Easy tips for washing blankets

July 28, 2015

Most blankets, even some woolen ones, can be washed at home. Always check care label instructions before attempting any at-home washing, though. And make sure that your washing machine and dryer will hold the blanket comfortably. Otherwise, it won't rinse or dry properly. Alternatively, take your blanket to a laundromat to do the job.

Easy tips for washing blankets

1. Before washing a woolen blanket

  • Check the label to make sure it is washable.
  • If it isn't, have it dry-cleaned.
  • If it is, measure the blanket and save the measurements for later.
  • Pre-treat any spots or stains with stain remover, following the label instructions.
  • If the binding (the narrow fabric along the edges) is looking really grungy, use a nylon-bristled nailbrush to gently scrub it with 125 ml (1/2 cup) of dishwashing liquid or make a paste of equal parts mild soap powder granules and water and apply it to the blanket carefully.
  • Gentleness is critical here because the binding could shred if it's old and worn.

2. To machine wash a woolen blanket

  • Fill a top-loading washing machine with cold water and a mild wool detergent, letting it agitate for a minute to dissolve the detergent.
  • Add the blanket, distributing it around the agitator and wetting it thoroughly.
  • Leave the blanket to soak for 15 minutes, then start the machine again and allow the washing cycle to complete.
  • Spin the blanket for a minute, then push the timer forward to the deep rinse cycle.
  • Allow the washing machine to finish its cycle.

3. To hand wash a woolen blanket

  • If your blanket won't fit into a washing machine, or you don't mind a slightly messier alternative — fill the bathtub with cold water and add 50 ml (1/4 cup) of mild commercial wool wash or 15 ml (1 tsp) of dishwashing liquid.
  • Put the blanket in and press down to wash.
  • To rinse thoroughly, refill the bathtub several times with fresh, cool water.
  • You can make your own gentle, no-rinse wool wash by combining 500 grams (2 cups) of soap flakes, 125 ml (1/2cup)of methylated spirits and 25 ml of eucalyptus oil in a lidded jar and shaking until thoroughly mixed.
  • Use 30–60 ml (2–4 tbsp) in a bathtub of lukewarm water and squeeze the blanket gently.
  • There's no need to rinse (save water and your aching back), and the eucalyptus has the added advantage of smelling fresh while also helping to keep moths at bay.
  • Squeeze out — but don't wring — excess water by rolling up your sodden blanket in two or three large bath towels.

4. Options for drying a woolen blanket

  • Use your dryer with the no-heat setting.
  • Spread out a few dry towels on a shady outdoor table, flatten the blanket out on them and stretch it to its original shape, using the measurements you saved earlier on.
  • Hang the blanket over two tightly strung clotheslines that won't droop under the blanket's weight.
  • If you chose the second or third approaches, plump up the blanket afterwards in the dryer on the no-heat setting.

5. To clean a cotton or acrylic blanket

  • It's okay to launder it.
  • Wash the blanket in a washing machine with cold water as part of a normal load, being careful not to overload the drum.
  • Dry a knitted cotton blanket in a dryer on low so it won't pill.
  • For other cotton blankets, the regular setting is okay.
  • Or, you can hang a cotton blanket from a taut clothes line to dry.
  • Tumble dry an acrylic blanket on low heat.
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