Why Silk Comforters Are A Real Alternative To Down


Why Silk Comforters Are A Real Alternative To Down
by Mercia Tapping

I have been sleeping with a Ming Dynasty Silk filled comforter for nearly two months. To be truthful, although I had experienced the warmth of silk thermal underwear, somehow I was skeptical about the viability of a silk filled comforter.

After 2 months, I must admit to being won over. The silk is wonderfully fluid and cloud light and best of all no need for an expensive dust mite encasing. I do however use one of our Diva 400 tc ("thread count") cotton duvet covers.

I have been known to just bypass any sheets as the duvet cover is so soft. When I insist on turning on the auxiliary air conditioner to make our bedroom the temperature of a refrigerator, the silk comforter has kept me toasty warm, which surprised me as the Ming Dynasty is recommended for Southern climates or Northeast summers. While I grew up in Europe being used to the huge puffiness of a down comforter and love my Hypodown Monarch for the depths of winter, I also prefer the neater flatter look of the silk filled comforters.

Silk is a perfect fiber; it is amazingly strong and keeps people warm in winter and cool in summer by wicking away moisture into the air. It is inhospitable to dust mites because it does not retain moisture but unlike our Alpaca wool comforter which is also dust mite resistant there is no weight to it. After sleeping with a silk filled comforter and then going on vacation, I found that regular blankets felt like I was sleeping under a sack of potatoes! My husband's only half-grumble is that he is getting so quickly used to luxury linens (and it is amazing how quickly we adapt to luxury!) that everything else feels like sandpaper!

Ming Dynasty Silk-filled Comforters from $269.95

Diva Collection 400 thread-count Cotton Duvet Covers from $189.95

Hypodown Monarch Down Comforters from $289

from $209.95

Review Of Imperial Delight Silk Fill Comforter
by Mercia Tapping

The is an alternative to the Ming Dynasty Silk comforter which we reviewed last month. The essential difference between them is that the Imperial Delight is a heavier weight and has a sewn through box construction. So it keeps you warmer through the fall season in the Northeast.


  • Workmanship: We were impressed by the workmanship and liked the construction into squares. We liked the squares better than the "hand ties" in the Ming Dynasty Silk Comforter. The squares also hold the silk in place.
  • Luxurious fabric: The Imperial Delight lives up to its name and delighted us. This silk comforter felt soft, drape-able and unbelievably luxurious.
  • Naturally hypoallergenic: Silk is naturally hypoallergenic and inhospitable to dust mites, so it does not promote an allergic reaction and there is no need for dust mite encasings.
  • Weight warmth: The weight of this silk filled comforter will work well for year round use in moderate climates. We did not think it was warm enough for the depths of a Northeast winter. The silk was much warmer than we expected when we first unpacked the comforter.
  • Color Choices: The addition of 2 colors in addition to white seen as a plus, but we hoped it would not lull customers into thinking they did not need a duvet cover. We still thought the comforter would last longer if it were encased.
  • Best Value: Given the weight of silk fill, this silk filled comforter got our vote for the best buy for the money.


  • Quality of Silk Fill: All silk is not the same in quality and we saw more "knots" ( which naturally occur in silk) in this silk comforter than we would have liked. The Ming Dynasty Silk Comforter got our vote for quality and softness of fill but unfortunately it only comes in a lighter weight.
  • Odor: There was a slight sweet smell to the silk when we first took it out of the plastic bag but it soon dissipated and after about 2 days there was no odor at all.
  • Silk Comforter Care: A good silk comforter will last about 5 and up to 10 years if proper care is taken to treat it right. This means always having a duvet cover on it and never trying to wash it yourself which would invalidate the warranty. A silk comforter needs professional dry cleaning.
  • Duvet Cover: We believe that a duvet cover is absolutely essential and is needed in order not to void the manufacturer's warranty.
  • Warmth: We are fans of down comforters for the cold of winter and it was clear that while surprisingly warm most people would find this comforter a little on the light side for northern winter weather.

Imperial Delight Silk Comforters from $174.95

from $269.95

Review Of Diva Collection 400 Thread-Count Sheets
by Mercia Tapping

Editor's note: Trust me these sheets are a sheer, self-indulgent thrill !

Pluses: Once you have luxuriated in the exquisite, fine 400 thread-count sheets of the Diva Collection you are spoiled for life. There is no turning back. My only regret is that they do not come sized for California King Sized beds, which I sleep on at home, although I use the pillowcases and duvet covers.

We had a "touch and feel" demonstration recently at our offices of all the different thread count sheets. The won the group's enthusiastic "I want one of those" - so I know exactly what to give the staff for bonuses because they all drop hints quite shamelessly!

