How to Clean a Horse Blanket

Horse blankets are some of the most essential items you can have around your stable. Horse blankets and sheets not only can be washed but should be regularly cleaned, at least once a year to help prolong their effectiveness. Some blankets can go in your washing machine, some will need to be hand-washed or professionally cleaned.

While you can wash horse blankets and sheets in a home washing machine, especially lightweight sheets and blankets, it’s not as simple as just throwing them in with the rest of your household laundry. Take the right steps to clean your blankets, and you’ll be able to keep using them for many seasons. Most blanket manufacturers provide cleaning instructions, which should be followed exactly.

First, remove any excess dirt or hair from the blanket using a hard brush from your grooming kit, and clean out any detergent buildup in your washing machine. Hosing down a blanket and washing horse blankets by hand before putting it in the machine is also a good idea and will lessen the strain on your washing machine and home’s drainage system. (You’ll probably want to run the machine for a couple more cycles afterward to get out all the hair and dirt out of the lines.)

Use cool water and mild detergent on a gentle cycle to wash your horse blankets. Some manufacturers recommend using a mesh wash bag, which will contain and protect any straps, closures, and buckles that can’t be easily detached, and will also protect your machine against damage from them. Do not use fabric softener when washing your turnout blankets, as that will compromise the blanket’s waterproof and breathable coating, and reduce the ability to wick away water and sweat from the horse’s body.

Heavyweight blankets must be washed by hand if you don’t send them out for professional cleaning. First, use a shedding blade to remove as much built—up fur as possible. Then, use a stiff brush to remove any loose dirt. Once you’ve done all you can manually, hose down the blanket with cold water while scrubbing it with a powerful detergent specifically designed for sensitive skin or delicate fabrics.

Make sure the blanket is thoroughly rinsed of all soap residue. Once your horse starts sweating underneath a blanket, even a small amount of soap can irritate the skin and lead to skin problems or infection.

Line—dry your blankets, on a clothesline or over a fence, preferably in the sun and wind to remove all moisture. Do not tumble dry them, because any forced heat can damage the fabric. Once completely dry, store them in a moisture-tight bag or trunk until the next time you use them.

While it’s important to keep them clean, over—washing can potentially damage the material in the blankets and the waterproof coating. Definitely wash them at the end of the season and if they get really dirty. For minor touch—ups, spot cleaning with a stiff horse brush will do the trick. You can also use certain stain removers, provided they don’t contain any bleaching agents.

By following a regular maintenance and cleaning regimen, you will prolong the life, function, and durability of your blankets.

Learn more about When to Blanket Your Horse and use our helpful Blanket Finder to find your next winter turnout, stable sheet, and more.


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  • Published:
  • Updated: 2/7/2020: 10:02:27 AM ET
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