In this article I’m going to talk about how to buy best down comforter. I will focus on the various construction styles that are available in down comforters, their features, benefits and their limitations.
To begin with, I wanted to explain to you that much of the down that is sold in U.S., whether it be on the internet or big-box department stores, comes from China and or India.
The cleanliness of that down itself is often very questionable, oftentimes it contains a real stink and nasty odor.
In addition some of these companies that import this down practice what is known as live plucking. They extract the down off the live animal and then allow the animal to regrow the down. It’s somewhat of a cruel practice.
Good down comforters are IDFL certified, which means there is no live plucking, there’s no force feeding and this down is a byproduct of the food industry.
There are a number of different construction styles that are sold in down comforters and some of them have certain drawbacks.
One example is what is referred to as a ring stitch.
You’ll notice there’s a distinct quilted circle in this down comforter. The down contained inside this circle won’t migrate from one spot to another.
However there’s very large areas throughout this comforter in which that down can migrate. It’ll move to the sides, to the foot of the comforter.
What you’ll find periodically, you’re going to have to take the down comforter out of the duvet and shake it to re-orientate that down.
Another style is called the channel quilt.
You’ll see there are these long channels that run from the foot of the bed to the top of the bed. What happens over time is gravity will pull that down down these channels and you’ll find that the down is accumulating at the foot of the bed, not really where you need it. You need it up to cover the upper portion of your body.
So once again, you are going to be reorienting that by shaking it out and moving it forward.
There are better construction styles.
This is likely the most popular construction style.
It’s called a sewn through construction. What happens is there are all these different compartments that have this quilted stitch that retains the down in the specific compartment itself.
Again these are probably the most popular. But if you look at it inside, what you’ll notice is you have a lot of down in these boxes, but very little where stitches are. What this does is it creates cold spots throughout the down comforter.
A good construction, but there are better construction styles.
This is the preferred construction style.
It’s called a baffle box construction. What happens is that the shell has a side wall in each of the compartments. This side wall exists in all of the compartments of the comforter itself.
This construction style allows the down to loft more fully and it eliminates the cold spots that might exist in the other style constructions of the down comforter.
This is a preferred construction style, it’s a premium construction style. It does cost a little bit more, but I think it’s well worth the price.
When to Replace Down Comforter?
Down comforters do wear out. There are a number of factors that contribute to their wear, but they should last somewhere between eight and ten years, or more if properly taken care of.
Here I will tell you how you can determine whether it’s time to replace your comforter.
What you need to do is take your down comforter out of the duvet cover and then hold it up to a light source. It can be a room light or a window.
What you will notice is if it’s starting to wear out, some of the compartments will not be totally filled with down.
You may see some compartments that are completely void of down and you’re not getting any insulating value from those
compartments at all.
This will show you where the compartments are that are starting to wear out.
This comforter is about 10 years old and it’s still got another five to six years with a life out of it. But you can see in some of the areas that down is not fully filling up that compartment.
What causes a down comforter to wear out? A couple of things.
First of all, restless sleepers are probably the biggest contributor to a down comforter wearing out prematurely.
As you toss and turn at night, the area directly over your shoulders receives an enormous amount of friction. The down fiber is a delicate little fiber and with that friction it turns into dust, migrates out of the shell and becomes dust on your nightstands and throughout your bedroom.
If you spend a lot of time laying on top of your down comforter, you’re creating that same amount of friction.
Lesser cost down comforters that have lower thread count shells don’t do as good a job of holding that down into the shell or the ticking itself.
Preventing or enhancing the life of your down comforter, don’t lay on top of it. They’re not super fragile, but the more you lay on top of it, the more or the faster it’s going to wear out.
Another thing you can do to extend the life is rotate that down comforter. When you change your duvet cover, rotate it 180 degrees.
Keep in mind that duvet covers and down comforters are often rectangles. Kings are wider than they are long. Many queen down comforters are longer than they are wide, so you want to ensure that it’s orientated inside that duvet cover properly.
So flip it every now and then to bring the shoulder area to the feet, and the feet area up to the shoulder and you’ll get a little bit more life out of it.
If you determine that it’s time to replace your down comforter because those compartments are void of down and you’re not getting that insulating value, see top rated comforters.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.