how to wash blankets

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Washing a Blanket Snuggling with a soft blanket is one of the true pleasures of a cold evening. To keep the blanket soft, you need to clean it every once in a while. Keeping your blankets clean and soft is not difficult. It requires a little know-how, the right techniques, and some time. Let’s learn how to wash blankets.

Blanket Materials Make a Difference

Your blanket’s material makes a big difference in how you clean it. If you use the wrong technique, you could end up making your soft, comfy blanket into a rough, misshapen mess. 

Blankets made from cotton or synthetic materials are usually washing machine safe. Wool blankets can sometimes go into the washer, but shouldn’t go through an entire cycle. Other materials, like mohair and cashmere, should never go into a washing machine. You can usually wash those blanket materials by hand, though.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s label for recommendations. If you have any doubts, hand washing and air drying may be your best option. 

Recommended Read: Best Throw Blankets

Colorfast or Not

If your blanket has color, you need to test it for colorfastness before washing it for the first time. Otherwise, you may find your blanket’s color gets washed out after one or two cycles.

Here’s an easy way to test for colorfastness. 

  • Wet a white cloth with water
  • Wring the cloth out to remove most of the moisture
  • Rub the damp cloth on the edge or hem of the blanket.
  • If any color comes off or if the area fades after you rubbed it, it is not safe to wash.

It’s also important to look at the label on the blanket. If it says “wash separately” or “wash with like colors”, hand washing is best. The dye is not stable and could bleed when washed. Always wash these items separately to avoid color bleed. 

Even if the blanket washes well the first time, you still need to be cautious on the second wash. Many modern materials come with a finish on them. This finish prevents the dye from running. However, after the first wash, the finish is gone. The dye could run on the second wash. 

Hand Washing a Blanket

Let’s start with how to wash a blanket by hand. You can use this method to wash almost any blanket. The size of the blanket, however, could be a problem. It can be difficult to wash a heavy blanket by hand.

First, you will need to select a basin or tub that’s large enough to fit the blanket, plus a generous amount of water. A bathtub or large sink will do the job for most blankets you use at home.

Recommended Reads: What is a Throw Blanket & Standard Throw Blanket Sizes

To wash the blanket:

  • Fill the basin with cool water. Don’t overfill because you still need to add the blanket.
  • Add in mild detergent. Mix it into the water with your hand until it’s fully incorporated.
  • Lower the blanket into the water. 
  • Working with one section of the blanket at a time. Move the blanket back and forth a few times to let the water and detergent flow into the fibers.
  • Continue cleaning the blanket until all sections are clean.

Once the blanket is clean, grab an edge and pull it up and out of the water. Hold it up to allow most of the water to drain off. Release the water from the basin and let it drain. 

You need to get rid of the most of the water in the blanket. Do not wring the blanket out. This can stretch and distort the fabric, causing permanent damage. The better method is pressing. 

  • Fold the blanket in half, two or three times. Lay it into the empty basin.
  • Use the flat of your hand to press water out of the blanket. Work from one edge to the opposite side.
  • Flip blanket 90 degrees and repeat pressing from one edge to the other.
  • If the blanket is still saturated, unfold and refold the blanket. Repeat the pressing sequence. Keep repeating until most of the moisture is gone.

The final step is to rinse the detergent out of the blanket fibers. Take the blanket out of the basin and refill wit

  • Take the blanket out of the basin and fill it with clear cool water.
  • Unfold the blanket and put it into the clear water.
  • Working a section at a time, move the blanket through the water a few times. 
  • If the water gets soapy, empty it out and refill with clean water.
  • Continue rinsing until no soap is left.

Again, you need to remove most of the moisture from the blanket before you dry it. 

  • Take the blanket and fold it in half. Then fold it a second or third time until it’s a workable size. Lay it into the empty basin.
  • Use the flat of your hand to press on the blanket. Excess water will run down the basin drain. Work from one edge to the opposite side.
  • Flip blanket 90 degrees and repeat pressing with the flat of your hand from one edge to the other.
  • If the blanket is still saturated, unfold and refold the blanket. Repeat the pressing sequence. Keep repeating until most of the moisture is gone.

Machine Washing a Blanket

If the blanket’s instructions say its safe to clean in a washing machine, the job is a bit easier. However, you need to make sure your washing machine is big enough for the job. 

