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How to Make a Weighted Blanket Without Pellets

Weighted blankets are popular, but most use poly pellets. Learn how to make a weighted blanket without pellets. These fillings are used just like the poly pellets you see featured in my main weighted blanket post where the blanket is made with poly pellets. Find more details on making DIY weighted blankets.

My weighted blanket sewing tutorial is one of my most popular posts on this site. After years of helping readers with their projects – I get emails every day with questions even years after that initial post – I decided to dedicate a series of blog posts to commonly asked questions about making weighted blankets. I also love seeing the blankets people make, especially when they reflect the recipient’s interests like these Harry Potter weighted blankets.

Today’s post features one of my most commonly asked questions: How to make a weighted blanket without pellets.

Learn how to make #weightedblankets without using plastic pellets. #goplasticfree #sensoryinput

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How to Make a Weighted Blanket Without Beads or Pellets

Most weighted blankets are made using poly pellets. Poly pellets are a popular filling because they are non toxic and can go in the washer and dryer. They discourage mold growth and are lightweight individually, and therefore unlikely to cause harm.

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However, there are a number of reasons to avoid using poly pellets. Some people worry about the fact that poly pellets are man made. Others are looking for a more inexpensive filling.

Learn how to make a weighted blanket without pellets

Luckily there are several ways to make a weighted blanket without using the standard weighted blanket pellets. Here are some of the most popular options.


Growing up, our picnic blanket was made out of old pairs of denim blue jeans. We used it as a picnic blanket because it was so sturdy and useful for protecting us from damp grass, but the blanket doubled as an amazing weighted blanket!

Denim is naturally heavy, and when you pair it with quilt batting and a second layer of fabric it grows even heavier. Whether you make your blanket off of store-bought denim or cast-off jeans, it’s pretty easy to make the blanket heavy enough for most users.

So why not always use denim? Some users want a softer blanket. Denim can get expensive if you are buying it rather than upcycling old clothing. Most importantly, denim takes a long time to dry, so it may not be ideal if you are looking for a quick-dry blanket.

Glass Beads

Small glass beads are a popular weighted blanket filling with people looking for a non-plastic based filling. The glass beads wash pretty well, but can get hot in the dryer. They are also more likely to wear through fabric than soft pellets. They are not much cheaper (if at all cheaper) than poly pellets. You can find quite a few glass bead filled weighted blanket choices for sale.

Glass marbles are another possibility, but they should be used with care as they can be large enough to be individually heavy.

Aquarium Gravel

Aquarium gravel is a very popular alternative to poly pellets in homemade weighted blankets. It’s a little harder on the fabric than poly pellets. It also gets hot in the dryer. But it’s a relatively inexpensive option.

Gravel is somewhat heavy, so it may be harder to distribute the weight evenly throughout the blanket. It is more lightly to grow moldy over time than pellets or glass beads.

Make a Ball Blanket

Bouncing balls won’t necessarily hold up nicely in the wash (I certainly wouldn’t stick them in a dryer), but they are a creative filling that lends both weight and texture to the blanket. If you take this approach, I recommend sticking to only one or two balls per blanket section.

Knit a Weighted Blanket

If you know how to knit, you can use chunky yarn to make a knit weighted blanket. You can also buy knit weighted blankets ready made from Amazon or Etsy.

Small Metal Washers 

Small metal washers are relatively inexpensive as a weighted blanket filling, but they can be hard to distribute evenly. They are relatively inexpensive for the weight, but also harder on fabric than poly pellets. They will get hot in the dryer.

Many metal washers will stick to magnets. Depending how you look at it, this can be a good or bad thing, but it’s definitely something to be aware of! Stay away from metal washers that are large enough to do harm individually.


Rice is inexpensive and non-toxic. Unfortunately, it cannot go through the washing machine and this is the reason I don’t personally recommend it as a weighted blanket filling unless you are sure the blanket will not need washing.

If you really need a budget filling, consider sewing a blanket with velcro or zipped pockets. Fill each pocket with zip-locked (or double zip-locked) bags of rice until you have a heavy enough blanket.

What About Cherry Pits?

Cherry pits are organic, heavy, and can go through the washing machine. I’ve stopped recommending cherry pits as a natural filling, because they contain cyanide. You have to eat them for them to be dangerous, but children may do that, and possibly even some adults.

how to make a weighted blanket without pellets

Do you have a recommendation on how to make weighted blankets without pellets that I’ve missed? I am always looking to learn about new options and techniques!

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

10 thoughts on “How to Make a Weighted Blanket Without Pellets”

  1. I grew up with a large terry cloth throw that we used for picnics and at the beach. So as an adult, I wanted to make my own version. I used two large “bath sheets”, and then made a pillow case from matching hand towels. It’s got a great weight to it, and I can just fold it in half at the seam for a weighted blanket for one!

    1. I think it’s unlikely to happen, but it was brought to my attention as a potential issue. I think it’s most likely to happen if they were left to sit for a long time or if you live in an exceptionally damp climate.

  2. If you used rice… would it work to just use a duvet type outer cover that could be removed for washing purposes?

    1. That would help! Rice blankets will eventually attract mold, though, simply because they are organic material and bodies let off a certain amount of moisture. You could routinely run it through the dryer on high heat to help prevent this happening.

  3. That reminds me, I had an upcycled denim blanket when I was in college, and you’re right it was heavy. I might have to try that for a weighted blanket on my side of the bed….

  4. A few notes:

    1. Organic food stuffs (rice, cherry pits, grains, etc) should not be used as weight because it can become a growth medium for bacteria and/or mold

    2. Most type of stones or sand shouldn’t be used because with a few exceptions most of them are porous .(including river rocks) and can become s home to molds.

    3. Simply because some people worry about plastic pellets being man-made is NOT a legitimate reason not to use them.

    4. Metal washers (like steel ball bearings) are a bad idea … imagine two siblings in a pillow fight .. one swings his metal filled weighted blanket and next thing you know, you have a trip to the ER.

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