We spent a combined 60 hours researching 17 duvet covers and testing six, taking them on and off a king-size comforter, sleeping under them, washing and drying them, and analyzing the seams, closures, and duvet ties. The Brooklinen Classic Duvet Cover was as soft and comfortable to sleep under as more expensive covers, it didn’t shrink or warp in the wash (as some did), and it comes with sturdy comforter ties and a cloth bag for easy storage. The fabric is crisp and breathable; it looks and feels a little like what you’d find at a higher-end hotel. You can certainly find cheaper covers, but the Brooklinen is made of better long-staple cotton (which makes it softer and longer lasting), and it still comes at a reasonable price.
We chose to focus on solid-colored covers, because prints are such a personal preference (and it would be nearly impossible to compare the hundreds of printed options!). The Brooklinen duvet cover comes in a good (if minimalist) selection of colors and prints that we think would look at home with a wide range of decorating styles. If you prefer bolder and brighter patterns, you might like one of the L.L.Bean or IKEA covers.
We like this cover a lot, and it was a tough call choosing between it and the Brooklinen. But it’s significantly more expensive (almost $50 more for a king size), and may be more than most people need. Its fabric feels more durable, and it has the best seams and duvet ties of all the covers we tried. It also comes with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee. In our initial tests, the fabric was less soft than the Brooklinen cover, but we suspect that the L.L.Bean cover will get better with age. This is is the matching duvet cover to our favorite percale sheets, and from experience we know the fabric gets softer with progressive laundering.
If you want a reasonably good and very inexpensive cover, the all-cotton IKEA Dvala is the best we’ve found. The fabric is slightly rougher than our top two picks, but it was lighter, softer, and generally more pleasant to sleep under than the other cheaper covers we tried. It comes with two pillowcases, making it an especially good deal if you need to outfit a bed on a budget.
We started by looking at guides for buying duvet covers, but they mainly focus on how to gauge quality when making a purchase. Very few offered specific brand recommendations. We took those tips into account, and we also interviewed Shannon Maher, an assistant professor in the Home Products Development Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and former product designer for The Company Store. She helped us with our testing strategy and gave us great information on bedding fibers and construction. We then looked closely at user reviews on various department store and home bedding sites. I also spent a few weeks sleeping under our various tester duvet covers.
I’m a quilter and quilt designer with a decade of experience making, washing, and using quilts and other bedding. I’ve battled wrinkles, learned how to create (and recognize) strong seams, and spent good money and time on projects that shrunk and distorted. I’ve had colors bleed and fabrics pill. And I’ve learned how to avoid and correct these things. I know what well-made bedding should look and feel like, and how to spot a great value.
If you’re looking to cover your down or down alt comforter, you may be confused by the term duvet cover. Technically, a comforter is a covering that’s sewn shut, usually comes in a pattern or color, and doesn’t require a cover. A duvet is made from down and inserted into a duvet cover. But comforter and duvet are generally used interchangeably in the US, according to FIT’s Shannon Maher.
From our research and discussion with Maher, we found that the best covers have strong seams that don’t fray, shrink minimally in the wash, come with well-made duvet ties for securing to a comforter, and have strong buttons or snaps at the closure. We looked specifically at covers made from high-quality cotton fabric. Cotton is soft and absorbs moisture well, allowing the body to stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather.
We recently updated our guide to sheets, so we first looked at the sheet brands that tested well to see if they had coordinating duvet covers with strong, positive user reviews. Big box and department stores had many options, but we eliminated those without perennial duvet covers that are consistently available. Department stores change bedding designs frequently, and we didn’t want to recommend something that would be on clearance next season.
Linen startup companies like Casper, Brooklinen, and Parachute Home have been building strong reputations over the past couple of years, and we’ve tested (and liked) many of the sheets from these companies. We had trouble finding reliable user reviews for several, and a few were exorbitantly priced. We surveyed Sweethome readers, and most told us they would be prepared to pay $50 to $100. A $300 duvet cover may be absolutely gorgeous, but it’s not in line with what most readers want.
