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Everyone needs a bed cover, but the specific type and material are personal choices. Whether you're interested in vegan-friendly bedding, have a feather allergy, or are looking for a reasonably priced substitute for authentic down, a down-alternative duvet is an excellent choice.
But, what actually causes an allergic reaction? "Often a suspected feather allergy is actually an allergy to dust mites, whose proliferation is encouraged on and around feathers," says Heather Viola, DO, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine. Down-alternative comforters avoid this risk with a fill often comprised of cotton or polyester.
We compiled duvets that fared well with our home testers, and researched standout designs for various sleep styles. Our top pick is the Buffy Cloud Comforter, a reasonably priced option that's perfectly lightweight yet cozy.
Scroll down for the best down-alternative comforters currently on the market.
Best Overall: Buffy Cloud Comforter
Easy to move around and fold
Lightweight yet cozy
Makes noise when moving around
Our number-one pick is the Buffy Cloud Comforter. It earned high marks from our tester, who liked the soft, breathable shell and lightweight-yet-substantial fill. "It felt great, held temperature really well, and it was easy to move around and fold, as well as quiet," our tester noted.
Ideal for year-round use, this down-alternative comforter has the Goldilocks touch of being juuust right thanks to the fact it's breathable and doesn't sleep too hot, while still being plenty warm and cozy. Our tester also loved how easy this comforter was to fold and said making the bed each morning was a breeze. Plus, the down alternative appeared smooth and even throughout with no pesky lumps.
Though the fill is a synthetic substance (polyester), it's sourced from recycled materials. And since the lyocell shell comes from the pulp of renewable eucalyptus trees, it's an all-around sustainable product.
The Buffy Cloud Comforter is a winner when it comes to price, too. "I think this comforter price perfectly matches the value (I'd honestly pay more)," said our tester.
We also like that it's machine-washable, but bear in mind that hang-drying is recommended. One other thing to note is that it does make some noise when tossing and turning at night.
Price at time of publish: $169 for Full/Queen
Best Budget: Utopia Bedding Quilted Comforter
Breathable and lightweight
Several colors available
Colors can vary slightly
The Quilted Comforter from Utopia Bedding earned a perfect score from our tester, making it our favorite budget-friendly pick. They appreciated its breathability, cozy warmth, machine-washable design, handy corner loops, and supremely affordable price tag. This insert comes in six exact sizes, so you won't have to worry about excess fabric hanging off your duvet cover.
In addition to white, it comes in eight other pretty color options, so if you're not a fan of duvet covers, you can go without one and just rock one of these chic hues. Just be aware that the colors may slightly vary from how they appear online.
While this isn't the loftiest comforter on the market, it's an excellent lightweight option for folks on a budget. Our tester noted the lightweight feel kept them from overheating and made the comforter easy to fold and move. Our tester also found it was super simple to wipe away stains with just a damp towel.
Price at time of publish: $42 for Queen
Best Cooling : Cozy Earth Bamboo Comforter
Two weights available
Difficult to maneuver
If you're open to splurging on a truly amazing bed cover, Cozy Earth won't let you down. This entire comforter, including both the shell and fill, is made of bamboo-sourced viscose. The material is not only a sustainable, renewable resource, but it's also breathable and exceptionally soft.
What's more, bamboo has natural temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking abilities, which make it perfect for people who run hot or experience night sweats, though it's also plenty warm and cozy. And if you prefer a little more loft, upgrade to the "extra" fill level.
Our tester loved the luxurious feel of the material and said it kept warm and comfy all night. Though heavy, the material still felt breathable, and our tester wasn't worried about overheating. However, it can be a bit hard to maneuver because of the extra weight.
Price at time of publish: $729 for Full/Queen
Best Size and Color Selection : COHOME Queen 2100 Series Down Alternative Quilted Duvet Insert
Machine washable and dryer safe
Lots of size and color options
Can be too warm for some
Finding the right comforter is hard enough, but finding the perfect size and color can feel impossible. For a great selection of sizes and colors, we recommend the COHOME down alternative comforter, which also works as a duvet insert. It comes in seven sizes, including oversized king and queen, and five colors.
Aside from the impressive size and color selection, our tester loved the high-quality and thick material. They noted it felt especially impressive for the affordable price. "At only $45, this is a great deal. For people who love warm comforters, this is perfect. It will look good with or without a duvet cover too," says our tester. The polyester fill is designed to be even and noiseless, which is especially ideal for restless sleepers.
We also love that this comforter is machine washable and dryer safe. Our tester did note that it sleeps a bit on the warm side, so this may not work as a year-long comforter. However, if you run cold or are looker for something heavy for chilly winter nights, this could be perfect.
