I need an education on down comforters

Yeah, I know, it’s summer in the States and most folks are concerned about staying cool. But my daughter not-so-subtly asked for a new down comforter for her birthday in September. I tried a little google fu to find out about how to pick a good one, what to avoid, and how much I can expect this to cost me. It was pretty well confusing.

Assuming the customer feedback was from real customers, I’d see some that got almost 5 out of 5 stars, with many raves, except for the occasional comment about feathers everywhere and down shifting to the edges. Do I believe the 300 who loved their comforter or the two who were still picking feathers out of their butt cracks?

So, those of you who own or have owned them, I ask for advice, suggestions, tips on what to look for and what to avoid. Does thread count of the cover make a difference? How do you care for these comforters? Anything else I should have asked and didn’t? And if there’s a particular one you bought and you can provide a brand or a link, I’d really appreciate that info in a PM. I don’t think this needs to become a commercial thread.


I’ve only had one in my life, and I’m far from an expert, but I do remember the one issue I had was that all the down would gather in one part of the comforter, making the other half virtually just the shell with no filling.

I’m guessing better comforters have chambers or some type of thing to prevent this from happening. The one I had was very inexpensive.

Like you, I didn’t know anything about them until my daughter asked for one, so I took a leap of faith with Land’s End. Going off memory here, there are often different fill levels (warm, warmer, warmest?) depending on the amount of down, I suppose. Box quilting will keep the feathers evenly distributed, and I bought a knit comforter cover (I prefer knit sheets rather than woven) to keep the comforter itself clean.

I liked hers enough that I bought one for myself. I get the occasional loose (tiny) feather, but it’s minimal. The comforter is light and warm; I like it a lot. On really cold nights I will sometimes use an additional blanket at my feet, but not often. and of course, it packs away into a pretty small bundle for the summer.

Happy shopping!

ps: regarding the occasional negative review, I always assume that even the best product will fail to live up to someone’s expectations, so if I know the perceived shortcomings, I can still decide whether or not I’m likely to be bothered by the same things.

sorry! mis-read the PM request and missed the edit window. Apologies.

I got turned onto down comforters in Germany, and the way I was taught to care for them is to give them a good violent shake every morning and then leave them folded back for the day to air out. That takes care of the feathers bunching up. During nice weather, you’ll sometimes see them hanging out a window or something too. It’s important to keep them them dry and fluffed.

Also, most comforters, or “feather beds” they’re sometimes called are sewn or quilted sort of. I don’t know the correct terminology, but they’re sewn into cells so the feathers don’t all bunch up in one section like a down pillow does.

Higher thread count is indeed better, but I suppose it depends how long you’re going to keep it. Pay a lot for a really high quality one and you can keep it almost forever, but you’re looking at having the feathers removed, cleaned, and replaced periodically. Get a cheaper one and you can abuse it more, then just get a new one.

ETA: as for the cheap ones, I’ve tossed them into a regular washing machine, then dried them on low with a couple tennis balls and they come out fine. I probably wouldn’t do that with a nice high quality one though.

My mother used to knit and make quilts and the like, but when she used down, I recall her making the blanket in squares. She would then fill up the square with down, so while it might still bunch up, it wouldn’t be so bad, becausse the squares would keep the feathers somewhat distributed

We bought ours at J.C. Penny’s. King size for a Queen size bed. Cost was about $100 on sale.

I understand L.L. Bean has good quality ones.

Got mine as a gift. Absolutely love it. Light and warm. Put it to good use all through the coldest winter in recent memory around here. Occasionally, I’ll see an escaped feather, but it isn’t enough to matter. I give it a good shaking now and again, but that’s about it for maintenance. The downside is I think it is dry clean only, which puts the kibosh on eating in bed.

My logical mind tells me smaller quilted squares are preferable - yes?

I will definitely tell my daughter to do a daily shake. She has a comforter cover, so the only concern about the thread count would be if a higher count would lead to fewer feathers escaping, or do they come out at the seams?

I appreciate all the information - since I’ve got months to shop, I don’t have to leap on the first one I see. Thanks!!

I have a silk filled one since I am allergic to feathers, but I love it. It’s as warm as a down comforter but lighter. I realize it’s not what you’ve asked for but if you see it as an option mark down one very satisfied silk owner.

I never heard of a silk filled comforter - I’ll definitely look that up. Sounds luxurious!

If your daughter has alleriges at all it’s a bad idea. Otherwise, go for it! My only complaint was that the feathers tend to break down with washing, even dry cleaning. Eventually they get flat and pokey.

If you’re interested in options, I’ve found these to be preferable: http://www.whiteloftsilk.com/products.html Silk filling can be easily drycleaned, never loses loft and above all doesn’t support dust mites.

I have allergies so I go with the synthetic down ones. I got mine at JC Penney on sale and it’s washable and no feathers.

I would suggest getting a high thread count duvet to cover it and then you wash the duvet and the comforter only a couple times a year in a commercial washer as needed. It has to be washable or it is very expensive to have them dry cleaned.

I love mine and change the duvets seasonally to get a new look. TJMaxx has some duvets that are not bad and reasonable.

Here is a pretty good description of how to choose a down comforter. Personally, I would never go with less than a 600 fill (unless your daughter lives someplace warm in the winter), less than 350 thread count (feathers can come out at the seam but they can also poke through the material if it’s not dense enough) and a baffle box construction. You’ll definitely want a cover. And important thing to note is that all “queen” (or any other size) do not necessarily have the same dimensions so be sure to check that your cover is going to fit the comforter.

FYI - Macy’s is having its big summer sale right now and comforters are really marked down. I’ve also had success at overstock.com.

Not necessarily - I have all sorts of allergies, but down doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve had some down comforter or another since I was a kid.

The current one was from Overstock.com, king-size, for about $100. I just went with the one that had the best user ratings in the price range, and I love it.

About 10 years ago, my parents bought down comforters for everyone in the family for Christmas. They’d been given one for an anniversary gift, and were so pleased with theirs, they decided we all needed them. Everyone’s held up fabulously, except mine. It molted so many friggin’ feathers, it looked like I was having regular cockfights in my bedroom! :confused:

They were all the exact same brand and model. I did wash mine more than probably anyone else did theirs, but it was molting long before I washed it, so I dunno what the issue was. I finally threw it away about a year ago, and I’m STILL finding the occasional feather floating around. Oh, and ours all square pockets stitched into them, so the feathers didn’t all clump up in one spot.

I’ll probably buy a new one this fall, because I loved it. Used it year-round with just a sheet underneath, although I’d often put a small Mexican wool blanket across my feet in the winter. Lovely.

I’ve bought two different down comforters at Overstock.com, for wedding gifts, and both were well-received. Lots of product reviews, so check those out.

If cost is not a consideration, go with Scandia Down. They come in different degrees of warmth factor, depending on amount of fill. We have one that is too warm to use. We also have Scandia pillows, which are extremely comfortable, and also very expensive.

I love the O. Great buy for real down!

You can get extremely serviceable, washable, functional and affordable comforters are Ikea.

We live in Michigan and sleep with a window cracked open most of the winter and are toasty warm under their stuff.

It has feathers, and I’ve only crammed it into the washer and then chucked it over the deck railing to air dry, before shoving it into the dryer for the final fluffing.

I am very, very happy.

The Real Simple magazine did a test-run of down comforters in the February '10 edition. You might want to see if you can find an edition of it.