The Ultimate Guide to Hypoallergenic Blankets

7 min read

Hypoallergenic blankets with eye drops and tissues on yellow background

Our sleep environment is often a leading cause of allergies because of our incorrect bedding choices. These bedding choices create a microclimate where dust mites and other allergens thrive.

Allergies are common all year round and are mostly related to dust, but allergies increase with springtime's airborne pollen. Our lifestyle choices promote allergies, and even the best hypoallergenic bedding cannot eradicate the actual cause.

To reduce or limit allergies, especially airborne allergies, hypoallergenic bedding works but lifestyle changes are just as essential to complement good bedding choices that will result in better quality sleep.

The word hypoallergenic is often used as a marketing strategy, and consumers are none the wiser as they bounce from one hypoallergenic product to the next, hoping that something will finally work to alleviate their symptoms.

We look at the root causes of allergies and give an overview of what bedding is more hypoallergenic than the other.

Dust mites under a micron microscope

House dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus). Dust mite faecal pellets that can be small as µm 10 (0.01 mm),but can be prevented with anti-mite fabrics of a denser pore size.

What are allergies?

Allergic reactions can be mild or severe depending on the type of allergen. A reaction to dust or pollen could be mild, while a bee sting could be life-threatening.

Our immune system responds to foreign substances that enter the body, and antibodies are created to neutralize the supposed threat. In many allergy cases, the "foreign substance" is generally harmless, and that's why only some people develop allergies to things most of us are exposed to.

Flaking skin is common among all people. Dust mites found in our beds feed off dead skin cells that we continuously shed (it's gross to think about but it's a fact of life ). 

Pets in our homes and on our beds can also be a cause of allergies. Pet dander is not pet hairs but rather dried flaking skin cells. Pet hair simply acts as a transportation for the dander.

Pet dander is microscopically small and lingers in the air for a long while before it settles. Interestingly, babies born into homes with pets tend not to suffer from allergies as much as older children and adults who are first exposed to pets later in life.

Puppy French bulldog on yellow background

She may be cute but family pets are responsible for a great deal of allergies in the home due to the microscopic skin and hair shedding

Our living spaces inevitably create the ideal thriving climate for dust mites and other allergens. Humidity and heat with an abundant food supply create colonies in no time at all. No matter what we do, it is extremely difficult to rid ourselves of the bedrock of allergies.

What Does Hypoallergenic Mean? 

Hypoallergenic simply means there will be a less than normal allergic reaction to a specific product or that the product will reduce possible allergens in the immediate vicinity. 

The term hypoallergenic was coined by an Austrian scientist and pediatrician named Clemens von Pirquet

The prefix "hypo" suggests that a reaction will be below average, which indicates some benefit, but it will not eliminate what would otherwise cause a reaction. To date, no legislation compels manufacturers to prove their products are indeed hypoallergenic, and as a result, the term is used rather carelessly by companies to gin up marketing campaigns. 

The sad reality is that there are hypoallergenic bedding products out there, but disreputable companies have diminished the credibility of these hypoallergenic products.

The best way to determine the authenticity of hypoallergenic properties of products is to equip yourself with knowledge of what is actually on offer.

Hypoallergenic fabrics.

Hypoallergenic blankets close up of the fibers of the Ndebele cerise blanket

Different fabric types may sport "hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial" on their labels, and each will have different degrees of resistance to these menaces that aggravate our sinus passage and skin. Here is a basic rundown on some of the more common fabrics used for bedding:

  • Silk: Used in linen-like comforters, duvets, pillow fill, and cases. It is also blended with other fabrics to produce a softer, more refined fabric. Silk wicks moisture which resists mold, mildew, fungi, and bacterial growth. For people with sensitive skin, silk bedding will help reduce skin irritation. Although less durable than other fabric types, the high thread count does restrict the passage of allergens. In its natural state, silk is hypoallergenic.
  • Wool: Used in blankets, comforters, duvets (bother cover and fill), and pillow fill. Wool naturally wicks away moisture and resists mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungi. It is a highly breathable fabric with outstanding thermal control qualities. To add to the list of traits, wool is naturally self-cleaning and repels dust. The attributes of wool are not affected in fabric production and thus maintain these qualities to the benefit of the user. However, some wool fibers may be too thick that may cause itching among people with highly sensitive skin. It is best to check the quality of the wool fabric and opt for products that use finer wool fibers.

Close up of the Basotho heritage blanket

The Thula Tula blanket is woven as it has been for over century of the finest South African naturally hypoallergenic Merino wool and high grade European super soft microfiber. The mix is the perfect combination to make a soft non scratch yet hypoallergenic blanket.

