Most people have a favorite blanket or throw. The one they curl up with to stay warm and cozy on the couch or in their bed. When it’s time to replace the throw blankets in your house, it can be tempting to shop only based on color or softness, but there are a few other factors you will want to consider. This guide will teach you about materials, sizing and the other things to keep in mind so you can choose the best throw blankets for your home.
Blankets vs. Throws
Oftentimes, it can be tricky to distinguish the difference between a blanket and a throw. While they are in the same textile family, these two items serve two different purposes.
When purchasing, ask yourself if you need a new blanket to update your bedding or if you are looking to purchase a throw to add some color or texture to your living room.
Here are a few more key differences between blankets and throw blankets.
- Typically larger than a throw and intended for use on a bed as the top layer of bedding.
- Used for decor purposes; draped over chairs, sofas or the edge of a bed.
- Used to provide added warmth while relaxing in a bed, chair or on a couch.
Choosing the Right Size
Much like bed sheets and pillowcases, blankets are available in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to know the size of your bed to be sure that the blanket isn’t too short or too long. Typically, blankets are available in the same sizes as other bedding, like sheets (twin, full, queen or king). Depending on the brand, some blankets are also available in larger sizes such as California King.
Throws are smaller in size than blankets, with the standard size being 50 inches wide by 60 inches long. Because the sizing is universal, choosing the best throw blankets for your bed, sofa or chair is going to be a matter of what style and texture you want.
Fabric and Weave
The type of fabric you choose will ultimately depend on what you are looking for in your new blanket or throw. Some fabrics tend to be plusher and smoother while other blankets may be textured for warmth. So the best material for blankets will vary depending on the person.
Are you on the hunt for the best blankets for winter nights? Or do you want to find the best travel blanket to stay warm on planes and road trips? This list of the most popular fabrics and their features will help narrow down which material you prefer so you can choose the best blankets for your needs.
Down: Thinner and lighter than down comforters, down blankets feature a layer of feathers (typically goose or duck) stitched between two layers of fabric. Ideal for keeping you warm in the winter, down is plush to the touch but breathable enough to keep you cool in the summer as well. Down alternative is also available for those who want the look and feel of down but may suffer from allergies. Be sure to read the packaging to find the best down blanket.
Cotton: Breathable, soft and lightweight, cotton blankets are the best summer blankets, and ideal for those who consider themselves warm sleepers. Cotton is also extremely popular because it’s durable enough to withstand everyday use and repeated washes. Determining which is the best cotton blanket or best throws will depend on the weight you need.
Wool: Wool blankets are great at keeping you warm, especially during winter months. They are also chosen because of their soft-to-the-touch texture. A bit heavy for spring and summer months, wool makes one of the best winter blanket choices because it's ultimately the warmest. A good wool blanket will not be itchy and should feel fuzzy but soft against your skin.
Fleece: Cozy, warm and not super thick, fleece blankets are some of the softest blankets available and a great addition to a bed during winter months. Usually made of acrylic fibers, fleece is velvety soft and cost-effective. Typically, fleece blankets are thought to be the softest throw blankets.
Electric Blanket: Made of synthetic fibers, electric blankets feature a heating element and adjustable thermostat that allow you to choose your desired temperature. A great investment for those who live in cooler climates, choosing the best electric blanket will depend on color and fabric preferences. But it’s good to note that this style of blanket is available in an array of choices.
Synthetic: Many throws, especially faux fur and knit throws, will be made of synthetic fabrics. Typically more affordable and hypo-allergenic, synthetic throws are extremely popular. Many synthetic throws are made to feel buttery soft and will almost have a sheen to them.
While fabric is important when you are looking for feel, weave plays a key role in the weight and warmth of a blanket.
- Wool and synthetic blankets have knit weaves, making them warm and heavier.
- Down blankets and comforters feature quilted weaves that provide warmth and evenly distribute temperature.
- Cotton blankets, which are typically the coolest blankets, usually feature a thermal pattern so that air can circulate freely. A blanket made of waffle cotton provides just the right amount of texture and warmth, but will also remain cool enough to be used on your bed year-round.
Tip: Different types of blankets and throws work best during certain seasons. Consider having various fabric options so you can swap out your blankets and throws throughout the year.
How you care for your blankets and throw blankets will depend on the fabric you’ve chosen. We recommend always reading the care label prior to washing/drying, but here are some standard rules to go by.
- Washing: Always wash blankets and throws separate from the rest of your bedding. Most blankets should be washed in cooler water on a gentle cycle. Use a mild detergent, and not too much of it, so that it doesn’t stay in the fibers and ruin the texture.
- Drying: Dry most blankets on low heat to prevent ripping or shrinking.
- Electric blankets can be washed and dried, but always be sure to disconnect the power cord and only dry it until it's lightly damp so it doesn't shrink.
- Caring for wool: Wool blankets should be washed by hand, when possible. When it’s time to clean your wool blanket, shake it off and hang it somewhere air can move through it. Then spot clean any stains before washing the blanket or throw by hand. Avoid hot water and allow it to air dry.
- Throws with a looser weave (knit throws, for example) may tear in the washer and dyer, so you may opt to hand wash.