Duvet covers are basically sheets. Essentially, they are two flat sheets sewn together, so logically, the same criteria that you would use to purchase a sheet (set) should apply for duvet covers as well.
Aside from a few differences – like accessories – duvet covers are made from the same materials, made by the same manufacturers, and are used as a covering similarly to sheets.
However, duvet covers serve a purpose, and those functions – while complimentary to sheets – are not 100% parallel.
Sheets are for your mattress and pillows. A duvet cover is for your comforter. Each has a different function, and it only makes sense to look for different sets of features.
Sheets and duvet covers share many of the same “descriptions”, such as thread count, material, etc., but the priorities for a duvet cover are slightly different. There are certain features to look for, and some features that don’t really have any applicable benefits in practical use.
With that said, let’s take a look at which features to look for when shopping for a duvet cover, and which features you should or might be able to disregard.
Duvet covers are the main design element for most beds, but as mentioned above, they serve a purpose. There should be a happy medium between looks and functionality – which is easy to accomplish if you know which features to look for.
A duvet cover is basically a giant pillowcase. Unlike a pillowcase however, you want your duvet cover to close when you’re done stuffing your comforter inside. The majority of duvet covers are available in one of two closure options:
- Button closure
- Zipper closure
Which is better?
Buttons. Definitely buttons!
A zipper is easier and quicker to zip shut, but the advantage ends there. Buttons do take a minute longer, but provide a few clear advantages over a zipper.
1.) Buttons don’t have mechanical parts – they just always work. They don’t get stuck, they don’t get caught in fabric, they don’t get fussy – they just work, and they work every time.
2.) Zippered edges are stiff. Stiff and comfortable are conflicting principles.
3.) Buttons are much easier (and cheaper) to replace or fix. A lost button can be fixed in 2 minutes with a replacement button, and a few inches of thread.
Even if you’re not inclined to repair it yourself, any dry cleaning or alteration shop can replace the button for you quickly, and cheaply. Repairing a broken zipper is often not worth the cost, and results in the purchase of a new duvet cover.
The moral of the story being – choose buttons!
If you already have a certain duvet in mind from a designer brand, then you can probably disregard the size. If not, size is definitely a consideration.
An ideal duvet cover is like a shoe in that you want a bit of wiggle room. Look for a duvet cover that is about 2″ larger than your comforter. For example, if your comforter measures 88″ x 88″, look for a duvet cover that measures 90″ x 90″.
You may have noticed loops sticking out of the corners of your comforter. If you have always wondered what those are, they are duvet loops. They are there to keep your comforter in place, and to keep it from shifting around.
Certain duvets come with ties – appropriately called “duvet ties” – that you use with the duvet loops to keep the comforter attached to the duvet cover.
In our experience, not using duvet ties and loops is the most common reason why duvet covers tear and shred, and are ultimately replaced.
People who don’t use duvet loops and ties usually use safety pins to affix the comforter to their duvet cover. While safety pins do a great job of keeping your comforter in place, they do their fair share of damage as well.
Every time you wash your duvet (which is usually as often as you wash your sheets), and put the comforter back in, they safety pins go in a slightly different location. This results in numerous holes throughout the lifetime of your duvet cover.
Over time, these small holes create unnecessary damage. As the duvet cover ages, each wash cycle causes more wear to these holes in the fabric, significantly weakening the structure.
While you sleep, the tugging and pulling that your comforter and cover incur also stretches out these small holes. Have you ever pulled on your comforter and heard a tearing sound? Yup, that tear most likely came from the safety-pin area!
Needless to say, most duvet covers are replaced at this point. In other words – look for a duvet cover with ties, and use them!
If your duvet cover does not have ties, consider using a set of duvet grips or comforter clips. They hold your comforter in place better than safety pins, and won’t leave a bunch of holes behind.
They are very inexpensive, and one on each corner of your comforter will keep it firmly in place.
Like your sheets and pillowcases, duvet covers also need to be laundered. If you plan on washing your duvet covers every week or two weeks, a cover that can be machine washed is a very important feature.
