FAQs

Do I Need Pillow Protectors if I Use Pillowcases?
Down vs. Down Alternatives
Fill Power and Warmth?
How do I Choose the Right Size Duvet?
How Long Does Down Last?
How Often Should I Wash My Down Products?
Should I dry-clean my down bedding?
What is Down?
What is the White “Dust” I see?
What Soap Should I Use?
How Long Does Down Last?
Why does my down bedding crinkle?
Will Down Bedding Aggravate My Allergies?
Will Down Bedding Lose Its Loft When Stored?

 

Do I Need Pillow Protectors if I Use Pillowcases?

Yes! Pillowcases on their own are not enough to protect your pillow from moisture, bacteria, dust and mold. It is always a good idea to use pillow protectors, not only to extend their life, but also to keep possible allergens to a minimum.

 

Down vs. Down Alternatives

Both down and down alternatives make wonderful filling for comforters, mattresses, and pillows. The biggest difference, of course, is that feathers are organic, whereas down alternatives are synthetic. Those who suffer from severe allergies may opt for a down alternative because of the bacteria-inhibiting and hypoallergenic properties. While high-quality down can also be hypo-allergenic, if it gets wet, there is a greater risk of mildew.

If allergies are not your main concern, you may feel that there is no improving on nature. Real down is warmer than any alternative, and has a softer, more organic feel than polyfill.

On the other hand, if you want a material that is a bit firmer than down, you may want to choose a down alternative as feathers take the shape of your head – polyfill will be fluffier and more resilient.

Of course, there are other options as well. Silk comforters are wonderfully light and warm, and cotton is soft and easy to care for. Wool blankets are nice and heavy for cold winter nights (though sometimes a little scratchy), and fleece is a very snuggly material, but attracts a lot of static.

Each fabric and filler will have its pros and cons, and there is no sure answer to what makes for the best bedding – it is a completely subjective choice. The best approach is simply to shop around as much as you can and familiarize yourself with all of the options, then choose the products that most appeal to you. Just as some people like chocolate and others swear by vanilla, some folks will sleep on nothing but down, while others want good old cotton. Go with whatever feels best to you and you will never be disappointed!

 

Fill Power and Warmth?

A term that solely relates to down, fill power lets you know both the quality and warmth of the product. All you need to know is, the higher, the better.

Basically, fill power lets you know how much air the feather fibers are able to trap – which tells you the insulation ability.

The reason down is able to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer is because the fibers trap air, thereby insulating your body heat – but also wick away moisture from the body, keeping you dry. This helps you maintain a consistent temperature very close to 98.6 degrees.

The higher the fill power, the better the down is able to do this job.

Comforters with a fill count of 800 and higher are of superb quality, 700 and up are very good, and 600 and up are decent.

Also, the higher the fill power, the fluffier the down will be. So, if you’re shopping for anything down, a high fill power is a big plus!

 

How do I Choose the Right Size Duvet?

One of the worst feelings is to be ready to snuggle into your new bed and realize that the covers don’t fit!

You don’t want your comforter cover to be loose and flopping around, nor too tight to where the fabric is strained. Keep size in mind as you shop, especially if you are purchasing online and can’t see the product beforehand. A good duvet is just an inch or two larger than your comforter.

It should be fairly easy to match them, because unless you have a non-traditionally-sized bed, all duvets come in standard sizes. So, if you have a twin-sized mattress, you’ll pick out a twin-sized duvet, and so on.

Getting the right size is easy – choosing from all of the wonderful styles and patterns that are out there is the hard part!

 

How Long Does Down Last?

First of all, not all down is created equal. How long your down lasts will depend on a number of factors.

Aside from care, down quality is the greatest determiner to how long your product will last. Generally, the best down comes from larger, more mature birds. Siberian down is excellent. When all else is the same, goose down is better than duck down … but down from a mature duck is better than down from a young goose.

Down from immature birds has less of a loft (fluff factor), and tends to collapse earlier as the fibers are fragile. A comforter made with mature down will be light, loftier, and warmer – and last much longer than one made with immature down.

High quality down is carefully washed, rinsed, dried and sanitized to ensure the product is hypo-allergenic. If your down is not pure to begin with, it is not going to be pleasant to have around for years.

The breakdown for down products is as follows:

 

How Often Should I Wash My Down Products?

The quick answer to this question: as rarely as possible.

It’s not good to get down wet, and chemicals and heat can damage the feathers. Ideally, you will be washing your mattress and pillow protectors and duvets rather than your down … however, once or twice a year is okay to give your down products a cleaning.

