How to Wash Different Types of Blankets Properly

By

Maria DeSouza

| Published September 20, 2023

Blankets are an essential part of sleep. They keep us comfy and warm, especially during chilly nights.

However, like all other bedding items, throw blankets also accumulate dirt, sweat, and dust over time. Washing blankets properly ensures they stay clean and fresh and prolongs their lifespan.

But not all blankets are the same. Some blankets can be cleaned in washing machines; other synthetic fibers may be temperature-sensitive, and so on!

We’ll cover everything you need to know about how to wash blankets of different kinds to keep your bed clean and cozy. Let’s get started!

Can Blankets Be Washed in the Washing Machine?

Most throw blankets under 20 pounds can be machine-washed.

 However, we still highly advise checking the blanket’s label and manufacturer’s instructions before tossing your blanket into the washing machine.

Some blankets may require different care, like hand washing. Others may be made of delicate materials that must be dry-cleaned to stay in good condition.

Understanding the Label Instructions

Is this your first time owning a wool blanket or a fleece blanket? If you’re unsure of how to wash them, you can never go wrong with checking the label.

Most manufacturers provide guidelines on how to clean their products effectively. Follow them so you don’t damage the fabric or lose your throw blankets’ integrity.

Here are some universally recognized blanket care symbols:

  • Machine Wash – This symbol resembles a small washing machine. If you spot this symbol on your blanket’s label, it is safe for machine washing.
an image of a hand carefully placing a blanket into the front loading compartment of a washing machine
  • Hand Wash – Depicted as a hand immersed in water, this symbol suggests that the blanket should be hand washed. Hand washing is often gentler and prevents damage to delicate fabrics.
  • Water Temperature – These indicate the maximum water temperature suitable for washing. One dot means cold water, two dots suggest warm water, and three dots imply hot water.
  • Bleaching – A triangle symbol indicates whether the blanket can be bleached or not. If the triangle is empty, do not use bleach. If there are lines inside the triangle, it means non-chlorine bleach can be used.
  • Ironing – An iron symbol denotes whether it’s safe to iron the blanket. If there is an “X” over the iron, avoid ironing. Otherwise, dots inside the iron symbol suggest the appropriate ironing temperature.

NOTE: Other instructions about a preferred spin cycle and how to dry your blanket may be included too. 

When to Avoid Machine Washing

Some types of blankets may require alternative methods of cleaning.

In most cases, electric blankets, weighted blankets, and those made of delicate blanket materials won’t fit in a standard washing machine.

To avoid damage, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines or consider professional cleaning services.

How to Wash Different Types of Blankets

Different materials require different cleaning approaches to maintain their quality. Let’s explore how to wash the most common types of blankets:

How to Wash Cotton Blankets

A cotton throw blanket is among the most common types of blanket you can find. They are lightweight, breathable, soft, and suitable for all seasons.

Cotton is also a natural fiber, making it hypoallergenic and ideal for individuals with sensitive skin.

Here is how to care for cotton blankets:

  1. Firstly, check the label to ensure the blanket is suitable for machine washing.
  2. If you notice any stains, pre-treat them with a mild detergent or stain remover.
  3. Machine-wash your cotton blanket on a gentle cycle with cold or warm water.
  4. Use an appropriate amount of mild detergent to wash your blanket.
  5. Air dry or tumble dry on low heat to prevent shrinking.

TIP: Avoid harsh chemicals as they can discolor your blanket and affect its softness.

How to Wash Woolen Blankets

Wool blankets are excellent insulators and keep you cozy and warm, especially during the winter months.

A wool blanket is also moisture-wicking, which means they help regulate body temperature and retain heat.

