- Best weighted blanket fillers
- Beaded filling materials
- Non-beaded filling materials
- Frequently asked questions
What makes weighted blankets weighted, you ask? Great question! There are a few options to choose from when it comes to weighted blanket fillings.
You’ve probably read about these blankets’ benefits, acting as a source of pressure therapy. The goal is to make you feel secure enough to sleep soundly throughout the evening.
The pressure from the weighted blanket isn’t as scary as it may sound; think of a warm embrace from a loved one when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Weighted blankets are intended to fill this role on demand.
These blankets have weight evenly distributed throughout the entire surface area, addressing pressure points across your body. Once these points are stimulated, serotonin is released, and thus, an excellent night’s sleep occurs.
When picking out your new hug therapist, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences for the blanket’s feel, fit, and function. The component we’ll discuss today – what the heck are they filled with?
Customers are becoming more aware and concerned about what’s in their products and how they’re made, as they should.
From glass beads to beans (literally), there are options for everybody, and none require a doctor’s letter. There are pros and cons to each, some have more than others. Let’s take a look at the most popular fillings for weighted blankets on the market.
Best Filling Materials
While the filling of your blanket may not seem to be of much concern, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Please make sure you are not allergic to any of the materials before you order. We also have resources discussing the best fabrics and weights to choose from.
Fillings also affect pricing, some being cheaper to manufacture than others. Further, whether the filling is machine washable, organic, breathable, texturized, and hypoallergenic may influence buying decisions.
These are just food for thought, but we’ll take a deeper dive. We also broke the materials into beaded vs. non-beaded fillings. So choose your team, and let’s get the ball rolling.
The following is your weighted blanket filler wishlist/checklist to keep in mind as we explore:
- Cost – What’s your budget? What is the best quality for the price?
- Allergies – Are you allergic to any of the artificial or organic ingredients in the product?
- Sensitivities – Are there any toxin, auditory, or sensory irritations to consider?
- Wash and care – Must the blanket be machine washable? Can the filling get wet?
- Durability – How much use will you get out of your blanket? Do you want long-term or short-term use?
- Manufacturing – How were the beads or materials produced? Is it good for the environment?
- Fabric casing – Do you have removable or sewn-in fabric? What type of fabric is compatible?
Beaded Filling Materials
The creme de la creme of fillings or the cat’s meow, if you will – micro glass beads.
Glass beads are the bead of choice amongst the most popular weighted blanket manufacturers for a reason, or many reasons. Have you ever walked on a beach with luxurious fine white sand? The feeling of the tiny sand granules contouring your foot as you stroll along – that’s what micro glass beads aim to mimic.
But, of course, they’re mostly made of sand anyways. Glass is more conducive to movement, offering a smooth and pliable weighted blanket experience. Because of the smoothness, it is friendly to tactile and auditory sensitivities and less bulky than other fillings.
When compared to plastic, the relationship between weight and texture is the main difference. Glass is heavier in weight and more expensive, while plastic is lighter and slightly less smooth to the touch. However, because glass is heavier, you need fewer beads to achieve your desired weight, so the price often evens out.
These beads also spread evenly and are the go-to for ideal distribution. A few bonuses – micro-glass production is easy on the environment (recyclable and natural), hypoallergenic, and good to go in the washer and dryer. Not much to dislike here.
Glass beads are the safest and best filling for weighted blankets, offering long-term use, flexibility, and comfort.
Poly (Plastic) Pellets
Taking second place in the weighted blanket filling popularity contest – poly pellets.
Imagine being caressed by a sea of delicate pebbles, but make them plastic. But don’t panic about them being plastic if your concerns surround toxicity. The plastic used, Polypropylene, is a strictly regulated, non-toxic, safe level 5 plastic. It’s hypoallergenic, chemical-free, and non-toxic. If you have extreme allergies, perhaps reconsider.
However, these little guys are the next best thing to glass beads because they are sleek, flexible, and easy to shift. While number two, they are the number one most commonly used filling in weighted blankets.
