Down vs. Down Alternative Comforter: Learn the Difference

A comforter is an essential component of any bedding, it ensures a warm and comfortable sleeping experience. Comforters are available in a variety of styles, colors, materials, and designs. Each style of comforter has its own benefit that sets it apart. Down and down alternative comforters are two of the most popular options for those looking to buy a new comforter. At first glance, these comforters may appear very similar, but there is a world of difference inside. With so many options, how do you know which option is for you? Let us compare down and down alternative comforters and understand the differences between them.

What Is a Down Comforter?

Natural down consists of the fluffy layer found beneath the feathers of waterfowl, such as geese and ducks, which provides exceptional insulation and warmth. Natural down is used to make down fill for comforters. Down comforters are lofty and lightweight, due to the presence of down clusters in the down fill. A three-dimensional cluster with fine filaments extending in all directions constitutes down fill. It has a dandelion-like structure. The clusters help down comforters trap air and provide remarkable insulation. Since down is so versatile and breathable, it can also be used in various climates and seasons (even in the summer).

close up of white down feather on blue background.

What is a Down Alternative Comforter?

Down alternative duvet or comforter mimics the smooth, cozy feel of down but uses synthetic filling such as rayon, or polyester fill. As a man-made alternative to down, it is a good option for vegans. Since the down alternative tends to be more hypoallergenic, people with allergies may benefit from it. A down alternative comforter also tends to be more cost-effective, making it an option for budget-conscious buyers.

Down vs Down Alternative Comforter

Since down and down alternatives are made from different materials, both vary in terms of warmth, care, breathability, maintenance, etc. Take a look at the down and down alternative characteristics below to understand which comforter will best suit your needs.

Fill Power and Fill Weight

Fill Power is measured by the volume that one ounce of down clusters occupy in cubic inches. Fill weight refers to the weight of filling material in a comforter. This includes not only down, but also feathers, polyester and everything that is filled in a comforter. Fill power is an important factor in determining the quality and loft of a down comforter, but both fill power and fill weight play a role when determining how warm the comforter will be.Down Comforter

The fill power of a down comforter is a primary factor that determines its quality. The bigger the down clusters, the higher will be the fill power of the comforter, allowing it to trap more air and provide greater loft. Fill power also determines how long the comforter will maintain its loft. The lightness of down allows high fill counts to feel comfortable without feeling limiting or heavy.Down Alternative Comforter

Fill power does not apply to down alternative comforters. Using synthetic fill means fill power does not apply.


Comforters are designed to keep you warm throughout the night. For a good night’s sleep, your comforter must be able to maintain a certain level of temperature. The ability to retain heat varies between down and down alternative comforters. Down Comforter

Maintaining the perfect insulation level while being lightweight and breathable is one of the major strengths of down. Down’s breathability helps the comforter retain heat and regulate an even temperature throughout the night. A down comforter works well with a range of sleepers including hot sleepers, warm sleepers, and cold sleepers.Down Alternative Comforter

While down alternative comforters can also keep you warm, they requires more fill to match the warmth level of natural down. This results in increased weight of the comforter and since synthetic fills are less breathable than down, the added weight may sometimes feel restricting and uncomfortable.

Allergen Sensitivity 

Allergies to down, while rare, if and when they do occur, in most cases, can be minimized by taking proper care of the down and maintaining it regularly. Let’s dig a little deeper into this.Down Comforter

Down offers many benefits that make it an excellent choice for bedding. For instance, down feels extra lofty and comfy for a great night’s sleep. But can those with allergies use down or feather comforters? The key to minimizing allergies is keeping allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, dead skin cells, pollen, and other particles out of your bedding. You can also use a duvet cover to reduce exposure to allergens.Down Alternative Comforter

Since the down alternative is man-made it has hypoallergenic properties. Instead of feathers, synthetic fill is used. The synthetic material is less likely to trap dust mites or other particles, reducing the risk of allergies.


Not only does a clean comforter look fresh, but it also helps you enjoy a relaxing night’s sleep. Before you clean your comforter, read the information on the tag attached to the cover of your comforter. The tag will state if it is machine washable or dry clean only. Let’s compare the cleaning differences between down and down alternative comforters.Down Comforter

Down comforters are durable, yet need proper tender loving care (TLC). We recommend having down comforters professionally dry cleaned, since they don’t require frequent cleaning. Ideally, a down comforter should be dry-cleaned every one or two years. Spot treat if needed.  Protect your comforter with a duvet cover or comforter cover, which will require less washing. Down Alternative Comforter

Down alternative comforters are relatively easy to maintain, and are machine washable in most cases. You can put your down alternative comforter in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, and tumble dry on low heat at home. It is ideal to use a front-loading washing machine with a mild detergent.

Affordability and Durability

A comforter’s affordability and durability are determined by the quality of its raw materials, filling, and thread count. Let’s get into how down and down alternative comforters compare with each other in this aspect.Down Comforter

Down clusters in down comforters have tiny air pockets that trap air allowing expansion and compression of the comforter. This also allows the comforter to regain its fluffy, soft form after dry-cleaning or multiple years of use. A decent down or feather comforter can last for over ten years, making them both durable and resilient. Because down fill is a natural product, it is scarce and therefore more expensive to acquire. This is why down comforters cost more. However, they are an excellent investment since they are long-lasting.Down Alternative Comforter

Down alternative comforters may experience some wear from repeated washing and usage. Moreover, a down alternative comforter cannot last as long as a down comforter, this is because down possesses natural durability and resilience, but synthetic material does not. Down alternative comforters may cost less due to the overall lower cost of synthetic materials.

Final Words

Which is better for you, down comforter or down alternative comforter? The answer lies in your personal preference. Most choose down for long-term comfort, while some prefer a down alternative because of its hypoallergenic nature. A down comforter is an eco-friendly addition to any bedroom, because all by-products from down processing are biodegradable and the product itself is naturally occurring and compostable. Their lightweight and soft design make them ideal for year-round use, helping you create the perfect cuddly nest. 

7 Delightful Home takes pride in providing the highest-quality down and down alternative comforters. Each 7 Delightful Home product is made with the finest materials, ensuring it will last for years to come. From a duvet insert to a mattress topper, 7 Delightful Home has everything you need for a safe, and healthy sleep. So, go ahead and pamper yourself with the right comforter from 7 Delightful Home! 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you fluff a down or down alternative comforter?
    Place your comforter in the dryer on a low heat setting. Adding wool dryer balls or tennis balls to help fluff the comforter as it dries. Also, check the comforter every 20-25 minutes to make sure the fabric does not overheat.
  2. What are the pros and cons of down alternative comforters?
    Down alternative comforters are hypoallergenic and affordable. However, down alternative comforters tend to be heavier, which may cause some discomfort for certain sleepers.
  3. Can down and down alternative comforters shrink?
    When the temperature during tumble dry is high, comforters with a 100% cotton shell may experience negligible shrinkage. Therefore, it is important to use a low heat setting and to keep an eye on your comforters while drying. Synthetic products barely have any shrinkage.
  4. What material is best for hot sleepers?
    Natural fills like down, cotton shell, linen, or bamboo are ideal for hot sleepers.
  5. Why is fill power important?
    Fill power refers to the volume that one ounce of down cluster occupies. Fill power helps with determining the loft of a comforter.
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