Price at time of publish: $50 for Queen
Best for Hot Sleepers: Pottery Barn Hydrocool Down-Alternative Duvet Insert
Calling all hot sleepers! The HydroCool Duvet Insert from Pottery Barn boasts an incredibly soft shell, lightweight yet cozy feel, and machine-washable design. Our tester was thoroughly impressed with its temperature-regulating abilities.
Our tester pointed out that this comforter kept them warm on cooler nights, but on an extremely cold night when the temperature dropped to the 20s, she found that it didn't provide quite enough warmth. Overall, though, she felt comfortable and cozy.
This down-alternative comforter has a breathable cotton shell with a 300 thread count to ensure adequate airflow. The fill is 60 percent recycled polyester sourced from plastic bottles and 40 percent HydroCool performance polyester. According to the maker, the high-tech fibers draw sweat away from your skin so you stay cool throughout the night.
Price at time of publish: $249 for Full/Queen
Best All-Season: Brooklinen Down Alternative Comforter
Long-staple cotton shell
Made from recycled materials
In terms of construction, this duvet has a 100 percent long-staple cotton shell with a supremely smooth sateen weave. The polyester fill is sourced from recycled plastic bottles, and baffle-box construction ensures that it's evenly distributed. One thing to note is that this bed cover isn't machine-washable—Brooklinen recommends spot-cleaning or dry-cleaning if needed.
Price at time of publish: $209 for Full/Queen
Best for Winter: The Company Store Legends Hotel Primaloft Alberta Down Alternative Comforter
Five colors available
When winter rolls around, you'll be glad to have the PrimaLoft Alberta Comforter. Available in two weights—medium warmth and extra warmth—it's made to meet different needs. This duvet is filled with PrimaLoft, a type of polyester microfiber known for its down-like loftiness and thermal qualities.
As for the shell, you're looking at 300-thread-count cotton sateen finished with a combing technique to maximize softness and enhance the comforter's insulation. While this comforter is on the pricier side, you'll definitely get your money's worth in terms of warmth, comfort, and durability. We also like that it comes in a few colors, so you can forgo a duvet cover if you want to keep things simple.
Price at time of publish: $269 for Queen
Best Lightweight: Parachute Down Alternative Duvet Insert
Prefer something a bit lighter? Your best bet is Parachute's Down Alternative Duvet Insert. It comes in two densities: all-season and lightweight, the latter of which is just the thing for hot sleepers and summertime use.
The super-fine microfiber fill is designed to mimic the natural fluffiness of real down, only it's hypoallergenic and vegan. Woven from 100 percent cotton with a sateen weave, the shell is breathable and soft with a subtle sheen. Though this duvet insert doesn't come in exact bedding sizes, we like that it's machine-washable and dryer-safe.
Price at time of publish: $259 for Queen
Best Medium-Weight: Casper Mid Weight Down Alternative Duvet
Suitable for year-round use
Not too warm but still plenty cozy, the Casper Mid Weight Duvet is ideal for year-round use. The fill fibers are made of 100 percent recycled polyester that mimics the loftiness and lightweight insulation of real feathers. Inspired by down-filled puffer jackets, the sewn-in chambers hug your body while keeping the fill in place.
The shell is made of Tencel lyocell, a naturally breathable and temperature-regulating fabric that's sourced from the pulpy cellulose fibers of wood. While we wish this comforter was a little more affordable and available in exact sizes, overall, it's a great mid-weight option.
Price at time of publish: $199 for Full/Queen
Best Heavyweight: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Duvet Insert
The Boll & Branch Down Alternative Duvet Insert comes in three densities, and the Ultraweight level is one of the warmest, coziest options you'll find. It's filled with PrimaLoft microfiber, a hypoallergenic material that boasts thermal qualities and down-like loftiness. As for the shell, you're looking at 100 percent organic cotton.
Thanks to the baffle-box construction, the fluffiness is evenly distributed and won't shift around over time. We also appreciate that there are corner tabs to keep your duvet cover in place. This comforter is undoubtedly expensive (especially the Ultraweight option), but it's the closest you'll get if you want the same insulation as real down.
Price at time of publish: $398 for Full/Queen
Best Temperature Regulating: Sheets & Giggles Eucalyptus Comforter
Not very lofty
No full size
Sheets & Giggles' take on the down-alternative comforter is this premium eucalyptus number. The shell is made of 100 percent lyocell sourced from the pulp of eucalyptus trees, offering a soft, cool-to-the-touch feel. Inside is a poly-lyocell blend of ultra-fine fibers that do an excellent job of keeping you at a comfortable temperature.
Lyocell has the unique ability to draw sweat away from your body and evaporate it quickly.⁴ We appreciate that this comfortable is machine-washable, dryer-friendly, and available in exact sizes. And while it's not the loftiest option around, we also like that it comes in a few colors for those who don't want to use a cover.
