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  • The Ultimate Guide to Hypoallergenic Blankets

    11 min read

    Hypoallergenic blankets with eye drops and tissues on yellow background

    Why you should definitely consider a hypoallergenic blanket for your next bedding or throw blanket

    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.

    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.

    Allergies and how hypoallergenic blankets alleviate symptoms

    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 bankets and 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.

    A selection of hypoallergenic blankets

    What are allergies and what causes them

    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

    Where do allergies come from

    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.

    Basotho blanket black and white kharetsa

    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.

    the thula tula mudcloth African blanket geometric shapes in black and white

    Hypoallergenic blankets and fabrics

    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: A natural choice for hypoallergenic blankets

    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

    Cotton as a hypoallegenic fabric

    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.

    Close up of the Basotho heritage blanket


    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.

    Close up of the goose down feather

    Bamboo Hypoallegenic fabrics

    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.

    Bamboo plants in a bamboo forest

    • 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.

    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.

    women wrapped in Basotho blanket

    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.

    Hypoallergenic blankets conclusion.

    This article looked at the term hypoallergenic about bedding and blankest, 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.

    FAQ - The Questions You want Answered

    What is a hypoallergenic blanket?

    A hypoallergenic blanket is a type of blanket that is designed to reduce or minimize the risk of an allergic reaction.

    Hypoallergenic blankets are made from materials less likely to cause an allergic reaction, such as natural materials like cotton, silk, or wool or synthetic materials like microfiber or polyester.

    These blankets are typically made with tightly woven fabrics that help prevent the penetration of dust mites, pet dander, or other allergens.

    They are also often treated with special finishes or chemicals that help to repel allergens and keep the blanket clean and fresh.

    Hypoallergenic blankets can be a good option for people with allergies or sensitive skin. They are available in various sizes, colors, and styles, so finding a hypoallergenic blanket that matches your personal preferences and decor is possible.

    Do hypoallergenic blankets work?

    Yes, hypoallergenic blankets can reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Still, it's important to note that everyone's allergies are different, and the effectiveness of a hypoallergenic blanket will depend on the individual.

    Hypoallergenic blankets are typically made less likely to trigger allergic reactions, such as natural fibers like cotton, wool, or silk or synthetic materials like microfiber or polyester.

    These materials are often tightly woven to prevent the penetration of allergens like dust mites, pet dander, or pollen.

    In addition to the materials used, hypoallergenic blankets are often treated with special finishes or chemicals that repel allergens and keep the blanket clean and fresh.

    However, some people may still experience allergic reactions to these treatments, so choosing a blanket that best suits your needs and preferences is essential.

    Overall, hypoallergenic blankets can effectively reduce the risk of allergic reactions, but it's important to remember that they may not work for everyone.

    If you have severe allergies or are unsure if a hypoallergenic blanket suits you, it's best to consult a healthcare professional or an allergist.

    What material is hypoallergenic?

    Several materials are generally considered hypoallergenic because they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These materials include:

    1. Cotton: This natural fiber is soft, breathable, and hypoallergenic. It is a popular choice for bedding and clothing because it is gentle on the skin and unlikely to irritate.
    2. Silk: This natural fiber is also hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin. It is known for its softness and luxurious feel.
    3. Wool: While some people are allergic to wool, it is generally considered hypoallergenic because it is resistant to bacteria and dust mites. Wool is a good choice for bedding and clothing because it is breathable, wicks away moisture, and helps regulate body temperature.
    4. Microfiber: This synthetic material is often used in hypoallergenic bedding because it is tightly woven and resistant to dust mites and other allergens. It is also lightweight and breathable, making it a good option for people with allergies or sensitive skin.
    5. Polyester: Like microfiber, polyester is a synthetic material often used in hypoallergenic bedding. It is resistant to dust mites and other allergens and is also durable and easy to care for.

    It's important to note that while these materials are generally considered hypoallergenic, individual sensitivities can vary. It's always a good idea to test the material before using it extensively, especially if you have a history of allergies or skin sensitivities.

    What is the healthiest blanket to sleep with?

    The healthiest blanket to sleep with depends on your personal preferences and needs. Here are some options to consider:

    1. Organic cotton blankets: These blankets are made from organic cotton, free from pesticides and chemicals, making them a safer and healthier option.
    2. Wool blankets: Wool blankets are an excellent option for those who get cold while sleeping. They are breathable, moisture-wicking, and can regulate body temperature, making them ideal for all seasons.
    3. Bamboo blankets: Bamboo blankets are made from natural, sustainable bamboo fibers. They are hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking, and antibacterial, making them an excellent choice for people with allergies or sensitive skin.
    4. Silk blankets are lightweight and luxurious, making them a popular choice for those who want a comfortable, soft blanket. They are also hypoallergenic and can help regulate body temperature.

    Ultimately, the healthiest blanket to sleep with is one that you find comfortable and meets your needs.

    Choosing a blanket made from natural materials is essential; it is breathable and does not contain harmful chemicals or additives.

    What is the best blanket material for sensitive skin?

    For sensitive skin, the best blanket material is one that is soft, hypoallergenic, and gentle on the skin.

    When choosing a blanket material for sensitive skin, it is important to avoid materials that can irritate the skin, such as synthetic fabrics that contain chemicals.

    Washing your blankets regularly with a mild detergent to keep them clean and free from irritants is also a good idea.

    What type of blanket is best for allergies?

    For allergies, it's best to choose a hypoallergenic blanket and easy to clean. Here are some types of blankets that may be suitable for people with allergies:

    1. Allergen-proof blankets prevent allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander from penetrating the fabric. They are often made of tightly woven synthetic materials and are machine washable.
    2. Natural fibers: Blankets made of natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, or silk are less likely to cause allergic reactions than synthetic materials. These materials are also breathable and easy to care for.
    3. Wool-free blankets: Some people are allergic to the lanolin in wool, which can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues. For these individuals, wool-free blankets made of cotton, bamboo, or microfiber may be a better choice.
    4. Washable blankets: Regular washing can help remove allergens from blankets, so choosing a machine-washable blanket can benefit people with allergies.

    When selecting a blanket for allergies, it's also essential to consider the other materials in the bedroom, such as bedding, pillows, and mattress covers.

    Reducing exposure to allergens throughout the bedroom can help alleviate allergy symptoms.

    Do hypoallergenic blankets work

    Hypoallergenic blankets can effectively reduce the presence of allergens. Still, their effectiveness can vary depending on the specific allergens a person is sensitive to and the quality of the blanket.

    Hypoallergenic blankets are designed to reduce the presence of allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander.

    They are often made of tightly woven synthetic materials that prevent allergens from penetrating the fabric or natural materials that are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

    Hypoallergenic blankets should be washed regularly with mild detergent in hot water to remove any accumulated allergens.

    Additionally, using a hypoallergenic pillow and mattress cover is essential to reduce exposure to allergens in the bedroom further.

    While hypoallergenic blankets can reduce allergens, they may not be effective for everyone.

    People with severe allergies may require more specialized bedding, such as allergen-proof encasements or air purifiers, and hypoallergenic blankets.

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