Over the winter, your horse blankets become caked in mud and hair, and they develop a scent that’s pretty powerful by the spring. As weather improves and your horses no longer need blankets, it’s time to clean them, which means you have a big chore ahead of you. The following tips can help you to clean your blankets while also preserving their life.
Consider a Professional
There are many professional blanket washing services, and there are definite advantages to using these services. You can save significant time and hassle, especially if you have multiple horses with multiple blankets. Some of these services may even be willing to pick up and drop off blankets at your barn, saving you a trip, too.
A professional service will have access to industrial washing machines, meaning they can often get your blankets cleaner than you’ll manage at home. Keep in mind, though, that these services can be pricey, especially if you have a lot of blankets. Some owners decide to have their harder-to-manage heavyweight blankets professionally cleaned, while opting to clean the rest of their blankets themselves to save money.
Use the Right Detergent
Before you wash your blankets, invest in a detergent made specifically for your waterproof blankets. Traditional laundry detergent can strip the waterproofing. You can wash stable blankets and coolers in a traditional mild detergent.
A traditional washing machine isn’t made to withstand the heavy dirt load contained in horse blankets, so pre-clean your blankets as much as possible. Knock off any extra dirt and hair with a stiff brush, and consider hosing your blankets off before putting them into the wash. If you plan to wash many blankets annually, then it’s worth considering upgrading your barn’s washing machine to a heavy-duty or industrial model.
Prepare Blankets Correctly
It’s important not to just stuff a blanket into a washing machine, especially if your machine has an agitator. Blankets are full of buckles and straps that can get caught up, damaging the blanket or your machine. Instead, fold up straps and rubber-band them together. You can also rubber band small rags over the buckles to keep them from scraping the side of the machine.
Alternatively, buy an extra-large mesh laundry bag to hold your blankets when you wash them. This bag can help to keep straps and buckles contained.
When you do wash your blankets, only use cool water and avoid adding any fabric softener.
Never put blankets into a dryer, since it can impact their waterproofing and may result in tears. Instead, always hang your blankets and let them air dry. Draping them over a fence is ideal. You may also need to flip heavier blankets a few time to ensure they dry thoroughly.
Before you pack your blankets away, give them extra time to dry. If blankets are even a little damp when you pack them up, they can get moldy, which isn’t a surprise you’ll want to find when you unpack them again in the fall. Putting some fabric softener sheets in with the blankets can help to keep them smelling fresh and may help to deter mice from turning them into nests, too.
Washing blankets can be a chore, but when you focus on getting them all cleaned before packing them away, they’ll be ready to use again as soon as you need them in the fall.