The Complete Comforter Guide

Few feelings are better than snuggling under a warm comforter on a cold winter night. But with so many options, which one should you choose?

Follow these simple tips to help you choose the one that is right for you.


The first thing you will want to take into consideration is the size of your bed. Comforters should hang several inches over the edge of the mattress. The most popular sizes are twin, full, queen, king, and California king. If you are buying a comforter for a dormitory bed, you should know that most of them are twin XL.

If you are unsure of the size measure the mattress and compare the dimensions to the table below (in inches):

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King California King
39 x 75 39 x 80 54 x 75 60 x 80 76 x 80 72 x 84


They can last up to ten years, so, while it may seem expensive at the time of purchase, it is really a long-term investment. A comforter will also save you money in heating bills. The most expensive ones are filled with silk or 100% white goose down, but there are many less expensive man-made fillings.

You may also want to consider buying a set. A comforter set is a package including a comforter and other matching bedding items. Comforter sets will generally work out cheaper than purchasing all the bedding items individually.


Natural fillings include down, silk, and wool.

Man-made fillings are usually polyester fiber and polyester microfiber.

If you are an allergy sufferer, it is important to choose a hypoallergenic filling.

Fill Power and Fill Weight

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

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

Warmth Rating

Another fill quality to take into consideration is warmth rating. These range from ultra-light through deep winter. If you live in a warm area, choose a lower rating. If you live in an area where winter temperatures drop below zero, choose a comforter with a deep winter rating. Take your own sleeping temperature preference into consideration, too. If you get overheated easily, choose a low-to-medium range rating.


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, and the material affects the patterns and colors 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 brilliant jewel tones, sometimes featuring Eastern designs.

Eco-friendly materials include silk, satin, and even suede and micro-suede. Cotton shells include Egyptian cotton and extra-soft Supima (Pima) cotton, as well as organic and natural cotton.

Manufacturers of most natural-shell comforters recommend they be protected with a cover.

Hypoallergenic man-made materials include polyester, polyester microfiber, silk, and satin.

Shell Thread Count and Weave

In a down comforter, 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". Comforters with thread counts between 260 and 380 should be leak-proof for 10 to 15 years. Thread counts higher than 380 mean the fabric is too fine and leakage can occur.


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 fill into individual compartments and prevents shifting to minimize cold spots. Sewn-through stitching can prevent the filling from reaching its highest loft, and stitching lines leave cold areas.

Baffle-box construction is more labor intensive, so these 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 filling reach a higher loft, making the comforter fluffier and warmer.

If the baffle boxes are closed, the fill will not shift among boxes, making them effective in preventing cold spots; if they are open, the fill 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.

Color and Design

Your comforter should not only be functional, it should be beautiful. They come in colors and designs to please every taste, from ruffled floral pastels to tailored block primary colors to sleek silk and satin jewel tones. There are designs for teenagers, students, and adults, as well as sports comforters licensed by the NCAA and professional sports organizations, and even kids comforters with designs featuring Disney characters. Designers such as Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley, and Tommy Hilfiger make beautifully designed bedding to suit every preference.

Because comforters can last so long, if you want to change its look, use a duvet cover.


A duvet cover (as they are commonly known) is a large pillowcase-like piece of fabric the comforter slips into to protect it from soil, body oils, and spills. A cover can extend the life up to 10 years. Comforter covers are machine washable and easy to clean. Reversible duvet covers are a great way to extend the life and can give your room a fresh look almost instantly just by flipping it over.


Shake and fluff your comforter every morning to keep it soft and pliable, and air it out outdoors occasionally to keep it fresh.

The less often you wash it, the longer it will last.

Washing methods depend on both the filling material and its shell. Follow your manufacturer's instructions for best results.

To prevent the growth of mold and mildew, store your comforter wrapped loosely in a in a breathable cotton or other fabric bag and store it in a well-ventilated place. When you remove it from storage, lay it flat and push gently on the filling to redistribute it.

No matter which type of comforter you buy, on the next really cold winter night, you will be glad you did!