Whatever you do, don’t take them to the drycleaners! The chemicals are too harsh … instead, take them to the Laundromat (or you can do them at home if you have a big, non-agitator machine). Feather beds should only be spot cleaned and not washed in a machine.

Before washing, make sure the fabric is not weakened by age or wear, or you might get a load of feathers! You can wash your down products in warm water on a gentle cycle for six minutes, using a mild soap such as dishwasher detergent. If you happen to smell a strong odor after washing, just dry thoroughly – the smell will disappear.

It takes about three hours to dry two pillows in a large commercial dryer on a medium setting. Lower settings are preferred so as not to scorch the material … but make sure the down is completely dry as mildew can ruin your bedding. Adding a couple of tennis balls enclosed in clean socks can help break up clumps of filling and maximize the fluffiness of your pillows and comforters. Another best-kept secret is throwing a couple of clean gym shoes in the dryer instead – studies have shown that they work better than dryer balls!

 

Should I dry-clean my down bedding?

Would you dry-clean a goose?

Please, please, please don’t dry-clean your down bedding!

Dry cleaning damages the down and greatly reduces its life. Instead, make sure you cover your down bedding with mattress and pillow protectors, sun dry it occasionally, fluff it daily, and wash it once or twice a year.

This is the recipe for keeping your down happy, healthy, and fluffy!

 

What is Down?

Down is nature’s great insulator. The first undercoating of feathers on a goose or duck, down clusters are constructed of thousands of soft fibers radiating out from a central core. This structure traps air, which is why down products keep you warm, but still let moisture escape – keeping you snug and dry.

Down is a great thermal insulator, and is popular in many products from jackets and sleeping bags to pillows and blankets. Not only does it keep you warm, it is extremely soft and comforting.

Eiderdown, which comes from a large sea duck (Eider duck) is softer and a better insulator than any other type of feather. In general, goose down is better than duck down, but maturity is also a key factor … the bigger and more mature the bird, the better the quality of the down.

When shopping for down, you want to look for two things: high fill power (fluffiness) and purity (hypo-allergenic down). Next, you will want to consider exactly how much warmth you will need – if this is going to be a summer comforter, choose a light weight. Otherwise, a medium or heavy weight will keep you cozy – depending on the climate and whether you easily overheat (remember, down is warm).

Down’s wonderful properties are especially apparent in quality down bedding – many swear by their comforters and featherbeds! There’s nothing quite like the sensation of sinking down into a soft, fluffy mattress at the end of a long day …

 

What is the White “Dust” I see?

If you have a down comforter, chances are the fabric has been treated with a non-allergenic starch to fill the gaps in the weave. This ensures that the down filling does not spill out. As the fabric is washed and worn, the weave will naturally tighten, releasing the starch a bit at a time. If you see white dust shedding from your down comforter, this is actually a good sign – it means your comforter is aging well and that the fabric is becoming stronger.

 

What Soap Should I Use?

If you are going to wash down products or delicate linens yourself, make sure you use a gentle, mild soap. There are many delicate soaps available online or in specialty shops, but normal dishwashing detergent also works! Please see our pages on how to care for down and linen on laundering tips…

 

How Long Does Down Last?

First of all, not all down is created equal. How long your down lasts will depend on a number of factors.

Aside from care, down quality is the greatest determiner to how long your product will last. Generally, the best down comes from larger, more mature birds. Siberian down is excellent. When all else is the same, goose down is better than duck down … but down from a mature duck is better than down from a young goose.

Down from immature birds has less of a loft (fluff factor), and tends to collapse earlier as the fibers are fragile. A comforter made with mature down will be light, loftier, and warmer – and last much longer than one made with immature down.

High quality down is carefully washed, rinsed, dried and sanitized to ensure the product is hypo-allergenic. If your down is not pure to begin with, it is not going to be pleasant to have around for years.

The breakdown for down products is as follows:

Down pillows will usually be good for at least 3-5 years.

Feather beds need to be replaced between 3-10 years. Moisture causes down to mildew, so a feather bed’s longevity depends on the dampness of your climate and how much you perspire.

Upholstered cushions: Frequently used sofa cushions probably need to be changed within 5 years. Artificial down holds its shape better, and might be preferable in this case.

Comforters: If you take great care of them and use duvets to protect them, comforters can last a good 10 years or more.

Sleeping bags: These, depending on the conditions you camp in, can last a couple decades – but keep in mind that the fluff factor is low and won’t be as warm as your down bedding!

Jackets: These also last for as long as you take good care of them, but don’t wait that long if the filling starts getting lumpy on you!

 

Why does my down bedding crinkle?

Don’t worry, this is completely normal! That crunching noise when you get in the sheets is a result of the extremely tight fabric weave. With use and washing, these threads will eventually soften up over the years, and the crinkle sound will disappear.

