Down vs Down Alternative Comforters – Pros & Cons

We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs. See our disclosure page for more information.

Shopping for comforters can be difficult. They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and it’s hard to know where to start! However, making one big decision can really narrow down the playing field. Shoppers need to first decide if they want a down comforter or a down alternative comforter.

To help all those prospective comforter customers out there looking for the best comforter, we wanted to compare down and down alternative comforters. This article will get into the benefits and drawbacks of each and hopefully help our readers decide which is best for them. Read on for our down vs down alternative comforter comparison!

Who Should Choose Each Type of Comforter?

It might seem overwhelming at first, but when we look at the differences listed in this article, it shouldn’t be very hard to choose between down and down alternative comforters.

Who Should Choose a Down Comforter?

  • Those who prefer a fluffier comforter
  • Sleepers who want a warm comforter but don’t want to sleep hot
  • Shoppers who are seeking a more durable, longer-lasting comforter

Who Should Choose a Down Alternative Comforter?

  • People who suffer from allergies
  • Shoppers who want to save some money on their purchase
  • Those who find down to be unethical

See the best down alternative comforters.

Down vs Down Alternative Comforter Video Comparison

To see what these two types of comforters look like in action, make sure to check out our in-depth video. You can see our reviewer, Marten, try out down and down alternative comforters and talk about his experience with each:

What Are the Differences Between Down and Down Alternative Comforters?

While down and down alternative comforters can look quite similar on the outside, they are different in a number of ways. Let’s look at the construction, feel, and performance of both types.


The main difference between down comforters and down alternative comforters is the fill found inside. As the name suggests, down comforters are filled with down, a natural material found on ducks and geese.

Down Comforter Fill

Down alternative comforters contain either cotton or some type of synthetic fill such as polyester.

Down Alternative Comforter Fill


When people are looking for a comforter, they might imagine something fluffy and cloud-like. In general, down comforters are going to be fluffier than down alternative comforters and will really rise off the mattress.

This is because down fill usually has more “fill power” than down alternative fill. This means that a small piece of down will expand more and take up more space than an equal amount of down alternative.

Also, while some down alternative comforters are advertised with a certain fill power, this is not always accurate. It is difficult to actually determine the fill power of a down alternative fill. With a down comforter, anything between 550 and 750 fill power is good, and anything over 750 is fantastic.

Fluffy Down Comforter

Warmth and Breathability

With its extra loft and fill power, down comforters are generally warmer than down alternative comforters. While down alternative comforters can be warm, they require more fill to reach the same amount of warmth as a down comforter. Because of this, it is rare to find a down alternative comforter that is both light and warm.

At the same time, down is more breathable than the fill found in down alternative comforters. Because it expands more, there is more room for air to flow through the comforter and keep sleepers from overheating and waking up hot and sweaty at night. This is much more likely when sleeping under a down alternative comforter.


One of the major drawbacks of down is that is can trap allergens like dust mites and pollen. This can make things very uncomfortable for sleepers and can cause or exacerbate allergies. While some down comforters may promise a “down proof” construction that is made to prevent these allergic reactions, they may not always be reliable.

Down alternative comforters, on the other hand, don’t usually have this issue with trapping allergens. They are mainly “hypoallergenic” and can be a better choice for those who struggle with serious allergies. Also, make sure to read our piece on how to prevent dust mites.


In general, it is much easier to clean down alternative comforters. This is because they can usually be thrown in the washer and dryer at home for easy cleaning and drying.

Down Alternative Comforter - Washing And Drying

Caring for down comforters, on the other hand, is much more difficult, as they usually have to be taken to the dry cleaner or at least the laundromat for proper cleaning. Most down comforters cannot be cared for at home.

That is why we recommend using a duvet cover when using a down comforter. If something is going to be stained or dirtied, it is much better if it is a duvet cover. Duvet covers are also a great idea when using a down alternative comforter because it is easier to clean a duvet cover than a down alternative comforter.

RELATED: How to Wash a Comforter


While we can wash down alternative comforters at home, this can lead to the outer shell fraying and a breaking down of the fill inside. Also, down fill is simply more durable than the fills found in down alternative comforters. Because of this, down comforters are usually going to last longer than down alternative comforters.


Price is, of course, a major factor when people are deciding between bedding and comforters. Now, it depends on the quality of the down and the other materials found in the comforter but, generally, down comforters are going to cost more than down alternative comforters. The synthetic materials and cotton found in a down alternative comforter are cheap to produce and harvest, while down can be pricier to harvest and process.

FAQs About Down and Down Alternative Comforters

Is down warmer than down alternative?

In general, down is warmer than down alternative fills. That is because it is more expansive and takes less material to keep sleepers warm. Down alternative comforters require more fill to equal the warmth of a down comforter.

Is down alternative better for those with allergies?

Down alternative comforters are usually better for those with allergies. They shouldn't trap dust mites and other allergens the way down comforters are known to do.

Is down or down alternative better?

We wouldn't say that one type of comforter is better than the other, but they are a better match for different types of people. Those who like a fluffier, warmer comforter that is also breathable will like a down comforter. Those who want to save money or struggle with allergies will be better off with a down alternative comforter.

Is down fluffier than down alternative?

Down comforters are usually fluffier than down alternative comforters because down is a loftier material with more fill power. This means it expands to fill more space than most down alternative fills.

Do hotels use down or down alternative comforters?

It depends on the hotel, but in general hotels use both down and down alternative comforters.

Marten Carlson

Marten is the Lead Reviewer at Mattress Clarity. He is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and covers the mattress industry as well as sleep science news. He is specifically interested in the connection between sleep and overall health. Marten has written for media publications like Consequence of Sound and received a master’s degree in Film Studies from Emory University. He comes from Franklin, Indiana, and spends all the time he can writing, directing, and acting in films.