Take the dry blanket and place it in the empty washer. If you can get it in without stuffing it, it should work. If you have to stuff it in, it will not work. The washer needs to be able to swish the fabric through the water to clean it. If it’s too tight, it won’t clean efficiently.

If your washer won’t work, check one at your local laundromat. Many of them have larger washers that can handle large or thick blankets. Grab a book or your phone and plan to spend an hour or so getting the blanket washed.

When washing any blanket in a machine, always choose the gentlest setting and cool water. 

Washing machines do their jobs by spinning, agitating, and beating the fabric to get it clean. This can be hard on any fabric. The gentle cycle minimizes the stretching of the fabric. Washing a blanket in hot water can shrink the fibers and cause dye to run. 

  • Use a detergent formulated for delicate fabrics.
  • Start filling the washer with water.
  • Add the detergent into the water, allowing it to become fully diluted. 
  • Load the blanket into the washer. For top loaders, distribute the blanket around the edges to balance the load.
  • Start the wash cycle.
  • For cotton, synthetic fibers, or heavy-duty blankets, the full wash cycle is okay.
  • For delicate fibers like wool or silk, stop the wash cycle after 3 to 5 minutes. Avoid putting those fibers through a full rinse and spin cycle. 

Machine or Tumble Drying a Blanket

There are a few options when it comes to how to dry your blanket. You can machine dry it, tumble dry it, flat dry it, or hang dry it. It all comes down to the material, its weight, and the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Always refer to the manufacturer’s directions for the best option for drying.

Machine drying works for synthetic and cotton blankets. It’s always best to choose a low heat setting to minimize any impact to the fabric. 

  • Set the machine to low to medium heat.
  • Load the blanket into the machine.
  • Clean out the lint trap. Blankets often shed a significant amount of lint.
  • Run the dry cycle. 
  • Check the blanket periodically. Remove when it’s still a bit damp.
  • Allow blanket to finish drying in the air. Hang it from a clothes line or use a drying rack. This will help the blanket refluff itself.

Tumble drying involves using the dryer without heat. It’s a good option for a heavy natural fiber blanket, like one made from wool. 

  • Set the machine to air dry or tumble dry
  • Load the blanket loosely into the dryer
  • Clean the lint trap. Even natural fiber blankets will shed.
  • Run the tumble cycle. 
  • Tumble drying takes a lot longer than drying with heat. You may have to run the cycle two or three times to get the blanket almost dry.
  • Remove from dryer and hang to finish air drying.

Air Drying a Blanket

For blankets made from delicate materials, air drying is the better option. It will prevent damage to the fibers and keep the blanket is its proper shape.

Always remove excess moisture from the blanket. Use the pressing method to remove the moisture.

  • Fold the blanket in half two or three times. Place it in empty basin with drain.
  • Use the flat of the hand to press the water out of the blanket.
  • Work from one edge of the blanket to the opposite side.
  • Flip the blanket 90 degrees, and repeat the pressing.
  • If excess moisture remains, unfold the blanket, refold it, repeat pressing method.

The next decision is whether to hang dry it, towel dry it, or flat dry it. 

Most blankets that need to be air dried can be hung dried. You can use a clothes line or a hanging rack for the job. 

For hang drying,

  • Hang the blanket over the clothes line or drying rack.
  • Make sure it’s weight is evenly distributed.
  • Smooth out wrinkles and folds.
  • Stretch the blanket out to its normal length for even drying
  • Allow to air dry completely before removing from line or rack.

Towel drying is a good option when you don’t have the room for hang drying. It also works for extremely delicate materials. 

For towel drying,

  • Place the blanket between two towels.
  • Roll the blanket and towels together. The towels will draw moisture from the blanket.
  • Place a heavy book on top of the rolled up towels to help press water out of the blanket.
  • When the towels get damp, take the blanket out and re-roll with dry towels. Repeat until blanket is dry.

Flat drying is the method that takes the longest. However, it doesn’t need a lot of effort or monitoring. It’s also the best choice for blankets that easily stretch out of shape, such as a wool blanket with a loose weave.

For flat drying,

  • Clear a space large enough to lay the blanket flat on the floor.
  • Spread towels out to cover the space. If the blanket is extremely damp, use two layers of towels.
  • Spread the blanket down on top of towels. Let dry.
  • Flip the blanket every few hours to allow both sides to dry evenly.

Now you know how to wash blankets. Washing and drying a blanket is easy once you know how. You should do it when the blanket is dirty, at least once every few months. When are you going to wash yours?

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