How to buy duvets and pillows

Enjoy a great night's sleep with our expert guide to finding the right duvet and pillow for you

Duvets come in all sorts of qualities and prices, so work out your needs and budget before you’re seduced by an insomnia-inducing £800 quilt. Once you know what you’re after, it’s time to get down to details. Here are the different types:

  • 4.5 tog – a cool, lightweight duvet, ideal for use in summer.
  • 9 tog – a medium-warm option designed for spring or autumn.
  • 13.5 tog – a warm duvet, perfect for winter (you may never need a quilt this warm).

Clever combos

Most manufacturers produce combination duvets to ensure year-round comfort. These usually consist of a 4.5 tog quilt for summer plus a 9 tog for spring and autumn that can be buttoned together to make 13.5 togs for winter. ‘If you choose a feather combination, put the lighter weight on top so it doesn’t get crushed,’ advises Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company.

If you and your partner can’t agree on how warm your bed needs to be, you’re not alone. Generally, men are far warmer in bed than women and companies like Gingerlily have responded by creating half-and-half duvets, with different weights on each side to make sure you and your other half can both enjoy your shut-eye.

Care and storage

* The best way to store duvets and pillows is in a breathable cotton
bag. Plastic vacuum-pack bags are OK for synthetics, but they will
squash feather or down quilts and ruin the bedding.

* Most duvets
are now washable, but it’s best to have them professionally laundered
(different from dry cleaning). Professional laundering as opposed to
home washing also prolongs the lifespan. Once a year is usually
sufficient.

* Pillows should fit in a domestic washing machine one at a time, and are easier to dry than a duvet (especially synthetics), so home laundering is an option.

* Airing is an essential part of caring for a natural duvet, so give your bedding a regular shake. Also plump your pillows daily to circulate the filling so it doesn’t compact.

* Pillow and mattress protectors are a sound investment, as they help to ward off wear and tear.

*
The number of times a duvet is laundered affects how long it will last,
as will repeatedly lying on top of it. Both compress the filling and
affect its ability to trap air.

Duvet fillings

* Natural materials tend to feel more luxurious, are more
breathable as they draw moisture away from the body and, as a rule, last
longer than synthetics. Most are stitched across the outer cover to
stop the filling moving about and to create pockets, which help to trap
air.

The most basic natural filling is duck feather and down. An
affordable option, it tends to be heavier than a pure down duvet – ideal
if you like to feel cocooned in a more substantial cover.

Luxurious
silk duvets naturally repel dust mites, so are a good choice for people
with allergies. Also, as it’s the ultimate breathable material, it
helps regulate your body temperature, too.

* Synthetic Fibres
are practical if your duvet may need regular laundering, as they’re
easier to dry, so can be washed at home in a large-capacity washing machine. A 60º wash will kill off dust mites that can cause allergies.
There are several types of synthetic materials, many of which are non-allergenic. The
Microfibre Light Combination is the best-selling duvet in John Lewis and feels most like down for softness and drape.

Pillows: The options

Pillow fillings are similar to duvets, but with added options. As such, here are a few things to consider before you make your next pillow purchase:

  • Down and feather pillows
    mould round your neck and shoulders and give more choice in terms of
    firmness. It’s important to choose pillows with a high thread count
    casing, totherwise feathers can escape.
  • Synthetic fillings are best for allergy sufferers and are easy to wash, making them a good choice for kids.
  • Ergonomic/memort foam pillows shape themselves to your neck and head. Can be good for people suffering with neck problems.
  • Latex pillows give firm support and are excellent for asthmatics as they don’t collect house dust.
  • Greenfibres sells pillows made from natural materials, from kapok to millet husks – an eco-friendly option.

Blankets, throws and mattress toppers

* Although duvets are still the bedding of choice, blankets and throws
are a great way to add colour and texture to a neutral scheme. Choose
fresh hues and light weaves for spring/summer and warmer shades and
thick-textured fabrics for autumn/winter.

* Blankets help make a
lower- tog duvet warm enough for winter and are good if you like that
‘tucked in’ feeling. If you do add a blanket to your bedding, first use a
sheet, then the blanket and finally your duvet, as otherwise the air
that adds to the warmth will be squashed out of the quilt.

*
Mattress toppers, which have been used in the best hotels for some time,
are now gaining popularity at home. ‘My chiropractor recommended using
one,’ says The White Company’s Chrissie Rucker. ‘The extra layer of padding between you and your mattress gives you a really comfortable night’s sleep’.

Washing your duvet

Wash your duvet once a year in a washing machine to ensure it’s kept fresh. Doubles may need to be taken to a laundrette.

Add
a small amount of detergent to a cool cycle. Use a netural pH formula
that won’t dry out the feathers or remove their natural oil. Remember to
check the label before washing.

Tumble dry on a low heat and air
the duvet (on a washing line if it’s a warm day) to ensure it’s
completely dry before you put it back on the bed.

TOP TIP: Toss in a couple of tennis balls to plump up the duvet as it’s drying. This will stop it clumping together.

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