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How to Find the Perfect Blanket This Winter

Is there anything better than cozying up under a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night? We don’t think so. The only problem is, with so many different types of blankets to choose from, how do you know which one you’ll like best?

There are pros and cons to each type of blanket. Your choice will ultimately depend on factors like the climate you live in, any health issues, your personal preferences, and your lifestyle. Read on to learn about the differences between various types of blankets and what you can expect from each one.

Popular types of blankets

Not all blankets are created equal, and some will suit you more than others. Comforters, duvets, quilts, and weighted blankets are among the most common choices you’ll encounter. Each comes with its benefits and drawbacks.

Comforter

The comforter is probably the most popular type of blanket in North America. It’s a thick blanket filled with synthetic fibers or down (or, less commonly, with wool or cotton) and quilted to make sure the filling is evenly distributed throughout the blanket. Comforters come in a wide variety of colors and patterns that you can choose to match your room decor.

Duvet

Duvets are similar to comforters (and are sometimes called comforters) in that they are thick blankets filled with fluffy material and quilted to distribute the filling. Like a comforter, a duvet can be filled with synthetic fibers, down, feathers, or wool. The main difference between the two is that a comforter is a patterned blanket that’s meant to be seen, while a duvet is plain white and goes inside a duvet cover to protect it. The advantage with duvets is that you get to change your room decor whenever you put a new cover.

Also, you don’t have to wash a duvet as often as a comforter, because you can wash the cover on a regular basis. On the other hand, some people hate dealing with duvet covers and prefer throwing their machine-washable comforter in the wash with the rest of their bedding.

Related: An expert guide to cleaning every type of bedding

Quilt

A quilt is a thin quilted blanket composed of three layers. The top layer is a collection of different pieces of fabric stitched together to create an artistic pattern. The second, inner layer (batting) is a thin layer of wool or down, and the bottom layer is a single sheet of fabric.

Traditionally, quilting was a skilled craft done entirely by hand. Today quilts are typically machine sewn, with the pattern sometimes printed onto the fabric. Most often made of cotton or cotton blends, quilts are lightweight and so better suited for summer months or places with very mild winters.

Weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are comforters that are filled with something heavy (sometimes in addition to the softer fillings) for added weight. The heavier fillings can be plastic pellets, glass beads, or grains of rice. The weight of these blankets can range from five to 30 pounds.

Why would someone want to bear this much weight on their body throughout the night? The heft of the blanket has a soothing and calming effect, similar to being hugged, a phenomenon known as “deep pressure stimulation.” Weighted blankets have been shown to help children on the autism spectrum and adults with anxiety relax and sleep better.

Throw blanket

Finally, a throw blanket (sometimes simply referred to as “blanket”) is made of a single sheet of fabric, such as fleece, flannel, wool, or polyester. Throw blankets are versatile and can be easy to clean, and they’re perfect for both snuggling up on the sofa and cozying up to sleep. They can be used on their own, but if you live in a colder climate or want something bulkier, they are best used in combination with other types of blankets for added warmth and coziness.

Related: What you need to know before buying new sheets

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Blankets: fill and fabric options

The fill of the blanket and the material it’s made from are also important considerations.

  • Down is considered the best and most luxurious duvet or comforter filling. Down is the protective undercoat of ducks and geese and has fantastic insulating properties. When choosing a down fill duvet or comforter, pay attention to fill power. Technically, fill power refers to the number of cubic inches that the down occupies. The bigger the down clusters, the higher the fill power without any added weight. A good quality down comforter will have a fill power of 500 or more. A fill of 500 to 550 will be enough if you live in a climate where temperatures don’t drop below freezing. Those facing a very cold winter will be better off with a fill power of 600 or more.
  • Synthetic filling may be a good alternative to down, especially for people with allergies or those on a budget. Synthetic fill won’t have the insulating power of down but will still keep you warm. That being said, don’t go with the cheapest options as they’ll lump faster and won’t keep you as warm. Gel fibers, for example, are a type of man-made fibers that resemble the properties of down better than others.
  • Wool will keep you warm both as a filling of a comforter and as a throw blanket. Wool is naturally hypoallergenic and has fantastic moisture-wicking properties, meaning you won’t get sweaty. Wool blankets and comforters, however, can be harder to care for as most can’t be put in the washing machine. If ease of care is an issue for you, go with a different material.
  • Fleece blankets are soft to touch and cuddly. Although as a man-made material fleece is not naturally breathable, some fleece blankets have been engineered to wick moisture away from your body. Go with a high-quality fleece to get the best performance.
  • Cotton is known for being breathable, but in a cold winter climate, it won’t be able to keep you warm. Unlike wool fibers and down clusters, which trap air and body heat to keep you warm (but not sweaty), cotton doesn’t have the same insulating ability. So unless you live in a very mild climate, your cotton quilt is best stored until summer.

Cozy up in bed in one of these five best sheet materials for winter.