Made of polyester down alternative that's warm yet breathable. Soft and comfortable. 3M Scotchgard protection prevents stains. Machine washable. Comes in twin, full or queen, and king and choice of several colors.
Some reports of stitching coming loose over time. Might not be warm enough for severely cold temperatures.
Lightweight synthetic wool fleece suitable for all seasons. Can also be used as a throw or lap blanket. Dense material resists pilling and loft loss. Amazingly low retail price point for a large blanket.
Variable thermal qualities. Not quite cool enough for summer. Some users report substantial lint formation.
All the benefits of natural cotton, including softness and ability to breathe. Popular choice for hospital and elder care use. Works well as a throw blanket for casual use.
Lint can be an issue. Loose weave pattern affects thermal quality.
Plush blanket featuring Sherpa and microfiber sides – both soft and cozy. Great for layering or as a throw. Even looks nice laid across furniture. Comes in several attractive colors.
Only 2 sizes – throw and twin. Tendency to slide around, and may end up on floor when used on a bed. Not quite warm enough for very cold nights.
Ultra-lightweight microfleece construction means portability. Surprisingly good thermal qualities at its price point. Could be used as a throw or extra layer on cold nights.
Texture may not be as soft or plush as expected. Pilling after laundering is a common issue. Works better on bed than as travel blanket.
There’s nothing quite like settling down for the evening under a warm blanket. A blanket can be strictly functional as part of your bedding or serve as cozy décor that keeps you warm while watching television on a cold night.
Blankets come in a variety of fabrics and sizes that can affect comfort and usability, so sometimes finding the right one can be a challenge.
At BestReviews, we strive to bring you the information you need to make smart purchasing decisions. Our shopping guide includes not only the types of blankets available on the market but also the best fabrics for the season. Check out our top five picks above to see which blankets we think stand out from the rest.
Traditionally, the word “blanket” only applied to the cover used on bedding. Anything that was used outside of the bedroom was considered a “throw.” However, blankets can be broken down into still more categories as design and technology continue to diversify these household staples.
True blankets are designed to be used as another layer of bedding. Sized according to mattress sizes – twin, full, queen, and king – bedding blankets come in different colors and styles, but they are simple in their design.
Throws are intended to be used as an extra layer of warmth anywhere in your home. In general, throws are smaller and lighter in weight than blankets that are designed to be used as bedding. Throws also tend to be more decorative in nature with fringe, tucks, and other design elements.
Afghans are a subset of throws, but because they’ve become so popular we’ve put them in their own category. Afghans are usually knitted or crocheted from yarn, which means they have gaps between stitches through which air can pass. Afghans are usually decorative in nature because they don’t provide a lot of warmth.
Duvets are most often used on a bed in place of a comforter. While similar in size and weight to a comforter, a duvet has a removable cover. The cover can be washed separately and/or replaced at any time.
Quilts are layered blankets of almost any size made up of an insulating layer of batting covered by two layers of decorative fabric. The top layer is assembled from many small pieces of fabric stitched together. Quilts vary in warmth based on the thickness of the batting.
Comforters are traditional bed covers made from many types of fabric and filled with an insulating layer of down or synthetic batting. Comforters vary in warmth and thickness depending on the type of batting used and come in various colors and patterns to match any bedroom décor.
Electric blankets are layers of fabric with heating elements in the middle and an electrical cord and thermostat. These blankets are plugged into an electrical outlet, and you can adjust the temperature according to your needs. Some large electric blankets have two sets of controls, one for each side of the bed.
Cotton/cotton blends: Lightweight and breathable natural cotton blankets work best in late spring, summer, and early fall.
Fleece: If you’re looking for a warm but lightweight blanket, fleece is the right material for you. It’s soft and wicks away moisture, making it a favorite in children’s rooms.
Down/down alternative: Traditional down is soft, fluffy feathers. For people with feather allergies, there is a synthetic substitute called down alternative. Down blankets are lightweight and extremely warm.
Wool: Natural wool has good breathability and allows moisture to evaporate. It provides excellent insulation and warmth, but it is heavier than other fabrics. For those who like a little weight to their blanket, wool makes an excellent choice.
Cashmere: Natural cashmere is wool made from goat hair. Warm, soft, and silky, cashmere brings a touch of luxury to your home, but it can be pricey.
Synthetics: Synthetics are common and can look very similar to natural fabrics. Polyester, acrylic, and microfiber are some of the most popular. Many of them are very warm, comfortable, and inexpensive, but they do have some drawbacks. They often create static electricity, which causes them to attract hair, lint, and other common household debris.
