Weighted blankets are having something of a moment right now. So perhaps you gaveor, better yet, receivedone as a gift this year. Either way, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.
A weighted blanket is typically filled with poly pellets or glass, steel, or plastic beads, and weigh anywhere from five to 30 pounds. (In general, weighted blankets should weigh no more than 10 percent of your body weight.) It’s designed to improve sleep quality and help with conditions like anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Curious about the purported health benefits and, for that matter, how to wash a weighted blanket? Read on to see what experts have to say about this popular sleeping accessory.
Weighted blankets can be a great tool for people struggling with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Haley Neidich, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Tampa, Florida.
People “suffering from these conditions often feel disconnected from their body and emotionally unsafe, and the blanket helps to ground their bodies, creating a sense of safety and stability,” she explains. “Research has demonstrated that the grounding effect of weighted blankets helps to decrease the stress hormone cortisol which, when elevated, can contribute to the onset or worsening of these mental health conditions.”
A weighted blanket can also be a helpful tool during a panic attack or dissociative trauma episode during the day, Neidich says. Wrapping yourself in the blanket can help to calm your nervous system and creates a sense of safety that is not achieved to the same effect with a traditional blanket.
Weighted blankets may help children with ADHD by activating their sense of touch. It keeps them from becoming distracted by other things like sounds or movements. Similarly, pressure from a weighted blanket may help people with autism focus and better tune out noises and other stimuli.
If you’re a new weighted blanket user, you’re probably wondering how to wash your blanket and if it needs special care compared to other bedding. The good news: It does not.
Tara Youngblood, a physicist, sleep expert, and co-founder and CEO of ChiliSleep, recommends that you wash aweighted blanket anywhere from three to four times per yearonce per seasonon the same schedule as a traditional blanket.. She advises that you always wash a weighted blanket by itself.
“That way, you will best preserve the material of the blanket,” she says. “Having too many other materials in the machine with it, such as other cotton-like materials, will wear on the fabric.”
In a word: Yes. It is generally safe to put your weighted blanket in a home-washing machine, though if you have a smaller washer, it may be better to go to a laundromat to use a larger one.
“Every brand is different and will come with its own special instructions,” Youngblood says. Some brands, she points out, will have a removable and machine-washable outer cover. That makes it easier to wash them at home.
Every weighted blanket will also come with instructions about which soap and detergents are safe to use, Youngblood says. So make sure to read the washing instructions for your specific blanket. She recommends using gentle, chlorine-free detergent to preserve the colour of the blanket.
Additionally, weighted blankets can go in the dryer, though it should be on the lowest temperature possible and never on high, Youngblood says.”Low heat on a gentle tumble setting is the safest route to go,” she adds. “Air drying is also fine, and safe, for a weighted blanket. But make sure the blanket hangs evenly so it doesn’t lose its shape.”
Lastly, if your personal washing machine at home isn’t large enough, or you’re worried that you will wash your blanket incorrectly, then it may make sense for you to seek a professional cleaning service, Youngblood says. In this case, visit a laundry or dry cleaning service to get advice from a professional to ensure you’re caring for your blanket properly.