In the world of comforters, there are few items as iconic as goose-down comforters! Lightweight and fluffy – yet supremely snug and warm, a down comforter will bring a sense of coziness and hygge into your home. Shopping for a down comforter can confuse, so we are here to help. We’ll define several terms used to describe the material inside down comforters, such as fill power, down clusters, and fill weight. You’ll find out what type of cover to look for. We will talk about how to care for down comforters and pillows – and about the birds being treated humanely. There’s lots to cover, so let’s get started!
Where does down used in down comforters come from?
Most of the down used in comforters and pillows on our site comes from geese. Occasionally duck down is used in combination with goose down. (more about that later) What exactly is down? Down is the soft, thermal underlayer between the outer feathers and the skin of a goose. It comprises light and fluffy filaments which interlock together to trap air and body heat. It acts as an insulator for the goose. Therefore, when used to fill a comforter, down provides superior insulation for us, with much less weight than many synthetic materials. However, not all down is the same.
Climate is important to down’s ability to provide warmth and for a lofty and fluffy comforter. Therefore, it is important to know the origin of the down before purchasing a down item. The colder the climate, the more resilient the down, the larger the clusters are, and the more warmth it provides.
The best fill for down comforters
With bedding filling, goose down is considered the best fill product on the market. Goose down is longer and stronger than duck down, which means it has a better loft — the ability to spring back into shape, which is important to keep you warm. Allergies to down can sometimes come from duck down, if it is not cleaned in the same way as goose down is required to be. If you are concerned about allergies, it may be best to stick to 100% goose down products or a down product that uses syriaca (milkweed) to calm any allergens. Choose down that has been well-cleaned if you have allergies. It is also important to look for purity of down in the fill of the down item you are purchasing.
Before defining fill power, we need to know what the fill comprises. That’s where down clusters come in. Down clusters are the soft, three-dimensional puffs of fluff that form a fine layer under the tougher exterior feathers. The best quality of down comes from the under-wings and belly of white geese that are fully grown. Large, mature clusters allow more air to be kept between the fibers, keeping you warmer. Small down clusters have a lower fill power and collapse after a few years because the filaments are more fragile. The industry grades down clusters according to fill power or loft.
Most people define fill power as the amount of space one ounce of down will take up. You can determine the down’s quality by its fill power. Higher fill power means that the cluster is larger, as one ounce of larger clusters will take up more space. The fill power will affect the fluffiness, warmth, and durability of a comforter. The higher the fill power, the lighter the comforter will be – and warmer too. Fill power will range from 500 to 800; the higher the number, the more warmth you’ll get with less weight. Fill power also refers to its ability to regain its original volume or loft after being compressed. The colder the climate that the down comes from, the larger and loftier the down. However, fill power is not the same as fill weight.
Fill weight will tell you how many ounces of down will go into the product. A higher fill weight means more down – so the comforter will be warmer and fluffier. In terms of fill weight for pillows, a higher fill weight means a firmer pillow and one that is more durable.
How can I be sure that the harvesting of down feathers does not harm the birds?
There are two standards to look for. The Responsible Down Standard examines and certifies down that is harvested ethically and responsibly — which means: no live-plucking. Ethical standards apply throughout the entire supply chain. In Europe, manufacturers use a similar standard called IDFL. These certifications give you confidence that farmers and suppliers care for the birds humanely throughout the process with no live-plucking involved.
What Is The Difference Between Hand-Sewn And Baffle Box Down Comforters?
Here’s how sewn-through and baffle box comforters compare:
- With a sewn-through comforter, the design is just what it sounds like. The two covers are sewn together, leaving pockets that hold the fill and keep it evenly distributed.
- With a baffle-box comforter, a thin strip of fabric is sewn between the two covers. This creates a three-dimensional box that disperses the fill and allows it to reach its full loft. The down is kept in place without pressing down on it.
Higher-performing comforters have baffled construction, which means there are vertical pieces of cloth between the upper and lower layers. The baffles help keep the down in place without compressing it.
Pay attention to the cover
Down comforters may leak. You’ll want to look for a comforter cover material that is tightly woven. Extra support to the seams in the way of piping is beneficial as well.
How to care for a down comforter
- DO Fluff Your Comforter — Down is naturally absorbent. Therefore, you want to make sure oils and scents do not get trapped in your comforter. Fluffing the comforter will move around the filling, create airflow, and prevent this from happening.
- DO Hang Outside — On a low-humidity day, airing out your comforter can help fight moisture and add some freshness to the filling.
- DO Professionally Clean — Unless you have a front-loading washer and dryer, it’s best to take it somewhere else to wash it. This doesn’t mean dry cleaning, as that can damage the filling. And do not wash at home at all unless advised by your manufacturer. If you are tempted, please read this article by a professional fabric cleaner.
- DON’T Wear Makeup and Lotions to Bed — They can get trapped in the comforter and create unwanted stains and odors.
- DON’T Use Harsh Chemicals — For smaller stains, avoid the harsh chemicals and opt for a mild, non-bleach cleaning agent. Spot clean the area by blotting it gently with a cloth.
At the Clean Bedroom, we offer several lines of down items for your purchase. Here you will find everything from lightweight comforters good for a warmer climate to winter weight comforters designed to help you stay warm even in the coldest of winters. Most of our comforters are made with baffle-box construction and a tightly woven cover to prevent leakage. We also carry our own line of down comforters that are of excellent quality and construction.