Before you start shopping for a blanket, it helps to know about your options. In this section, we’ll review types of blankets, common materials, and other useful factors to consider.
A key component of making a solid blanket purchase is knowing what things you should be considering as you look at products and evaluate them. Some of the key elements to keep in mind are detailed below.
Before you go to buy a blanket, you’ll want to think about how you plan to use a blanket and which type of blanket you’re looking for. Some of the types of blankets include:
- Standard Blanket: while there’s enough diversity to say that there’s no such thing as a truly standard blanket, we can use this term for a blanket that has a size meant to fit the standard bed sizes (Twin, Double, Queen, and King).
- Throw: a throw is a blanket that is designed primarily for use around the house rather than for use in bed. The size is usually 70 inches by 50 inches, and many throws are lighter and more decorative as they are commonly draped over a couch or chair.
- Afghan: the defining characteristic of an Afghan is that it is crocheted or has a look usually associated with a crocheted blanket. With large holes in the stitching, these usually don’t prove much insulation for heat, but many people appreciate them for their role in adding to home decor.
- Heated blanket: these are blankets with an internal electric mechanism built-in to provide heat when the blanket is plugged in and turned on.
- Weighted blanket: this type of blanket has added weight, often ranging from 5 to 30 pounds, built into the blanket itself. This added pressure can help some people feel more at-ease in bed through a process known as grounding. In certain people, this is believed to spur the production of hormones beneficial for sleep and mental well-being.
- Quilt: this refers to a type of blanket that has an interior layer covered by material that has been stitched together. Quilts are usually known for a decorative design on the exterior stitching.
One of the biggest factors that influences how a blanket will perform is its material. The material directly affects warmth, feel, breathability, and more. There is no single material type that is the best; instead, the best blanket in any situation depends on your preferences (such as for softness) and how you plan to use the blanket (such as with a comforter, layered with other blankets, only during certain seasons, etc.). Some of the most commonly-used blanket materials include:
- Wool: wool is a material derived from sheep that is well known for its antibacterial and moisture-wicking properties. It offers significant warmth, but it remains highly breathable, so it can be used in all seasons. Wool may not be as soft as other materials but still has significant softness.
- Down: this material is taken from the underside of the feathers of ducks and geese. Down is very soft, light, and extremely powerful when it comes to insulating. It makes for excellent winter comforters but may also be used with less fill in all-season comforters. Given its characteristics, down tends to be expensive.
- Cotton: cotton is used in a broad array of bedding products thanks to its soft feel. It is generally smooth and plush and absorbs moisture (such as sweat), which gives it decent breathability. Cotton may be quilted to give it a textured feel and/or to have small gaps or holes in the threads to boost breathability even more.
- Synthetic: most synthetic fabrics used for blankets are polyester. This is a material that can be formulated in a handful of different ways to give it varying textures and properties. For example, down alternative polyester tries to mimic the soft, light, and lofty feel of down. For microfiber and fleece, the polyester is brushed to give it a fluffier feel with extra softness and plushness. Polyester may also be blended with other materials in order to combine the elements of the performance of each.
How a blanket is woven can influence its performance. For example, when the weave is very loose, it’s harder for a blanket to offer nearly as much in terms of heat retention. However, it may still be excellent for a light layer or for decoration. A tighter weave provides more heat but also usually less breathability and more issues with holding in moisture or sweat along with the heat. Knowing how you intend to use a blanket can help you choose whether you want a tighter or looser weave.
As you would expect, the material and weave of a blanket will have a direct effect on the durability of the blanket. Materials like down and wool tend to be very durable but also usually cost more and require more complex methods of cleaning and maintenance.
How you use your blanket will also affect durability as a blanket that gets nightly use or one that is regularly being moved around the house and used in different places is going to have more wear-and-tear and a greater need for regular washing that may cause it to break down more quickly.
Most standard blankets are manufactured in accordance with normal mattress sizes. However, there are exceptions, including throw blankets, that are smaller. It’s always wise to check the dimensions of a blanket in relation to your bed to make sure that they will line up well.
Color and Pattern
Your blanket can play a significant role in your bedroom’s overall style and aesthetic. It can serve as a textural contrast or accent color for your bed. If you’re thinking about a blanket as part of your broader bedroom look, make sure to consider the design of your bedroom as a whole and the different sheets and other bedding that you usually use.
While we’ve covered the primary considerations, there are a few other factors that may be relevant to many customers.
- Organic materials: some materials, like cotton or wool, can be made to meet standards for organic production. Customers looking for organic materials can look for products with a certification according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
- Return policy: if you’ve done your research carefully or if you’re buying one of our top picks, the odds are you won’t need to return the blanket. But if you find that you aren’t happy with your purchase, you may be able to return the blanket for a full refund. Look for blankets that have a customer satisfaction guarantee that lets you make a return in that case.
- Ease of cleaning: most blankets can be easily cleaned with your washer and dryer. But some have very specific washing requirements, so if you want the simplest and most convenient cleaning option, make sure to look into the washing instructions before you buy a blanket.