Two of the most popular types of bed covering on the market are the comforter and the duvet. Although similar in function and look, they each have their own distinctive attributes that separate them from each other and other types of bed spreads.
A bed spread is typically defined as a decorative and warming bed cover, usually pre-filled with a variety of stuffing. While a comforter, duvet or quilt can generally be defined as a bed spread, there are subtle differences between them. A comforter is a thick and fluffy blanket, quilted in a checked pattern. Unlike a quilt, however, it is normally filled with a synthetic fibre and when decorated its color is achieved through a dyeing process, rather than embroidery which is the common decorative technique used on quilts. A comforter does not require a cover of any type, yet many people opt to use a duvet cover in conjunction with a comforter for ease of cleaning.
A duvet, on the other hand, should be placed in a cover. A duvet is a down-filled comforter that remains largely undecorated. A duvet is generally white, off-white or beige. In addition to the down-filling, some duvets are stuffed with polyester batting, silk or wool.
The main difference between a comforter and duvet is in the application. Comforters are traditionally meant to be used with blankets and sheets, whereas a duvet is used by itself as a single cover over a single sheet, great reducing the effort of making a bed.
Duvets also come with a rating of warmth known as a Tog rating. The lower the Tog rating is, the less warmth generated by the duvet. This rating system allows the consumer to purchase an appropriate duvet for whatever the climate or season they require. Some duvets are now marketed in sets of two different Tog ratings. This allows the consumer to use them separately or combine them as needed to suit all of their comfort needs. Comforters are commonly sold in kits that contain matching pillow shams and bed skirts.
In the U.S. confusion often occurs as the terms comforter and duvet tend to be used interchangeably, while in parts of Europe any thick and warm blanket may be referred to as a duvet. Duvets are still used in Europe, especially in the northern parts where they are still the most widely used type of bed covering and have become increasingly popular in the global marketplace in the latter half of the 20th Century.