Down vs. Down Alternative Comforters

Sleepy, smiling cat tucked under the covers

Trying to pick the best comforter for your style and comfort needs? There are tons of options out there, but how do you choose the perfect one? The best way to make sure you get the best comforter or comforter cover for your sleeping style is to be an informed consumer. Being aware of your options allows you to make an educated choice. 

When it comes to the comforter market, there are two main options for buyers: down comforters and down alternative comforters. While both down and down alternatives each have their benefits, they also come with their own unique drawbacks. Knowing all the pros and cons will help you make the right choice when purchasing your comforter. 

There are many factors to consider: cost, durability, comfort, temperature, etc. Being in the know about every possibility and detail will help ensure you’ve made the right choice. A good quality comforter can be an investment for years to come, so being informed is the best course of action. 

What is Down?

Woman waking up from sleeping

Down refers to the filling of a comforter or pillow that comes from the shedded undercoat of birds. It’s known for being amazingly soft, warm, and fluffy. Down bedding is known for being insulating while still being lightweight. If you often find yourself kicking off your covers in the night because you’re overheating, switching to down might just be the right choice for you.  

Another thing to consider with down comforter is the fact that it comes from animals. There has been a push for more ethical harvesting recently. If you prioritize ethical consumption and cruelty-free practices from brands that utilize animal products, you’ll want to do your research before purchasing down bedding. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is helping reduce harm and promote ethical sourcing and farming practices for down. 

Down is also known for being relatively pricey. While this isn’t the case for every brand, it’s an important factor to consider. If you’re leaning more toward a down duvet, be ready to pay closer to a premium price. Even though genuine down bedding is often more expensive, it’s also known for its lasting power. So you can trust that your investment will be long-lived. 

You’ll like down best if: 

  • You like soft, fluffy, and luxurious bedding that is also lightweight
  • You often find yourself overheating in your sleep
  • You’re willing to research RDS-certified retailers
  • You’re ready to purchase an investment piece 

At Southshore Fine Linens, we offer high-quality bedding. Duvet vs. comforter? Visit us today and find what’s best for you.

What is Down Alternative? 

Fluffy dog resting his head on the blankets

Down alternative is exactly what it sounds like: an artificial material made to substitute for actual down feathers. Some people don’t like the idea of using down bedding for personal reasons. Whether it be an ethical stance, allergies, or just preference, if you’re not into the idea of using a down comforter, a down alternative might be the way to go. 

Down alternative is a synthetic microfiber blend of polyester. Don’t let this deter you, though. This type of polyester is designed to be of higher-quality than traditional, cheap poly-fill material. It’s just as fluffy and even more resilient than down filling. It can give the same plump effect as down bedding while sporting a much smaller price tag. 

Because down alternative doesn’t use animal products, it’s the popular choice for people who are hesitant to trust farming practices and retailer sourcing. It’s also an excellent option for people who suffer from allergies. Down alternative is completely hypoallergenic, while traditional down bedding could potentially cause severe issues for allergy sufferers. 

Choosing a down alternative over traditional down filling is also a matter of convenience for some people. Down bedding isn’t machine washable, which can make it tricky to clean and hard to manage when it comes to daily wear and tear. Down alternative, on the other hand, is machine washable and usually easier to clean. You can rest easy knowing your comforter set is safe and fully washable in case of any spills or stains. This is another major selling point for people who are still stuck between which type of bedding to choose. 

You’ll prefer down alternative if:
  • You don’t want to use animal products 
  • You need a hypoallergenic option for your bedding 
  • You’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative 
  • You want a comforter that is easier to clean 

What is a comforter set? Find your perfect night’s sleep with a soft, warm new comforter from Southshore Fine Linens.  

How Do You Choose?

A comfy bed with large windows overlooking the ocean

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what each type of filling is, let’s dig into the pros and cons of each. While both down and down alternatives have some unique advantages, they both come with drawbacks that could potentially be dealbreakers for some people. 