  • Cotton: Used in all bedding, cotton is a natural fabric. It is breathable, and the hypoallergenic factor will depend upon the thread count. The higher the thread count, the more hypoallergenic the fabric is said to be. Cotton is lightweight, and the fabric is thin, but it does tend to absorb moisture while we sleep. This, together with the release of body heat, creates a climate conducive to microbial and bacterial growth. Regular washing may reduce allergies, but cotton does not repel or resist dust mites or bacteria growth. Being branded hypoallergenic is questionable.
  • Down: Goose or duck down is used in pillows, comforters, and duvets. It is highly breathable, but some people have a natural allergy to down as it does not repel dust or dust mites. It cannot be considered hypoallergenic even if it offers heat wicking and moisture repelling properties that are not continuously effective.
  • Bamboo: Used in linen, pillowcases, duvet covers, and blankets. Natural bamboo has very good hypoallergenic properties, but most are lost during production. Mechanically produced bamboo bedding will keep its hypoallergenic properties while viscose bamboo production loses all these natural benefits.
  • Lyocell: made from wood chips, including bamboo, lyocell is used in all bedding products. Although soft and durable, it is highly absorbent and prone to mildew growth. The hypoallergenic factor is questionable at best.
  • Rayon: Used for pillow fill, comforters, and duvets. It is said to be the synthetic alternative to down and does not trigger allergies like natural down. However, unlike natural down, it has poor temperature regulating properties.
  • Polyester: Used mainly for mattress covers, linen, comforter covers, and duvet covers. Although it is mildew resistant and easy to clean, the fabric is not breathable and offers very little to be branded hypoallergenic. 

From what has been discussed so far, we can conclude that the term hypoallergenic can be related to the ability of a fabric to prevent the onset of allergic reactions through its ability to restrict or limit skin and respiratory irritation. Included in this is the ability of the fabric to shield against dust mites and pet dander.

Close up of skin on a female

Keep your skin free of irritation by finding what environmental issues are causing the problem. 

Creating a Hypoallergenic Home Environment.

The label on your bedding items states "hypoallergenic", and whether it's bed sheets, pillows, pillowcases, duvets, comforters, or blankets, you still need to work on maintaining a hypoallergenic home environment.

Cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, rotating, dehumidifying, and general home upkeep are all essential to reducing and controlling the allergens in your home. It is a never-ending task that deserves serious attention on an ongoing basis. Create a hygiene standard in your home and maintain it. 

Persisting allergic reactions cannot entirely be blamed on a "faulty" hypoallergenic product, even if there are recorded cases of false advertising by unscrupulous companies.

Yes, it is beneficial to look at hypoallergenic bedding to ease the plight of allergy sufferers. Blankets made from natural plants like cotton and bamboo and animal products like wool and silk are by far the better option to consider. 

Using a mattress protector guards your mattress against liquid spills or bedwetting accidents, but it also serves as a barrier to prevent sweat from soaking into the mattress. Latex mattress protectors contribute greatly to creating a barrier between you and your mattress that prevents exposure to allergens embedded in the mattress.

Blankets, like sheets and pillowcases, are easy to keep clean. Regularly washing and airing your bedding is a good habit to adopt. Wool blankets being self-cleaning may just need airing most of the time as the wind will blow away any dust, dander, and dry skin cells that have settled in the blanket.

There are so many ways to turn your home into a hypoallergenic environment. The quick-fix solution of simply purchasing products with hypoallergenic printed on the label needs to be backed up by good housekeeping if fighting allergies is your primary reason for the investment.

A bit of credible research will go a long way in helping you to make informed decisions on how to approach the hypoallergenic question in your life.

In conclusion.

This article looked at the term hypoallergenic about bedding, and yes, we did touch on housekeeping ever so slightly. No apologies, but it is stating the obvious, which is a no-brainer. 

Sadly, there is a lot of hype surrounding the term hypoallergenic, and unknowing consumers are left worse off through false advertising. But is it false advertising when there isn't even a standard established to determine what can be considered hypoallergenic and what can't?

Look to nature and get a basic understanding of biomimicry to see how rewarding it is to be able to use natural products to enhance the quality of life. Develop a hypoallergenic approach to life and think about the true benefits of blanket fabrics, both natural and synthetic.

Steve Watts
Steve Watts


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Community Stories

The Ultimate Guide To Microfiber Blankets women and child under mali mudcloth blanket
The Ultimate Guide To Microfiber Blankets

6 min read

Blankets made from microfiber are a fairly recent addition in modern homes. Microfiber blankets and throws add affordable quality to the ambiance of living spaces but also provide much-needed warmth and soft stylish comfort with exciting textures that make a home more homely.
Read More
Gorgeous ways to Really Impress You House Guests leopard print African savannah throw on beautiful bed
Gorgeous ways to Really Impress Your House Guests

5 min read

From our community, here are 12 ways to decorate that will really impress your next houseguest.
Read More
The Real Black Panther Wakanda Forever blanket
The Roots of Marvel’s Superhero, Black Panther

7 min read

Ruth Carter imagined royalty, pride, honor, respect, and prestige when she selected culturally significant items that include fabrics and jewelry from across Africa to assemble a fitting wardrobe for a dignified Wakanda nation
Read More
Top