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How to Buy a Comforter

The way we see it, a cozy comforter is among one of the most essential material possessions you can own.

Photo: Ellen Silverman

First, determine the size you need. Comforters are available for beds from twin to king, but you might want a comforter bigger than your actual bed. If your bed is especially high or you sleep with a cover-hog, you might want to go up a size.

Now, it’s time to decide whether you want down or a synthetic. Here’s the deal: Synthetics are often cheaper and much better if you have allergies. Down feels puffier and snugglier, but those feathers can be a real pain in the butt and often fly around every time you change your comforter cover.

As far as types of down, duck down is the cheapest, but it’s white goose down that’s most commonly used. Grey goose down is usually found in items made of darker materials. Eiderdown is the rarest, highest-quality, warmest, and most expensive type of down. Down comforters can either be 100% down (more expensive), or filled with a combo of down and other, less-soft feathers.

When looking at down, you also need to consider the fill power. The higher the fill power, the fluffier and warmer your comforter will be. A fill power of 700 or higher is considered highest quality, with 600 to 700 excellent, and 525 to 600 good.

If you’re looking to go the synthetic route, consider Primaloft. It’s antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, and has a similar lightness and springiness to down. It’s also similarly insulating.

It’s also important to look for quilting. This stitching keeps the down or other filling contained to bound spaces, making the comforter easier to wash and control -- you’ll never have the problem of all the filling shifting to one side or corner.

Don’t forget about your comforter’s shell. Cotton fabric is our pick, because it’s breathable and lets some heat get through -- a synthetic cover can actually make your comforter too warm. It’s probably always safest to go the white route; that way, you can cover it with any color or pattern you want using a duvet and will only have to worry about washing the comforter itself a couple of times a year. Even if you want a white comforter, it’s still probably best to use a cover just to make cleaning easier.

Now find out how to buy a duvet cover.

-- The Nest Editors