When you ask people what covering they have on their bed, you’re likely to hear responses such as “comforter” or “quilt.” If you hear “duvet,” you might wonder what this is and whether or not you need one. Duvet is a borrowed French word that means “down,” referring to the down features used in the filling of the cover. Knowing what a duvet is could help you decide if you’re ready to switch over to this type of covering for your bed.

What Makes Up a Duvet

A duvet consists of a thick insert and a cover. The cover usually has a zipper, buttons, hook and loop tape or straps in order to keep it in place around the insert. The covers may also have elastic bands or straps for securing to your bed. This prevents the covering from shifting or falling on the floor while you sleep. The insert of a duvet is typically made of goose down feathers, but they are increasingly available in hypoallergenic materials. You could choose one with filler made of polyester, silk or synthetic down. The insert features quilting, which keeps the stuffing material in place and prevents it from bunching up in one spot. The fill power ranges from 450 to 900, which is about the same as a comforter, but they can be warmer than some comforters. Their fill power is much higher than a bedspread or quilt.

Duvet Versus Comforter

If you’re not sure whether to choose a duvet versus a comforter, you’ll need to consider a few things. One is convenience. If your washing machine won’t accommodate a thick comforter, a duvet will be easier to handle. If you have allergies and need to wash your linens every week, washing a duvet cover will be less cumbersome. Perhaps you like changing the patterns or colors of your bedding. Duvet covers are affordable and come in a range of designs, fabrics and thread counts. Comforters aren’t made to touch your skin; instead, they’re made for use with a top sheet.

Benefits of Using a Duvet

Many people choose a duvet and replace their top sheet and comforter with it. The cover functions as a top sheet. Duvet covers are easy to remove and wash. They’re not bulky, so they’re easier to fit in a household washing machine. If you have a queen- or king-size bed, trying to fit that big of a comforter into a washing machine is an exercise in frustration. Washing the duvet cover is easier. You can get different duvet covers at a lower price than what you would pay for comforters, and the slim duvet covers don’t take up much space in your linen closet or storage area.

Choosing a Duvet and Duvet Cover

In addition to choosing the best mattress for your comfort and sleep style, you also need to consider the best type of bed covering. If you like the idea of a duvet, spend some time considering which duvet and duvet cover to purchase. Be sure that the cover you pick is machine-washable for convenience. If you tend to get warm or sweaty while you sleep, choose a duvet cover with bamboo, rayon or microfiber. These materials wick moisture away from your skin. If you’re often cold at night, choose a flannel or fleece duvet cover for warmth and insulation.