Horses love their turnout blankets. Sometimes they can give that blanket a little too much love, especially over the course of the winter months. It can become a filthy, grimy mess. Knowing how to wash horse blankets at home properly can help you save money, keep your horse happy, and it doesn’t take much time at all.
Here are the steps that you’ll want to follow.
#1. Remove any extra debris that might be on the blanket.
Horse blankets tend to have an excess of hair, mud, and other pasture debris that tends to collect on it over time. You’ll need to manually remove any of the excessive dirt and debris before beginning the washing process to make sure the blanket can become properly clean when you’re finished with this job.
#2. Clean out your washing machine.
A washing machine will develop some mildew development over time. There will also be a thin layer of detergent buildup that is on the inside walls of the appliance. You’ll need to make sure that the washing machine has been properly cleaned before running the horse blankets through.
An easy way to clean the appliance without chemicals is pour a combination of vinegar and baking soda into the detergent container of the machine. You can pour it directly into the drum as well. Then use a clean scratch-free scrubber to rub around the opening of the machine to remove stubborn residue.
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#3. Prepare your blanket for cleaning.
Your horse blanket can’t just get thrown into the washing machine by itself. The actions of the appliance can do a lot of damage to the blanket. The blanket can get caught in the mechanisms of the machine, potentially ruining it as well. To avoid this, you’ll want to place your blanket into a mesh washing bag that is compatible with the washing machine you happen to have at home.
You’ll need to make sure all of the straps and buckles are properly secured inside of the mesh back. This will protect the blanket and washing machine from damage.
Many of the mesh washing bags that are available right now are intended for intimates and delicates. They are not generally large enough to fit an entire horse blanket. You’ll need to look for a commercial mesh laundry bag for best results.
#4. Use the cold water settings on your washing machine with the gentle cycle.
For a standard washing machine, you’ll want to make sure that you are using the cold/cold cycle on your washing machine. If you have an advanced appliance which allows you to set a specific temperature, then you’ll want to make sure you have cool water of 85F or less for your cleaning cycle. Make sure your washing machine has also been set on its gentle cycle.
It might be referred to as the “delicate” cycle. An “intimates” cycle would also work to successfully wash your horse blankets.
Do not use a standard clothing detergent to wash your horse blankets. You’ll want to use either a very mild hypo-allergenic soap or a specific blanket-cleaning wash in most circumstances. Refer to the specific washing and cleaning instructions that were provided by the manufacturer of the blanket for best results.
#5. Do not use a fabric conditioner unless specifically instructed to do so.
The problem with fabric conditioners [and most commercial detergents] is that they are created to penetrate deeply into the materials which make up clothing, linens, and blankets. Because most horse blankets have been designed to be waterproof, but still have a breathable coating so that they won’t affect the overall health of the horse when being worn, they can be compromised in the washing machine.
Even a small amount of detergent or fabric conditioner will be enough to potentially compromise the structure of the horse blanket. If you do not have a mild soap or specific horse blanket wash, it would be better to be washing the blanket with nothing but water.
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#6. Check the waterproofing of your horse blanket.
Even when you do everything right, it is entirely possible for a waterproof coating to disappear when you’re washing a horse blanket at home. Once the washing machine has gone through a complete cycle, you will want to test your horse blanket to determine if it is still waterproof. You can do this by splashing some water onto the wet blanket.
Take it out of the mesh bag. Stretch it out onto a flat surface. Then splash water onto it. If the waterproofing materials are still active, then you will see water begin to bead up on the surface of the horse blanket. If the blanket absorbs the water instead, then you’ll need to add a new waterproof coating to the blanket so that its quality can be revived.
There are several waterproofing agents that can be used to accomplish this if a new coating must be added to the blanket. Make sure that you use a product which will still allow the materials of the blanket to breathe so the horse can enjoy all of the benefits of the blanket.
As with any alterations made to a blanket, make sure to follow any manufacturer’s instructions for best results. You will also need to follow the instructions provided by the waterproofing agent manufacture.
A note of caution. Waterproofing agents and materials tend to be extremely flammable. Only use in a well-ventilated area that is away from any flames or combustible materials for best results.
#7. Hang your horse blanket out so it can dry.
Most horse blankets cannot be placed into a dryer. The heat of the dryer would affect the integrity of the blanket materials. You will need to line-dry your blanket for best results.
If you do not have a clothesline on your property, there are still some options available to you. Hang the horse blanket out over a fence. Stretch it out across a table or another piece of furniture inside your home. As long as the environment is relatively clean, you will be able to successfully dry the horse blanket in 4-5 hours under most circumstances.
If you hang a horse blanket out to dry in winter while it is still wet, there is the chance that it may freeze. This would negatively affect the structure of the blanket and should be avoided.
Knowing how to wash horse blankets will save you time and money. It will also keep your horse happy because he’s got a clean blanket to wear once again.