1. A good wool duvet should never smell like a barn yard. If there is any trace of a rural smell, it means that the wool has not been washed properly. This is unacceptable. Ask a supplier for a swatch sample of the wool filling and make sure it passes the nose test. If the brand is not prepared to send you a swatch sample, turn your nose up.

  2. The wool fill should be light but warm. The best warmth to weight ratio is achieved using short fibred wool. The technical term for light cloud-like wool is loft and the more lofty a wool, the better. Longer fibred wools, such as Texel, Merino or Alpaca are less lofty and tend to lie flat in the duvet, making it heavy for the same warmth.

  3. Research the company’s returns policy which varies widely between brands. Some require proof of product fault and require the duvet be returned in the unopened original packaging. How can you possibly determine if the product suits you if you cannot try the duvet? The better quality, premium brands will encourage you to try out the duvet. They will then offer flexible refunds or exchanges. Call and ask – it will also give you a very good sense of the after-sales customer service you can expect.
Buyers' Guide sheeps' nose

” The wool duvet should
never smell like a barn yard

Buyers' Guide dog on southdown duvet

” The cotton cover should be quilted vertically and horizontally 

  1. The wool should be covered in 100% pure cotton, preferably percale – nothing else. The quality of outer covers vary between brands and some even have plastic in the fabric blends. These blended fabrics are not ideal since outer covers can be noisy – they rustle and crackle. Furthermore, any synthetic covers reduce the wool’s ability to absorb moisture. This, in turn, affects the wool duvet’s ability to reduce the effect of night sweats – a main reason for buying a wool duvet in the first place.

  1. The outer cover should be quilted vertically and horizontally across the duvet in large squares or diamonds. Duvets that are only quilted vertically are less ideal because the wool fill can slip over time and bunch in the duvet.

  1. Some wool duvets are machine washable, others are dry clean only. Washable duvets will probably still need to go to the dry cleaner since it is unlikely that your washing machine’s drum will be big enough to take a king or super king duvet. Further, they must never go into a tumble dryer. Dry cleaning works so long as you take your duvet to a reputable cleaner and they pay attention to the dry clean only label. Wool “breathes”, so regular dry cleaning is not necessary. It only needs doing if there has been an accident or spill on the duvet.
  1. Read the independent reviews especially on platforms such as TrustPilot or Google. Bear in mind some companies request reviews, others don’t. 

  2. Call a company up before buying and chat to them about their products. See how knowledgeable they are about wool bedding and its benefits, the provenance of their wool and see if they are prepared invest time in listening to what you need rather than just securing a sale.

  1. If you are concerned about the environment, ask them about their recycling policy and if their packaging is environmentally friendly. Ask them how they recycle returned duvets. Burning them creates a serious problem for the environment as this releases the carbon that the sheep cleverly sequestrated.

  2. Ask suppliers if they support the sheep farmers from whom they buy their wool. For example, do they pay a premium or fair price to the farmers and do they support the shearing community in the UK? And if so, how?