In all, we looked at 17 covers and picked six for testing, all on a king-size bed. We measured them straight out of the bag, then again after a single wash to account for any initial shrinkage. We compared all the fabrics for smoothness, softness, pilling, and weight.
For the insert, we used a Macy’s Hotel Collection Primaloft comforter that measured 96 inches by 101 inches, which is wider than our budget cover by 10 inches but shorter than our upgrade cover by 6 inches. In both extremes, the comforter fit into the cover just fine, so don’t worry if your comforter is larger or smaller than your chosen cover. To test the strength of duvet ties, we secured them to the comforter and shook them to see if the comforter came loose. For the most part, covers without any ties to secure them received negative marks. No one wants a duvet that just shifts and runs wild inside its cover.
We washed and dried all tested covers without any fabric softeners, and with all of their closures fastened. We also left them in the dryer for a while. In everyday life, we’re not always right there to pull laundry out immediately, and we wanted to see how wrinkled and rumpled these covers would get. Then we washed them again with the closures open, and we did find that they tangled and wrinkled less if we closed them up before tossing them in the machine.
We also folded every cover after the first and second washes to see if the seams stayed straight and even—twisted seams can make it difficult to properly fit a duvet inside the cover, and they can look messy on a made bed.
Then we slept under all of them for a night each to see how they actually move and feel in use.
The Brooklinen Classic Duvet Cover was the softest feeling cover we tried. It was as comfortable, in fact, as more expensive covers, while holding up better in the wash than much of the competition. It also has some nice bonus features, such as ties to secure a comforter, a cloth bag for storage, and a good selection of colors and patterns. This cover is on the pricier side, but overall we think its high quality means you could use it happily for many years.
The Brooklinen cover is made from a super soft, smooth percale fabric, manufactured from long-staple Egyptian cotton. It’s lighter and cooler than a sateen (see our sheet guide for more on the difference between percale and sateen), and feels like the crisp sheets you’d find in a nicer hotel. (If you happen to prefer silkier sheets, you might want a sateen cover; the Cuddledown one we tested was our favorite sateen.) From our sheets guide reporting, we know good, soft percale ranges between 250 and 300 thread count, and the Brooklinen rings in at 270. We found the Brooklinen cover cooler, smoother, and softer than the L.L.Bean, Room Essentials, and Hemstitch covers. We think this combination provides plenty of warmth without causing you to overheat and weighing you down.
We were impressed with the Brooklinen’s overall construction. The serged edges frayed less after washing than the Cuddledown, Room Essentials, Hemstitch, and IKEA covers. After washing and drying it didn’t pill or shrink, and its seams stayed straight, allowing us to fold the cover evenly. By comparison, the Room Essentials and Hemstitch covers failed on all three of these counts. For our guide to The Best Sheets, we tried Brooklinen’s matching sheets, and found that the fabric resisted pilling and tearing when we tested them at FIT’s textile testing lab. So we think the cover will wear well over many years of use.
The inside ties to secure the cover to a comforter were cut a little thicker than the Cuddledown ties, but not quite as strong as the ties on the L.L.Bean cover. The Room Essentials, Hemstitch, and IKEA covers, on the other hand, had no way to secure the cover to a comforter. The closures held up very well, with tight-fitting button holes to keep the bottom of the duvet cover from opening.
Right out of the box, this duvet cover makes an impression. It comes beautifully folded in a charcoal gray fabric pouch with the Brooklinen logo, with a packet of Laundress laundry detergent for that very first wash. It comes in four solid colors and six prints, which are in muted gray, white, and blue tones. (If you want something brighter, we’d recommend looking at the options from L.L.Bean or IKEA.)
At around $100 for a queen size, the Brooklinen cover is less expensive than the one from L.L.Bean, and its price is right in line with the $50 to $100 range that Sweethome readers told us they want to pay. The Brooklyn-based company began as a Kickstarter in 2014 with a plan to produce high-quality bedding sold at a reasonable price directly to customers. So far, we’ve found that it makes high-quality bedding at a great price. We also tested its sheets and comforter, and both were among our favorites (a Brooklinen comforter is our runner-up pick). Brooklinen products are also Oeko-Tex certified, which means they’re independently tested and shown to be free of 100 substances harmful to the environment and humans.