Covers that have lavish stitching or that are made of silk and other fine fabrics require dry cleaning. Taking your duvet cover to the cleaners frequently is not only time-consuming, but costly as well. Most dry cleaners charge a minimum of $25 to launder a duvet cover.
Do yourself, and your wallet a favor – insist on a machine washable cover!
Features that might not be as important
Some of the features that you might prioritize when buying sheets shouldn’t necessarily be priorities when shopping for a duvet. You have to contemplate your actual application, and consider whether these features will realistically benefit you.
Thread counts are like money – you can never have enough right? Wrong!
We’ve covered the misnomer about higher thread counts on this site before, so we’ll skip that lecture, and get straight to the point on this one.
A high thread count is nice in theory, but are you actually going to realistically benefit from it?
Consider two realistic situations about your sleeping habits, and the make up of your bed:
1.) Do you sleep with long-sleeved pajamas?
If so, then you’re never going to feel the softness of that higher thread count. The only exposed surfaces of your body will be your head, hands, and feet. Unless you sleep under the comforter, that just leaves your hands and feet.
A high thread count might be soft and luxurious, but what’s the point if it never comes into contact with your skin.
2.) Do you use a flat sheet?
Regardless of your sleeping attire, if you use a flat sheet, once again, you’ll never actually feel the fabric of the duvet cover.
Duvet cover sets
Duvet covers are commonly sold as sets, which include pillow shams (or one sham for Twin sizes).
Do you actually need a set? If you aren’t actually going to use the shams for decorative purposes, then you’re just wasting your money.
Avoid reversible covers, particularly if you are a one design girl (or guy). Reversible duvet covers are commonly budget options, and are made of poor materials.
Reversible duvet covers are usually offered as a feature for cheaper duvet covers as a selling point. Unless you like to switch things up, and your budget is limited, avoid reversible duvet covers.
Some final thoughts
We looked at features to consider, and which aren’t as important, but what else might you encounter when shopping for a duvet cover?
You might see some covers being described as a “comforter cover”. A comforter cover is the same thing as a duvet cover. They are one and the same.
Retail store shopping
If you’re shopping for a duvet cover at a department store, and debating between two covers, you might be judging which fabric feels softer in your hands.
If so, keep in mind that retail bedding products are loaded with commercial fabric softeners to make them feel ultra plush and soft in the package. Once you throw them in your washing machine at home, these softeners will wash out. What you’ll be left with is rarely as soft as what you felt in-store.
If on the other hand, you’re wisely trying to save money, and shopping for an expensive designer cover on eBay or Amazon, you should look out for a few things as well:
Avoid buying any products marked as “display models”. There are two major reasons for this:
1.) True display models are abused in stores, by employees (and customers) who aren’t concerned about the future well-being of the item.
By the time you receive it, it will likely have numerous holes, stains, damage etc.
2.) Most “display models” are actually customer returned merchandise being marketed as display models – in which case, you never know what the previous owner did with it. It’s very common to receive customer returned merchandise that smells like bleach at best, and covered in hair at worst!
Look for products that are advertised as “new in the package”, and look for pictures of the actual package. If a picture of the package is provided, take a close look. Is the cover folded inside like it would be if it was brand new? Do you see clean lines, a tight fold, and even edges? It should look something like this:
Here is another example of a new duvet cover:
Did you notice how in both packages above, the cover was neatly and tightly folded? The surface of the duvet cover seen from the front was smooth, and free of wrinkles, or dimples.
Duvet covers and sheet sets come from the factory with cardboard inserts inside. These inserts provide the contents with a study and clean appearance. Once you take the cover (or sheets) out of the package, it is almost impossible to get the cover folded in the exact same way, and back in the package.
On the other hand, if the does the cover look wrinkled, ruffled, or lumpy? Wrinkles, ruffles, lumps, and bulging packages are all signs of something that has been possibly used. Like this:
See those wrinkles down the middle? Notice how the bottom and left edges are uneven and ruffled? Clear signs of a product that was taken out of the package.
If you only see stock photos, move on, regardless of the bargain.