The Diva Collection sheets are made out of the finest fine 400 thread count cotton. The Sateen combed cotton finish makes the sheets feel silken to the touch, which is why I recommend the duvet cover as an ideal accompaniment to our silk comforters.

Diva Collection 400 thread-count Sheet Sets from $279.95

from $189.95

Review Of Dreamfit 310 Thread-Count Extra-Deep (15") Sheets
by Rosemarie Boulanger

Pluses: The new DreamFit cotton sheets felt soft but crisp to the touch out of the box. We put the cotton sheet set on the bed prior to washing to check for any shrinkage later, since they are 100% cotton sheets. The first thing we noticed was how generous the pillow cases were sized on a standard pillow case, allowing the pillow to retain its normal shape rather than the pillow case dictating the size of the pillow as with many other cotton sheet sets. The flat cotton bed sheet was also sized generously.

When we slid into the freshly laundered cotton sheets, a beautiful sky blue color, at first touch, we were changed forever! We just couldn't believe how soft these cotton sateen sheets felt. They just floated over the body like you were on a cloud. The cotton sheets lightly drape the body. We found these 310 thread count cotton bed sheets to have a lighter, more delicate feel to them than a lower thread count. After experiencing a high thread count, is to be changed forever. Sliding into these sheets after a long day of work or play brings a smile and a sigh of pure pleasure.

The DreamFit cotton sheets really are about "the fit". The fit on this Queen bed was just impeccable without a lot of tugging or adjusting.

The white satin piping on the edge of the pillowcases and the flat sheet are a very nice touch and add to the elegance of the overall presentation.


Luxury cotton sheets require a bit more care than the average run-of-the-mill sheets. In this case, bleaching is a no-no and tumble dry on the dryer's low cycle is a must. With a high thread count cotton sheet, it's important to take them out of the dryer immediately and fold them or put them back on the bed as a higher thread count cotton sheet can wrinkle more. DreamFit sheets do not wrinkle as much as other high thread count cotton bed sheets.

Be mindful of the straps on the fitted sheet. This is at the core of the DreamFit system. When you have a thick mattress and/or thick mattress pad, the DreamFit sheets have extra deep pockets with the straps to hold the sheets in place. Although the straps fold on themselves off the bed, be aware of the straps as you are taking the fitted sheet out of the washer. You wouldn't want them to get caught on the agitator in the washing machine.

Warranty: DreamFit Sheets and Sheet Sets are guaranteed to fit any mattress, and to stay on. DreamFit sheets are guaranteed against any sewing imperfections and holes in the fabric. The elastic has been tested to last approximately 200-300 washes depending upon washing machine.

Fabric care: Machine wash warm water. Do not bleach. Tumble dry at low heat and remove promptly for best results.

from $89.95

Review Of Luxor Jersey Sheets
by Mercia Tapping

Review: I found these one night at an upscale Bed and Breakfast, and I was so taken with them, I took apart the bed to find out who made the sheets and what they were made of! These Grade A, Jersey sheets are buttery soft and have a comfort reminiscent of a bygone era. If you like the idea of flannel sheets but just find them too thick and rough, then these Jersey sheets are just for you.
Made out the finest Egyptian cotton, these sheets combine a fine, light feel with just a touch of warmth. I initially thought these Jersey sheets were best for winter only, but later revised my opinion, and love them for use all year round. If you have ever got into bed feeling like the bed is chilly and the sheets too cool, then Jersey sheets are the answer.

Our Jersey sheets come both in natural chemical-free for the environmentally sensitive, and in regular, with a charming assortment of pastel colors. I found they washed well in warm water with no sign of pilling or stretching. They also washed and dried with the minimum of wrinkles which is nice because I refuse to iron. My mother would not be proud of me.

Fabric care: Wash before using. Machine wash cold with like colors. Only non-chlorine bleach if needed. Tumble dry medium. Remove promptly from dryer. No ironing necessary.

See all Sheet Sets

Updated Review Of Primaloft Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Fill Pillows And Comforters

Primaloft bedding is very popular and last year we ran out last Fall due to high demand. So if you want it, please order early as it can take up to 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.

Here is my take on Primaloft. If you use a duvet cover on the comforter and have it professionally cleaned (we recommend environmentally friendly wet cleaning) it will last a lot longer. The pillows are wonderfully soft and comfortable, they just do not last as long as a good quality Hypodown pillow but the price is right. My husband's favorite pillow is Primaloft Medium.


We are pleased to say that we think Primaloft is the best of the synthetic down "feel alikes" with some caveats.

