Down vs. Wool Bedding: Which Is Better

down vs. wool bedding

Looking for an alternative to a down-filled pillow, duvet, or comforter? Let us tell you about the wonders of wool-filled bedding.

When you think of a truly luxurious sleep environment, what comes to mind? If you said “a fluffy down comforter,” that’s not surprising. Down is a good product. But savvy marketers have sold consumers on the story that down bedding creates a heavenly sleep environment beyond compare.

As bedding retailers since 1972, our experience with customers has taught us that down isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

The reality is, wool bedding performs better than down bedding for most people. It’s not just our opinion or our experience: it’s science. To understand how wool bedding performs better than down-filled bedding, let’s look at the science of down vs. wool.

The lowdown on down bedding

What is down? Down is a layer of fine feathers that grows under the tougher exterior feathers of a bird. Baby birds have down first before they have feathers. Down used in commercial products (bedding, clothing, etc.) can come from geese or ducks, and it can be white or mixed with feathers. Short story: all down is not alike.

What does down do for a duck? The loose structure of down feathers traps air, insulating the duck’s body against heat loss. Down traps warmth (including perspiration and wetness) in against the duck’s skin in an effort to maintain stable body temperature. Ducks find this very useful, being outside creatures who live in and near cold water.

You’re not a duck (right?)

What’s an advantage for the duck is a disadvantage for people sleeping on, with, or underneath down bedding. Down bedding makes people sleep ‘hot.’

Fact: as humans sleep, we give off a pint of liquid (i.e. perspiration or sweat) a night. That’s normal and healthy and doesn’t change much based on gender, age, body size, or body conditioning. A pint for all!

Once expelled from your skin, this perspiration has to go somewhere. With down bedding, the moisture traps against your skin – just like if you were a duck.

This leaves you hot, sweaty, cold, clammy, and maybe smelly. That doesn’t sound like ideal sleeping conditions, and we doubt you (and any sleep partner you may have) will find that restful or romantic.

Down bedding has two mortal enemies: moisture and oil. Moisture means body perspiration and/or humidity from the environment. Oil means natural oils that transfer from the skin on to bedding, or bath/body oils you might topically apply as a moisturizer that then transfers to your bedding as your body warms up through the night.

More sobering news about down from Wikipedia: “…when [down] is wet, the thermal properties of [it] are virtually eliminated. Down clumps, if exposed to dampness or moisture, and will mildew if left damp. In addition, it will absorb and retain odors. Down feathers tend to become more allergenic as they age, as they become contaminated with molds and dust mites.” Not very comforting news, is it?

Ever launder a down duvet, comforter, or pillow, only to find it’s lost its original shape and loft and never feels as fluffy and comfortable again? Cleaning down requires special care, very mild detergents, and air drying only — which, admittedly, can be a bit of a hassle when you’ve got a busy lifestyle, or live in very close quarters where line-drying isn’t feasible.

Finally, down is not hypoallergenic (people with sensitive skin and/or allergies, beware) and can be significantly more expensive than other fills (cha-ching).

What to know about wool

Now let’s talk about wool.

Wool bedding is tried & true

Wool bedding has been a favorite for generations & it’s still popular today. Learn more about wool bedding by exploring our product selection.


Here’s why people who love the great outdoors LOVE wool: wool is water resistant, which means it wicks moisture away from the skin and allows it to evaporate quickly without becoming wet to the touch. (Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without you ever noticing!)

Wool dries faster than cotton, meaning it outperforms cotton for activities in which body temperature rises, like jogging, hiking, and (yep) sleeping. This is why you’ll encounter wool in products designed for use in the great outdoors — namely in camping or hiking gear. Wool is naturally temperature-regulating.

Another bonus: wool is naturally odor-resistant. If you sleep with a pet, then you’ll appreciate this feature! (As good as Fido’s or Fluffy’s natural pet odor smells to you, you may not love the bouquet of odors he or she leaves on your bedding when you come back to it later.)

Wool is naturally fire-resistant (way to go, sheep!). And lastly, wool is biodegradable. Gotta love eco-friendly bedding!

Price difference of down vs. wool bedding

In a price comparison, you’ll quickly find that not all down is equal. Down filling is harvested from geese, duck, or other birds. ‘Down’ bedding can be comprised of only white down, or it can be mixed with feathers. Different fill compositions, different quality, and different retailers’ markups mean wildly varying price points across down products. Unless the tag says 100% down, you can’t be sure.

The same is true of wool. Wool can be harvested ethically and sustainably from alpaca, angora rabbits, camels, and (of course) sheep. Wool can be mixed with other fibers or it can perform beautifully alone.

There’s not a clear comparison to make between the price of wool bedding and the price of down bedding, given all the variables. The true test is your comfort.

Why we love and recommend wool bedding

At Bedrooms & More, we’ve been in business in Seattle, WA for over four decades. We’ve cultivated a reputation for selling only the best products we can find. Products that will last the longest and be the most comfortable for sleeping, no matter your price range. We like to sell wool bedding because it performs well over time for our customers — we’d dare say, better than most other bedding materials out there.

We have many different wool or wool-filled bedding items in-store and online:

Full disclosure: we also occasionally sell down pillows for those people who absolutely have to have them (you know who you are). We can special order down-filled comforters for customers as requested. But time after time, we’ve found wool and other better-performing alternatives that make more of our customers’ investment.

Wool’s the winner

In the market for either down or wool bedding? We hope we’ve given you some good information to shop with, and we hope you’ll agree with us that wool is the clear winner.

Wool is moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating, and a soft, comfortable fill fiber. It stays drier much longer than cotton or down when exposed to similar levels of natural body moisture or environmental humidity. It dries faster. It’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial (resists bacteria growth). It’s both odor-resistant and fire-resistant.

Sounds to us like the makings of a great night’s sleep!

Wool Rules!

When it’s time to replace your bedding, we hope you’ll consider wool.


8 thoughts on “Down vs. Wool Bedding: Which Is Better

    • Micah says:

      The machine washable products (all labelled as washable wool) would be machine washed with cool or cold water, and tumbled dry with low or no heat.
      Anything that is not labelled as washable wool should not be washed, but instead should be dry cleaned with no agitation and no heat.

    • Micah says:

      Yes. We recommend you use a sheet, but we do not recommend using a waterproof sheet so the moisture can still pass through as much as possible to the wool.

  1. Tina Simcich says:

    Thinking about getting the washable wool for someone who has bad night sweats. Could she return if it doesn’t work for her? Thanks!

    • Micah says:

      Per our return policy, “For safety and hygiene reasons, we’re unable to accept returns and exchanges of any bedding or apparel merchandise that has been opened.” However, we do offer the loaning of bedding products for a couple of days to see if it’s the right fit for you. This isn’t an online service, but if you want to learn more you can call our sales line and someone will be happy to help you and your friend.

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