 

Will Down Bedding Aggravate My Allergies?

Many people worry that down bedding will affect their allergies. Most of the time, any allergic reaction to down bedding is usually due to impurities trapped in the down itself. That’s why when shopping for down products you should always look for ones that are hypo-allergenic, which means that they have been specially cleaned and processed to screen out impurities.

Another important factor is to keep the bedding dry, and to protect it with mattress covers, duvets, and pillow protectors. The less dust, mold and moisture that makes its way into your bed, the less chance you will have a problem with allergies.

Also remember to keep the room clear of dust and pet hair or dander; often allergies may be a result of other environmental factors as well!

For more information, please refer to our page on dirt and allergy prevention.

 

Will Down Bedding Lose Its Loft When Stored?

It’s best to store your down bedding in breathable bags or cotton so that moisture does not build up. Plastic bags should be avoided as condensation can build up, leading to mildew.

GLOSSARY

Baffle Box – A stitching technique used in down comforters that allows the down to loft, but keeps it evenly distributed for maximum warmth and support.

Bed Skirt – Also known as a bed or dust ruffle, this bed accessory covers the box spring and bed frame and hangs down touching or nearly touching the floor.

Bed Spread – A lightweight bedcovering.

Binding – Also known as edging or piping, this is a type of decorative trim used on the fold-down part of pillowcases, shams and sheets.

Breakfast or Boudoir Pillow – A rectangular decorative pillow.

Brushing – Mechanical fabric finishing process that raises the nap of the fabric, giving it a softer feel. Flannel is a brushed fabric.

Cambric – A down proof plain weave fabric that has been finished with a calendar machine to give it a more lustrous look.

Carding – The process of separating, opening, and cleaning cotton, resulting in a long rope-like strand of loosely bound fibers (sliver). All cotton yarns are carded, but not necessarily combed.

Chamber – A term used to refer to the construction in pillows, comforters, and feather beds, when fabric walls are sewn inside the basic shell to keep down and feathers separate from other filled portions

Closed – A comforter term that refers to constructions which do not allow the filling to move between chambers (like a closed door). Examples of closed construction are: True Baffle Box, Sewn-through box, and Sewn-through Diamond Box.

Combing – A yarn process that removes all impurities and fibers less than 1.125 inches from carded cotton, which makes combed cotton superior, being more compact and with less projecting fibers.

Comfort Hold – This combines the three sided comfort lock border with a 4th border along the top. This 4th border is filled with more down for extra warmth around the neck and shoulders

Comfort Lock – A border along the sides and bottom of the comforter that permanently locks the down in place.

Comforter – A bedcovering made with a fabric shell that is filled with insulating material, such as down, cotton, or wool. Often referred to a “duvet,” but the duvet is a covering that goes around the comforter.

Comforter Cover – See Duvet Cover

Damask Firm – Similar to brocade, any dyed cloth with a woven pattern qualifies; damask is usually a glossy jacquard-patterned fabric.

Comforter Set – Usually includes a comforter, bed skirt and shams.

Cotton – A natural fiber that makes great bedding material because of its soft, breathable and washable properties. The most popular types are Egyptian, Pima and Combed. The longer the fiber (“staple”), the higher the quality.

Coverlet – Very similar to a bedspread, coverlets are lighter than a comforter, often quilted, and usually used in warm weather. Unlike bedspreads, coverlets do not cover the pillows or reach the floor.

Damask – Fabric made of linen, silk, cotton, rayon or synthetic fibers, and woven with a detailed, intricate pattern. Named after colorful, elegant silks from Damascus (the capital of Syria ), damask is like a light brocade, with patterns raised slightly off the fabric for a stronger effect.

Daybed – Basically a twin bed turned sideways … often used as a seating area during the day and as a bed at night. It fits a twin-sized mattress and twin-sized sheets, and one can find “daybed sets,” which are a comforter, three-sided bed skirt and three pillow shams.

Dobby Weaving – A weaving method that involves a Dobby head, which produces a regular pattern of geometric figures; also refers to the cloth designed in this manner.

Down – The undercoating of soft, fluffy duck or goose feathers, which serves as a wonderful light-weight insulator. Because it wicks away water from the body while at the same time trapping air, it helps maintain the body at its natural temperature.

Down Alternatives – Provide the goodness of down without the allergies. There are many brands and types of alternatives.

Drop – Refers to the distance from the top of the bed or box spring to the floor.

Dust Ruffle – See Bed Skirt.

Duvet – The French word for “comforter,” but in the US , the same thing as a duvet or comforter cover.

