Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question below to reveal the answer.
How does a Southdown duvet differ from other wool duvets?
There are a number of perfectly acceptable wool duvets on the market and they all will give you the benefit of wool’s astonishing physical properties. The other duvets are usually made from Merino or Texel wool, the fibres of which have different structures to Southdown – they are less dense, have longer staples lengths and result in a heavier product which is less soft, cloud-like bouncy and comfortable. Some people prefer a “flatter, less dense” duvet – it’s all about personal choice.
These duvets are the most expensive wool duvets available. Why, and are they worth the investment?
Our Southdown duvets are top of the range for a number of reasons. Firstly Southdown is the ideal wool for bedding offering a lighter fluffier but warm duvet. Secondly our duvets are manufactured to the highest standard. The wool is expertly washed to remove all traces of lanolin which means our duvets do not smell sheepy. Then the wool is carefully carded and the duvets hand finished for a truly luxury end result. And thirdly and possibly most importantly, we offer the most flexible exchange or refund policy. If, for whatever reason your purchase is not 100% ideal, we will sort it out for you – no questions asked. Need something different? With pleasure – just call us up and we will make the arrangements. So a personal customer service comes with your purchase. But in terms of your investment, consider wool compared to other duvets fills and compare our price relative to a high quality down duvet. Unfortunately down/feather duvets will deteriorate over time and the feathers break down into a protein dust. Over the years, this dust builds up and reduces the performance of the duvet, causing hot and cold spots. But more seriously, the dust can cause severe allergic reactions and breathing difficulties especially for asthma suffers. Further, the protein dust can attract dust mites into your down duvet and they can cause sinus problems and eye infections. So within a matter of a few years you will have to replace your expensive down duvet. You will have none of these problems under wool. Buy a Southdown duvet and you will have decades of comfortable luxury use. In short, well worth the initial investment.
Will the Southdown duvet be warm enough in winter? If so, will it not be too warm in summer?
Wool is nature’s insulator and buffer against temperature variations. In colder times of the year, it is a very effective insulator, keeping you warm. In summer, you will not over heat under the duvet and the wool fill will “breathe” wicking moisture away from your body, preventing disturbed sleep caused by sweating. When you first meet a Southdown duvet, you may think that it is too light and thin to do the job properly. But sleep under one and you will immediately appreciate its remarkable thermal qualities.
How come the Southdown duvets needs dry-cleaning when internet research shows that there are machine washable wool duvets on the market?
Without chemical treatment, all wool will felt if it is washed. To render an item of wool machine washable, the wool is treated either with chlorine or coated with a silicon resin. This in our opinion fundamentally alters the nature of the wool, greatly reducing the purity of the final product. We have taken a decision to keep our Southdown duvets as nature intended – pure wool in pure cotton covers with as little chemical intervention as possible and this means dry clean only.
How often will I need to dry clean my Southdown duvet?
In the absence of any serious spills or accidents, the duvet is protected in your duvet cover. Air your duvet once a week when you change your bed linen and you will find that your Southdown duvet remains fresh. Remember that the moisture that the wool absorbs from your body just evaporates away and therefore your duvet will remain fresh and clean.
But if there is an accident (cats and puppies seem to be the main culprits) we offer the following advice. Dry clean only with JOHNSONS and insist on their GREEN EARTH process. We have done a lot of work with Johnsons testing how our products respond to their dry cleaning and we are satisfied with the result. There are 146 branches of Johnsons throughout the UK. All will send the duvet to their head office for treatment. So you will have to wait about 2 weeks to get your duvet back and when you do, lay it flat on a spare bed for a couple of days to allow the dry clean smell to dissipate.
If you have one of our pillows, the outer cover can be unzipped and the wool pocket removed. The wool will need dry cleaning but the outer cover can be machine washed at 30 degrees. We also sell spare cotton outer covers to speed up linen change over.
If the Southdown duvet is made from British wool, how come they are manufactured in Italy?
When we researched the whole Southdown duvet project, we had lengthy discussions with the British Wool Marketing Board, folk who know a lot about wool. Their advice was clear – the Italians have the expertise and experience to treat superior quality wool to its highest specification. They have doing this in the foothills of the Alps for generations, building up their experience and optimising on the freshest cleanest Alpine mountain waters which are best for washing our Southdown wool.
How is the wool sewn into the Southdown duvets?
