Blankets have been around since the beginning of recorded history. Even in warm climates, most people will use some type of covering when sleeping. This is because a human’s core body temperature almost always drops when sleeping. When a person reaches the stage of sleep called REM, the human body is not able to regulate temperature. Body temperature is at the lowest point a few hours before waking up each morning. This means selecting the right blanket, even if just sleeping at home in bed, is extremely important.
Snuggling under a blanket can reduce anxiety and even insomnia. This is because sleeping while all curled up in a good blanket makes a person feel protected and safe. This increases the serotonin levels in the brain which will ultimately decrease hormones that cause stress. Blankets through the ages have been made of a variety of materials. Sometimes a blanket may even have been just leaves, grass, and other natural items. Blankets, depending on what they’re made of, are sometimes called quilts, comforters, and a duvet. The following is an extensive list of the different types of blankets available, what they’re made of, and the benefits and disadvantages of each.
Table of Contents
1. Afghan Blankets
While some people may claim that there is a difference between a blanket and an Afghan, the distinctions are not that clear. If a blanket, in simplest terms, is a covering to keep an individual warm, then an Afghan would qualify. An Afghan blanket is often made of wool and is either crocheted or knitted. It is sometimes made of other materials such as linen, cotton, or a variety of natural fibers.
There are several different types of Afghan blankets including single piece and those called a mile-a-minute. The mile-a-minute blankets are made from separate strips that are later joined together. There are also motif Afghans that are created using blocks or granny squares. Afghans can serve many purposes from providing warmth to being a decorative item. Depending on exactly how the Afghan is made, these can be difficult to clean. The Spruce suggests hand washing and allowing the blanket to air dry. Some may be washed on a delicate cycle.
2. Acrylic Blankets
Woven acrylic is a synthetic product that isn’t made of natural materials like wool or cotton. Sewport states that acrylic is made from a synthetic polymer that is formed from petroleum or other types of fossil fuels. The material is usually lightweight yet still warm. These types of blankets are moth-resistant and can be stored for long periods of time. Acrylic often has a wool-like texture and feel. They aren’t very breathable, but this is one reason they are good at retaining heat. They can also be washed and dried many times without much wear and tear.
There are several disadvantages to having a blanket made from acrylic. Acrylic fibers can be harmed by very cold or very hot water. It’s best to wash it in warm water. Acrylic fabrics are not good for the environment and may even contribute to some types of cancer. Satin trimmed acrylic blankets have been one of the more popular types of acrylic blankets for years. Mink blankets are not made from the mink of animals but from acrylic. They are called mink because of the extraordinary soft feel. They are plush, thick and provide lots of comfort, yet they are very lightweight. These blankets can be found in lots of gorgeous colors and styles.
3. Car Blankets
These types of electric blankets are made to either plug into a cigarette lighter or a 12 volt outlet. They are similar to electric blankets a person would use at home, only these are specifically for travelling in a vehicle. They are often made of polyester or fleece and come with a variety of features. Some of the more elaborate ones will have a range of temperature settings, automatic shut-off, and indicator lights. Some can be put in a washing machine while most are put together in a way that only allows them to be safely spot washed. Pros and cons of these blankets would generally depend on the individual style and make of one and what kind of features it had. A good car blanket should be able to keep an individual comfortable and warm even when they’re not turned on.
4. Chenille Blankets
Those looking for the softest blanket possible will want to choose one made out of chenille. Chenille is sometimes made completely from cotton. It can also be made from rayon or acrylic. The chenille fabric is then formed by tightly wrapping yarn around a core. This causes the edges of the fabric to stand out at a right angle. This ultimately creates the softness and unique look that is known as chenille. Many of these blankets are easy to wash and care for. Others may require dry cleaning. It will depend on the exact types of materials that are used in each blanket. One of the major disadvantages is that they tend to be expensive. Fabric.com states that when it comes to beauty and comfort, it’s hard to beat chenille. Those who are looking to decorate their home with the softest, most attractive blankets will definitely want to look into chenille.