There are a few drawbacks with this cover. It did wrinkle a fair bit when we washed it. Percale does generally wrinkle more than sateen, but our upgrade and budget picks fared better there, and neither are sateen. Many sheets and duvet covers out there are treated with wrinkle-resistant finishes, but we confirmed with Brooklinen that they don’t use any treatments to prevent wrinkles and shrinkage (we didn’t have issues with the duvet shrinking). Follow the included care instructions, and be prepared to get out the iron or live with a lovingly rumpled bed.
Because the Brooklinen Classic cover is so lightweight, it does feel like two sheets folded around a duvet. This still looks beautiful on the bed, but if you’re an active sleeper who likes to stick a leg out at night (like me), the duvet pulls away from the side of the cover and can leave you feeling tangled in several layers of sheets. We didn’t think any of these drawbacks were dealbreakers for a great-quality, well-priced cover.
If you have small kids or pets in the house, we recommend upgrading to the L.L.Bean 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Comforter Cover. We think the fabric and construction are more durable. But looking at a price that’s about $50 higher (for a king) than our main pick, we think this is really only worth it if you need a cover that will stand up to heavy use over time.
The L.L.Bean’s thicker percale cover feels like it’s made out of the same heavy, sturdy shirting fabric as the company’s men’s button-downs (we had some available to compare). The fabric is heavier and less clingy than that of the Brooklinen, and most other covers tested. The fabric’s weight seemed to help keep the comforter from shifting inside, so when we made the bed the comforter was filled out evenly inside the cover with no bunching. It also wrinkled the least overall in our testing and smoothed out nicely on the bed. After two washes, this cover felt a little less soft and smooth compared with the Brooklinen. But because we’ve tested the corresponding L.L.Bean sheets for three years running (our favorite percale sheets), we know this fabric softens up over multiple washes. So it may very well surpass the softness of the Brooklinen over time.
The cover is impeccably constructed and held up the best overall in washings, shake tests, and anything our 4-year-old tester could throw at it (including chocolate milk). The serged seams on the L.L.Bean cover looked like new after two washings, while the Brooklinen seams started to fray slightly. Like the Brooklinen, this cover has sturdy button closures that will keep the comforter from spilling out. When we folded the covers after washing to compare the straightness of the seams, the L.L.Bean was easier to smooth and manipulate into a perfect rectangle without using any fabric softener. The duvet ties were also better constructed. They were cut wider than any other cover we tested and stitched in place with a heavier thread, so we think they’ll last longer and take more traffic from making the bed. Or from small jumping feet.
This cover comes in six solid colors and two different prints, each in three colors. It’s the biggest overall at 107 by 96 inches for a king size, compared with 107 by 90 inches for the Brooklinen. It also comes with one of the best lifetime guarantees we’ve found for bedding: You can return the cover at any time for a replacement, reimbursement, or gift card (depending on whether you have a receipt or not).
The IKEA Dvala was the least expensive cover we tried, but it was far better than the other moderately priced options we tested. The fabric, which is basically a medium-weight 100 percent cotton muslin, isn’t as soft as the thicker percale of the Brooklinen and L.L.Bean covers, and we don’t think it will last as long. But it’s a steal if you’re looking for a cheap cover, particularly since it comes with two pillowcases.
Although the Dvala isn’t as smooth as the Brooklinen fabric, it was lighter and softer than the Room Essentials and Hemstitch covers, the other two lower-priced covers we tested. It stays cool to the touch, but when we put on the fan it kept us warm enough. In contrast, the Room Essentials and Hemstitch covers felt clammy and hot to sleep under. The IKEA’s fabric also wrinkled less; the fabric of the other inexpensive covers wrinkled so much that the bed looked very untidy, even when it was made.
The IKEA cover is smaller overall than any other cover we tried (102 by 86 inches for the king size we tested), but this actually meant the duvet didn’t pull away at the sides. The smaller cover helped keep the duvet nicely fitted and slightly fluffy inside of it.