Vellux: Velvety Vellux blankets are made for durability. Their foam inner layer covered in plush nylon can withstand frequent washings at high temperatures yet still remain warm and soft. However, they do have the reputation of being a “hotel blanket,” and usually come in plain colors, not fun designs.
The weave of the fabric affects its warmth and weight. You’ll want to choose the weave based on the purpose of the blanket and what time of year you want to use it.
Thermal: Lightweight thermal weaves are loose to let air pass through. These blankets work well during the summer months when you only need a light layer against the evening chill.
Knit: Knits are made with yarn made of natural or synthetic fibers. Knits have some stretch to them and offer excellent warmth and comfort. Their softness depends on the fiber used to make the yarn.
Quilted: The pattern of stitches that holds a quilt’s layers of fabric and batting together also creates small pockets that trap air. This is what makes quilts so warm. Down or down alternative comforters also have quilting to keep the inner insulating layer in place.
Standard: A standard weave has close, tight threads to trap and contain body heat.
After fabric, the size of the blanket is one of the most important considerations. If you’re choosing a blanket for your bed, select it based on your mattress size. Standard blanket sizes include the following:
Twin: 65 x 90 inches
Full/double: 85 x 90 inches
Queen: 90 x 90 inches
King: 110 x 90 inches
Throws and other blankets that aren’t intended for use on a bed come in many sizes, including the following:
Baby: 24 x 30 inches
Adult: 50 x 70 inches
You’ll also want to keep in mind the amount of storage space you have. Heavy, thick comforters require more storage space than lightweight cotton blankets. If you have limited closet or storage space but need a very warm blanket, opt for fleece or other synthetics that offer good heat retention without the bulk.
Be sure to check a blanket’s cleaning instructions before you buy. As strange as it may seem, some blankets must be dry cleaned. Others have very specific washing instructions. And some blankets are too large or heavy to fit in a standard washing machine, which means you’ll need to go to the laundromat.
Blankets come in a wide range of prices, from less than $20 to $600 and more, depending on materials and quality.
Inexpensive: For under $20, you can find fleece, microfiber, cotton, and synthetic blankets, such as sherpa/fleece throws. Sizes vary, but blankets in this price range work best as throws rather than bedding. However, you might be able to find an inexpensive twin-sized blanket at this price.
Mid-range: In the $20 to $50 range, you’ll find blankets in larger sizes, such as full or queen, as well as waffle weaves and double-layered fleece. Throws in this range have more embellishments like fringe and intricate colors and patterns. You’ll also find a few small electric blankets at this price.
Expensive: From $50 to $100 are fleece blankets (some king-size blankets), Egyptian cotton, and small 100% wool blankets. You’ll also find weighted blankets of various sizes, as well as down and down alternative comforters. There are larger electric blankets at this price, too.
Premium: At over $100, you’ll find cashmere blankets (some with prices as high as $600 or more), thick down comforters, and large wool blankets. Weighted blankets in larger sizes are more common in this higher price range.
Down blankets and comforters should be washed at least once a year. To maintain the loft of the blanket, wash them with tennis balls encased in socks. The tennis balls keep the blanket from bunching and help agitate the fabric to remove dirt.
Decorative throws can have two layers – one for warmth and one for looks. The decorative layer can be anything from faux fur to sherpa.
The term “fill power” is used to describe the warmth and density of down comforter or blanket. If you want a down comforter that works year-round, look for one with a fill power of at least 550.
Q. Can throws work as bed blankets?
A. The short answer is yes, but throws don’t usually make good bed blankets. In general, they’re smaller and more decorative in nature, which means they aren’t usually large or durable enough to use every night for seven to eight hours. While they can do in a pinch, you’ll probably be happier with a blanket that’s the right size for your bed.
Q. I have allergies. What kind of blanket should I buy?
A. Vellux is a good option for people with allergies. It doesn’t contain wool or feathers, which are common allergens, nor does it collect hair and dust like fleece. Plus, vellux can withstand the frequent washings needed to keep allergies at bay.
Q. How important is breathability?
A. The breathability of a blanket affects how much heat and moisture stay trapped against the skin. While you want the heat to stay in, too much can make you sweaty, and moisture does not contribute to warmth. You want a nice balance between warmth and breathability. Natural fabrics like cotton and wool have good breathability. However, these two materials are different weights and so work for different seasons. Cotton breathes well and works for lightweight blankets best suited for summer. Heavier in weight but still breathable, wool makes warm winter blankets.
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