Which weighted blanket filling should I choose?

We snuggle down to compare glass beads, plastic pellets, and knitted cotton options for weighted blankets

Types of weighted blanket fillings, sleep & wellness tips
(Image credit: Emma)

Weighted blankets are more popular than ever as a stress-free sleep solution but when it comes to choosing one, there’s a lot to think about. Which size should you get? Which weight? And which weighted blanket filling should you go for? The answers to the first two questions are helpfully answered in our weighted blanket weight and size guide (opens in new tab) but what about that all-important filling that keeps you feeling suitably hugged as you sleep?

The majority of the cosy covers on our best weighted blanket (opens in new tab) list are heavy, thanks to slews of tiny glass balls. These are often called nano beads. But that’s not the only option. A lot of cheaper options use plastic pellets instead and there are also a selection of purely knitted blanket options that get their heft from cotton alone. So which should you choose? Let’s break it down in this guide to the best weighted blanket fillings.

1. Glass beads

Weighted blanket fillings

(Image credit: Simba)

Let’s kick off with one of the most popular weighted blanket fillings. Glass nano beads make up the heft of the majority of the best weighted blankets. The Simba Orbit (opens in new tab), Silentnight Wellbeing, and Emma Hug (opens in new tab) weighted blankets all use a variation on a theme of tiny glass balls. Opting for glass beads is a more expensive option but there are some key benefits to using this technology.

First off, the glass beads are ludicrously small so it means that the sensation of wrapping up in a glass bead weighted blanket is merely of a reassuring weight, not of individual pellets. You can feel them if you squeeze the blanket between finger and thumb but that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to tell.

Secondly, glass beads are fully washable in the washing machine. Thankfully, most of our favourite weighted blankets have a separate cover to bung in the washer but you can also wash these at high temperatures without worrying about the glass melting (see how to clean a weighted blanket (opens in new tab) for more cleaning tips). Glass beads also happily keep their position in the stitched pockets so there’s always an excellent weight distribution which is key for a consistent night’s sleep.

2. Plastic pellets

Weighted blanket fillings

(Image credit: Etsy)

Despite glass beads being the more expensive norm, there are plenty of weighted blankets packed with plastic pellets. While the weight is obviously the same, so ideal if you’re perhaps layering the blanket over your existing duvet, plastic pellets are known for being bigger than glass beads. This means you’ve got a far higher likelihood to be able to feel the pellets instead of just focussing on getting your anxiety-free hygge on.

Importantly too, unlike glass beads, plastic pellets aren’t washable in the washing machine so you won’t be able to fully clean your weighted blanket. Spot cleaning is fine but if you’re using your blanket nightly instead of one of the best duvets (opens in new tab), you might despair somewhat at not being able to freshen the whole thing up for fear of melting the pellets. Plus, those who are eco minded should definitely avoid the plastic option as glass beads or our next option are far more sustainable weighted blanket fillings.

3. No filling

Weighted blanket fillings

(Image credit: Eve)

What’s that, you say? Filling free weighted blankets? Yep, there are a number of options that just use the stratospheric power of an awful lot of cotton to keep you snug at night. The Eve Weighted Blanket (opens in new tab) gets all of its bulk from a knitted design, as does the Nectar Cloverlane Weighted Blanket. Obviously these are the kindest options on the environment but they do come with a few drawbacks.

There’s no need for a cover on these and while they are machine washable, you might not want to regularly jam up to 7kg of blanket into your washing machine. For this reason, you probably won’t want to sleep directly under a knitted option and have a duvet between you and the blanket. And although these knitted options are ideal for sofa snoozing and can double happily as attractive throws, there’s no smooth cooling covers here. There’s no way around the fact that as soft as they are, these are still very solid knitted blankets and if you sleep warm, there’s no sweat-sucking technology in action. As gross as that might sound…

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in technology, gaming, and entertainment.  She has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland and is the presenter of BBC Radio 3's monthly Sound of Gaming show. She can also regularly be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, and The Evolution of Horror podcast as well as writing for GamesRadar and NME. Louise loves finding ways that tech can make our lives better every day and no, she doesn't have enough smart lighting yet.