5. Cotton Blankets
Cotton blankets are hypoallergenic, making them a good choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Cotton is considered a very breathable material and a good type of blanket for warmer weather. Most types of cotton blankets are easy to clean and stains will come out fairly easily. They are also very comfortable, but they do have some drawbacks. They can be heavy when wet and can take a long time to dry. They’re also flammable. For these reasons they’re not good choices for camping or hunting.
- Flannel/Cotton– Flannel is a specific type of cotton that is used for different types of clothing as well as blankets. It can consist of combinations of cotton, wool, and a variety of synthetic fibers. Flannel is a knitted type of fabric that doesn’t wrinkle easily. It’s easy to clean and can last for many years if well cared for. One of the major drawbacks is that all types of cotton blankets will tend to shrink if they are dried with high or even medium heat. Try to choose a blanket with a lower percentage of cotton to avoid shrinkage and excessive wrinkling.
- Satin/Cotton – A satin and cotton blanket (aka bed sheets) will be extremely comfortable and have a luxurious feel. Most of these types of blankets, however, will be easily damaged and will probably require dry cleaning. It’s important to note that while satin is often made from silk, it does not by definition have to be a silk product. Satin is a weave and is often made of a combination of synthetic fibers, primarily polyester. Silk is much more expensive and is a natural fiber. For those who love the feel of silk, but not the price tag that comes with it, a satin and cotton mix is a good alternative.
- Egyptian/Cotton – Those looking for a high-quality weighted blanket should consider one made of Egyptian cotton. These blankets are breathable, absorb moisture, and are very long lasting. Compared to regular cotton, they don’t shrink very much. The biggest drawback is that they can be extremely expensive. It’s also important to note that a consumer needs to be careful when purchasing one of these blankets. Not every claim to be genuine Egyptian cotton, unfortunately, is the real deal.
6. Down Comforters
A down comforter is also called a down duvet. It’s filled with some type of insulating material, usually polyester, cotton, wool, or down. Down is a fiber that provides both blankets and comforters with a high level of warmth. A down blanket is different than a down comforter. It is more lightweight than a regular down comforter. Down blankets generally consist of lightweight materials between two separate fabrics. This material inside of a down comforter is usually down feathers.
According to Hayneedle it’s important to look for the “fill power” when selecting a down comforter. How much space one ounce of down will fill is considered the fill power. The more fill power a comforter has, the higher quality it is considered to be. Down feathers that are real have greater fill power than those that are synthetic. This means real down is denser and will hold its shape and fluffiness better than a synthetic fill.
7. Emergency Blankets
Emergency blankets are also known as space or mylar blankets. These blankets are light-weight and have a reflective exterior surface. Emergency blankets are used to reduce heat loss in a person’s body. They are often used by campers, survivalists, and are sometimes put in first aid kits. The most basic emergency blanket is a thin metallic sheet that folds up to fit into a small area,
These blankets reflect most all radiant heat, not just heat from a person’s body. They can also be used as shelter from heat as well as for a rescue signal. Some of the drawbacks include that many types will tear easily. They may also be difficult to open in an emergency situation if a person is injured or there is a lot of wind. Finally, they are perishable. If they’re kept in an emergency kit for several years they may begin to deteriorate.
8. Fleece Blankets
Fleece blankets are usually made of some type of polyester or a mix of synthetic fabrics. Fleece is normally very warm, light-weight, and can be washed at home. Fleece is a good choice for people with sensitive skin or allergies, yet still need a blanket that provides a lot of warmth. Fleece blankets are generally less expensive than many other types. Depending on the type and how it’s made, fleece can melt near flames or high enough heat. There are several subcategories of fleece blankets.
- Polar Fleece – Basic fleece is sometimes called polar fleece. Mambe Outdoor Blankets are made of high quality polar fleece. They are wind-proof, water-proof, and are insulated. A general drawback of using a fleece blanket is that they tend to absorb smells more easily than many other types of blankets.
