Duvet vs Doona: What's the Difference?

Written by: The Linenly Team



Time to read 3 min

The old duvet vs doona argument is hotly debated among friends across borders, but is there anything in it? Are doonas, duvets, quilts, eiderdowns and comforters all the same thing? All these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, so it can be hard to work out what’s what when you actually want to make a purchase. At Linenly, our whole world is bedding, so we want to clear up a few misnomers when it comes to bed covers so you can approach your next purchase with confidence! 

Doona vs Duvet

A doona is a soft flat bag filled with down, wool, cotton, silk, or synthetic alternatives, used as the topmost layer of your bedding to add warmth and increased comfort while you’re sleeping. It’s usually placed above the top sheet and is protected by a removable cover that can be easily washed and replaced.

To clear up the misconception early: yes, it’s true. What Australian’s call a doona, the rest of the world calls a duvet. Before the 1980s, doonas were mostly known as continental quilts in Australia but as they grew in popularity the brand name ‘Doona’ began to be used as well. Like other iconic brand names (think ‘Esky’, ‘Sharpie’, and ‘Biro’) it didn't take long for Australians to ditch the term ‘continental quilt’ altogether, in favour of doona.

Doona vs Duvet

On the other hand, with obvious french origins, the word Duvet means ‘down’ (the first feathering of young birds) and was first mentioned officially in English around 1759 when Samuel Johnson used it in a series of essays. Back then, duvets were a seriously luxurious item not affordable for the vast majority of households. It wasn’t until more than 200 years later in 1964 when Habitat opened in the UK that they were widely available on the mass market. 

Today, there’s probably not a household in Britain or Australia without a doona on the bed in Winter. However, doonas did remain a luxury for many years, even after they become widely available in Britain. In 1972, the Times featured a ‘special’ offer for its readers, stating: "There is no getting away from the fact that our continental quilts…are quite expensive." At the time of writing, they cost £19.95 for a single and £24.95 for a double, which roughly equates to $470 and $580 in Australian Dollars today!

Duvet vs Quilt vs Doona

So, we’ve worked out a doona and a duvet is the same thing, but what about the difference between a quilt and a doona? You may have worked it out by the reference to ‘continental quilts’ above, but yes, doonas, duvets and quilts are all the same thing!

Sold initially as a ‘continental quilt’ in Britain as well, the duvet was at first considered an avant-garde European extravagance when introduced to the British market by Sir Terrance Conran (owner of Habitat). Eventually, the duvet made its way across the seas to Australia a few years later, where it gained popularity as a Winter bedding essential, eventually being renamed locally but retaining the same essential qualities.

In contrast, an American-style comforter is actually different, as is an eiderdown. Both of these iterations of bedclothes don’t require covers as they are thicker, less fluffy, and typically decorated with stitching and patchwork. Strictly speaking though, an eiderdown is only officially an eiderdown if it’s filled with down specifically from the eider duck. Despite this, the term eiderdown is still used as an umbrella term to denote all quilted bedspreads.

The Best Doona Covers

While we now know that the duvet vs doona argument is obsolete, it’s important to note that although a doona was at one time considered a luxury, it’s by far the most sustainable and energy-efficient bed covering available now.

the best quilt covers

Compared to an eiderdown which is a thick bedspread that doesn’t have a cover, a doona cover is light and easily launderable. As you can imagine the thickness of an eiderdown means that washing it is not only cumbersome, but also a drain on resources and can even put the drum of your washing machine off balance because it becomes so heavy when wet. A removable cover is far more efficient to wash and replace, saving your actual doona from over washing, which can negatively affect the feather stuffing.  

Linenly quilt covers are made of 100% organic bamboo which is ultra-soft and breathable creating the perfect environment for a restful night’s sleep and snuggly weekend lie-ins. Investing in sheets that are thermoregulating like bamboo will help you make the most of your purchase as Bamboo fibres work to eliminate moisture, keeping your body fresh, dry and clean all year round. The properties of bamboo are also naturally resistant to bacteria, perfect for those with hypersensitivity and reactive skin.  

Coming in a wide range of colours and sizes, Linenly’s quilt covers will have you covered all year round. We also have a luxurious range of fitted sheets, flat sheets, pillowcases, cot sheets and throws. Shop the range today!