5 Main Benefits Of a Wool Blanket

6 min read

five main benefits of a wool blanket a young girl lays on a Basotho heritage wool blanket

5 Main Benefits of Wool Blankets

The use of wool for bedding and clothing dates back to about 6000BCE. This is largely due to its widespread availability but more importantly for its beneficial properties in keeping us warm. Besides being strong, durable, natural, and environmentally friendly, wool compliments and promotes healthy sleep patterns.

Wool and animal hair with similar properties come from a number of different domesticated animals that offer a variety of textures, fiber thickness, weight, longevity, and price, to name a few. 

Interestingly, because the hair of some domesticated animals closely resembles wool, they are generally referred to and accepted as wool. Hair comes from domestic animals like goats, alpaca, rabbits, and camels, while wool comes solely from sheep.

wool blanket benefits close up of a sheep

No Sheep were hurt in the making of this blanket - Wool is a sustainable and renewable resource 

Different types of wool

  • Lambswool: Called virgin wool as it is sheared from young sheep or lambs. The shearing process only happens once; after this, the young lamb matures before being sheared again.
  • Melton: warm and durable, this wool is produced from English sheep. The process of thickening the wool makes it perfect for blankets and waterproof coats. 
  • Merino: Produced from Merino sheep, this wool is a favorite choice for winter blankets and clothing.
  • Shetland: produced from sheep native to the Shetland Island, Scotland, this wool is commonly used for knitting but rarely used for blankets.

Different types of hair that resemble wool

  • Angora: Produced from Angora rabbits, the hair is fluffy and light and is often blended to make it stronger. It also has the best moisture-wicking of all hair and wool types, including other natural fibers.
  • Alpaca: This is a soft yet durable hair and is one of the more popular hair types.
  • Camel: Used mainly in clothing upholstery and carpets, camel hair is economical but is rarely used for sleep accessories like blankets.
  • Cashmere: Produced from cashmere goats, this hair is lightweight and extremely soft.
  • Mohair: Produced from Angora goats, this hair has a distinct fizzy look as the topcoat hair often mixes with the undercoat hair. It is stronger, smoother, and more resilient than conventional wool.

The 5 main benefits of wool

Wool is a popular material for sleep accessories, including blankets, pillows, comforters or throws, mattress toppers, and protectors. The benefits listed below will shed some light on the ever-growing demand for wool sleep accessories. 

  1. Wool Blankets are Temperature regulating

  2. Wool being extremely breathable, naturally regulates your sleep temperature, giving you a more peaceful night's rest. It is an effective insulator meaning it will protect you from the lower outside temperature. But it also has the ability to prevent heat build-up under the covers by absorbing and dispelling the natural humidity produced by your body. Wool can absorb about 33% of its weight in moisture and will absorb sweat, drawing it away from your body while you sleep.

  3. Wool Blankets are Hypoallergenic

  4. The fact that wool is breathable and naturally regulates temperature by purging moisture, creates a habitat not conducive to dust mites which will only thrive in damp, warm conditions. Wool also prevents the growth of fungal spores, requiring a hot moist habitat to thrive. 

    Fungal spores are a common cause of nighttime allergies that bring on coughing, sneezing, eye irritations, itching, and a runny nose. This is common in polyester, down, and feather bedding which traps heat and moisture to create the ideal breeding ground for both fungal spores and dust mites.

    An allergy to wool is very rare, yet some people continuously claim to have an allergy to wool. Most cases of wool allergies only involve itching, which is not an allergic reaction to wool but rather a reaction to thick wool fibers rubbing against the skin, which causes itchiness. Wool is not an allergen; in fact, wool 17.5 microns or less has proved helpful to eczema and dermatitis sufferers.

    Dust may settle on a wool blanket but will not stick to the blanket. By airing out the blanket, the wind will blow the dust-free. The hypoallergenic and temperature regulating qualities of wool promote better and longer deep sleep during the night.

  5. Wool Blankets are Fire resistant

  6. Wool makes for very poor fuel for a fire. It has a natural resistance to fire, which is one reason why hikers and outdoor adventures prefer wool blankets. If wool does catch alight for some reason, it will smolder and burn out without the flames spreading. Air and rail travel is made safer by using wool carpeting, and wool uniforms protect firefighters, whereas the military provides troops with wool blankets. 

