From farm to bedroom: Why we don't treat our wool with chemicals

At Devon Duvets we’ve been committed to sustainability since our business was just a twinkle in Dick and Pauline’s eyes – over 15 years ago. Having left their busy international lives for one that embodied a more sustainable way of life, they wanted to be sure that anything they did would ensure the least amount of damage to the environment as possible. So, when they designed and then launched the UK’s very first 100% British made, individually handcrafted British wool duvet, they had already created a product that ticked that box.

There was quite a journey involved. Firstly, Dick and Pauline were determined to support British sheep farmers, particularly those in Devon, and whose flocks had the right kind of quality and springiness in their fleeces that would be suitable for wool filled bedding. They also wanted to ensure the wool was from farmers with the highest standards of animal welfare and would be traceable. Working with British Wool (formerly the British Wool Marketing Board), Devon Duvets is proud to only ever use 100% British wool that is certified as traceable from farm to our products. Our wool is gathered from live sheep during late Spring and Summer shearings – and, best of all, the sheep regrow their fleeces each year

How do wool fibres temperature regulate?

Next, Dick and Pauline wanted to ensure that all the wool used in our products was 100% natural. If you look at a wool fibre under a microscope you will see that it has little ‘hooks’, like a pinecone. These hooks allow the wool fibres to link together, creating air pockets - the secret behind wool’s amazing natural ability to temperature regulate. These hooks also help to create ‘loft’ during the needling process we use to create wool layers from the washed fleeces.

How do chemicals affect the way wool works?

Dick and Pauline discovered that the usual way of washing wool fleeces (known as ‘scouring’) involved the addition of chemicals or gases to smooth down the hooks in the wool fibres, supposedly to allow for wool products to be washed. However, by coating and smoothing the fibres, the structure of the fibres is irreversibly altered, and without the hooks, you are also reducing the air pockets that makes wool so efficient at temperature regulation. Some wool treatments use strong bleaches to make the wool pure white or in preparation for dyeing. These processes eventually have an impact on the environment.

How does Devon Duvets wash its wool?

By working closely with traditional British mills, Dick and Pauline were able to benchmark a way to thoroughly wash and needle our wool, to our strict specifications and without the use of chemicals, but still ensures that our duvets can be washed. Once washed (scoured) at the mill, our wool is a beautiful natural pale ivory, and we don’t bleach it. In fact, our wool is so lovely and clean after the mill has washed it that it has a sterilisation certificate – achieved even though chemicals have not been used!  It’s worth mentioning at this point that one of the other great benefits of wool is that it is naturally resistant to dust mites and the build-up of micro bacteria, and so that makes it hypoallergenic and more hygienic than many other fillings. This means that your duvet can be kept nice and fresh through regular airing and so washing it can be kept to a minimum.

Why does Devon Duvets needle its wool?

This process, again to our strict specifications, is done in a specialist British mill and adds additional loft and softness to the wool. It also creates layers of wool that are used in our products. It does not involve the use of any chemicals.

Why does Devon Duvets use BCI cotton?

Whilst we’re on the subject of chemicals, we’d like to mention that the cotton fabric that we use to make our 260 thread count 100% cotton duvet casings is woven especially for us, using cotton fibres that are certified by Better Cotton. This is a global initiative that supports better environmentally friendly cotton farming practices.

Natural from beginning to end

There’s another important reason for making natural, chemical free products…when it comes to replacing your Devon Duvets pillow, duvet or topper, you can reuse the wool by composting it or lining veg trenches. We don’t waste anything in the production process either. You can find out more here.

Auditing to maintain our commitment to ethical sourcing and production

We don’t just ‘talk the talk’.  We voluntarily undergo regular ethical auditing with Sedex, which involves everything we do from sourcing materials and each stage of production to our packaging materials and even includes the energy-efficient building where we craft our products. This demonstrates our values and commitment to responsible sourcing, and we are always looking at ways to constantly improve. This auditing also ensures that those who are part of our supply chain share our ethos in ensuring sustainability.

Why natural bedding aids better quality sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleeping in wool bedding that is natural, temperature regulating and chemical free will help to ensure a better quality of sleep, through helping to balance your core body temperature throughout the night. Discover more here.

So, you can sleep easy when you’re tucked up with our duvets, toppers and pillows, knowing that each product is natural and sustainable – and also individually handcrafted for you by one of our professional seamstresses, here in our own workshops on the edge of Dartmoor. That makes them better for you and our planet.

Discover the Devon Duvets journey

Find out more and watch our video featuring Dick and Pauline and their journey to create Devon Duvets.


If you have any questions about our products, or would like help in choosing the right duvet, topper or pillow for your needs, please get in touch with the team.