Blankets are one of the most versatile textiles in your home. They can be decorative as much as functional, letting you quickly and easily add your style to a room. They also provide comfort and coziness for everyone, from infants to adults. But what is the softest material for blankets?
The softest blankets all have characteristics in common: they are made of fine fibers, and they have a napped (or raised) surface.
The softest materials for blankets are:
- Faux Fur
These fabrics work for any kind of blanket you need.
Softness is a subjective term, so what one person finds soft another might not. Wool is an example, as some people have wool allergies, so it irritates their skin while someone else might find it soft. This guide will help you choose the softest blanket, no matter what you want it for.
What Is the Softest Material For Blankets?
There are many different kinds of soft fabric, each with its own pros and cons. Whether you’re making your own blanket or buying one, knowing about each fabric’s properties will help you pick the right blanket for your needs.
Some characteristics that make fabric soft are how dense it is, how long the fibers are, and what the fibers are made out of in the first place. Typically, the longer the fiber and denser the fabric, the softer the blanket will be. Add a soft fiber to the mix, and you have an excellent combination for a soft blanket.
You should also consider where you’ll use the blanket and how laundering the blanket will impact the softness. Items like baby blankets or camping blankets that need frequent washing should be a different material than a blanket that only gets a little use.
These six fabrics are all great choices for soft blankets, each with different strengths and weaknesses.
Faux FurFaux fur can make a luxuriously soft blanket. All faux furs are synthetic rather than actual animal fur. Because they are synthetic, there is a wide variety of choices when it comes to faux fur. Many high-quality faux fur fabrics imitate specific animals.
The length of the fur in a faux fur fabric has an impact on the softness. There are low pile to high pile faux furs and some furs with a mix of lengths to look more realistic. The lower piles like faux chinchilla and faux rabbit tend to be softer than longer piles like a faux fox.
The density is also important. The closer the individual hairs are on the fabric base, the softer the overall fabric will feel. So the softest faux furs are the ones with a dense low pile.
The drawback to faux fur as a blanket fabric is that faux fur (like real fur) is only soft on one side. The faux hairs are acrylic or polyester fibers that the manufacturer attaches to a fabric base. The fabric base can be any fiber but is generally polyester. Unless the blanket is double-sided, the wrong side will not be as soft as the right side.
The quality of the synthetic fibers will also have an impact. Low-quality faux fur can have a plastic-y feel that a high-quality faux fur will not have. When you wash low-quality faux furs, the fibers can even melt or start to fray, decreasing the softness. If you’re going with faux fur for your blankets, make sure it is high quality and used in a place where it won’t be prone to spills or dirt that would require frequent washing.
FleeceA very popular choice for blankets is fleece, particularly polar fleece. Polar fleece is a napped fabric, which means the surface is raised and fuzzy specifically to make the fabric softer. The original manufacturer developed polar fleece as a synthetic alternative to chinchilla fur. However, unlike faux fur, it is not meant to look like real fur, just mimic the soft, light-weight fur.
Polar fleece is a hard-wearing, easy-to-launder fabric. It’s usually made from polyester, though it can be made with recycled PET plastics or other fleece. It comes in various thicknesses; generally, the thicker the fleece, the softer it is.
One of the reasons it is easy to care for is because it doesn’t absorb water well, so it repels stains. This makes polar fleece a great choice for a blanket that will get a lot of use or is at risk for dirt and spills. Camping blankets made of polar fleece can be very soft.
The biggest drawback for polar fleece as a soft blanket fabric is that it can easily collect static electricity. If you’re wearing polyester clothes, wrapping up in a fleece blanket could generate unpleasant static electricity while you’re trying to relax.
CashmereCashmere is a fiber from a particular breed of goat, the cashmere goat. The undercoat on these animals is soft and very fine. The thinness of the hairs contributes to the soft feel. Mills spin this hair into yarn that manufacturers can weave or knit into fabric.
There are two layers of hair on a cashmere goat, the guard hair and the undercoat. The guard hairs are coarse, but the undercoat is soft and fluffy. Both hairs have commercial uses, but the guard hairs are not soft enough for textiles. They’re used for brushes and tools, whereas the undercoat is used for garments and fabrics.
Cashmere goats naturally shed the undercoat, but farmers can also shear the goats to get it. Both processes are labor-intensive, which makes cashmere an expensive fabric. However, some manufacturers blend it with other fibers when they make the fabric to give it other qualities (like elasticity or durability) and lower the cost.
