How to Clean a Horse Blanket

Horse blankets are some of the most essential items you can have around your stable. Of course, because of all the use they’ll get, you’ll want to clean them regularly to help preserve their effectiveness.

While many lighter blankets and sheets can be washed in a home washing machine, 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 multiple seasons.

First, remove any excess dirt or hair from the blanket, and clean out any detergent buildup in your machine. Hosing down a blanket before putting it in the machine will also lessen strain on your home’s drainage system. (You’ll probably want to run the machine for a couple more cycles afterwards to get all the hair and dirt out of the lines.)

Most blanket manufacturers provide cleaning instructions, which should be followed to the letter. Use cool water and mild soap, in a gentle cycle. Some manufacturers recommend using a mesh wash bag, which will contain and protect any straps, closures, and buckles that can’t be easily unattached, and will also protect your machine against damage from them. Do not use a fabric softener, as that will compromise the blanket's waterproof and breathable characteristics, and reduce the ability to wick away water and sweat from the horse's body.

Heavier 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 line 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 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. 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 can help to ensure your blankets remain functional and durable–and your horse protected–as long as you own them.


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  • Published:
  • Updated: 6/25/2018: 3:48:39 PM ET