    Basotho heritage wool blanket wrapped over the back of a chair in front of a fire

  7. Wool Blankets Wicks away moisture

  8. To wick away is to absorb or drain moisture, and this is exactly what wool does. Wool repels moisture from the outside and absorbs it from the inside, which is the sweat and humidity from your body that is allowed to evaporate into the air.

    Wool is instantly warm in winter and cools in summer, making a wool blanket a year-round sleep accessory. Sleeping on top of a wool blanket is just as effective as sleeping under it. The microclimate that wool creates is dry, which makes it easy to regulate the temperature. Humid conditions are contained by wool through both its repelling and absorption/evaporation properties.

    The hydrophobic or moisture repelling exterior of wool fiber is coated with natural wax and consists of overlapping scales that serve as a moisture repellent. While the hydrophilic or moisture-loving interior of wool fibers absorbs moisture and through millions of tiny pockets that manage both air and water allows fibers to retain and slowly allow the moisture to evaporate into the air. This unique property of wool ensures that the thermal efficiency of the dry microclimate it creates will not easily be compromised. 

    The moisture management system of wool prevents creating hot, humid conditions that are prone to housing dust mites, fungus spores, or any type of bacterial growth. 

  9. Basotho Blankets Improves the quality of sleep

  10. recent study conducted by the University of Sydney in association with The Woolmark Company found that wool sleep accessories contribute to a good night's sleep. A person's sleep health is greatly improved through using wool bedding. The study findings show:

  • Wool breathes better than synthetic bedding
  • Increases the duration of REM or deep sleep.
  • Efficiently regulates body temperature and maintains a comfortable sleeping temperature for longer.

One wool blanket will be fine for the summer months, while a second wool blanket can be added for the colder winter months. Wool being lightweight will not weigh you down and restrict your sleep with the extra wool blanket in winter. A big plus that many will cheer is that wool blankets do not store static electricity as synthetic blankets do, so there will be no surprise shocks.

Other studies have shown that using wool bedding lowers your heart rate and reduces sleep disturbances. Wool provides and maintains sufficient warmth throughout the night, which promotes deep sleep. People suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, bedsores, and other aches and pains find relief using wool bedding.  

An interesting sleep statistic is that the average person loses about a pint of water over an eight-hour sleep period. Wool can deal with moisture loss and keeps you dry while you sleep, improving your overall quality of sleep. People who suffer from night sweats will benefit greatly by switching to wool blankets and other wool sleep accessories. 

Women sitting on bed under a Basotho heritage wool blanket

Washing your wool blanket

Wool is considered a self-cleaning material that just needs to be aired out for a few hours. The wind will blow any dust particles off the blanket. However, at times it will become necessary to wash your wool bedding. Here are some pointers to remember before you simply shove your blanket into the machine.

Contemporary wool blankets are easy to clean or wash, and most recommend being hand washed in cold water. Some wool blankets can be washed in a washing machine, but the instructions must state this and must be closely followed. If you are using your washing machine, be sure to select the wool setting, which is a gentle wash. The water temperature should always be cold. It is advisable to use a very mild detergent and a gentle natural softener. It's best to wind dry your blanket outside.

With hand washing, you also need to use cold water and gently wash your wool blanket using a minimum amount of soap; also, only use a gentle natural fabric softener. Once done, do not wring your blanket out to drain the excess water. Rather, fold the blanket into a manageable size and use dry towels to press the excess water out.

To dry the blanket, it's best to avoid direct sun. If possible, spread the blanket out horizontally over a mesh platform or, alternatively, hand it over two or three lines of your washing line. This should prevent the weight of the remaining water from distorting the shape of your blanket while it dries.

A few final words

As you can see, the benefits of wool are not superficial; they are real benefits that will protect you and your family from dust mites, fungus spores, and bacteria that could otherwise impact your health negatively.

When purchasing wool bedding, always check the label to confirm the quality and washing recommendations. Wool blankets vary in quality, and blended wool blankets may not offer the full benefits of a pure wool blanket.

Wool blankets and other wool bedding accessories are definitely worth the investment because they literally do last a lifetime and perhaps beyond.

A Basotho heritage wool blanket from Africa draped over a white couch

Steve Watts
Steve Watts


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