Covering up: blankets for your outdoor room

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Fall usually means the onset of chilly nights. Fight off the frost with some warm, cozy blankets.

Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Outdoor rooms are meant to be used all year round. A crackling fire pit and some other heat sources can help make things comfortable, but a little extra may be needed to get that contented, relaxed feeling.

Investing in some hearty blankets meant for outdoor use may be just the thing to make your outdoor room the place to cuddle up by the fire. Here are a few things to think about when looking for the best blankets to use on the patio.

Fabrics

Camping enthusiasts tend to use merino (i.e. “non-itchy”) wool or polar fleece blankets. Both the natural (wool) and manufactured (polar fleece) blankets trap heat well and still work when wet.Wool is more expensive and can be much heavier than polar fleece. Polar fleece is appealing because of its light weight and softness. Wool is more flame-resistant than polar fleece, but be careful with any blanket or loose fabrics around flames (e.g. take care not to “swing” the blankets around the fire pit).

Storage

Plastic bags with zippers are your best bet for storing outdoor blankets. Keeping those storage bags in bins or on garage shelves is the optimal way to guarantee dry, mold-free blankets. Moth larvae are the cause of those pesky holes in wool blankets, but storage in plastic and any exposure of the blankets to sunlight will help. The wool-eating moths hate movement and light, so use the blankets frequently and do an occasional brushing of the blanket on a sunny day. Plus, the outdoor temperatures should be sufficient in preventing moth damage. Don’t store any mothballs in the same bag as the blanket, as they will damage the wool. Polar fleece isn’t on the moth larvae menu, but to prevent mold and water damage, store them in the same way.

Cleaning

Polar fleece typically can be washed in your home’s laundry machines. Spot-treat any stains and wash on a gentle cycle in cold water. Fleece comes with water resistance but that treatment can be washed off by strong soaps. Use a mild detergent like those meant for baby clothes or fine wools to avoid removing that treatment. Line dry the fleece or put it the dryer on a low heat setting.

 

Look for a wool blanket with the “superwash” designation. “Superwash” means the wool can go in the machine instead of needing hand washing. If the blanket is not machine washable, spot-clean where necessary and hand wash in cold water (even slightly warm water can felt the wool). Hand it over to professional dry cleaners if that seems like too big of a task. Wool needs to be cleaned only once or twice a year. Always dry wool blankets flat (not on a line) so they retain their shape. Never put any wool in a dryer. Don’t worry so much about wrinkles after washing. The wool will work them out after a few uses. 

Design

The variety of colors, pattern and fabrics in outdoor blankets allow you to add to the design of your Hardscape, just as you would fill a den or living room with touches of comfort in matching hues and textures. Toss some throw blankets around to making your outdoor space another relaxing room of your home.