Nov 30, 2023

Tips for choosing a throw blanket

Both pretty and practical, a throw blanket is a versatile home accessory. You can snuggle under one while watching your favorite TV show, and it can add pizazz to any room when tossed in the right spot. Throws are easy to find, and the choices are extensive, including a variety of materials, styles, thicknesses and price points. But the seemingly endless options can make it feel more challenging to choose the right one. Here are some things to consider while shopping for a throw for this cozy season and beyond.

"You want to curl up with something that feels good, but it has to appeal to you in terms of both comfort and care," says Caitlin Sole, senior home editor at Better Homes & Gardens. Do you have young children or shedding pets? Look for an easy-to-clean polyester or cotton throw. Do you live in a cold climate or enjoy tailgate parties? A wool blanket is a solid choice for maximum warmth. Are you looking to add a touch of flair to the back of your sofa? Then shop with an eye toward color and design.

Throws can be $5 for a fleece blanket on clearance from Walmart or more than $200 for a pure wool throw from Brooklinen. And it's not unheard of to spend $500 on an oversize solid cashmere one. The type of fabric, size and detail all factor into the price, with mass-produced synthetics and microfibers on the lower end and organic materials such as cottons, wools and cashmeres at the higher end. "It may be worth investing a bit more to buy something you love, especially if the throw is going to be used sparingly for movie nights or as a decorative piece," says Caroline Utz, associate editorial director for the Spruce.

If you’re worried about responsible sourcing or chemical residue, or if you want assurance that a throw is eco-friendly, you may also see a bump in price. Certified throws, such as those labeled Oeko-Tex, which ensures the product is free of harmful levels of toxic substances, or GOTS (global organic textile standard) cost more, because manufacturers pay a premium to obtain certification.

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The textile or fabric affects the feel and the cost of a throw, so it's probably the most important factor when choosing one. "Everyone has their own definition of cozy. It comes down to quality, affordability and convenience," Utz says. Wool is superior for warmth, but some people find that it irritates their skin. Cashmere, a fiber from cashmere goats, is incredibly soft, but also more expensive. Cotton is durable, hypoallergenic and softens with every wash. "Fleece is another good option, as it is warm and soft to the touch, but easy to wash and costs less than wool," Sole says. For the most bang for your buck, look to cotton/polyester blends, which are not only soft and snugly, but also machine washable, says Danielle Blundell, executive home director for Apartment Therapy.

Throws are typically 50 by 60 inches, which is essentially a lap blanket, not one to be used for bedding. Because there is no standard size, you should note the throw's dimensions before buying, Sole says. Larger throws are available and may be what you need if you are tall or want head-to-toe coverage.

Unless your throw is simply decorative, it will need regular washing. How important is convenience (or inconvenience) to you? Cottons or polyester fabrics maintain both their shape and color when washed in cold water using a gentle cycle. (Consider hand-washing if you worry any decorative elements could get damaged in your washing machine.) Use a low- or no-heat tumble dry setting, because excessive heat may melt synthetic fibers. If you have a drying rack or a banister, consider air-drying your throw to avoid shrinkage or fiber damage. Wool/polyester blends are also washable. Wool and cashmere should be dry cleaned, because water and heat can damage or shrink the fibers. Beware of static when synthetics, especially fleece, emerge from a dryer. "Finding a cozy blanket is great, but finding one that's easy to clean is even better," Utz says.

Besides keeping your throw clean, there are some simple ways to extend its life. Even the best fleece and flannel blankets are known to pill, so use a depiller to keep them looking their best, Blundell says. Be mindful of any hand-stitching when using your throw; blankets can catch on jewelry, toenails or snaps and zippers. And when you’re not using your throws, stash them in a basket next to your couch or chair. During warmer months, store them in an airtight box or bag in a cool, dry space.

Buying online is convenient, but it's best to see and feel throws in person. Try big-box or clearance retailers, department stores and independent bedding shops. "See what catches your eye," Blundell says, "then touch the blanket. Feel the weight. Is it scratchy or soft? Unroll it. Examine the size and material. Read the care instructions. Check the stitching. Is any falling out? Interact with the blanket as much as possible. If there are signs it is worse for wear already, steer clear." And be sure to check the store's return policy, particularly for expensive throws, Sole adds.

Sure, you want something to keep you warm in the depths of December, but if you are in the market for something new, experts say you’ll find the best deals in January, when department stores put bedding and linens on sale, often at deep discounts.

Denver-based writer Laura Daily specializes in consumer advocacy and travel strategies. Find her at