Types of Blankets: How to Choose a Style and Material You'll Love

Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about comforters, duvets, fleece blankets, woven throws, and more.

A bedroom with a teal wall and colorful layers of bedding
Photo: Jacob Fox

Snuggling up under a warm blanket on a cold night is one of the best feelings in the world. Blankets offer a much-needed layer of cozy warmth and can make us feel protected and secure.

Blankets come in different shapes, sizes, designs, and fabrics, so finding the right one for your preferences might be more challenging than you think. It's not just about choosing a color and pattern that matches your room; material and weight are important factors to consider as well.

Depending on the temperature in the room, some blankets are better at retaining warmth or repelling moisture. Also, some blankets can be bothersome for people with sensitive skin. Synthetic fibers can be irritating, while natural fabrics have the potential to be itchy.

And how do you know what kind of blanket to buy? Should you go with goose down or a synthetic alternative? And what's the difference between a comforter and a duvet, anyway? No matter your preferences and needs, there's a blanket out there that's perfectly suited for you. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the types of blankets available, so you can choose one that best fits your space and comfort preferences.

What Are the Common Types of Blankets?

There are various types of blankets, from comforters to duvets to fleece blankets to woven throws.


Typically used on beds, comforters are made by filling two pieces of fabric with a warm material, such as feathers, cotton, or polyfill. The outer material determines the softness of the blanket, while the filling material determines the warmth.

Pros: Comforters are soft and typically warmer compared to other kinds of blankets. They're usually lightweight, which makes them a versatile option for all seasons.

Cons: Some comforters cannot be machine washed because of the filling material. They're also not practical for warmer climates.


Duvets are thicker, softer, and warmer than most comforters, but they are similarly constructed. Duvets have the added convenience of a removable cover, which makes them easy to clean and you have the option to change up the outer case.

Pros: Duvet covers come in many different colors and designs, so once you find an insert you like, you can change up the case as often as you want. Because the outer cover is removable, they're also easy to clean. They're ideal for colder environments or for use during winter months.

Cons: The filling of the duvet insert can clump together, giving it a lumpy or distorted look. You should only use a duvet with a cover in order to keep it clean, and it can be difficult to get the cover on and off.

Throw Blankets

Throw blankets are usually small and decorative. They offer light cover for lounging on a chair or sofa, but typically aren't big enough for use on a bed. They're also an easy and inexpensive way to add a touch of color and texture to your decor.

Pros: Throw blankets are lightweight and easy to use. Because of their size, they're easy to move around and can be used for many purposes. Take one on a road trip, use one as a picnic blanket, or interchange throw blankets for an easy seasonal decor switch.

Cons: They're small in size, so they aren't ideal for sharing. They also typically aren't big enough to sleep under.


Quilts have three layers: a front, middle, and back layer. The top and bottom layers are fabric, while the middle is a filling made of cotton, wool, or polyester filling. Their distinct stitching patterns make them one-of-a-kind art pieces that can be used on a bed or just for display.

Pros: They can be made in various colors, patterns, fabrics, and designs. Since many of them are handmade, they're often one-of-a-kind. They're cooler and thinner than a comforter, and lightweight enough to move from room to room.

Cons: Quilts are time-consuming to create by hand. They're also challenging to clean; many are dry clean only, which means they're not always ideal for daily use.

Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like: A blanket stuffed with heavy materials, such as plastic pellets or glass beads. The pressure they provide can reduce tossing and turning. Occupational therapists also use them to alleviate anxiety, depression, autism, and sensory processing disorders.

Pros: Weighted blankets can help with sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. They can also reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety by providing comforting pressure.

Cons: Because of their filling, weighted blankets are a hassle to clean. They're also heavy (the rule of thumb is that a weighted blanket should be equal to 10% of your body weight), so they're hard to carry around or travel with.

What Kinds of Materials Are Blankets Made From?

Many blankets on the market are made with synthetic materials. According to Ruthie Osswald, senior associate of design and product development at Brooklinen, there are reasons to shop natural fabrics, but in some instances, a synthetic material could be better. “Blankets can really be made out of any material, synthetic or natural," she says. "There are pros and cons to both.”

As Kathrin Hamm, founder of blanket brand Bearaby, explains, “synthetic fibers are easier and cheaper to produce, meaning they are more readily available, but will not stand the test of time and wear." She says for weighted blankets specifically, "they are typically filled with plastic pellets, polypropylene beads, or other synthetic materials.”

Osswald agrees that synthetic materials can be good for consumers on a budget, but they might not be quite as cozy. “Typically they are not as breathable as natural fibers, leading to a hot and heavy feel rather than one that’s warm and comfortable," she says. "Natural fibers keep you cozy while still being breathable.”

Common Blanket Materials

Cashmere: Cashmere blankets are luxuriously soft, warm, and silky, but they're also costly. They are hypoallergenic and naturally fire-resistant. They also offer more insulation than wool and don't wrinkle or lose shape over time.

Cotton: Apart from being incredibly soft, cotton is suitable for all types of weather. “Cotton is a great option for anyone with skin sensitivities, as it's a natural fiber that is lightweight and breathable,” Osswald says. “For the best quality, look for 100% cotton blankets made with long-staple fibers.” 

Goose Down: Down blankets are lightweight and filled with a layer of very soft feathers. They have a layer of feathery down (or a synthetic substitute) between layers of fabric.

Synthetics: Acrylic, polyester, and microfiber are popular and inexpensive synthetic fibers used to make blankets. Although warm, these fabrics tend to attract static electricity, which isn't ideal in the winter. They also hold onto dust, hair, and loose threads.

“The cons typically outweigh the pros of synthetic material use, and choosing high-quality bedding made from natural or recycled fibers is an investment in your health and the environment,” Hamm reminds. “Synthetic fibers are detrimental to the environment, whereas natural or recycled materials are typically more sustainable and eco-conscious.” 

Wool: Besides being soft and breathable, wool is also fire-resistant. It provides excellent insulation while allowing moisture to evaporate. It is ideal for use through multiple seasons, although it can be itchy.

Other Factors to Consider When Blanket Shopping

From the climate to the cost, there are many things to consider before committing to a blanket—especially a high-quality one you intend to use for a long time.

First, consider the size of your bed or couch, and make sure your blanket is sized appropriately. Consider whether you want it to hang over the sides (in which case you may want to size up), or whether you plan to tuck it under the mattress.

Second, the climate will determine if you need a light throw or a heavy-duty blanket. In rooms with air conditioners or fans, you might need a heavier blanket than the weather report would suggest.

Lastly, if you suffer from allergies or skin sensitivities, take extra care to select natural fibers. Wash blankets before use and clean them regularly, even if they don’t look dirty.

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