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Duvets, Duvet Covers, Comforters, and Inserts: Clarity at Last!

Written by Natalie Wilson

As much as we love bamboo bedding products here at Best Bamboo Guide (we've tested and reviewed everything from bamboo sheets to bamboo sunglasses), we know that sometimes you just need information on what all of your bedding options are. Although there are some great options for bamboo duvet covers, that may not always be the right way to go for your needs. You might need a comforter instead, or you might be looking for a duvet insert, or both a duvet insert and cover. We're here to help you figure out what options are best for your needs!

A lovely picture of the bamboo "duvet comforter" from Cariloha.  This duvet is awesome.  Both the exterior and the filling are 100% viscose bamboo.

It seemed simple at first: put together a comprehensive guide to the best bamboo duvet covers on the market. Once we started doing the research though, we realized things get more complicated quickly. Do you really need a duvet instead of a comforter? Do you need a cover for your duvet? And why not a cover for your comforter? Also, even though bamboo fabric is an ideal choice for the cover what about the duvet or comforter itself. Can that be made from bamboo? What about down or cotton or synthetic? The options start multiplying and confusion mounts. 

Fear not! That's why we put together this handy guide to duvets, duvet covers, comforters, and inserts. Read on to find out more, and for help figuring out which option suits you best.

What is a Duvet?

Originating in Europe, duvets are extremely plush quilts that are traditionally filled with down. Of course, these days there are other options. Cariloha makes what they call a "duvet comforter" (which doesn't really make sense as duvets and comforters are not quite the same thing) that is really a duvet insert. It is made entirely of viscose bamboo: both the exterior part that contacts your skin and the filling are 100% viscose bamboo. It is amazingly soft and highly recommended!

Continuing the theme of duvets as very plush quilts, most of them will feature quilting in a box or channel pattern, making them look like a big, fluffy quilt. They are sized to fit almost exactly on the bed, with minimal overhang, giving them a clean and modern look. Most of the time they are only available in white (or a slightly off-white color) since they are typically put inside a duvet cover (see below) and this minimizes the color showing through the cover.

Note the premise though: duvets are designed specifically to be put inside of a duvet cover. Duvet covers serve to protect the duvet which tends to be a bit delicate and is almost always dry-clean only. They also provide the opportunity to easily change the look, style and color scheme of your bedroom without having to get a completely new duvet. Just replace the cover and you are set!

Duvets are extremely popular because they keep you warm, but are still lightweight. The fact that you use them with a cover means your investment will last longer than with a comforter, and you can change the look and feel of your bed easily. It is also a new trend to dispense with a top sheet altogether, and sleep with only the duvet on top. (There's some debate on the merits of this.)

What is a Comforter?

A comforter is similar to a duvet in that it is a big fluffy covering that goes on top of your bed. It is a quilt made from two layers of material and filled with a soft insulating material, most commonly down. Of course, you can also find comforters with other natural fillings or with synthetic fillings. Most of the time a comforter will be slightly thinner than a duvet, but that is not universally true.

The real difference between a comforter and a duvet is that the comforter does not require a cover. In essense, it has the cover built in. This is has advantages and disadvantages: they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns as opposed to just white, they are often machine washable, they should be used with a top sheet. Of course, you can put a comforter inside a duvet cover if you choose to, but it's not usually done that way since it would almost be like using two covers.

The downside to the comforter having the cover built-in is that you can't change the look of the bedding, you need to wash the whole comforter instead of just the cover, and you typically need to use a top sheet.

Here at Best Bamboo Guide we'll mostly focus on duvets and duvet covers since we're interested in bamboo duvet covers, and that isn't something that will be available for comforters.

What is a Duvet Insert?

A duvet insert is exactly what we've described as a "duvet" above. Sometimes manufacturers or reviewers say "duvet insert" just to make it extra clear that it should go inside of a duvet cover.  Really though, there is no such thing as a "duvet insert" since the duvet is the insert.

Which of These Things Needs a Cover?

A duvet needs a cover, unsurprisingly called a "duvet cover." A comforter does not need a cover as the cover is part of the comforter construction.

Duvets vs. Comforters: The Epic Showdown!

We've sort of covered this above, but we like summary tables around here. Here's a quick table of the differences between a duvet and a comforter.



