The Biggest Differences Between Duvets and Comforters, as Told by 2 Bedding Pros

published Jan 2, 2024
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It’s a question that may have crossed your mind when meandering down the bedding aisle, redecorating a bedroom, or changing your sheets: What is the difference between a duvet and a comforter?  

Quick Overview

The Difference Between a Duvet and a Comforter

When it comes to bedding toppers, a duvet is a two-piece set — a duvet cover and an insert — while a comforter is a single blanket. You can change a duvet insert to be lighter or heavier, depending on if you want to stay cool or keep warm. Duvets take more time to wash, as you need to remove the duvet cover.

These terms are often used interchangeably, but in reality, these bed toppers are distinct. I consulted two bedding experts to help clear up the confusion between a duvet and a comforter once and for all, so you can decide which one is best for you. Keep reading for a breakdown of the two bed covers, as well as some things to consider if you’re in the market for new bedclothes. 

What is a duvet? 

Karina Opio, founder and creative director of Karina Kaiseth Interiors in Chicago, says the simplest difference between a duvet and a comforter is that a duvet involves two pieces: a duvet cover and an insert. 

“Think about a duvet as a large envelope,” says Michael Levin, CEO of home decor brand Levtex Home in Santa Monica, California. “It’s closed on three sides, and open on one side.” You’ll find many different “mechanisms” for closing the open end, from buttons to zippers to ties. “The idea is that you can fill it with anything,” he says. 

The duvet cover is generally a thinner fabric, and the inner part gives the bedding that warm, cozy quality you want when you snooze. It may be filed with materials like down, polyester, or wool, Levin says. You’ll see a few names when looking for a filling, including duvet insert, duvet inner, and comforter (likely a contributing cause of all this confusion). Generally, the insert is white, while a duvet cover comes in many colors and designs.

What is a comforter? 

A comforter, on the other hand, is a single plush blanket. It’s a fully enclosed, filled piece of bedding. 

“[A comforter] is sealed on all four sides and it is filled with something — very often with polyester, but it can be filled with anything,” Levin says. With a comforter, what you see is what you get. So, whatever color or design you buy is what you’ll have until you get a new bed topper. And because it’s sewn shut, you can’t change the look or weight of the blanket with a different insert. 

Should I use a duvet or a comforter? 

It’d be great if the experts could divulge the singular best bed topper, but Levin and Opio stress that it’s all about personal preference. However, there are a few factors to weigh when deciding between a comforter and a duvet. 

Opio says she always asks her clients about their lifestyles. “Do they have a busy morning? Are they rushing off? Because the duvet is going to need a little bit more time.” she says. The insert can get kicked out of place overnight, which can mean it takes longer to make your bed when you wake up. 

Duvets also require more laundry time and labor, particularly when taking the cover on and off to wash the duvet cover. Because a comforter is one piece, all you have to do is lift it off the bed and plop it in the washing machine. (Although many comforters are likely too big to fit in smaller washing machines, Levin warns.) 

Also, think about how you want your bed to feel throughout the seasons. If you’re purchasing a comforter to use year-round, you have to try to find something that will keep you cool in the summer but warm in the winter. With a duvet, you have more flexibility. “If you’re somebody who likes something super light in the summer, you literally could use the duvet cover with no inner or a very light blanket,” Levin says. “And if you want something heavier in the winter, you might change that inner to down or a heavier fill.” 

Finally, consider how often you want to switch up your bedroom’s style. If you’re one to try out trends or experiment with colors and fabrics, it might make more sense to go for a duvet, as a comforter is often going to be more expensive than a fabric cover. “You invest in your inner,” says Levin. “And then it allows you, on a more cost-effective basis, to change your look more often.”