  • Workmanship: Good, especially on the sateen versions. The Primaloft comforters have a sewn through box design promoting an even distribution of fill.
  • Fill: Evenly distributed and puffy in the comforters. Less puffy in the synthetic down blanket.
  • Care: Machine washable in theory, but most people do not have a machine that is big enough to allow for drying to be even. We do suggest using a duvet cover or dust mite encasing to prolong the comforter's life. For our money we would have it professionally cleaned.
  • Pricing: Value priced with relation to its overall quality.


  • Synthetic down Primaloft comforters will not last as long as a down comforter and in no way will you get the same amount of warmth from them as a hypoallergenic down comforter.
  • We estimate that you will get about 1/3 the life with a Primaloft comforter compared to a down comforter.


Primaloft is one of the best choices you can make when selecting hypoallergenic comforters or synthetic down blankets. The warranty periods are shorter than those for high quality down products. Note: These synthetic down comforters simulate the fill power of a 550 or less fill down comforter which won't be as warm as a 700 or 800 down fill power comforter. We therefore suggest that these are better for Southern or moderate climates, than for the Northeast.

Primaloft Comforters from $119.95

from $74.95

Review Of Alpaca Wool Pillows
by Mercia Tapping

I think our Alpaca wool pillows are a hidden jewel. If you can forgive them that they are not quite as soft as a Primaloft or Hypodown pillow, they are softer than you would expect. They are certainly not as hard as a rock like traditional wool pillows.

There are many benefits to a wool pillow for the allergy sufferer. They are naturally dust mite, mildew and mold resistant, and handle moisture better than any other fiber. Wool will not over- or under-heat underneath you, so on warm nights, these pillows absorb the moisture from sweaty nights and dry out fast. Need I go on?

So what you have in the Alpaca pillow (which does have some wool in it to prevent it matting down too fast) is a pillow slightly firmer than down but a pillow which is allergy-friendly and needs no dust mite encasings!

from $94.95

Which Air Filters Were Easiest To Change On Air Purifiers And Which Were Not?

Changing filters on your air cleaner is a must. I bought my dirty Blueair into the office and measured its efficiency before and after putting in new filters. After putting in new filters the efficiency rose in the order of over 20%, a clear argument to changing them. So now the question is, how easy is it to change them?

We did some training of new staff recently and took apart a number of our best selling air cleaners to change the HEPA and pre-filters. This is a quick summary of what we found. We rank ordered them in terms of ease of changing the filters.

Blueair: These air filters were the fastest of all to change and for the "mechanically disabled" like myself, they make life easy. Changing the filters requires lifting up the lid on top of the Blueair, pulling the new filters out and replacing with new ones. A 15 to 30 second operation at most. No screw drivers involved.

Hamilton Beach: Here you open up the front grille and pull the dirty filter out and snap a new one in . No screwdrivers are involved and it took less than one minute to change the filter. Absolutely idiot-proof.

IQAir: No screwdrivers are involved here but the system looks more intimidating the first time. In fact, it was much easier than it looked. You pull the side arms of the machine out and then remove and restack the filters. The mechanically inclined will accomplish this task in 2 to 3 minutes. Fumble fingers like myself took about 8 minutes the first time but can now do it as quickly as the rest of them. It is the resetting of the filter replacement controls that took more time during the first time out.

Austin Air: We turned the machine upside down and used a screwdriver to open up the base plate. The HEPA filter slid in and out easily. We were dismayed at how CLEAN the pre-filter looked after 3 months constant use. It did not appear to us that it could be doing much good. However, the person on our staff who had changed the pre-filter a few months back said the pre-filter does in fact catch a lot of large particulates but vacuuming from the outside (the method recommended by Austin) is not effective. So here you have to use a screwdriver to change or wash the pre-filter. This process took us about 8 to 10 minutes.

Clarifier: One of our all time favorite air cleaners, but it does not get top marks for ease of changing filters. We opened up the manual, read the instructions and our newbies tried to change the filter without success. It seemed stuck. We pushed and pulled and became very frustrated. It was clear that some screws needed taking out and no woman in the group could get the screws out by hand. A power screw driver was needed. In frustration, we gave the machine to our most mechanically astute sales person (an engineer by background). He was almost about to give up, and was getting visibly annoyed at the process, till he realized two additional screws needed to be removed. It just was not clear in the manual. Even after that removal and reinsertion of the filter was a bit of a struggle. We decided after over 30 minutes of this effort by 6 people, that if the manual instructions were improved, it would have saved a lot of aggravation and a power screwdriver was a must. We still felt this filter change was not for the faint of heart. Second time around we estimate this operation aided with a power screwdriver would take 15 minutes.