The Dvala doesn’t have ties in the corners to secure it, so we used duvet clips like these. But aside from that, the IKEA cover was surprisingly well-constructed, with minimal shrinking in the wash and no twisted seams. By comparison, the Room Essentials and Hemstitch both became unruly to fold after one wash. I also liked the snap closure as opposed to the usual buttons, which can be a little fiddly.
Reading the description of several IKEA duvet covers, the Dvala’s 144-thread-count material looks like the same fabric used for some of their wonderful printed duvet covers. This gives you lots of options.
The Cuddledown 400 Thread Count Sateen Duvet Cover didn’t wrinkle much, and the fabric is great. It’s a smooth, lightweight cotton that has a nice feel to it. If you know you prefer the silky feel of sateen fabric, the Cuddledown might be a good choice for you. (The corresponding sheets for this cover were our favorite luxury pick in our sheet guide.) But its silkier texture also meant the comforter moved around much more inside this cover. The corner ties also had the worst construction. They held in our shake tests, but the ends started to fray. They were made of the same thin, flat drawstring cord you’d find in a pair of pajama pants, and if you’ve ever had one of those cords twist and tangle you know they can be difficult to use. We weren’t confident that they would hold up to a heavy comforter over time.
The Hemstitch 400 Thread Count Solid Cotton Duvet Cover is available from Target and Overstock.com, and it was one of the three moderately priced covers we tested. It’s a cotton sateen, which gives it a nice sheen. But it almost feels like a flannel instead of a silky sateen. There are no ties to secure it to a duvet, and this one wrinkled more than any cover we tested. The big stiff creases did not shake out and needed ironing. It wrinkled even more after sleeping under it, and we thought it made for an untidy bed. And after washing and drying, the seams on the cover were twisted, making it difficult to fold evenly.
The Target’s Room Essentials Duvet Cover fabric felt weirdly damp, even after I was sure it was fully dried. It also had the roughest texture, again feeling like a tougher flannel. This made it clammy to sleep under. It’s the only cover in the bunch that wasn’t 100 percent cotton—it’s a 60/40 cotton/poly blend. Maher told us that blends typically wrinkle less, but this particular one did not live up to that. Like the Hemstitch cover, this one didn’t fold quite flat after washing. The seams twisted and it folded up unevenly. We think the IKEA DVvala was a much better choice for the price.
We thought hard about testing the Casper Duvet Cover, which had good reviews (and we chose Casper’s sheets as our upgrade pick in our sheet guide). But it comes in only two colors, and our readers told us $100 was the top end of what they wanted to pay for a cover. At around $140 for a queen, we thought it needed more color options to justify testing it.
Costco’s Jennifer Adams Home Duvet Cover was in the right price range, according to our reader survey, but it’s microfiber. We wanted to stick with cotton or cotton blends for this guide.
We didn’t test Costco’s Veratex Platinum Collection 100% Linen Duvet Cover Set because it was pricy and a few reviews said it felt like burlap.
Crane + Canopy’s The Hayes Nova cover had no reviews available. We wanted some user feedback to let us know if it was worth testing this relatively high-priced cover, and we couldn’t find any.
The reviews for the Lands’ End No-Iron Duvet Cover were great, but at nearly $210 for a king-size cover—with no shams—we thought it was just too pricey to test.
The Parachute Home Percale Duvet Cover was a brand-new item available for pre-order, with no feedback yet on its quality at the time of testing. We may revisit this one in the future when more information is available.
Restoration Hardware’s Ultra-Fine Lightweight Cotton Duvet Cover had no user reviews, and it was priced at around $290 for a king size. We thought this would be a product geared toward people who love the brand no matter the price, rather than everyday consumers. We did test RH’s corresponding sheets and liked them, but thought the fabric was a little thin for year-round use.
The Snowe Duvet Cover was about $300 for a king-size cover, and there weren’t enough user reviews or details about its features to test it at that price.
Target’s Threshold Washed Linen Duvet Cover Set wasn’t picked for testing because the linen raised the price, and the negative reviews said it clung to tons of pet hair and didn’t actually fit the Threshold duvet it was meant to cover.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
Originally published: June 10, 2016