Like sheep’s wool, cashmere must be hand-washed, not machine washed, so it is not an ideal fabric for blankets that get messy easily, like baby blankets. However, it is incredibly lightweight, so you can get softness and warmth without bulkiness, making it a great choice for a throw blanket.
FlannelFlannel is a great option for soft blankets for anyone because it is a fabric you can find in various fibers. Flannels can be cotton, wool, or synthetic and they will all have a similar weight and softness. It’s a woven fabric made with yarn or loosely plied thread.
The yarns that make up the weave are usually spun loosely so that the fibers are fluffier. This gives the fabric the raised nap texture that is so often associated with softness. Brushed flannels are even softer; they are brushed after weaving to raise the fibers and create a thicker nap.
Because it is woven, flannel is usually soft on both sides, especially if brushed on both sides. Cotton and synthetic flannels are great for people who are allergic to wool but still want the look and feel of wool fabric.
Depending on the fiber, flannel can also be easy to wash and dry. This makes it especially good for blankets that get a lot of use. There is even flannel made specifically for children and infants called baby flannel, which makes good baby blankets.
WoolWool is a classic option for soft blankets. Various sheep breeds produce different types of wool, but much of the textile industry uses merino wool because the individual fibers are thin, which makes the resulting fabric softer.
Wool fabric can be woven or knit, and the size of the yarn or thread used in the fabric can make a difference in how the fabric feels. Additionally, felted wool, which is agitated to make it denser, has a slightly different feel to unfelted wool.
The more a manufacturer processes the wool, and the longer the fibers are when they spin it, the softer the wool will be. Wool is also a fairly dense fabric with a natural fuzzy nap. These both contribute to softness.
Ultimately, the biggest factor determining how soft wool fabric will be is how thin the diameter of each fiber is. This is measured in microns, and the fewer microns per fiber, the softer the wool is. Wool with classifications like “ultra-fine” will be softer and smoother than other wools.
Wool is not machine washable, so it isn’t an easy-care material for blankets. It is naturally antimicrobial, so wool doesn’t need frequent washing as long as you don’t spill on it. It will repel dirt and bacteria that cause unpleasant odors.
ChenilleChenille is a fabric that is characterized not by its fiber but by its manufacturing technique. It’s a woven fabric or yarn type that is made to resemble a fuzzy caterpillar (chenille is the French word for caterpillar).
The weaving pattern, sometimes called leno, winds two warp threads around each weft. This makes it fluffy on both sides of the fabric. Throughout history, manufacturers have experimented with various techniques to add fluffiness to their chenille.
Manufacturers can make chenille fabric directly, or they can make chenille yarn and then use the yarn to make items like blankets. Regardless of the method, the resulting fabric is a tufted, fuzzy texture, with a pile similar to an extra-thick pipe cleaner.
Chenille comes in a variety of fibers ranging from synthetics to wool, cotton, or silk. Modern chenille fabric usually incorporates some low-melt nylon into the weave. Then, the manufacturer can steam the yarn or fabric, which melts the nylon enough to bind all the fibers together.
This technique means that while chenille fabrics can differ in their overall softness, all chenilles will be a long-lasting soft fabric. Chenille rose to popularity when it was primarily used for bedspreads and carpets, and it is still a very popular option for blankets and throws.
Most chenilles should not go in the dryer due to the low-melt nylon, but otherwise, chenille is an easy-care fabric.
What is the Softest Fabric for Baby Blankets?Softness is important for baby blankets because babies have sensitive skin. It can take up to two years for babies to develop the same skin barriers adults have, so it is important that any fabric your baby comes into contact with is soft and won’t irritate their skin.
Babies are also messy. Between diapers and feedings, baby clothes and blankets will get dirty quickly and need frequent washing. So the best fabric for baby blankets is one that can stay soft through multiple laundry cycles.
Fleece and flannel are two of the best fabrics for baby blankets. They are hard-wearing fabrics that retain their softness after washing. Better yet, they are machine washable, so keeping them clean isn’t a hassle.
When choosing a flannel baby blanket, stick to cotton or synthetics to keep it machine washable. Fleece fabrics are all synthetic, so you should be able to wash any type of fleece in the machine.
Both flannel and fleece are popular, easy-to-find fabrics. You can get dozens of colors and prints at a local fabric store or online. Many stores also sell ready-made fleece and flannel blankets.
