People use weighted blankets for a variety of reasons. According to Healthline, research suggests that the therapeutic blankets weighing between 5 and 30 pounds, “may benefit people with anxiety, autism, and insomnia, among other conditions.” Using deep-pressure stimulation, the blankets relax the nervous system and mimic the experience of being held or hugged (think: baby swaddling, but for adults).
They may improve sleep quality and reduce stress, but they’re not easy to wash. While the exterior fabric is usually a traditional fabric such as wool, cotton, flannel, linen, or rayon, the fill that makes it heavy “may include microfiber beads, sand, steel beads, pebbles, or grains.” (Other websites listed plastic or “poly” pellets and organic materials such as dehydrated food as potential fillers.)
So how do you safely clean a blanket made of such non-traditional materials? Here are a few tips, beyond what’s listed on your blanket’s care label.
How to wash your weighted blanket (in the machine)
First, a few general guidelines. The best way to wash a weighted blanket is to get a removable cover for it so you can wash that, instead of the the blanket itself. Avoid tossing it in for every stain or blemish; spot clean whenever possible. Use a gentle detergent while avoiding laundry aids such as fabric softener, bleach, vinegar, baking soda, or salt. Never wash or dry on high heat.
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Generally, blanket containing glass beads are safe to wash in the machine; steel beads less so, as friction with the blanket’s outer fabric can lead to tearing and leaking of the blanket’s filler. Plastic pellets are washable, but care must be taken to avoid heat, as they can melt.
Air drying is recommended. However, depending on the materials, they may be able to sustain drying. For that, you may want to make a trip to a laundromat for a larger, commercial-size dryer. Always use low heat (unless manufacturer care instructions specify otherwise).
How to hand-wash your weighted blanket
Fill your tub with cold water and let the blanket soak in a mild, bleach-free detergent. Wash gently. Air drying is recommended; roll it first to remove any excess water. Then lay the blanket evenly on a surface to dry, while making sure the inner contents are distributed evenly.
Weighted blankets with organic fillers like corn, beans, rice, or sand should be left to a professional. Natural fillers don’t hold up well under water—they can become soggy or moldy, and sand will form clumps that make the blanket feel lumpy. Blankets made from wool, a fabric not known for having a great reaction to water, should also be left to your local dry cleaners.
How often should you wash your weighted blanket?
It depends. If you use it nightly, your blanket (or, preferably, its removable cover) should be washed every few weeks to eliminate sweat, oil, and bacteria buildup. If it’s only used occasionally for naps or TV watching, washing 4-6 times per year is sufficient. Avoid washing too frequently to preserve its longevity, durability, and the intended distribution of its filler. Too frequent washes can cause the blanket to degrade more quickly, and increase the chances it will suffer a tear and spill its contents.