Need a non-wool, non-feather, hypoallergenic bedspread
November 27, 2011 8:04 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest a hypoallergenic blanket that's not wool or feathers?

One of my boys has a bad allergy to dust mites. His bedtime stuffiness has gotten worse lately, probably about the same time we bought him a new wool bedspread from L.L.Bean. (We've already got covers for his pillow and mattress/boxspring, the floors are hardwoods, and we vacuum. In short, this is not our first time around the allergy block.)

Aside from a duvet or down comforter, what kind of heavy, warm bedspread can we get for him? Are there good Polartec fleece bedspreads? (L.L. Bean has one but it's only 200-weight -- and that's lighter than the fleece in our coats! Would it really be warm enough?)

Are there other materials I don't know about? This is in New England, so it really has to be winter-warm.
posted by wenestvedt to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
What about the "down alternative" comforters? You can get them at LL Bean, Company Store, etc
posted by radioamy at 8:07 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Failing the discovery a single warm bedspread, a few less-warm layers of bedspread (like a fleece) can be very warm (as layers are wont to do -- I'm sure you know this already, living in New England and all). I always slept through my childhood NE winters with three layers of blankets, rather than a single thick bedspread.
posted by telegraph at 8:15 PM on November 27, 2011

We use down alternative (I'm allergic to down) and they are great. You can find them at all the usual housewares stores and Overstock and Amazon. That plus a flannel duvet cover will keep the boy toasty warm.
posted by elizeh at 8:20 PM on November 27, 2011

There are silk comforters (filled with silk "down"). They are expensive, but apparently they last forever.
posted by twblalock at 8:49 PM on November 27, 2011

How about bamboo?
posted by metaphorical at 8:51 PM on November 27, 2011

(Disclaimer: I worked for L.L.Bean for a long time)

and that's lighter than the fleece in our coats! Would it really be warm enough?

Unless your son routinely sleeps in a room that is under 50 degrees it should be plenty warm enough. Outerwear is designed to keep you warm in temps between 32 and 55 degrees (some outerwear, of course, is for temps below 55).

I note you keep using the word "bedspread" - typically a bedspead is a lightweight layer designed to keep the layers underneath clean. Bean's doesn't sell wool bedspreads, but they do sell wool blankets. (Feel free to return the blanket if it's not working for you, BTW.)

For blankets, you basically have five options (warmest to least warm):

- Down comforter or blanket: works by trapping air between the individual down clusters. Down comes from geese. Down does break down into tiny particles over time. Down must remain "lofted" (ie: fluffy) to continue to insulate. Should be fluffed up (by shaking) daily; loses insulating capacity when wet.

- Down-alternative comforter: Brand name Quallofil is an industry leader, there are others. Works in the same way as down, but made from synthetic fibers vs. natural fibers. Synthetic is far more resistant to breakage, and insulates when wet. Still should be fluffed daily, though.

- Wool Blanket: Natural fiber, typically from sheep. Can be either woven (common) or knitted (less common). The wool itself is the insulator vs. the air-space insulation in down/quallofil.

- Fleece Blanket: Man made fiber, developed about 50 years ago as an alternative to wool. Synthetic. Typically gives the same warmth as wool at about a third the weight. Washes and dries easily; easy to care for. All fleece is constructed from an extruded synthetic fiber that is then knitted; much fleece goes through a knapping process (to make it fuzzy) that can lead to some pilling and fiber fallout in your dryer, especially during the initial wash or two. This doesn't really affect the warmth.

- Cotton blanket: natural fiber; can be knitted or woven.

I would not hesitate to recommend a Quallofil blanket for your son, perhaps paired with a fleece blanket if the room is particularly cold. I also would stress that (particularly with a dust allergy) you should have another layer that serves as a bedspread (even a sheet would work for this) - something that can cover the bed during the day to absorb any ambient dust floating around and then can be folded back at night when he's sleeping in the bed. The purpose of a bedspread/quilt/coverlet is really to protect the blankets from whatever might be on the bed so the blankets can be washed less often. In the case of dust (or pet) allergies, this becomes extra important.

So: in a cold room (say, 60 degrees or so) I'd say sheet :: fleece blanket :: Quallofil blanket :: bedspread/coverlet (that gets turned back at night and pulled back up on the morning). In a less cold environment you can lose one of the blankets. If it's a very cool room or he "sleeps cold" then add a second fleece blanket (always under the blanket that works by lofting insulation) or even a cotton blanket.

If you have specific questions about Bean products there is a department called Product Support Services available from 8 am to 10 pm that can give detailed info about products. Just ask any service rep you speak with if you can be transferred to Product Support. You might be on hold a few minutes, but they will be able to help.
posted by anastasiav at 9:20 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

(L.L. Bean has one but it's only 200-weight -- and that's lighter than the fleece in our coats! Would it really be warm enough?)

Provided he's not sleeping outside.
posted by mhoye at 12:30 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not wool and not feathers, and didn't set off any issues even in my hilariously dust might sensitive family, silk floss-stuffed comforters (with a grain of salt for the advertising in that article).

High-quality ones are super, super warm. Pair with a flannel comforter, and it's toasty, fantastic great-even-in-Michigan-cold-keep-the-heat-off winter happiness. The main downsides to them is that good ones can be hilariously expensive, and that they tend to bunch, so not fluffing them out each morning and making the bed is almost mandatory for long term care.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:28 AM on November 28, 2011

Given your son's dust mite allergy, ignore recommendations for blankets and comforters that cannot be washed in hot water every three weeks (NIH says every week). What good is it to buy something that's free of allergenic feathers or down, when it's going to be full of dust mites (and their highly allergenic poop) after just a few weeks of use? It's better to buy a couple of Vellux blankets. Make sure your washing machine's water supply gets up above 130°F so that it will kill the dust mites.

Alternatively, there are dustmite-proof covers available for comforters.

Another detail that helps a lot is to put all toys in the bedroom into tightly lidded plastic boxes to keep dust out, whenever they're not being played with.
posted by Ery at 6:45 AM on November 28, 2011

For the record, we bought 200-weight Polartec fleece blankets from L.L.Bean and things are good.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:21 PM on December 30, 2011

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