The scoured and carded wool which looks like a thick layer of butter-coloured cottonwool is sewn into the cotton cover in one huge piece that spans the entire length and width of the duvet. Channels about 8-10 inches are then sewn down and across the cotton cover anchoring the wool in snug squares. So there can be no bunching of filling like feathers and no hot and cold spots in your duvet, just an even layer of soft bouncy comfort.
How can these duvets benefit asthma sufferers?
Feather, down and synthetic duvet fillings over time begin to breakdown and disintegrate. This generates dust which aggravates all kinds of breathing allergies and conditions as well as encouraging the presence of dust mites. Wool does not disintegrate like this and therefore does not generate dust.
What about other health benefits?
Because wool wicks moisture away from your body from where it evaporates through the fibre, not only you, but also the duvets, remain comfortably dry, so there is no dampness which might encourage the growth of mildew or mould.
What happens if a Southdown duvet does not suit me?
Let us know and we will arrange to have it collected from you and will refund you in full (less postage) or we will swap it out for something that does suit you. That is how confident we are that you will not be disappointed if you buy a Southdown duvet.
Has anyone ever returned a Southdown duvet?
Yes but very rarely. Everyone is different and what they need out of their bedding to get a good night’s sleep is as varied as our customers’ personalities. One gentleman said our duvets were too light but he had been brought up under UK boarding school horse hair blankets during the war. He admitted he needed to sleep under a bag of coal! Another said our duvets were too heavy but he was used to Siberian goose down. One lady loved the duvet but said she needed a squashy pillow and ours were too bouncy. We understand and celebrate our collective differences and are happy to accommodate our customers. But one thing is for certain: no one has ever returned a Southdown bedding product because of sub-standard quality of materials or manufacturing, or poor service. So you can feel confident when you order from us, we will honour our return policy. So you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by coming to us for a potential remedy for your sleep issues.
There is such a huge array of different duvets out there, what should I be looking out for to ensure I get the one that is best for me?
Buying a duvet is very much an example of you will get what you pay for. After all your research we hope that you will buy a Southdown duvet. But if you elect not to, at least do yourself a favour and spend the absolute maximum you can afford because anything else over time will prove false economy. A poor quality duvet could result in disturbed sleep and nightly discomfort which will impact on your wellbeing. What price can you put on a really good night’s sleep? So here are some other pointers: Before buying a wool duvet, contact the supplier and ask for a swatch sample of the filling. Then decide for yourself if the wool looks and smells clean enough for bedding. The smell test is very important. Sheepy smells are fine in a barn yard but totally unacceptable in a bedroom. If you settle for a cheap synthetic duvet on the basis of “oh that will do”, think again because your long term health and wellbeing, linked to the quality of your sleep, is at stake. You will sweat under a synthetic duvet and it probably will not keep you warm enough in winter. Like feathers and down it may cause allergies, blocked sinuses and result in a stuffy nose and difficult breathing. Watch out for feather/down ratios: we have seen apparently good value “down” duvets which actually contain more feathers than down. Feathers are inferior insulators and their little quills often poke through the covers, causing much annoyance. Check carefully how the fill is sewn into the cotton cover. Make sure it is channelled in squares that keep the filling from bunching at the bottom of the duvet, causing unpleasant hot and cold spots. Be aware that the tog rating measures warmth but NOT necessarily comfort. A very high tog duvet for example can be warm but also very heavy and may cause night sweats. Think twice before buying a duvet that has a polyester or cotton/polyester mix cover. Pure cotton only for real comfort.
What is Tog and what tog ratings are associated with Southdown duvets?
Tog is a measure of warmth (not comfort) of an item of bedding, especially duvets. It is a quintessential English standard of measure not found in other parts of the world.
Wikipedia has the following to say about it: The tog is a measure of thermal resistance, commonly used in the textile industry, and often seen quoted on, for example, duvets and carpet underlay. The word may come from toga, a Roman garment from which the English slang togs (meaning clothes) is probably derived. The basic unit of insulation coefficient is the RSI, (1 m² K / watt). 1 tog = 0.1 RSI. The Shirley Institute in Britain developed the tog as an easy-to-follow alternative to the SI unit of m2K/W. Launched in the 1960s, the Shirley Togmetre is the standard apparatus for rating thermal resistance of textiles, commonly known as the Tog Test. A tog is 0.1 m2K/W. In other words, the thermal resistance in togs is equal to ten times the temperature difference (in °C) between the two surfaces of a material, when the flow of heat is equal to one watt per square metre. According to British retailer John Lewis, tog guidelines for duvets are as follows:
- Lightweight summer duvet: 4.5 tog
- Spring/Autumn weight duvet: 9.0 – 10.5 tog
- Winter weight duvet: 12.0 – 13.5 tog
- The material with the lowest tog rating is cement and the highest, bubble wrap.