Their widespread usage is mainly because they share many of the same qualities as their more luxurious counterparts. Poly pellets shift as you do, contouring the body evenly and quietly. If you have extreme auditory sensitivities, consider cotton stuffing to buffer the noise.
Fleece and Minky fabrics also tend to hide any imperfections in shifting. These are safe to wash and touch externally as an ABS virgin plastic.
If you decide it’s time to get a new weighted blanket after owning one with poly pellets for quite some time, please recycle as it is plastic and can cause environmental damage. But overall, you can’t really go wrong with poly pellets.
Poly pellets are great for those who don’t want to commit to the price of glass yet want to reap the same benefits.
Steel Shot Beads
Who would’ve thought they’d ever put steel in their blanket? Sounds pretty awful, right? Well, this misconception is disproven by the mobility and sleekness of the beads. These guys are smooth to the touch and shift as you do. They are heavier and larger than glass beads, meaning you’ll need less of them to achieve optimal weight.
Steel shot beads may be too heavy for the lighter weighted blankets because they may have too much wiggle room and, thus, not evenly distributed. A benefit of steel shot beads being larger – it’s more difficult for them to leak if your blanket’s stitching comes a bit loose or if your casing is more delicate.
While these beads are easy on the fabric and stitching, you may want to opt for more casing and stuffing. You can imagine what steel balls colliding sounds like; beware for those with audio issues.
Steel shot beads are also washer/dryer safe if you’re okay with that noise situation as well. They’re heat-treated before blanket insertion, so these durable little balls are mostly resistant to rust and chemicals. You won’t see wear and tear with these beads, and another plus – they’re allergen-free and non-toxic for most people.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with these guys. Overall, these are a good option for my friends needing many hugs from their blankets.
Steel shot beads are best for a blanket bound for a lot of use with an owner that isn’t ultra sensitive to some noise during movement.
Non-Beaded Filling Materials
Believe it or not, it’s not super uncommon to use organic materials as fillings, mostly because it’s the cheap route.
These include rice, millet, dehydrated corn, beans, barley, and pasta—basically your pantry in blanket form. However, utilizing food where it’s typically not found has its own set of issues. All issues pertaining to organic materials in weighted blankets involve water or moisture.
What happens when you add water to any of the food groups listed? They expand, then they grow mold or fungus. Once this occurs, moist organic materials can rot and attract bugs. Whether the water comes in the form of sweat, moisture, or washer fluids, these food items don’t hold their own very well. So it’s safe to say this filling is not washer/dryer friendly.
Don’t even think about putting your sheets on the bed partially damp or even breaking a bead of sweat during the night. Not to mention, if the organic materials aren’t fully dehydrated before they enter the blanket, think of the little creatures that get into food if not sealed properly.
These points paint a pretty gruesome and stinky image to be sleeping with when the purpose of a weighted blanket is to be relaxing. If you really want to have a bean or pasta blanket, please make a solid effort to keep it very dry. Not to be a negative Nancy, but it’s recommended to opt for a more durable filling.
Using food for filling is not recommended, yet if you must, don’t you dare wash your blanket or sweat.
Typically, we want to keep the sand out of our bed after a day at the beach or the park. But some sleepers choose sand to fill their weighted blanket.
Sand can be another inexpensive option, but it comes with quite a few cons. Most importantly, make sure the sand used is well cleaned and dried to remove organic matter. Not to beat a dead horse on the previously mentioned concerns of using organic materials, but moisture is a huge issue. Sand can coagulate, clump, and expand when exposed to any water at all. Therefore, it’s a tougher filling to wash and dry (must be line-dried) than its non-organic filler friends.
Sand also has a hard time maintaining its shape after being washed. Further, a catastrophic leak is on the horizon if there is any sign of a loose stitch or hole in the blanket.
If you opt for sand, make sure the stitching and fabric are air-tight. You may be finding sand where you didn’t know sand could exist. Keep in mind that some fabrics can’t handle sand, especially organic materials.
Hot tip before purchase – check for processed desert sand. This type of sand may be a tad more expensive, but you avoid the organic creepers. Just make sure you’re getting your sand blanket from a dependable source to have the best sandy experience possible.