- Sherpa Fleece – These are made of a stretchy knit polyester fabric. Typically, Sherpa fleece will have two sides that are distinctly different. There is usually a smooth side that is knitted, with the other side consisting of either real or what looks and feels like real sheep fleece. Sherpa Fleece is made of 100 percent polyester without any other added materials.
- Coral Fleece – Coral fleece is very similar to a polar fleece blanket except it is thicker. These blankets aren’t just thicker, they have a “furrier” feel to them. According to Fleece Fun, the blankets will often shed around the edges. They also tend to be stretchier than regular polar fleece. Coral fleece is almost exclusively used for blankets and a lot of baby blankets are made from this material.
- Micro Fleece – This is a very thin type of fleece that is lightweight and used to keep moisture away from a person’s body. This type of fleece is often used for athletic and other types of performance garments.
9. Linen Blankets
Linen is made from fibers that come from a flax plant. This particular fiber can be difficult to harvest. This contributes to the high cost of almost anything made of linen, including blankets. Linen is easy to keep clean and can be better for the environment than many other types of materials. Linen is a thick material and will last longer than a lot of other fabrics. A linen blanket will easily adjust to a person’s own natural body temperature. This will help an individual stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, making them ideal year-round. Linen wrinkles quite easily and should be allowed to air dry after washing to avoid pilling.
10. Microfiber Blankets
A microfiber blanket is a mix of several different types of fibers. These often include polyester, rayon, and nylon. A microfiber is usually polyester that is very finely woven. Microfiber materials are generally wrinkle-free. Since the material in this type of blanket is woven together very tightly, it’s difficult for dust particles to get between the fibers. This makes it a good choice for people who suffer from allergies. It’s also stain resistant and long-lasting. It can, however, melt at high temperatures. This type of blanket would be a good choice for many outdoor activities, but not near a fire.
11. Nylon Blankets
Blankets made primarily out of nylon will be very strong and durable. Nylon is a type of synthetic fiber that has been used in everything from toothbrushes and stockings to umbrellas and blankets. This type of blanket can handle extreme temperatures and still holds up well. To maintain a nylon blanket it should be washed with cold water.
12. Polyester Blankets
Several of the blankets previously listed have at least some polyester in them. One of the primary benefits of a blanket primarily made of polyester is that it can be washed and dried many times and still retain its shape and color. A polyester and cotton blend is a popular choice since the blanket will be both durable and soft. Polyester does have a few disadvantages. It tends to stick to skin when wet and isn’t as breathable as cotton.
13. Vellux Blankets
These are also referred to as hotel blankets. They are often made out of nylon and foam. Sometimes, however, they are constructed of 100 percent polyester. These blankets are warm and extremely durable. They usually have two layers of foam that are between fabric made of strong nylon fibers. They can be washed many times without showing much wear and tear. Vellux blankets are generally hypo-allergenic because they are non-pilling. One of the biggest advantages of having a vellux blanket is that it will likely last for several years. Some owners have stated that their blanket has lasted for up to thirty years.
14. Wool Blankets
Of all natural materials, a wool blanket probably provides the most warmth. Serious hunters, campers, and survivalists would definitely want to have at least a few good wool blankets on hand. Wool also naturally resists fire. According to Remodelista, there are several other benefits of having a wool blanket. Wool is biodegradable, which means it’s good for the environment. Wool also has antibacterial properties and doesn’t provide a good environment for germs to breed. Because it’s antibacterial, it doesn’t need to be washed very often.
One of the primary drawbacks of wool blankets is that they can feel rough and scratchy against the skin. Wool is slightly water repellent. This means if there is a light mist or rain, this type of blanket will do a fairly good job of keeping a person dry. If it gets soaked, however, wool takes a long time to dry out. Good wool blankets can also be a bit pricey.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.