There are also different variations of down and down alternatives that can affect your experience. By knowing the ins and outs of these differences, you can get a better idea of which will give you the best sleeping experience for years to come. Make sure you’re fully informed about all of your options before you make your decision. 

Fill Level

For down bedding, the fill level is something you want to pay careful attention to before purchasing. This will greatly impact your comfort and your sleeping. Fill level, or fill power, refers to the amount of space in cubic inches that is occupied by one ounce of down filling. If you’ve never owned down bedding before, you might not have considered what type of fill will work best for you. 

  • 400-600

    • If you know you run hot when you sleep, this is the best option for down fill. It’s also the best option for people who live in hotter climates. If you don’t need a thick blanket to bundle up with during a freezing night, this is the fill level you’re looking for. 
  • 600-800

    • This range is considered to be the standard option for down fill. It’s right in the middle, and it’s perfect for staying warm on cooler nights or if you like to sleep with the AC or your fan on. It will keep you warm and cozy without making you overheat, especially if you live somewhere colder. 
  • 800+

    • This level of fill is considered to be perfect for people that live in cold, snowy climates. If you frequently deal with temperatures below freezing and find yourself pilling on the blankets before bed or wishing for an additional cover, this is the fill level you’ll want. 

Down alternative, unfortunately, does not come with distinctive, quantified fill levels like traditional down. For the most part, down alternative has a fuller, heavy fill. This means it will do a great job keeping you warm, although if you live in a warmer climate, the synthetic fill might do too good of a job. 


Washing and general care can be a dealbreaker for many people when it comes to choosing a comforter. While you may be sold on every other aspect of a down comforter, finding out that it is not machine washable could potentially sway you the other way. 

It is generally considered good care practice to get your duvet or down comforter dry cleaned. This will keep it looking and smelling fresh. It isn’t always the most convenient option for care, and it can deter some people from investing in down bedding. 

Down alternative is usually fully machine washable. This is not only the more convenient option for people, but it can also be the more hygienic choice. It’s important to keep up with washing your bedding often. This doesn’t mean just washing your sheets and your pillowcases. 

Most people lean toward down alternative comforters because it’s much easier to toss your pillows and comforters into the wash every few weeks than it is to take them to a dry cleaner.


Allergens play a huge role in determining what type of bedding you should choose. If you do suffer from allergies, especially severe allergies, this might take down bedding off the table for you completely. 

Thankfully, down alternative is a fully hypoallergenic option. If you or someone in your family suffer from allergies, you know how tough it can be to find hypoallergenic products, especially when it comes to bedding. Down alternative is definitely the route you want to take if this is your situation. 


Cost is a pretty big factor when searching for a comforter or duvet cover set. While down comforters are generally more expensive, they have the lasting power to make the investment worth your while. Even though they do take extra care, when you follow good care practices, your down comforter will last for years. 

Down alternative can also be pretty durable, but it’s often subject to harsher wear and tear. It’s definitely the more affordable option, so replacing them won’t hurt your wallet as much. One of the most common things that breaks down your down alternative pillows and comforters much faster is machine washing them. So when it comes to this option, it can be a bit of a catch-22. 

Which is the Superior Bedding?

Comfy bed illuminated by the sun

Now that we’ve covered all the down vs. down alternative pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about purchasing a bedding set. Knowing everything there is to know about a down comforter vs. a down alternative comforter, you have a decision to make. Once you’ve picked out your perfect comforter and decorative pillows, you can also plan on picking a gorgeous bed set to compliment your style. 

There are many pros and cons to each of these bedding options. We can’t really say which is the superior option because each one is the ideal choice for some, but not all. With everything you’ve learned today, you can make the best choice for your lifestyle, and you’ll get a great night's sleep knowing you found your perfect bedding. 

Find the perfect cotton duvet cover for your style. Visit Southshore Fine Linens for all your bedding needs.