A doona by any other name…

Do you ever think about how lucky you are to have a “10 second bed”?

When down-filled bed covers were first sold in Britain in the early 1960s they were marketed as taking only 10 seconds to make.

This was a foreign concept to many American, Australian and British women in the 1950s who laboured daily over beds made with flat sheets, blanket layers and thin covers.

Yet European households had been enjoying the benefits of feather filled bed coverings for centuries.

Briton Terence Conron (later Sir Terrance) recalls sleeping under a “strange” cover while in Sweden in the 1950s and learnt that it was a down quilt. Less than 10 years later, he opened the British interiors store Habitat and marketed duvets (the French word for down) to “young moderns with lively tastes”.

Down-filled bed coverings were also often called “continental quilts” because they had long been commonplace in continental Europe.

In Canberra, although you will sometimes hear them called duvets, we most often hear them referred to as “doonas”.

I’m a little chagrined to admit that I also call them “doonas” given a recent post of mine about the trademark restrictions on the word laundromat.

One commonly held belief is that “doona” is a brand name used by manufacturers Kimpton in the 1970s, and has become part of our vocabulary like “Band aid” for sticking plaster and “Esky” for insulated cooler. I understand that the Tontine Group now owns the trademark.

Other experts speculate that “doona” comes from the Scandinavian term “dyne”, with a similar pronunciation to doon-eh, and was popularised by IKEA in the 1970s.

Manufacturers rate the performance of duvets (doonas) in togs, a measurement of thermal insulation that you may also have seen on children’s sleeping suits and bags. The higher the tog rating the warmer the duvet.

At Ainslie Laundrette we often say that we can improve the thermal properties of duvets by up to seven degrees Celsius because of the way we launder and dry.

Think about it. If you have ever tried to wash a doona, you probably found that the filling became lumpy and clustered in pockets rather than evenly distributed. Cleaning in this way damages and flattens the loft and reduces thermal properties.

Our careful service has the opposite effect. We can help increase the loft of any type of bed covering including sleeping bags, whether they are filled with down, silk, wool, polyester, cotton or blends. We can’t promise a 10 second turnaround, but we can do it quickly and efficiently.

We also have our own techniques for getting doona covers back on doonas, but if you can do that in under 10 seconds, I’d love to hear your tips.

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