  • Goes inside of a duvet cover.
  • Since the cover can be replaced, easy to change look and style of your bedroom.
  • Easier to clean since you can just wash the cover. However, the duvet insert is usually dry cleaning only. Since it is covered, cleaning this can be infrequent.
  • You can make your bed "European-style" without a top sheet and sleep directly underneath the duvet cover.
  • Does not require a cover.
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, but can't be changed without buying a whole new comforter.
  • Usually machine washable (check before buying though as this can vary depending on the fill and the manufacturer).
  • Requires a top sheet.

We suppose you could put your comforter inside a duvet cover and use it just like a duvet. This might be a bit stifling though, and the pattern and color of the comforter might show through the pattern of the duvet cover. Not recommended!

Which Is Right For You?

What's Your Budget?

Although you can find duvets and comforters at basically every price point, the fact that you need to buy a duvet and a duvet cover means the duvet route typically costs a bit more upfront. Of course, down the line you can replace just the duvet cover, while the duvet itself should last for many, many years. A comforter on the other hand has a slightly lower upfront cost, but since the cover can't replaced, you'll have to replace the entire comforter about as often as you replace your sheets.

Do You Want to Minimize Time to Make Your Bed?

We've seen a lot of different designs of duvet covers. There are buttons, zippers, recessed buttons, a clever folding system that has no clasps at all. However, the one constant is that getting the duvet inside the duvet cover is kind of a pain. This just takes a certain amount of effort no matter what.

On the other hand, with a comforter there is no fussing about at all. You can just throw it on top of your bed and you're read to go. So comforters definitely have the advantage in ease-of-use.

How Often Do You Like to Change the Look of Your Bedroom?

A duvet goes inside a cover. The cover can be changed any time you like. You can even have multiple duvet covers in different patterns or styles to change the look of your bed from week to week. Although there is a much larger variety of styles and colors available for comforters, once you buy one there is no changing it.

How Fluffy Do You Like Your Bed?

For the ultimate in luxurious, decadent, sink-into-the-bed feel the duvet is the way to go. They are usually fluffier and softer, and since you can choose an awesome bamboo duvet cover, you'll have the ultimate in soft silky feel. Of course comforters are, well, comfortable, but they don't have quite the luxurious feel of a duvet.

Are You Into Layers or Not?

Since you don't have to use a top sheet with a duvet, if you like the idea of just sliding into your bed with minimal layers over you, then a duvet is a great choice. With a comforter, you'll still be under a top sheet. This is completely a matter of personal preference. Dispensing with the top sheet is definitely a trend that has become more popular in recent years. Sometimes this is called making your bed "European style." 

Do You Care How Easy it is to Wash?

Since a duvet has a removable cover, you only need to wash the cover about once a month. (Probably more frequently if you aren't using a top sheet.) Since the duvet cover is approximately the same thickness as a bed sheet, it is pretty easy to wash. While comforters are typically machine-washable they are big and bulky. Depending on your washing machine, it might be the only thing you can fit into the machine in that cycle. This makes duvets easier most of the time. However, the duvet insert is usually dry clean only. So on the rare occasions you need to clean the insert, you'll have to get it to the dry cleaners.

Is Your Bedding Storage Space at a Premium?

If you live in an apartment or somewhere that storage space is at a premium, then a duvet has some advantages. You only need the one duvet, and you can swap out different duvet covers which are thin and easy to store. Having more than one comforter will require some significant storage space for your bedding.

Conclusion: Duvet or Comforter?

It's probably obvious by now that there is no "right" choice here. It really depends on your preferences and needs.

Duvets are more luxurious, allow you to swap change colors and styles easily, and are easier to clean most of the time. They also allow for the simplicity of getting rid of your top sheet and sleeping with only the duvet as cover.

Comforters are typically a bit less expensive up front, have a ton of style and color options available, and are machine-washable on the occasions that you need to clean the entire thing. Comforters tend to have a more traditional look and feel.

So there you have it! We hope this clears up any confusion.

If you decide to go the duvet route, you can check out the Cariloha Duvet (insert) and also a comprehensive review of various bamboo duvet cover options that are available!

About the author

Natalie Wilson

When I'm not studying up on the latest eco-friendly ways to produce everyday items (particularly using bamboo), you can find me playing trivia at a local bar, or hanging out at the beach.

I love the idea of using an abundant resource like bamboo to make a huge varieties of items we use everyday.  Particularly when those are currently being made with plastic, or plants that require pesticides and a huge amount of water to grow.

Hopefully this site will inspire people to think about ways they can improve their sleep, decrease the strain they put on the environment, and generally get better, long-lasting products that are also sustainable and of higher quality than the products they are used to.

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