Duvet Cover/ Comforter Cover – Like a big pillowcase for your comforter, this covering protects and decorates your comforter.

Egyptian Cotton – A species of cotton grown in the Nile that yields long fibers, and which makes the highest-quality cotton products.

Envelope Pillow – A small pillow with different fabrics enveloped over the others, which gives a colorful, multi-fabric look.

Eurofeathers – A mixture of 5% down and 95% feathers.

Eurodown – A mixture of 15% down and 85% feathers.

Euro Sham – A square 26” x 26” pillow, named after its popularity in Europe .

Feathers – Less soft but more durable and supportive than down, feathers are often used as filling in pillows, comforters and featherbeds.

Feather Bed – A feather filled mattress topper.

Feather Bed Cover – Like a pillow protector, this covering protects your feather bed from dirt and body oils.

Fill Power – A measurement of down’s loft, or fluffiness. The higher the fill power, the better the quality.

Fitted Sheet – Also called a “bottom sheet,” this sheet fits snugly over the mattress.

Flanged – Describes products with a decorative band of fabric around them.

Flat Sheet – Also called a “top sheet,” this sheet goes above the fitted sheet and is tucked around the mattress at the sides and bottom.

Greige (pronounced “Gray”) Fabric – Cotton fabric in a raw, unfinished state, usually cream or tan-colored.

Hand – This term describes a fabric’s feel (softness, firmness, fineness etc.)

Hemstitch – An embroidery method specifically used on pillowcases and sheets.

Jacquard – A method of weaving that uses a “jacquard head,” which allows individual control of each piece of yarn, conducive to creating intricate designs.

Muslin – A cotton or cotton-polyester fabric with a minimum thread count of 128.

Neckroll – A small cylindrical pillow, often used to support the head.

Open Construction – Describes the construction of a comforter that allows for the movement of filling between chambers. Examples include: 4-Corner Ring, Checkerbox, Box Stitch, Box Step, Diamond Tack, Karo Tack and 4-Corner Baffle Box.

Percale – A crisp, closely woven plain-weave fabric with a minimum thread count of 180.

Pilling – The “balling” up that results, often on sheets, when long fibers interact with other fibers, creating a rough, bumpy feel.

Pillow Protector – A covering for the pillow which usually zips up, and is used to protect the pillow from body oils and dirt.

Pillow Sham – A decorative pillow covering, usually tailored or ruffled

Pima Cotton – Second to Egyptian cotton, but still very high-quality, this extra-long staple cotton was named after the Pima Indians because it comes from the US southwest.

Plain Weave – A very simple design, just one thread over another.

Plied Yarns – Yarn that has more than one strand twisted together – which does not increase the strength or durability of the cloth. It should be counted as one yarn, but often thread count of plied yarns is exaggerated by manufacturers so that a 200-count sheet is called a 400-count one.

Polyester – A synthetic fiber that is wrinkle-resistant, durable, and non-shrinkable, but also does not breathe. It is often blended with cotton or other fibers.

Pre-Shrinking – A process that allows cotton cloth to shrink naturally so that it doesn’t shrink in the wash … also known as Sanforizing.

Print – A pattern (or picture) applied or transferred to the cloth. Resin may be applied to stiffen, make the cloth wrinkle-resistant and reduce shrinkage – but also weakens the cloth.

Quilt – A lightweight bedcover created by sewing different fabrics together to create a design. Often used during warmer weather or as a decorative piece.

Sateen Weave – A 4 x 1 weave that, because it has more yarn surface on the face of the cloth, has a shiny face and a softer feel than other cloths – especially if made with combed cotton. It often has a high thread count and a smooth, silky feel.

Sham – Similar to a pillowcase, used for decoration more than sleeping on, shams are often ruffled, quilted or flanged and used to hide pillows or to simply decorate the top of the bed.

Silk – A natural fiber secreted by the silkworm to make its cocoon. It is extremely soft and shiny.

Standard Mattress Sizes – Generally, as follows:

Twin: 38” x 75”

Long Twin: 38” x 80”

Full: 54” x 75”

Queen: 60” x 80”

King: 78” x 80”

California King: 72” x 84”

Supima® Cotton – A brand of 100% Pima cotton grown by members of the Supima® Association of America.

Thread Count – The number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of fabric. Generally, a high thread count means better quality, but not always. It’s best to test your towels with your hands.

Twill Weave – A basic fabric weave with diagonal lines in the woven cloth.

Thread Count – A count of the number of vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch of fabric. Used as a determiner of sheet softness, thread count can range from 180 to 1500.

Welt – Another name for cording, which is a trim used on comforters, shams, or decorative pillows.