Wool Vs Down Comforters

When choosing a new comforter, there are a multitude of options. You could go for wool, down, feather or silk as well as synthetic comforter fillings like polyester. It can be hard to know which to pick – and everyone else seems to have their own opinion, right? That’s why we’re looking at two of the most popular naturally sourced fillings to solve the conundrum - wool comforter vs down comforter – what’s the difference?

Wool vs down: it’s all in the evolution

First, let’s look at the where these materials come from:

Wool

Wool has evolved to keep sheep (or alpacas) comfortable while gamboling around fields and mountainsides in all weathers. Its clever fibers are water resistant, taking perspiration from the sheep’s skin and releasing it into the atmosphere, keeping the animal cool and dry. It is also naturally hypoallergenic keeping the sheep healthy in all weathers.

Down

Down, small feathers taken from ducks and geese, has evolved to protect those birds that spend most of their time outside around cold water. The feathers heavily insulate the birds’ bodies, trapping air and moisture in to help them maintain a warm body temperature.

That’s all fine, but how does that solve the wool vs down comforter question? Well, those traits that help the animals and birds survive can be of benefit to us, as humans, when they’re used in bedding. Each perform in a different way to keep us comfortable at night and give us a good night’s sleep.
 

Wool vs down comforter – the comparison


  Wool comforter Down comforter
Temperature regulation A wool filled comforter is naturally thermoregulating. This means it can keep you cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cool. Down is designed to trap in heat. This is great for cold sleepers, but warm sleepers may find it difficult to drop off.
Moisture management Wool draws perspiration away from your body and desorbs it into the atmosphere creating a dry, comfortable sleeping environment. Down traps in moisture, creating humid conditions that may disrupt sleep.
When down becomes damp, it clumps together impairing the thermal properties of the comforter. This can also create the perfect humid environment for dust mites and mold spores to thrive.
Odor control A wool filled comforter will be naturally odor resistant due to its breathability. A down comforter will absorb and retain odors due to its insulating capabilities.
Weight If you prefer less weight choose a summer weight wool comforter. Goose down is renowned for being particularly lightweight.
Cleaning / care Choose a washable wool comforter for easy care. The fibers have been treated so they can withstand washing on a wool cycle with wool detergent. Cleaning down requires special care, mild detergent and line drying – or preferably a dry cleaner. Down can remain clumped and lose its insulating properties unless you’re careful.
Health Benefits A wool filled comforter will be naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and allergens. Down is not hypoallergenic and so can be a poor choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
Environmental benefits A natural wool comforter is biodegradable. Down is a natural biodegradable product.
Animal welfare Shearing sheep is a natural process (like having a haircut). This is done once or twice per year depending on breed.

You should make sure that the wool used has come from a reputable source.
Down will usually be taken from birds that have been slaughtered for food and so can be deemed a natural by-product of the food industry.

However, it is important to understand whether humane processes have been used in the collection of the down used.

Wool comforter vs down comforter – the conclusion

While both fillings have been used for countless years, unlike some modern day synthetic comforter alternatives, wool and down have natural traits that set them apart. The conclusion has to be that for most people, a natural wool comforter will provide a more comfortable and restful night’s sleep due to its greater ability to regulate temperature, wick away moisture and reduce allergen issues.

But like with many things, your choice of comforter is very much a personal preference.

If you are looking for more ideas about how to sleep better at night naturally, visit our Sleep Health & Advice hub.

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