Soft and irresistibly plush, down comforters are recognized for their extreme comfort. It isn't just their over-the-top coziness that makes them so beloved, though. Down is surprisingly versatile, too-so much so that even those who live in warm climates can take advantage of it!
Step into any bedding department and you'll find plenty of down-filled products everywhere you look. From pillows to throws to comforters, there's something for everyone who desires a touch of cozy comfort in the bedroom or family room.
What exactly is down, though? It's become a household word in the bedding world. If you're thinking of investing in a down-filled comforter, however, it is important to understand what down is. Simply put, down is the plumage underneath the feathers of geese and ducks. It serves to keep these animals dry and warm.
For use in bedding, down plumage is plucked from the birds, thoroughly cleaned to eliminate its naturally strong odor and, finally, dried. Even after this process, the down is further cleaned when it is hand sorted into various categories (including feathers and fibers). At this stage, dust and other debris are also removed.
When researching down products, you may often come across the term fill power. Fill power refers to comforter fullness. It's used to describe the general amount of down within the product. High fill power numbers are assigned to those comforters that are thicker and fluffier. These are naturally warmer and, thus, ideal for cold climates. Conversely, low fill power numbers refer to comforters that are lightly stuffed and, therefore, better for warm climates. Using the fill power figure is an excellent way to determine which type of down comforter is best for you.
One of the most common concerns about down is whether or not it causes allergies. Individuals who suffer from allergies and asthma are often advised to avoid down-filled products because of the potential for dust mites that will trigger symptoms. In truth, it is generally improperly cleaned down that causes such reactions, and not the down itself. Be sure to shop for down products that are labeled hypoallergenic and state that they are treated with a special process that further removes any remaining impurities. An antimicrobial treatment is often used to preserve the down filling freshness.
Despite these precautions, it may still not be enough protection for those who suffer from severe allergies. When in doubt, steer clear of down products or consult with a medical professional.
Caring for Down Comforters
Just a glance at a fluffy down comforter is more than enough proof that it requires some special care to keep it in great condition. Manufacturers of down comforters typically advise that the product should be fluffed daily and aired outdoors in the sunshine several times a year. A duvet cover is recommended to keep comforters in good shape, too.
Down comforters should only be washed as needed, because frequent washes can cause damage to the down itself. For this reason, down comforters should also not be frequently laid on or sat on for extended periods of time. When washing is necessary, take the comforter to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning down products, unless the comforter care directions suggest otherwise.
Where to Purchase
Since they are so popular, there's absolutely no dearth of down comforters available on the market today. No matter what your budget, you can find a comforter that meets your needs at one of the following retailers:
- BedBathandBeyond.com: If you love the feel of down but object to the use of animal filling in your bedding products, consider a down alternative. They're readily available here as well as regular down comforters.
- Bloomingdales.com: If money is no object, take a peek at Bloomingdale's collection. Prices start in the low $200s are move up by fill power number.
- Macys.com: If you're shopping for major label comforters, you'll find them here. Prices run from reasonable to moderately extravagant, but frequent sales and coupons make it easy to score a great deal.
- Overstock.com: If you're on a budget, pay a visit here first. You'll find plenty of brand name comforters for under $50.