Replacement filters may be ordered via our website:


Questions And Answers To Our Staff On Air Cleaning



You are correct in that the Clarifier, the Allerair, or the IQAIR GC Multigas would be the best air purifier units to remove the photochemical chemicals.

As far as the whole house air cleaner goes I have not heard of your method but I have heard of an air cleaner that is free-standing where the air is ducted in from the main return of the central air system and is then ducted back to the return after the air is cleaned.I cannot see how cleaning the air in the room where the air is before it is pulled into the return would be able to properly work.

An electrostatic plug-in type of furnace filter is an excellent idea because up to 0.3 of a micron you will be able to remove up to 50% of the particulates and reduce the dust in your house and create less of a strain on the furnace, because you are circulating cleaner air through the system.

If you have any questions concerning any of this please feel free to call. Dave Barnaby


Dave: I bought the Clarifier from your company and am waiting as it works on my mold problem. Also bought the furnace electrostatic from your company which within 20 minutes had cleaned the air enough that my lungs "automatically" began to breath deeper, this was an odd yet positive experience, and there is substantially much less dust and nearly no dust balls rolling around on the floor.

Tried my dehumidifier in the furnace room as per my question below. We were both right! Much of the air is not affected by the dehumidifier in this position but some of the air is apparently pulled in from the furnace room so the house did gradually seem dryer.

Thanks for your answers and great products,




I'm trying to figure out if a machine and which machine would be good to use in a 750 sq. foot apartment for pretty much, strictly dust buildup. Unlike others, I don't really have any allergy problems and other than a bit of pet odor from the litter box of my pet rabbit, I don't have odor problems either. My main goal is to cut down on some of the household dust that seems to accumulate so darn quick after cleaning. Now I won't lie to thick within a week or two. Will an air cleaner help with this problem and cut down on the amount and frequency of dust buildup? I've read some things that say that 99% percent of household dust is simply dead skin & hair, but then I read things about dust mites being a problem for some people. I don't know how you would tell the difference. Btw, I just got the rabbit, so this was happening well before he came on the scene. Also, I anticipate moving to a larger apartment within the year, so the area to be cleaned will get bigger.

Thanks for any info! I don't like to dust and clean around the apartment, so I don't do it as often as I should, so when I do, there is usually so much dust that it has already formed a new light layer within 24 hours


Hi Bryan,

An air cleaner will help eliminate the dust in your home from the mere fact that the particulates in the air will be drawn into the air cleaner where it will be removed thus reducing the amount in the air.

Keep in mind, the larger particulates and especially the ones you can see are heavier and will fall to the floor, furniture, etc. very quickly so the air cleaner will not have a chance to filter it out.

It is most important, therefore to vacuum and dust regularly. The air cleaner will help with the lung damaging particulates that are too small to be seen and these will be small enough for you to breath in and large enough to not be exhaled out so they will remain in your respiratory system where there may be a reaction to the pollutant.

I would recommend the IQAIR Healthpro unit which will clean an area of 800 to 1000 square feet. It will remove at least 99.97% of all particulates in the air down to 0.3 microns in size.

If you have any questions concerning any of this please feel free to call or respond.

Thank you,

Dave Barnaby


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity And Air Cleaning
by Frank Hammes, President, IQAir

Air cleaners for MCS sufferers need to be able to control a wide range of chemicals and not themselves be a source of chemical contamination. IQAir has with the GC series and GCX series two product lines which meet these and other MCS requirements.

What is MCS?

Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is marked by multiple symptoms in multiple organ systems (usually the neurological, immune, respiratory, skin and/or musculoskeletal) that recur chronically in response to multiple chemical exposures

What can cause MCS?

MCS usually starts with either an acute or chronic toxic exposure, after which this initial sensitivity broadens to include many other chemicals and common irritants (pesticides, perfumes and other scented products, fuels, food additives, carpets, building materials, etc.). In non-industrial workplaces, a number of common products and processes are often identified as contributing to the onset of MCS:

  • offgasing of new carpets
  • gas stoves
  • cleaning supplies
  • house paints
  • pesticides and wood preservatives
  • vehicle exhaust fumes
  • new building materials and furnishings
  • toxic chemicals used in art, photography, printing, etc.
  • formaldehyde in new clothes, books, and other products
  • carbonless paper, inks, copying machines, and laser printer toner second-hand tobacco smoke

Symptoms of MCS.

