Tips and Tricks on How to Best Wash Horse Blankets

by Ross Stockdale

how best to wash a horse blanket

Horses are beautiful, majestic creatures. But, like playful children, they love to roll in the mud and get dirty every once in a while. Although these antics are fun to watch, the thought of having to wash a horse blanket makes most equestrians sigh.

As the weather starts to cool down and winter approaches, horse owners are beginning to think about this season's inevitable horse blanket washing. If you're planning on hand-washing, machine washing, relying on the professionals or just looking for a quick spot-clean, we've outlined the best steps to take to prolong your blanket's life and keep your horse warm and dry.

When Should You Wash a Horse Blanket?

In general, you should wash your horse blankets once per year, at the end of every cold-weather season. Some horse owners prefer washing their blankets right before storing them away, so they don't have to stress about last-minute cleanings at the beginning of the next season.

Quality horse blankets can last you upwards of 10 to 15 seasons with proper maintenance. Over-washing your blanket can ultimately damage the waterproof material, limiting its lifetime to only a few years.

Can You Put a Horse Blanket in the Washing Machine?

The short answer: Yes, you can put your horse blanket in the washing machine. But some, namely medium to heavyweight stable or turnout sheets and blankets, are better candidates for hand-washing or professional cleaning.

Before undertaking a DIY horse blanket wash, check the care tag. Manufacturers are generally pretty good at telling you exactly how to wash your horse blanket. If there isn't a care tag to reference, you can likely turn to your equestrian community or preferred search engine for advice.

Our rule of thumb is, when in doubt, rely on the professionals.

how to machine wash horse blankets

How to Machine Wash Lightweight Horse Blankets

Your light horse dress sheets and coolers are likely suited for the washing machine. When your horse blanket is ready for DIY washing, you should take the following steps.

1. Remove Excess Dirt

Placing your blanket outside, take a hard-bristled brush from your grooming kit and sweep away excess dirt, hair, hay or any other loose particles that may have gotten stuck throughout the cold-weather season.

This step may require some elbow grease, but the less work your washer has to do, the better.

2. Hose off Stubborn Dirt

Keeping your horse blanket laid out, take out your hose. Using cold water, quickly rinse off any remaining dirt, using the same hard brush to scrub any stubborn areas gently.

Try your best to remove most of the hairs from the blanket, especially in the tiny fibers. Your washing machine will thank you, as it will reduce strain and prevent damage to your drainage system.

3. Wash on a Gentle Cycle

With the topical layer of dirt removed, it's time to take your blanket inside to your washing machine. 

You might consider using a mesh wash bag to protect your washer from your horse blanket's straps, enclosures and buckles. A wash bag also helps prevent any tangling or blanket damage during the washing process.

Using cold water and a mild detergent, wash your blanket on the gentle cycle. Avoid using fabric softener, as it can strip the protective waterproof coating.

4. Line Dry

Remove your horse blanket from the washer directly after the wash cycle. If you leave it in too long, it will start to develop a mildew smell and require a second, more detailed wash.

To dry, hang your horse blanket on a line or over fence posts. You want both sides of the blanket to have room to breathe and evenly dry. Preferably, choose a day where it's sunny and comfortably breezy for the smoothest drying process.

Once you've finished washing and drying your horse blanket, you can either continue use or gently fold and store it for easy access during the next cold-weather season. Before doing regular household laundry in your washer, run it without clothes a few more times to remove any leftover surprises from your horse blanket.

How to Hand-Wash a Horse Blanket

We recommend keeping your medium to heavyweight blankets away from household washing machines. The professionals use heavy-duty equipment that can withstand the added blanket weight while maintaining your horse blanket's integrity. 

If you don't want to pay the professional price tag, hand-washing is a good backup option. To hand-wash your horse stable or turnout blanket and sheets, you should do the following.

1. Remove Excess Dirt

Lay out your blanket on the grass or across half crates. Use a hard-bristled brush or shedding blade and gently work away any dirt, hair, hay or other surface particles to avoid damaging the horse blanket's protective layers.

2. Hose off Remaining Dirt

Keeping your blanket laid out, take your hose and wash away any loose dirt with cold water.

With your hose still running, repeat step one, making sure to get into the smaller areas and corners of your blanket. Having a second person to help you hold the hose may be useful during this part of the hand-washing process.

3. Scrub Using Gentle Detergent

Next, place a generous amount of delicate fabric detergent on your hard brush. In circular motions, gently scrub the entirety of your blanket's surface, again making sure to get into harder-to-reach areas.

Some well-known brands have specially formulated detergents for hand-washing horse blankets, but you don't have to use them if you prefer another blanket-friendly alternative.

4. Thoroughly Rinse

With your blanket fully lathered, bring the hose back out to begin the rinsing process.

It's vital to completely rinse the soap from the blanket. If not, the soap will reactivate and seep onto your horse's skin the next time your horse wears the blanket, especially when they get sweaty or if the blanket gets wet from the rain or snow.

5. Line Dry

Once you're sure you've gotten rid of all the soap, place your horse blanket on a drying line or over fence posts. Heavier blankets usually take longer to dry, so it may take a few hours. 

To speed up the drying process, consult a weather app, and choose a day to wash and dry your blanket where you know it will be sunny and slightly windy.

Only a Little Dirty? How to Make Minor Touch-Ups

If you notice your horse blanket is building up some extra layers of dirt, but doesn't require a deep wash yet, feel free to wash off any buildup with your hose using cool water.

For more stubborn spots, spot clean using gentle cleaner and a stiff brush. Both these options will usually do the trick and prolong the life of your horse blanket.

washing horse blankets

Buy a Durable Horse Blanket Designed to Last at Horse Tack Co.

Whether they're roaming the fields or enjoying the comfort of their stalls, your horses deserve stable sheets or turnout blankets with the right fit to stay safe and warm throughout the cold weather. Horse Tack Co. carries the top equestrian brands in various sizes and styles to keep your horse protected while matching their unique personality. 

If you're in the area, stop by our New Holland store in person. If not, you can always visit us online and browse our wide selection of horse blankets, among other quality products. If you have any questions, like how to measure your horse for the best blanket fit, contact our knowledgeable equestrian enthusiasts today. We are eager to help you Love the Ride!

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