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Down vs. Down Alternative: What is Down Alternative?

Posted By: Layla

Down comforters are a popular choice for people who want a good night’s sleep, but there’s an alternative for those who are prone to allergies or don’t feel comfortable sleeping on products sourced from animals. Down alternative is a synthetic material that’s used to mimic the softness of down. Not only are down alternative comforters similar in quality, but they’re usually more affordable, too. That being said, there’s no denying there’s a difference between down and down alternative comforters. If you’re having trouble deciding in the battle of down vs. down alternative, Layla Sleep® has all the information you need to know. Read through to learn the differences between down versus down alternative comforters, or use the links below to jump to a section of your choice.

Down vs. Down Alternative: What is Down Alternative?

What Is Down?

As one of the most popular bedding materials, down is sourced from the undercoat of waterfowl like geese, ducks, and swans. While some people use the terms “down” and “feather” interchangeably, feather bedding is made from the outer layer, while down is made from the inner layer.

What is down

Down is known for being one of the softest bedding materials available, which is the main reason it’s so popular. However, down also has a lightweight, breathable feel, which is something a lot of people look for in bedding.

Since down bedding is sourced from animals, some people prefer down alternative. If you do opt for down bedding, it’s important to make sure it was ethically sourced and is certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) if you want to minimize harm to animals.

Pros of Down

  • Softness: The best part about down is its softness, which simply can’t be matched by most standard cotton comforters. This softness does depend on the quality of the down comforter you choose.
  • Breathability: Despite being soft and cozy, down comforters are also very breathable. When you pair a down comforter with a latex or memory foam mattress, you’ll stay much cooler at night.
  • Space-saving: Down can be compressed into a much smaller size, so down comforters are easy to fold up and pack into small spaces.
  • Long-lasting: With proper care, a down comforter can last several years. However, down is harder to care for than most types of bedding.

Cons of Down

  • Sourced from animals: If you don’t like using products sourced from animals, the down versus down alternative comforter debate should be an easy one for you. Down is also less than ideal if you’re looking for hypoallergenic bedding.
  • Difficult to care for: Down is much harder to care for than down alternative, and most manufacturers recommend paying for professional cleaning.
  • Expensive: Down comforters cost more than down alternative, which means a bigger upfront investment.
  • Moisture-sensitive: Down loses its shape and insulation when it’s wet, so keeping it dry is crucial.

What Is Down Alternative?

While down was the popular choice for comforters and other bedding for several decades, a limited supply of down combined with concerns about ethical sourcing led to the creation of down alternative. So, what is down alternative? Unlike down, down alternative is a synthetic material that emulates the feel of down without sourcing materials from animals.

what is down alternative

Some of the best vegan comforters are made from down alternative. Down alternative is made from a synthetic polyester material that mimics the softness and properties of down without harming animals. You don’t have to worry about whether or not down alternative is ethically sourced.

Whether you’re choosing between bamboo versus cotton sheets or down versus down alternative comforters, it’s important to consider the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision to improve your overall sleep.

Pros of Down Alternative

  • Affordable: Down comforters are expensive, but you can find quality down alternative comforters at a fraction of the price.
  • Cruelty-free: If you don’t want a comforter that’s sourced from animals, down alternative is a great cruelty-free synthetic option.
  • Easy to care for: There’s no professional cleaning involved with down alternative; these comforters can go right in the washing machine.
  • Hypoallergenic: You don’t have to worry about being allergic to bird feathers since down alternative comforters are synthetic.

Cons of Down Alternative

  • Softness: While down alternative is similar to down, it’s not quite as soft.
  • Shorter lifespan: Down alternative isn’t as durable as down, which means it might not last as long as real down.
  • Varying quality: Most down alternative comforters are great, but beware of cheaper down alternative comforters, as inexpensive materials typically mean lower quality.
  • Not as breathable: While down is known for its breathability, the synthetic down alternative comforters aren’t quite as breathable.

What Makes Down Alternative Cruelty Free?

Rather than being sourced from animals, down alternative comforters are made from synthetic polyester material. Polyester is derived from non-living sources, which makes it a good cruelty-free alternative to down.

How to Choose Between Down and Down Alternative

Finding the right bedding can be a lot of work. As tough as it can be to choose between a mattress pad vs. mattress protector or different types of mattresses, it’s even harder to find the perfect comforter. Some comforters aren’t warm enough while others are too warm, and some are simply too hard to take care of. Of course, price is an important factor, too. If you’re having trouble deciding between a down vs. down alternative comforter, here are some things to consider.

How to Choose Between Down and Down Alternative



Down comforters are typically rated with a fill power, which describes how much filling the comforter has. Even warm comforters with high fill powers are still very lightweight thanks to the composition of down. Plus, down comforters with a high fill power still offer excellent breathability.

Down Alternative

With down alternative comforters, the quality and price of the comforter has a lot to do with the filling. The biggest difference between down and down alternative filling is breathability. Typically, down comforters are more breathable. However, quality down alternative comforters are now made with more breathable materials and design, making them comparable. They’re also great for both hot and cold sleepers. Down alternative comforters also work well with hybrid mattresses that help keep you cool. What is a hybrid mattress? Check out our blog post to learn more.



Down feathers are considerably more likely to trap dust and other allergens, which exposes you to those allergens and can lead to respiratory and other health problems. If you suffer from allergies, a down comforter typically isn’t the best choice.

Down Alternative

Unlike down, the synthetic materials in down alternative aren’t naturally allergenic and are unlikely to trap allergens. This makes down alternative comforters a great option for people who suffer from allergies or simply don’t want to breathe in dust and pollen all night.



Cleaning may be the biggest downside of down comforters. Most down comforter manufacturers recommend professional cleaning, and the ones who don’t probably should. Not only does this make down comforters a lot more expensive to own, but it also creates a huge hassle if you need to clean your comforter often.

Down Alternative

Down alternative comforters aren’t made from delicate natural materials, which means you can throw them right in the washer and dryer. This saves you money on top of the money you save upfront.



Durability is another area where down comforters reign supreme over down alternative in most cases. A good down comforter can last between 10 and 15 years if you take care of it properly. Of course, this depends on the quality and whether or not you have your comforter professionally cleaned.

Down Alternative

Down alternative comforters, on the other hand, tend to last just a few years. Again, this depends on how often you wash your comforter and how well you take care of it. It’s also important to consider the cost of replacement for down vs. down alternative when talking about durability.



Down is considered the most luxurious comforter material by some, and it costs a lot to make. As a result, down comforters can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the brand and fill power.

Down Alternative

Because down alternative comforters are made from synthetic materials that are easier to source, they’re a lot more affordable. Even if you have to replace your down alternative comforter more often, you can save a lot of money between the upfront cost and cleaning costs by switching to a down alternative comforter.

Sleeping With Layla

Getting a good night’s sleep is important, and you can’t do that without a good mattress and quality bedding. Choosing the right bedding for your sleep habits is important. If you’re a cold sleeper, you want a blanket that keeps you warm. If you’re a hot sleeper, you want a breathable blanket. You might even consider the pros and cons of bamboo sheets if you want to switch to a softer, more eco-friendly material.

If you’re looking for a great all-around comforter that’s easy to care for, the Layla Down Alternative Comforter is a great choice. Made from 100% cotton with our signature Layla hexagons that balance fill to prevent clumping, you’re sure to get the sleep of your dreams when wrapped in the Layla Down Alternative Comforter.

The layla Down Alternative comforter

Whatever bedding you choose, make sure you consider all the factors we talked about to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.