How to Select the Cosiest Down Comforter

There is nothing cozier than wrapping yourself up in a down comforter on a cold winter's night. But there are so many choices that it can be difficult to decide which style, material, or design is best. To help you make your decision, we have listed here some of the important areas to look at in a down comforter.

Filling

The warmest down comforters are filled with down, which is taken from the undercoat of a mature goose; it is a natural insulator that keeps the animal warm in the winter. Eiderdown, down from the arctic eider duck, is the finest available, usually with a price to match.

Some comforters may be filled with a mixture of goose down and feathers or duck down and feathers. These lower-quality comforters are sometimes leak-proofed by starching the fabric. This coating will come off after several washings, leaving the comforter prone to feather leakage.

Size

Your comforter should hang over the edge of the mattress by several inches. Check the dimensions to make sure it is larger than the surface of the bed. The most popular bed sizes are twin, full, queen, king, and California king. Most dormitory beds are twin XL but some are full XL; keep this in mind when purchasing a college comforter.

Price

If you are on a budget, hypoallergenic 100% white goose down comforters can seem expensive, but lower grade down or a combination of down and feathers may not be as comfortable or as warm. This is one area in which you are better off splurging if possible.

Fill Power and Fill Weight

To select a one that is neither too warm nor too light, you need to find the right fill weight and fill power for you.

Fill power describes the quality of down - the higher the fill power number, the larger and stronger the clusters of down. Larger, softer clusters provide better insulation, breathe better, and last longer.

Fill weight is the number of ounces of down. The higher the fill weight, the warmer the comforter; a high fill power needs less fill weight to keep you warm.

Warmth Rating

Warmth ratings range from ultra-light through deep winter. If you live in a tropical or semi-tropical location, choose a lower warmth rating. If you live in an area where winter temperatures regularly drop below zero, choose a down comforter with a maximum warmth rating.

Shell

The shell, or tick, is the outer covering of the comforter. Areas of interest are material and thread count.

Shell Material

Shells come in many materials, including polyester-cotton blends; 100% cotton, either organic or pure; wool and wool blends; and silks and satins.

The shell material affects what kind of patterns and colors are available. Hypo-allergenic organic cotton shells normally come in whites and natural colors, 100% cotton or cotton-polyester blends come in all colors and patterns, while silks and satins are available in bold jewel colors, sometimes featuring Eastern designs.

Shell Thread Count and Weave

A high thread count, tightly woven shell is important to prevent down from leaking. Look for sealed edges and the words "leak proof" or "down proof". Higher thread count means it is less likely to leak. Thread counts between 260 and 380 should be leak-proof for 10 to 15 years. Thread counts below 200 are not recommended for a goose down comforters as the fabric is too fine and leakage may occur.

Stitching

Sewn-through box stitching and baffled box stitching are the two most common stitching techniques.

Sewn-through box stitching means the top and bottom of the shell have been sewn together into equal-sized squares. This separates the down fill into individual compartments and prevents shifting to minimize cold spots. Sewn-through stitching can prevent down from reaching its highest loft, and stitching lines leave cold areas.

Baffle-box construction is more labor intensive, so these comforters are usually more expensive. Baffles are strips of fabric about an inch wide sewn on the inside forming a vertical wall between the top and bottom. These walls let the down reach a higher loft, making the comforter fluffier and warmer.

If the baffle boxes are closed, the down fill will not shift among boxes, making them effective in preventing cold spots; if they are open, the down can move between compartments, allowing sleepers to shift more down to cover colder areas such as feet. If anyone else shares the comforter, the down can be adjusted to keep one sleeper warmer and one cooler.

Comforter Covers

A cover is highly recommended to protect and extend its life. A duvet cover is a large pillowcase-like piece of fabric that the comforter slips into to protect it from soil, body oils, and spills. Covers are machine washable and easier to clean than comforters. A cover can extend the life up to ten years.

Color and Design

If you do not use a duvet cover, you will want a comforter that matches the decor in your bedroom and conveys the look you want. There are colors and designs to match every taste, from ruffled floral pastels to tailored block primary colors to sleek silk and satin jewel tones. There are designs for college students, and adults, as well as those licensed by the NCAA and professional sports organizations. There is also a wide range of kids comforters with depictions of cartoon characters, etc.

Caring for Your Down Comforter

To keep your down comforter looking beautiful and ensure it will keep you warm, fluff it well at least once a week. If you're using a duvet cover, you should need to clean your comforter only every three to five years. Follow your manufacturer's cleaning recommendations.

If, after all this, you still can't make up your mind - just buy two!

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