What to Look For When Buying a Down Alternative Comforter

Natural down comforters aren’t for everyone: if you love the feel of down but suffer from an allergy, then you might need to check out a down alternative. Luckily, there are plenty of hypoallergenic down alternatives that offer the same levels of durability, warmth and coziness of natural down, so you can happily have your cake and eat it too.

There are even a few more advantages to down alternative comforters: they’re often less expensive and easier to clean than their natural down counterparts. Here’s what you need to know to select the right down alternative comforter for you.




It’s not goose or duck down, so what’s inside those comforters that make them feel so cozy? We’ve gotten pretty good at recreating the feel of natural down with the use of synthetic fibers—so good, in fact, that even some non-allergy sufferers prefer down alternatives Here are some of the terms you’re likely to come across.

Synthetic Polyester Fiber

This umbrella category refers to a variety of different types of man-made alternatives to down, which could include a variety of synthetic, hypoallergenic materials.

Gel Fiber

Despite the name, it’s not Jell-o! The “gel” part refers to polyester gel fibers. Gel fiber is lightweight, cushy, and can be easily scrunched. It’s made to have almost identical properties to natural down.

Natural Fill

Prefer natural to man-made? Keep your eyes open for natural fillers made from bamboo, silk, and buckwheat hull.




Down alternative comforter covers come in a variety of fabrics, so odds are pretty good that you’ll find something you like. Here are four of the most common fabric types you’ll encounter.


This opaque cotton or cotton-blend fabric is known for being lightweight. It’s a plain weave fabric that’s gentle enough to be used for baby clothing and lingerie.


A low-luster fabric typically made of cotton, sateen is soft and smooth. Look closely, and you’ll notice a bit of a luster—though it’s not quite as shiny as satin.


Damask is a glossy fabric. It features a simple, reversible pattern that is usually created by contrasting textures, like subtle stripes or checkers.


This delicate fabric is particularly fine. It’s very lightweight white linen, often used for linens, handkerchiefs, and even for lace and needlework.




Obviously, no comforter is going to leave you shivering in the night—they all offer some degree of warmth. But depending on the season, the temperature of your bedroom, and your own body heat while you sleep, you’ll want to take note of the level of warmth that a down alternative comforter offers.


If you sleep in a warm bedroom or tend to be a warm sleeper, a warm down alternative comforter will keep you cozy without overheating.

Extra Warm

An extra warm down alternative comforter offers additional warmth and is suitable for all but the coldest conditions. Extra warm is a good level for year-round use—you won’t burn up in the summertime, and a simple switch to flannel sheets or adding an extra blanket will make it perfect to use into the winter.


Most sleepers will find this level of warmth to be perfect from late fall to early spring. A toasty-rated comforter is also a great option for someone who tends to feel a little cooler when they’re falling asleep.

Extra Toasty

If you tend to be a very cold sleeper and your bedroom is on the cooler side, opt for a down alternative comforter than offers extra warmth. Used to piling on the blankets? Leave the tangled mess behind and opt for an extra toasty comforter.



Thread Count

You’ve probably heard of thread count before: the higher, the better, right? Kind of; thread count is a measure of the number of threads sewn into the comforter per square inch. A high thread count means a smoother, softer, more breathable fabric—but after a certain level, the difference is negligible.


While this was considered to be the standard thread count only a few decades ago, this is likely the lowest thread count you’ll come across in this day and age.


A thread count in this range means you’re working with a high quality cotton.


When you reach this threshold, you’re entering the luxury zone.


A thread count beyond 600 might be noticeable to the most discerning sleeper, but the difference to most people will be very slight.




The final consideration for your down alternative comforter is its size. The size of your bed will be the biggest factor in determining the right size comforter, but if you like the feeling of being extra bundled, or if you share a bed with a blanket-hogger, you might opt to go a size up.

Twin (70”x92”x1”)

A twin comforter is a great option for a smaller bed in a kid’s room or guest room. It will also be the lightest comforter option.

Full/Queen (92”x96”x1”)

A full (queen) comforter will fit most beds, and will provide ample coziness for a double bed.

King/California King (110”x96”x1”)

A king comforter will provide you covers for miles. Being the largest of the three, it is also the heaviest. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a palatial California King bed, then this is the size for you.

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