There are many different types of blankets, from comforters and duvets to quilts and other options. Each blanket subcategory has distinct characteristics, and when it comes to comforters, they typically fall into one of two groups: down or down alternative. While down comforters are filled with feathers from geese and ducks, down alternative comforters are filled with various materials. There are a ton of other differences between these two comforters, though, and we’ll take a closer look at all of that here.

What Is A Down Alternative Comforter?

So what is down alternative anyway? Down alternative comforters are filled with materials clustered to mimic the look and feel of down. The alternative fiber could be synthetic, like polyester, rayon and microfiber, or natural, like bamboo, silk and buckwheat. These materials are often hypoallergenic since allergies could be a concern with down comforters.

What Are The Differences Between Down and Down Alternative Comforters?

When you’re looking at down vs. down alternative comforters, there are many differences to consider. While both will keep you warm while you sleep, there are differences in the filling, how fluffy they are and how warm they’ll keep you. Down alternative comforters are better for those with allergies, but down comforters are fluffier and warmer. They’re also more expensive, too. Let’s look at the differences between these types of covers.

Fill

As its name suggests, a down comforter is filled with the fine feathers found underneath the hard exterior feathers. The very soft material comes from ducks and geese. Some people have allergy issues with these feathers, while others find them to be unethical, so they look into down alternatives with a synthetic or a more sustainable fill.

Fluff

Down feathers are more fluffy than down alternatives simply because of their texture. Down alternatives tend to use heavier materials, which doesn’t allow the comforter to fluff up as much. You’ll find that a down comforter not only feels fluffier while you’re using it but appears fluffier on your bed. The fluff of down comforters is measured in “fill power”, the higher the number, the better the quality of the blanket and the fluffier it will be. The most common fill power measurements are 650, 750, 800 & 850.

Warmth & Breathability

Despite down alternative comforters having a heavier fill, they’re not actually warmer blankets. It takes more down alternative materials to achieve the same warmth feeling than a down blanket, which ends up making the comforter heavier and less breathable. The down feathers are more breathable because they’re light, airy and fluffy — but also good at keeping you warm! The higher the fill power, the warmer the comforter.

Allergies

Not only are some people allergic to down feathers, but those feathers can also attract dust and allergens, making it harder for people with allergies to sleep with these blankets. On the other hand, down alternative comforters are generally designed to be hypoallergenic, making them an excellent option for anyone with allergies.

Cleaning

Down alternative comforters are usually easier to clean and can often be thrown in the washing machine. While you can throw some down comforters in the washing machine, it’s more likely that they’ll have to go to the dry cleaners. You can place either comforter inside a duvet cover to make it even easier to clean since you only have to worry about the cover.

Weight

Down alternative comforters are usually on the heavier side, simply because it takes more of the fill to get to the same fluff level as a down comforter. And since the material isn’t as fluffy, the comforter’s inside is denser, making the blanket heavier.

Durability

Believe it or not, your down comforter can last you well over a decade. The down feathers stay intact for much longer than the materials in a down alternative comforter. Polyester or microfiber fillings tend to break down after a few years, plus if you’re washing the comforter often, it’s more likely to wear out.

Price

Down comforters are generally more expensive than down alternative ones because of the materials required to make them. However, when you consider how long a down comforter lasts, you might think it’s a good investment.

Which Is Best For Me 

The most significant things that will affect if you choose a down comforter or a down alternative comforter are budget, allergies and sleeping temperature. If you’re on a tighter budget, have any allergies, worry about the ethics of down and sleep warm, a down alternative comforter will get the job done and be a better choice. If you live in a colder climate or sleep cold and prefer a lighter cover, a down comforter is probably better for you. It’s all a matter of your preferences and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions
Is a down alternative comforter good?
A down alternative comforter is ideal for someone who doesn’t want down feathers, whether it’s due to allergies, ethics, budget or any other reason.
What does down alternative comforter mean?
A down alternative comforter is simply one that does not use down feathers. Down alternatives can be various other materials, but the important thing to remember is that it’s not made of feathers.
Are down alternative comforters heavy?
Down alternative comforters can be heavy because it takes more material to make the comforter fluffy and warm. This means the filling gets dense and heavy.
What is a good fill weight for a down alternative comforter?
A fill power above 550 is considered acceptable, and the higher you go, the better the quality. Fill power is harder to determine in a down alternative comforter, though, simply because fill power is designed to measure down feathers.
What’s the highest fill power of a down comforter?
You’ll typically see fill powers get up to 850, which is considered nice and warm for cold climates. The higher the number, the more insulating the blanket will be.
How do you fluff a down alternative comforter?
An option to fluff a down alternative comforter is to put it in the dryer with dryer balls or tennis balls. The balls will help spread out the fill and fluff it back up. Plus, it will make your comforter nice and warm.
Can you refill a down comforter?
You can! This is a project you can either do at home or have a professional do for you. If your down comforter starts to wilt, or if you just want to add more down to it, you can supplement the feathers currently in there with more.