Find out more about comforters — from a basic definition of what a comforter is to how to maintain them and their difference with duvets.
What is a Comforter?
Comforters are a type of bedding that is filled with either synthetic or some natural material. This material is often sewn or quilted into an exterior casing to allow proportionate distribution of the filling and give it its shape. They are generally larger than the bed and hang over the sides and come in sets inclusive of sheets and pillowcases.
Just like comforters, duvets are also made of synthetic or natural materials stuffed in an exterior material. However, for duvets, this material is not sewn into the casing. The filling is loose and can move freely within the duvet. In simple terms, duvets are flat bags filled with loose synthetic or natural materials. For use, they are usually placed in duvet covers.
Different Types of Comforters
Depending on the filling used and the thread count, comforters vary in type and effectiveness. Those with a thread count higher than 200 are considered to be of higher quality than those with a thread count below 200. These two factors influence durability, warmth and allergen factor.
Polyester is an artificial material that has many uses including filling comforters. Its fibers are not recyclable but are non-allergenic thus making it suitable if you are prone to allergies. Though polyester is warm and light, it is not as breathable as natural alternatives. It can be machine-washed and is usually found in cheap comforters.
Under the layer of tough exterior feathers in birds is a layer of smooth and fine feathers referred to as down. These are a good padding material that is light and excellent at thermal insulation. The price of down comforters varies depending on the amount of down used and from which type of bird it was plucked. Those made from pure white goose down are incredibly comfortable and are also the most expensive.
Weight is also used to price comforters. The higher the amount of down in a comforter, the more comfortable and warmer it will be. They are usually assigned a rating based on the ounces of down used. A rating of 600 is fairly comfortable, but there are also those that have a rating of 700 and above. Some may not have ratings as the down could have been sewn through to make them more economical. Such comforters may be very warm at first, but eventually, their effectiveness might gradually decrease.
To get superior comfort at affordable prices, there are comforters that have a mixture of down from different types of birds.
Made from the fibers of the cotton plant seed this type of comforters are breathable and very soft. There are two types of cotton used to make comforters:
• Sanforized cotton - This type is preshrunk before being used as filling. This is done to counteract the shrinking effect washing has on cotton.
• Mercerized cotton - To make it strong, absorbent and fade resistant, it is dipped in a strong lye – alkaline- solution.
Cotton comforters can be machine-washed and are durable but still affordable.
Silk is a fabric used by silkworm caterpillars to make their cocoons. When making comforters, a continuous strand of silk fiber is spun. On top of being soft and breathable, silk is also an ideal option if you are prone to allergies. Silk comforters can stain quickly and must be dry cleaned and are mostly found in eggshell and white colors. They are usually used with duvet covers because of their bright colors and the ease at which they can get stained.
Wool from different breeds of sheep and fur from angora rabbits, cashmere goats, alpacas, llamas, and camels can be spun and used to make soft and comfy comforters. It is best not to use them on your child’s bed where they can get dirty quickly as most cannot be washed by machine. Woolen comforters are cool in the summer but during winter they are very warm.
Choosing Between a Comforter and a Duvet
By and large, comforters and duvets serve the same purpose but in slightly different ways. Here are some things you should know that will help you determine which one suits you best:
1. Do you love uniformity?
If you are the kind of person who likes to have things match in one way or another, then comforters are for you. When you purchase a comforter set, it comes with matching sheets and pillowcases.
2. Do you like changing the look of your room often?
Duvets are perfect if you like changing the ambiance in your room. Duvet covers can be found in many colors, patterns, and designs. They have zips or button openings that make them easy to switch.
3. How much do you enjoy making your bed?
If you are the kind of person who dreads making the bed, then duvets are just the thing you need. With a duvet cover, you can sleep " European style" -(without a sheet on top). Spreading one large piece of bedding will be simpler as opposed to the multiple layers of bedding that are involved when using comforters.
4. Do you like perfect fits?
Duvets are designed to align with the edges of your mattress, unlike comforters which hang over the edges of the bed and can sometimes reach the floor. The fitting nature of duvets makes them better for maintaining neatness.
How to Clean Your Comforter
To ensure your comforter retains its quality and survives the test of time, you should use the following steps when you want to wash it:
1. Read the label – On the care label, you will find washing instructions on whether it should be dry cleaned only or if it can be machine or hand washed too. Also, check if it requires hot or cold water.
2. Repair any tears and remove visible stains – To prevent further damage while in the washing machine, check for any loose fabric or tears and fix them. If you find any stain, you can move the filling from that area and spot-clean that part using water and baking soda.
3. Choose the right size machine – You should always ensure that there is a little free space within the washer after putting your comforter in. This to avoid the filling from being compressed which will prevent it from being thoroughly cleaned.
4. Use the right detergent and settings – Pick a laundry detergent that is mild or natural and check the bottle for instructions. Use a gentle or delicate cycle with extra rinse when possible. Depending on the instructions you read on the comforter label, use hot or cold water. The water temperature instructions should always be adhered to as it is meant to protect the fabric and preserve the color.
5. Dry with tennis balls – Find the right size dryer that will also leave some room inside after taking your comforter out of the washer. Put it in along with tennis balls or down fluffer rings. This is to ensure it dries completely by distributing the filling evenly. Dry for several hours at the recommended temperature.
6. Fluff it several times – You should remove the comforter every thirty to sixty minutes and fluff it. This will help redistribute the filling and allow it to dry evenly.
Comforters range in price, quality and design. Whatever your taste is, you are bound to find one that will suit your needs.