Sand filling is best for those who have removable blanket fabric that are cold sleepers, who don’t sweat at all.
Another interesting material in the weighted blanket world – pebbles. Not typically something we think about putting in our blankets for a calming sensation, yet they exist.
If using Riverstone, gravel, or small stones, make sure they are small, smooth, and relatively lightweight to provide the proper texture and weight distribution. While easy on the wallet, ponder whether you want to sleep under a layer of rocks. If not carefully picked and organized, pebbles can feel lumpy, rough, and uneven.
They’ll likely have more weight per pebble when compared to other fillers, but these savings may not be worth it. Quality distribution just isn’t there. Plus, they can cause a ruckus when you shift around. Doesn’t sound the comfiest, right? Not the worst case, but not the best filler in the game.
Riverstone or smooth pebbles can work if evenly sized and distributed AND completely dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope this comprehensive guide has prepared you to enter the wonderful world of weighted blankets. Choosing the right filling could make or break your experience, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself until your blanket arrives :).
Make sure to reflect on each filling to determine which one could best check the boxes on your weighted blanket wishlist/checklist.
Now, let’s reflect on our checklist and peek at the following frequently asked questions:
- Are you looking for a cost-friendly option? If so, Steel or poly pellets may be the best option for you. All of the non-beaded options are easy on the wallet but may have a shorter shelf life. Purchasing a more durable blanket will save you some dollars in the long run.
- Any potential allergies to worry about? Stay clear of poly pellets if you have any plastic-related allergies and any organic materials that may be of irritation to your skin. Sand may also have some sneaky allergens, so be sure it is thoroughly dried and processed.
- Do you experience any auditory, sensory, or toxin sensitivities? We mentioned those fillings that may rustle as you do – poly and steel beads, certain organic materials, and pebbles. Steer clear of these if they will trigger any auditory irritations. Those that will be irritated by clumps or uneven weight distribution – avoid any of the non-beaded fillings. For anyone who reacts badly to toxins – be weary of poly pellets and double-check the manufacturer credentials for “clean” plastic.
- Can I wash my weighted blanket? Yes and no, some fillings are washer/dryer friendly while others are not. Not to harp, but for the love of God, DO NOT wash blankets filled with organic materials. Just don’t do it, we beg of you. All of the beaded fillers are machine washable. If you tend to sweat at night or just enjoy clean bedding, go for these. Sand may also pose a problem for the quality of your blanket experience due to the likelihood of clumping after just one wash. Pebbles should be okay to wash, but they may be a bit harsh on your machines.
- Which fillers are the most durable? Steel shots are by far the strongest, followed by glass and poly, maybe pebbles. Other non-beaded materials, or food, are obviously less sturdy and might even decompose.
- Do you have concerns about manufacturing quality? Not all manufacturers produce the same quality of products. Poly pellets are the biggest risk to your consciousness in production. Because they are plastic, some may have more toxins than others due to cutting corners and a lack of regulation. Again, triple-check the manufacturer credentials for “clean” plastic. For food and sand – make sure they are completely dry. If you detect any moisture, abandon ship and send your blanket back.
- Does the type of fabric matter? You may want to opt for a removable cover if you choose a filling that cannot be washed or is at risk for clumping. If you choose a beaded option, make sure the fabric is machine washable so you can chuck that bad boy in the laundry, stress-free. Organic fabrics may struggle to hold sand, so keep that in mind as well.
So there you have it, folks. I’m not sure how much more there is to it.
It’s safe to conclude that all fillers falling under the beaded category will last longer and come with fewer negative caveats. That is unless you are allergic to plastic, regarding poly pellets, as was mentioned.
The non-beaded items don’t come as highly recommended because of the reasons listed above.
Circling back to the primary purpose of a weighted blanket, you want it to make sure your blanket filling of choice relaxes you, not frustrates.
I would have a hard time unwinding knowing food is rotting in my bed. Please take into account any sensitivities you have and listen to them. Now isn’t the time to act tough.
Your weighted blanket should get you through the tough times and provide you with epic sleep. Overall, pick a filling that works best for you and serves as your ideal future hug therapist.