally less warm than those made of pure down. 

Synthetic materials provide less protection than down, but are much more resistant to moisture. 

Note, however, that a duvet, because of its smaller surface area, will have a harder time retaining heat over your entire body when compared to a larger comforter. 

That being said, blankets widely available on the market are usually less warm. 

However, this will also depend on the material! Wool is an excellent insulator that can keep you at the right temperature in the winter. It can be a great purchase if you absolutely want a blanket for the cold season. 

However, if you want as much warmth as possible, there is only one option: the down comforter!

Style

On this point, two schools of thought will clash: the retro style, and the pure cocooning style. 

If you are of the first school, a blanket will be your ideal candidate. With the wide selection of materials, colours and embroideries available, you will surely find the right style that will help you to create an old-school atmosphere in your bedroom. You will always go to bed in style! 

If on the other hand you are looking to create an atmosphere where the mere sight of your bed gives you a feeling of comfort, the comforter or the duvet will be the best choice. 

However, the duvet can be similar to a blanket, so you will probably have to add a few layers to sleep at the right temperature. And more layers can translate into a more eye-catching style! 

For a cleaner and simpler style, opt for the comforter, which will replace all the layers above the bed sheet, including the duvet and the blankets!

Cleaning and maintenance 

Let's start with the blanket. Once again, it depends on the material. 

  • If it is made of knitted cotton, for example, wash it with cold water. If you have to use the dryer, be sure to set it to the low temperature cycle. 

  • If it is made of traditional cotton, wash it as you would knit cotton! Then put it in the dryer on "normal" mode. 

  • If your blanket is made of wool, use a mild detergent made specifically for wool, let it soak for 15 minutes, and run the wash cycle until the end. Wring it out at the end of the cycle, then put it back in the rinse cycle until the end, then air-dry it

  • You can also wash your wool blanket by hand in cold water. Be sure to rinse it as many times as necessary to remove all the soap. Wring the blanket, air-dry it, and you're done! 

For comforters and duvets, washing may be more complicated depending on the type of stuffing. 

  • In the case of a pure-down filling, we recommend that you entrust your comforter/duvet to a professional cleaner. This way, there is no risk of damaging the down or the cover, or the warranty could be voided. 

  • If your comforter/duvet is made of synthetic fibres, make sure that it can be machine washed. If it can, you also have to make sure that your machine is up to the task. If not, head to the nearest laundromat! If possible, wash at 60°to eliminate dust mites and other allergens.

More broadly, no matter what type of cover you have, always make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

However, it is clear that while comforters and duvets require special care, you can, in most cases, maintain your blanket yourself! If you want to have an easy-to-use cover, the blanket is the best choice. 

Ease of use

As we've just seen, when it comes to washing and maintenance, a classic blanket has a clear advantage over duvets and comforters. But that's not all: it is also much more versatile. 

Compared to a comforter, a blanket will be more compact, and therefore easier to transport. The same disadvantage applies to the classic duvet: it will take up more space and can be heavier! 

Thus, the blanket is the most versatile of the three options, followed by the duvet, which can alternate between the living room and the bedroom, followed by the comforter, intended for the bedroom exclusively. 

However, with the comforter, there is no need for other layers. You can use an additional cover to help it stay clean for longer, and that’s it! 

This will not be the case with the blanket, which will often require a sheet underneath if it is made of wool. 

For the duvet, if it has identical properties to the comforter, its smaller size will prevent it from retaining heat as effectively as a comforter. Other layers will thus undoubtedly be necessary during the winter. 

Price

Finally, the price. While we can't tell you which is the most expensive option between a duvet, a comforter and a blanket, given the number of alternatives on the market, some observations can be made. 

For the same material, a duvet will normally be less expensive than a comforter, since its dimensions are smaller. 

Usually, down-filled comforters and duvets are the most expensive. Down + feather comforters are more affordable, as are synthetic comforters.

As for blankets, again, the number of options is staggering. So, everything will depend on the materials used, and the technology used to construct them.

Nevertheless, knowing that you can wash a blanket by yourself in most cases, its maintenance should cost you less than that of a comforter or a duvet. 

If you are careful with your finances and make the right choice, a blanket should be more economical in the long run!

Conclusion: Comforter, Blanket or Duvet?

 

The choice between a comforter, blanket or a duvet for a bed

 

That about rounds it up! That’s all there is to say in this comforter vs blanket vs duvet comparison! 

Generally speaking, a comforter, especially if it is made of down, will provide you with all the warmth you need! 

However, it is usually bulky, and will require, just like a down duvet, more care in its maintenance, while creating the potential for an allergic reaction in people allergic to down. 

Next comes the duvet, which has the same advantages and disadvantages as the comforter, but in a more compact format. Its smaller size also makes it more versatile, as it can be used in bed as well as on the couch for your TV nights. 

You can enjoy the softness of a comforter while watching your favourite TV shows! However, for optimal warmth, you will probably need other layers since it is smaller. 

Finally, the classic blanket. This one offers the advantage of being very warm depending on the material used, while being less bulky. 

Also, while pricing can vary depending on the model, they will save you money in the long run since you can wash it yourself at home in most cases. 

Finally, its reduced thickness will allow you to use it in many situations, even when traveling!

Now you know everything! For all your other bedding needs (mattresses, pillows or box springs), visit Polysleep.ca!

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The four foam layers of the Polysleep pillow


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