How Do Heated Blankets Work?

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. [Read our full health disclaimer]

Updated on September 25, 2023

On a cold winter’s evening, there is nothing better than turning on your heated blanket to warm yourself up, and after a while, go into a cozy, warm bed, and settle down for a good night’s sleep. 

Using a heated blanket isn’t that hard, and you can buy them in almost all bedding stores or online. However, it’s crucial to know how to use them safely and correctly. So, in this article, we’ll explain how heated blankets work, the blanket safety concerns that they bring along, and the correct way to use your electric blanket.

What Is a Heated Blanket?

An electric blanket, also known as a heated blanket, is a blanket made from sturdy, heavy materials with an internal integrated electrical wiring system that provides heat and warmth through electrical wires. 

Basically, you plug your electric blanket into the electrical outlet, and you can set it on various heat levels. Most electric blankets are made from a combination of acrylic and polyester materials. This combination helps prevent fire hazards while being interwoven enough to maintain and trap warmth.

Most electric blankets on the market come with at least three heat levels: high, medium, and low. Heated blankets made for king-size or double beds can come with adjustable heat settings on each side of the bed.

The different temperature levels are controlled through an attached control unit which can change the heat level through the flick of a button.

There are three types of electric blankets:

  • Duvet or overblanket: this type of electric blanket is a duvet or overblanket that you can use as an ordinary blanket.
  • Underblanket: this type of electric blanket is placed on top of your mattress but under the bedsheet.
  • Electric throw: this type of electric blanket is created as a normal decorative or thin throw.

How Does Your Electric Blanket Work?

Every electric blanket has a series of interlinked coil heating wires protected with a plastic coating, which is heat-resistant. Once plugged in, it gives a steady heat source while using 120 volts of electricity. Some people want to use the heated blanket only to warm up their bed, while others might prefer to use their heated blanket throughout the night.

Every style of heated blanket will have big connectors in the end part of the blanket. These connectors are used to channel the electricity from the outlets to the heating system inside the blanket, and they must be unplugged and disengaged from your electric blanket before you wash or clean it. 

The safest place for these connectors to rest while you use the blanket is at the end of your bed or at the foot of your blanket. This way, you’ll ensure that your electric blanket won’t overheat or disconnect throughout the night because of movements.

You can buy modern electric blankets with thermostats and heat settings that can read body temperature and adjust the heat automatically. These models also come with shutoff mechanisms for preventing potential fire hazards and overheating. Shutoff mechanisms will instantly switch off your blanket in case of overheating after your electric blanket reaches a particular internal temperature. 

Modern electric blanket heating systems are made of carbon-fiber wires to further ensure safety while enabling consistent temperatures.

Are Electric Blankets Safe?

Due to the fact that electric blankets are in fact electrical devices, they come with certain safety concerns, including:

Exposure to the Electromagnetic Field (EMF)

Main advocates against heated blankets argue that the use of electric blankets enhances the risk of a decrease in fertility in men, pregnancy problems, or even getting cancer. All of this is associated with the electromagnetic fields to which the users of heated blankets are exposed to as electric blankets and heated mattress pads emit EMFs.

Electric Blanket Fire Hazard

This is the main disadvantage of heated blankets. That being said, electric blankets are thoroughly tested, and many of them come with automatic shutoff mechanisms to reduce the risk of fire or overheating. 

On the other hand, older heated blankets might not have automatic shutoff mechanisms, so the wiring can be damaged or fried without you knowing. If you accidentally leave your electric blanket on, you’ll increase the chances of a fire.


Heating devices, particularly those with high settings, also have the potential to burn users. Older people and kids are the most at risk, as they might not have the ability or awareness to handle a dangerous situation, resulting in serious injuries, or in extreme scenarios, death. 

People who have diabetes are uniquely endangered because they usually suffer from neuropathy, meaning they have reduced sensitivity in their extremities and might not feel that their eclectic blankets are overheated until it’s too late.

How to Use Your Electric Blanket Safely?

You might be a little bit disconcerted to bring an electric device into your bed, and your concern is reasonable, as your eclectic blanket can overheat if you don’t take proper precautions. Fortunately, there are electric blanket safety tips that you can follow:

  • Follow all the instructions from the manufacturer for care, use, storage, and cleaning of your electric blanket.
  • Purchase a model that comes with automatic shutoff, so you don’t accidentally leave your blanket running all day and night.
  • Heated blankets should not be used by little kids and people with cognitive disabilities who might not be able to shut off or remove the blanket if it gets too warm.
  • If you have diabetes, stay away from electric blankets, as decreased skin sensitivity can result in burns.
  • Make sure to unplug your electric blanket every morning and when you aren’t using it.
  • Never use heated blankets with pets since they can chew the electrical wires in the blanket.
  • Refrain from lying or sitting on your heated blanket (unless it’s an electric underblanket).
  • Don’t use an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad at the same time.
  • Never use your electric blanket on a waterbed, adjustable bed, recliner, or pull-out sofa.
  • Ensure that your heated blanket lies flat with no folds or bunches to avoid overheating areas.

If you take good care of your heated blanket, it can provide a cheap and cozy way to get warm and a good night’s sleep.

A Few Words Before You Go…

So, now you know how heated blankets actually work. If you like them, you can buy one to keep you warm during cold winter nights. However, keep in mind to use your electric blanket correctly and safely. The good news is that the new modern electric blankets come with additional features to help you use them safely. So, don’t wait any longer and spoil yourself with an electric blanket.

Bree Taylor - Lead Editor

Lead Editor

Bree is an interior designer with a passion for helping people improve their sleep quality.

She specializes in creating comfortable and functional bedroom spaces that promote a good night’s rest.

When she’s not testing mattresses or helping people get the best rest possible, Bree loves to travel and explore new cultures.

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