Price at time of publish: $150 for Queen
Best Silk: Vesta Silk-filled Thermoregulating Duvet
Natural fill material
If you prefer natural materials over polyester, you might consider a silk comforter. Vesta's Thermoregulating Duvet is filled with 100 percent premium-quality silk fibers. The material is naturally breathable and moisture-wicking with unique thermal stability, so it keeps you warm when you want it to.
This down-alternative comforter has an organic cotton shell to encourage airflow. Thanks to its temperature-regulating abilities, it's an excellent choice for year-round use. One thing to note, though, is that it's not vegan-friendly, as the silk comes from mulberry worms.
Price at time of publish: $329 for Full/Queen
The best down-alternative comforter on the market is Buffy's Cloud Comforter, which earned an almost-perfect score from our tester for its reasonable price and lightweight yet cozy feel. If you're looking for something even more wallet-friendly, we recommend the Utopia Bedding Quilted Comforter, a machine-washable, dryer-safe bed cover that comes in several colors.
How We Tested
To compile this list, we researched highly-rated and best-selling comforters from a wide range of online retailers. We then purchased over 30 top picks to put to the test at The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa. We rigorously tested every comforter and evaluated each on the basis of quality, texture, breathability, durability, and overall value. Our testers also assessed how the comforters performed right out of the box, plus how they held up to being washed and dried (for those that were machine-washable). We even spilled coffee on each comforter to see how easy it was to remove stains. With those insights and our writer's research, we chose our favorites on this list.
What to Look for in a Down-Alternative Comforter
High-quality materials are paramount for down-alternative comforters, starting with the shell (the outside of the duvet). Natural fabrics tend to be the most breathable with moisture-wicking properties, which helps keep you at a comfy temperature while you doze. Cotton is the most common, but you'll also find options with bamboo, eucalyptus, silk, and lyocell shells.
Synthetic shell fabrics can sometimes mean a less soft comforter than a natural material. However, synthetic materials often lead to lower prices, which can make for a good budget-friendly pick like the Utopia Bedding comforter.
Down-alternative comforters are a great option for people with allergies, as goose and duck feathers can irritate some people. It's important to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction, so you know if your bedding isn't right for you. " Symptoms of a feather or dust mite allergy include sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, coughing, sinus pressure, and postnasal drip," says Heather Viola, DO, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine.
Another way to be sure your comforter is allergy free is to look for asthma and allergy-friendly certifications by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Dr. Viola notes.
So, what are down-alternative comforters filled with instead? Ultra-fine polyester fibers are the most common replacement for feathers. Though this is a synthetic substance, it's often sourced from recycled materials, such as plastic water bottles. You'll also find some comforters filled with high-quality natural materials like viscose (bamboo), such as our top luxury pick the Cozy Earth comforter, or silk. Just keep in mind that silk isn't vegan, as it comes from mulberry worms.
Weight and Loft
In addition to the fill material, you'll want to consider the weight and loft. A heavier comforter will be warmer for those cold winter nights, and a lighter comforter will be more suitable for year-round use.
If you like the fluffy look and feel of a plush comforter but don't necessarily want something super-warm, there are some great lofty-yet-lightweight designs, such as The Company Store's PrimaLoft Alberta Comforter.
Another option is to size up while using the proper duvet cover size. For instance, a king comforter will look super-fluffy inside a queen cover without adding too much heat.
What is the difference between down and down-alternative comforters?
Down comforters are made from feathers, while down-alternative comforters only use synthetic materials. As mentioned above, silk is also a great substitute for down, though it's not technically vegan.
How do you wash a down-alternative comforter?
The proper way to wash a down-alternative comforter really depends on the material, stitching, and overall construction. Generally speaking, you should be able to launder yours in a standard washing machine on a delicate cycle (or bulky, depending on the loft) with cold or warm water.
Most duvet inserts can also be tumble-dried on low heat, though some call for air-drying. Some brands suggest spot-cleaning or dry-cleaning only, so be sure to check the instructions before cleaning yours.
Finding a comforter that holds up well after multiple washes is crucial, according to Kenneth Mendez, president, and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America. "Because frequent washing is recommended for people with asthma and allergies, the bedding product should not break down even after multiple wash cycles so that the allergen barrier function still works," he says.
When does a down-alternative comforter need replacing?
Most down-alternative comforters last for three to five years, though it depends on the material, usage, and overall quality. If yours is lumpy, flatter than it once was, or permanently stained, or has a funky odor, it might be time to swap it out for a new one.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a commerce copywriter specializing in textiles, home goods, sleep products, and lifestyle. When researching picks for this story, she spoke to sleeping experts for insight into the substitutes for natural down, as well as the different weights of comforters and what certifications they might carry. She looked at insights from our home testers, combed through user reviews, and pored over the product specs of dozens of duvets before landing on the final picks.