MCS symptoms commonly include difficulty in breathing, sleeping and/or concentrating, memory loss, migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and irritated eyes, nose, ears, throat and/or skin. In addition, some MCS show impaired balance and increased sensitivity not just to odors but also to loud noises, bright lights, touch, extremes of heat and cold, and electromagnetic fields. MCS is more common in women and can start at any age, but usually begins in late puberty to mid-life.


Avoiding the chemicals which may trigger reactions is an essential part of treating MCS. Those with MCS who are able to strictly avoid exposures often experience dramatic improvement of their health over the period of a year or more. Yet the profusion of new and untested synthetic chemicals makes this extremely difficult.

MCS and Air Cleaning

The removal of materials which generate chemical exposure is an essential part of creating a "sanctuary" relatively free from chemical emissions. Suitable air cleaning measures can help further reduce the background levels of residual chemicals. Since chemicals are present in the air both in the form of gaseous molecules as well as particle-bound, only air cleaners which offer both particulate filtration and significant gas phase filters will be able to make a meaningful contribution to reducing background levels of chemicals in the air.

Most off-the-shelf air cleaners on the market today are not suitable for MCS sufferers, because their gas phase filters are too small. MCS sufferers should avoid products which use carbon pads or similar low carbon containing filters. Air cleaners with granular media, such as granular activated carbon, provide better removal efficiencies for gaseous chemicals. Coconut-based carbon should be avoided since it has been reported by some users to trigger allergies. But carbon alone does not offer complete removal of gaseous chemicals. Activated carbon works well with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but not well with some semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) such as formaldehyde or inorganic chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide. The widest range of chemicals can be removed by air cleaners which offer both granular activated carbon and a chemically active alumina. Air cleaners which offer a combination of granular activated carbon and zeolite on the other hand bring no such advantage. Zeolite has been marketed by some air cleaner manufacturers in air cleaners for MCS sufferers, but no sound scientific evidence has been presented that makes it preferable to activated carbon or chemisorbant media.

The gas phase filter in an air cleaner for MCS should be protected by a high-efficiency pre-filter. This guards against premature particle contamination which drastically reduces the effectiveness of the gas phase filters by clogging the micro-pores of the media. This decreases effectiveness, service life and may lead to cross contamination.

Air cleaners themselves can present sources of chemical contaminants, which present a serious problem to MCS sufferers. Many air cleaners contain sealants, gaskets, glues and softeners, which can release chemicals into the air. Inspection of various air cleaning systems on the market has shown that there is no significant difference in the amounts of chemicals released between air cleaners with metal housings and those with plastic housings. This may be due to the fact that most of the off-gasing of the air cleaners at room temperature comes from gaskets and sealing compounds which may be contained both in units with metal and plastic housings. Fan motors have also been reported by MCS sufferers to release chemicals and odors. This is due to the varnish which is used on the motor windings. MCS sufferers should look for air cleaners that are sold with varnish free fan motors and have the fan motor located before the gas phase filter. This way the gas phase filter is able to take up any chemicals (from lubricants etc.) released by the fan motor as it heats up. MCS sufferers should also ensure that the fan motor and the gas phase filter are followed by an efficient particulate post-filter to capture dust which can be generated by the gas phase media and metal dust from the motor.
Air cleaners which have the fan motor located at the last stage in an air cleaner should for these reasons be avoided.

Suitable IQAir systems for MCS sufferers.

The IQAir GC Series was specially developed for the removal of gaseous chemicals. Depending on the specific sensitivities of the MCS sufferer, the systems are available in four configurations, each targeting specific gaseous compound groups. In most MCS cases, the IQAir MultiGas GC unit is the best choice, because its wide sprectrum gas phase filter is able to capture a wide array of gaseous chemicals. Other features of IQAir GC Series systems important to MCS sufferers are:

  • Contains no gaskets or sealants which leak chemicals
  • The housing is made of fully cured, non-off-gasing premium ABS plastic
  • The IQAir fan motor is located before the gas phase filter and before the particle post filter. The fan motor is varnish free.
  • The gas filter is followed by a high-efficiency particulate post-filter that holds back any particles from the gas phase filter.
  • The gas filter cartridges can be changed independently of the other filters in the air cleaner. This avoids cross contamination and allows for independent replacement.
  • The gas phase filter is protected by a high-efficiency pre-filter against premature particle contamination.

If larger areas are to be covered or chemical concentrations are elevated, multiple IQAir GC units should be used. The IQAir GCX Series due to its even larger gas phase filter is able to deal with even higher chemical concentrations. In most cases, the use of multiple GC units will be preferable over the use of a single GCX system.

IQAir Gas Control Series