The tog rating of an item is therefore affected by a number of factors, not least the type of fibre under consideration. Some manufacturers of wool duvets maintain that tog ratings should only be applied to synthetic fibre and not natural fibres like wool. Our All year Round Southdown duvets contain 350gr of pure wool per square metre of duvet. This equates to a 7.4 tog which presents an all-weather, all-year duvet most commonly sold, for example, in Germany. Our reasoning behind an all-purpose duvet is simple – we don’t expect our customers to have buy two duvets of differing weights to get a decent night’s sleep all year round or to have to buy two light weight duvets and then have to Velcro them together in winter. The other important factor is that tog measures thermal resistance and not levels of comfort which, with duvets, are two totally different things. A very warm duvet with a 13.5 tog might appear to be ideal but can turn out to be very heavy if its alpaca, for example, or it might result in disturbing night sweats if it’s synthetic. A feather/down duvet with a medium tog might offer the right warmth but the fill might clump, and cause hot and cold spots in the duvet or aggravate asthma or allergies. Our 7.4 tog All Year duvets are by far our best sellers. However, there are customers who need a different tog weighting. We have customers who suffer from ME and need extra warmth. So they snuggle under our “Woolly Mammoth” duvet (500gr) with a tog of 8-10. Other customers need to sleep on the cooler side so they enjoy our “Lambkin Lite” (200gr) which togs at 4.
Isn't it Cruel to Shear Sheep?
Absolutely not. In fact shearing is a vital part of sound animal husbandry necessary for the sheep’s health and survival. Without being sheared, sheep would be subject to fly strike in summer. This is a horrific natural event where flies burrow into the thick fleece and lay their eggs against the skin of the sheep. The maggots then hatch out some 36 hours later and begin to literally, eat the sheep alive. If not treated quickly, the sheep will die a painful and slow death. The thicker the fleece the more difficult it is to spot strike.
We shear our sheep in late May, after lambing, but before the heat of the summer and the height of the threat of fly strike. We can then monitor the health of the sheep easily and nip any fly activity in the bud before any damage is done to our lovely Southdowns.
Why Don't you Moth-Proof Your Duvets?
Moth-proofing adds a chemical intervention we would prefer to avoid. Our duvets are therefore not moth-proofed so are not treated with any harmful chemicals such as pentachlorophenol (nasty stuff that causes eye infections, breathing difficulties and skin problems among other horrible ailments). Since our duvets are designed to be used all year, moths are not an issue. If you are planning to store your duvet for some months in a cupboard then we recommend dry-cleaning it and storing it in the green carrier bag which it will have arrived in. Some sandalwood or moth balls in the cupboard won’t go amiss.
You Say Wool is Environmentally Friendly, But What About The Methane Sheep Produce?
Sheep are not the major culprits when it comes to methane production and greenhouse gases. It is estimated that only 14% of greenhouse gases come from agriculture in the form of methane and carbon dioxide. It is sourced from a number of agricultural activities ranging from the gas generated by ruminants (mainly cattle and sheep) but also from the slurry generated from intensive farming of cattle and pigs.
Cows produce on average 70-120 kgs of methane per annum and there are 1.5 billion cows on the plant. Sheep produce 30kgs of methane annually and there are 1 billion of them. So based on less methane produced by less animals, cows produce 4-6 times more methane than sheep.
Tell Me More About Your Offer To Recycle My Southdown Duvet In The Future
Your Southdown duvet should last years, if not decades. However, if at some stage during its life, you feel it is beginning to look a little frayed, contact us. Post your duvet back to us and we will offer you 20% off a brand new one. We will then separate the wool filling from the outer percale cotton cover and recycle both components. The outer cover will be donated to a group of Xhosa women in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where they will dye it and make all kinds of items (shirts, cushion covers etc) for them to sell into the local community. The wool will go back to Italy and be rewashed, ready for use in other woolly-type products. Sadly we cannot recycle any other duvets from other manufacturers.