Fleece also comes in a variety of thicknesses. You can use heavier fleece for the colder months or a thin fleece in transitional seasons. Flannel comes in one thickness, which is generally warm enough for all your baby blanket needs.
Throw Blankets for the Living RoomThe softest blanket material for a living room throw could be cashmere, chenille, or even faux fur. For a living room blanket, it’s important to match it to the style of your decor as well as consider the way you’ll use it.
If you have pets or young children, you may want a machine-washable fabric. While fleece or flannel work well for that, they also don’t have the same decorative appeal as a cashmere or chenille blanket.
Because chenille is so versatile, you can find a synthetic or cotton-based chenille for a living room throw. Chenille looks elevated and decorative without being delicate.
When messes aren’t a large concern for your lifestyle, you can pick a more luxurious blanket material to maximize softness. Cashmere throws and faux fur add texture and warmth to a room.
Faux fur tends to come in neutral shades, ranging from white to brown to black. However, as it is synthetic, you can also find it in bolder colors if you want a more eclectic look. They’re not as common as natural colors, so you may have to order them.
Cashmere, on the other hand, is easy to dye. Whether woven or knit, cashmere blankets come in a wide range of patterns and colors, so it is simple to match them to the furniture and another decor in your living room.
Soft Blankets for the BedroomChoosing a soft blanket for your bedroom is a great opportunity to mix comfort and personal style. You can have a rotation of soft blankets depending on the season to optimize your comfort.
Wool blankets, particularly woven ones, are a great year-round option. The wool is breathable, so it won’t trap your sweat if you get too warm at night, but the insulation can keep you cozy in the winter.
Most wool cannot go in the washing machine or the dryer. However, wool is naturally antimicrobial and repels dirt. The lanolin in the wool protects the fibers and will help keep the blanket fresh for longer.
Flannel blankets and fleece throws are also great additions to your bedroom linens. They have the same softness and warmth as wool, making them a good alternative for people with wool allergies.
Mixing fleece blankets with other fibers in your bed linens can lead to static electricity. However, matching flannel blankets with flannel sheets is a great way to avoid this.
Soft blankets in the bedroom can either be an addition to the decorating scheme, or you can hide them under the duvet, which lets you choose them exclusively for how they feel. Any soft blanket can be perfect for the bedroom, so long as you are happy with it.
How to Choose the Softest Blanket
Choosing the softest blanket is easiest when you can feel the choices and compare them before selecting your favorite. When you can’t touch test the blanket, there are ways you can guarantee you pick a soft one every time.
Fabrics with a nap will be softer than those without. The raised surface adds a softening texture no matter what the fiber type is. Fuzzy fabrics with a nap will usually be the softest fabrics. Brushed fabrics are another great option because the brush treatment enhances the nap.
You also want to look for materials with long fibers and a high thread count. The finer the individual fibers are, the softer the finished fabric is. The length of the fiber is important because longer fibers mean a smoother surface, which will feel soft on your skin.
Fiber density can influence softness too. Fabrics like fur and chenille benefit from having a dense amount of fiber in the nap. Dense cashmere fabrics will have a soft, fluffy halo on the surface, too.
It’s also important to consider personal preferences and situations like skin sensitivity or allergies. Avoid fibers and fabrics you know will irritate you or that you are allergic to.
How to Keep Your Blankets Soft in the Wash
There are few things as disappointing as finding the perfect soft blanket only to have it lose all of its softness after one single wash. Keeping your blanket at its peak softness means washing it carefully according to the instructions on the tag.
Cool water and low to no-heat drying are the best ways to maintain the softness of any fabric. These techniques are gentle on the fabric, so they won’t disrupt its structure as much as the heat would.
It may seem backward, but skip using fabric softener as well. The fewer chemicals you use, the better. Soaps and softeners can build up in the fabric over time, making it stiffer and ruining the feel.
Some natural fibers will soften over time as you wash them more. Cotton flannels are a great example of this. However, synthetics and more delicate fabrics will wear out and show damage if you overwash them. Make sure you’re following the best practices for the fabric type every time you wash your soft blankets.
There is a wide variety of soft materials to choose from when it comes to blankets. You can choose luxury fibers like cashmere or high-end faux fur or stick to tried and true staples like wool and brushed flannel.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of different soft fabrics will help you choose the right blanket for your needs. That way you can keep yourself surrounded with cozy, soft blankets for years to come.
What’s your favorite blanket made out of? Tell us about it in the comments!