Down duvets are very traditional and an absolute must for some snoozers. If you’re considering down for the first time, or are considering a move away from down, take a look at the pros and cons of down and feather duvets to help you decide.
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- Light and lofty
- Thermally insulating
- Resistant to mold
- Machine washable
- Durable (can last 20 years or more!)
- Can cost more than other duvets
- Fraught with ethical concerns
- Needs regular fluffing to restore loft
- Often treated with formaldehyde and other chemicals
- Feather duvets can be spiky and heavier than down
The benefits of down & feather duvets
Down is a fantastic and popular duvet fill because it is lightweight and incredibly insulating, just as you’d expect from something that keeps lightweight birds warm in colder places like Sweden, Hungary, and Canada.
Compared to down, feather duvets are:
- More robust (less likely to lose loft).
Duvets filled with feathers can be a bit spiky unless they have a tightly woven cover with a high thread count.
A mix of down and feathers is very common in duvets as this helps to keep the cost and weight down while still providing great durability, loft, and insulation.
The downsides of down and feathers
The main trouble with down and feathers is that they are rarely sourced in a humane way. Typically, down and feathers are forcibly plucked (repeatedly) from live geese, chickens, and ducks who are reared in cages too small for them to spread their wings.
In addition, down and feathers are often sterilized with formaldehyde, bleached, and treated with other chemicals to reduce their allergenic potential and naturally ‘gamey’ odor.
On average, a queen-size duvet will require the down from 75 or more ducks. For a goose down duvet, you’ll need the down from around 40 geese (because they’re bigger than ducks and the down clusters are bigger too). Mixing down with feathers can reduce how many ducks or geese need plucking to make the duvet.
Final thoughts on down duvets
If you are considering a down duvet, look for certifications such as RDS and Oeko-Tex. These offer some assurance of less cruel origins for the down and fewer hazardous chemicals.
This is an easy one. Despite their reputation for inducing sneezing, you’re actually less likely to experience allergy symptoms with a well-made down duvet versus a polyester duvet. This is because down duvets are more likely to have a tightly woven ticking or duvet case than a polyester duvet.
The ‘down-proof’ encasement is meant to stop feathers poking through and to keep tiny down clusters inside the duvet. This makes your duvet both more durable and less likely to harbor dust mites as they can’t get through the tight weave.
In contrast, polyester duvets tend to collect and retain heat and moisture and have more open encasements. This creates ideal conditions for breeding dust mites.
Whether you have a dust mite allergy or not, look for the NOMITE logo when buying a duvet. This shows that the ticking is tight enough to act as a barrier to dust mites.