Even in the dog days of summer, cuddling up in a blanket and getting all warm and cosy is a great feeling—and blankets are even more important as the mercury drops and winter starts to take hold. While you may not think that much about your throw, there’s a surprising amount of variety when it comes to choosing the best one for your own personal snooze-fests—and one of the first things you should look at is what your blanket’s made of.
Here’s our run-down of blanket fabrics and which one might be best for your 40—or more—winks.
Cotton tends to be lightweight and soft, making it an ideal blanket fabric for warm rooms or summertime (or if you just tend to sleep hot). If you’ve got sensitive skin or allergies, a soft cotton can be a good alternative to wool or down. Cotton fleece and flannel are soft and plushy but, unlike synthetic fleece (more on that below), is breathable—a bonus if you tend to wake up sweaty at night. A hundred percent cotton does tend to shrink, though, and can pill if you aren’t careful with it. Plus, some folks miss the comforting weight of blankets made from heavier fabrics.
Oh, so soft and oh, so warm, cashmere is made from the undercoats of cashmere goats in a labour-intensive process that contributes to its relatively high cost. Knitted blankets can be hand-washed in cold water, then pressed and left to dry on clean towels. Woven blankets should be dry cleaned. While this may sound high maintenance, cashmere is fairly durable and will actually get softer with age
Wool, another natural fabric, is a key choice when the temperature drops and you need a little extra heat. However, even though they’re warm, wool blankets are still breathable and are good at wicking away moisture. Some wool blankets are washable, but others require dry cleaning, so check carefully if you want a blanket that’s low-maintenance. As well, wool can be scratchy and irritating to sensitive skin.
Synthetic fleece (also known as polar or blizzard fleece) is a warm, synthetic alternative to wool—ideal if you’re sensitive to wool, or want a low-maintenance, inexpensive blanket. A softer version is known as microfleece. Fleece tends to be quite warm, so if you sleep hot, have an alternative to use if you wake up sweaty, because fleece isn’t very breathable (although it will keep you warm even if you’re wet). Sometimes made from recycled plastic bottles, fleece is quite durable, although cheap versions may pill with repeated washings. Oh, and don’t use high heat when drying your fleece—it’s technically plastic, after all, and it will melt. Avoid fabric softeners as well.
If you love a soft, soft, soft blanket, then one made out of minky (also known as cuddle fleece) is for you. Often used for baby blankets and stuffed animals, minky is a synthetic fabric with great touchability. It needs slightly careful handling in order for it to maintain that softeness, though: wash it in cold water, and dry on low or, better yet, hang to dry. Like polar fleece or microfleece, minky has a tendency to build up static electricity—which can be challenging if you have a furry pet..
Polyester is a warm, low-maintenance, durable alternative to other fabrics, making it a good choice for kids and anyone who changes their mind about patterns often. Polyester can be scratchy on its own, and it doesn’t breathe very well—so look for blends with natural fabrics to get the best of both worlds.
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