What is a Silk-Filled Duvet?

Kris Roudebush

A silk-filled duvet is a comforter, used especially in cooler temperatures, for a variety of reasons. Silk-filled duvets have hypo-allergenic properties, an ability to stay warm in colder temperatures and cooler when the temperature rises, and are very comfortable. When it comes to comforters, the Chinese and Japanese elite have preferred silk-filled duvets for many centuries.

A silk-filled duvet.
A silk-filled duvet.

Silk-filled duvets are becoming widely available. Some people prefer a silk-covered duvet, as silk is resistant to dust mites. Most manufacturers will tell you that a silk-filled duvet won't be totally dust mite free, because the covers of most duvets are made of cotton or a cotton blend. Wash most of your bedding in hot water once a week to help control dust mites.

Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.
Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.

Aside from being hypo-allergenic, a silk filled duvet adjusts to body temperature and air temperature. This is because silk allows body heat to dissipate. Other comforters simply trap heat which then builds up and can leave you feeling overheated.

While most comforters will break down over time, a long-fiber silk-filled duvet will not. If you take care to properly maintain your duvet, it will last for years. Short-fiber silk-filled duvets are not as durable as long-fiber duvets, nor do they regulate body temperature as well. Chopped silk and short-fiber silk-filled duvets do not have the layers and intricate weaving that makes up a long fiber silk-filled duvet. It's the layers of the long-fiber duvets that make the duvet warmer and allows for better heat management.

Before you toss your silk-filled duvet in the washing machine, you'll want to know some basics about cleaning. Some manufacturer's guarantees may be void if you do use a conventional washing machine to clean your duvet. Because silk is a natural fiber, chemical cleaners should not be used to clean your duvet. Traditionally, silk-filled duvets should be cleaned by sunning them. Lay your duvet out in the sun for the day. This should be all that's required. However, if you find you need to clean your duvet, talk to your dry cleaner.

Dry cleaning is not recommended, however there are some dry cleaners that have wet cleaning washers that are made for silk duvets. These specialty washing machines are becoming very popular across the U.K. and Europe. Always check with your manufacturer for recommended cleaning processes if you find that you do need a full cleaning for any reason.

Silk cocoons.
Silk cocoons.

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Discussion Comments


Technically, silk stuffed duvet/comforters are not supposed to be washed. You're supposed to air them out in the sun from time to time. However, I have successfully hand washed my silk comforter twice and this is how I do it.

Fill a tub full of room temperature water (not hold, not cold -- room temperature). Add a little bit of Dawn dishwashing soap. You should be able to see suds, but the water should not feel slimy or soapy (if it does, there's too much soap). Now fold your comforter so it can be evenly laid out in the tub and place the folded comforter right into the tub of water. Once it is submerged, just gently smooth it and pat it and swoosh it back and forth. Don't lift the comforter in any way because that will stretch and shift the stuffing inside and make it clumpy. Just gently pat it with love and care and if you can, try to slip your hand in between the layers of folds (under water) to smooth it back and forth. I also let mine soak for about 10-15 minutes.

Drain the tub and refill with fresh room temperature water, and do the same smoothing/patting motion, soak for five minutes. Drain again, refill the tub with room temperature water (final rinse), then put two palms full of white vinegar into the water and do the same smoothing/patting. Soak for another five minutes then drain the tub. Flatten the comforter as much as you can to squeeze out all the water.

While you are doing this, the comforter should still be in the same folded manner as when you first place into the tub. Then, with both hands, lift the folded, drained comforter out of the tub and place it on a drying rack. Don’t attempt to unfold it at this time, because it's heavy and you will stretch and shift the stuffing inside. It will continue to drip like crazy for a while, but let it be. As the water drips out, the comforter will become lighter. As it becomes lighter, that is when you start to unfold the comforter to let it air out and dry. The process is long, but your reward will be an intact light, fluffy and clean silk comforter.


I killed mine by putting it in the washer and then even more stupidly, the dryer. Do Not Do It if you want to ever have it feel or look the same. Fair warning! I destroyed it. So sad. I am so mad at myself for being cheap. I did not know about sunning.


about the sunning of the duvet? I was told repeatedly only for one or two hours at most. Maybe you will check that. Thanks.

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