Here’s how to wash them properly:

  1. Check the labels first. Some wool blankets may be machine washable, while others require hand washing.
  2. If you cannot machine wash it, gently hand wash the blanket in a basin with lukewarm water and wool-friendly detergent.
  3. Do not agitate the wool excessively to prevent it from felting.
  4. Rinse the blanket thoroughly with cold water to remove all detergent.
  5. Dry wool blankets by gently pressing the water out without wringing or twisting.
  6. Lay the wool blanket flat on dry towels to dry and reshape it if necessary.

NOTE: Never use warm or hot water or a clothes dryer when washing a wool blanket. These can cause it to shrink.

How to Wash Fleece Blankets

Polyester fleece fibers are a type of synthetic material that offer consistent warmth. They are soft, lightweight, and quick-drying too.

Fleece blankets make a good alternative to wool since they are hypoallergenic, less itchy, and machine-washable. Here’s how to clean them effectively:

  1. Check the label. Most fleece blankets are safe for machine washing.
  2. Wash your fleece blanket on a gentle cold water cycle.
  3. Opt for a mild detergent. Don’t use fabric softener to preserve the fleece’s softness.
  4. Fleece blankets dry quickly, so use low heat or air dry them.

How to Wash Vellux Blankets

Vellux blankets are plush and velvety, and provide warmth without being too heavy.

They’re made from a unique blend of fibers, typically combining nylon and sometimes polyester. Here’s how to clean them:

  1. Most Vellux blankets are machine washable.
  2. Wash your Vellux blanket on a gentle cycle with cold or lukewarm water.
  3. Use a mild detergent: Choose a mild laundry detergent and avoid using fabric softener to preserve the blanket’s soft and plush texture.
  4. For the drying process, Vellux blankets can be tumble-dried on low heat or air-dried. Remove as much moisture from the tumble-dry before air drying to dry them faster.

How to Wash Electric Blankets

Electric blankets have built-in electrical heating elements that provide warmth and comfort during cold weather.

To wash an electric blanket, follow these steps:

  1. Firstly, disconnect all cords and cables.
  2. Check whether your electric blanket can be laundered with a machine washer or by hand.
  3. Set your washer or fill your basin with lukewarm water.
  4. Use a mild detergent and wash with the gentle spin cycle for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. If you are washing by hand, let the blanket soak in the soapy water for 15 minutes, then gently squeeze the dirt and soap out. Do not wring it as it can damage the wires.
  6. Air dry your electric blanket by hanging it on a shower rod.

NOTE: High heat and cold water can both damage the internal wiring of your electric blanket when washed. The high heat from a dryer can damage it too.

How to Wash Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are a type of therapeutic blanket filled with materials like glass beads or plastic pellets to add extra weight.

A weighted blanket provides gentle pressure and a hugging or cocooning sensation.

Follow these simple steps to wash a weighted blanket:

  1. If your weighted blanket weighs more than 20 lbs, it is best to hand wash it to prevent damaging your washing machine.
  2. Whether you’re laundering your weighted blanket in a washing machine or bathtub, use cold water and a mild detergent that does not contain bleach or fabric softener.
  3. Machine wash on delicate or hand wash by gently squeezing the blanket in sections.
  4. Air dry it by hanging your blankets on a shower rod, flipping them every 4 or 5 hours so the fillers don’t form uneven clumps. Blankets less than 20 lbs, however, can be put in a dryer on low settings.

TIP: You can also use dry towels to dry off your weighted blankets before air drying. Lay your blanket flat on a bed of dry towels and press them down with more dry towels for extra absorption.

How to Wash Crochet Blankets

A crochet blanket is a hand-knit blanket made of interlocking loops of yarn. Some are made from extremely delicate material to create intricate patterns, textures, and designs.

Crochet blankets and afghan blankets are aesthetically appealing! To keep your crochet or afghan blankets in shape, follow these washing instructions:

  1. If your crochet blanket is made of acrylics, cotton, or polyester yarn, these are likely machine-washable. If the material is made of silk, mohair, or anything more delicate, best to hand wash with mild laundry detergent and cool water.
  2. If you are machine-washing, use a permanent press cycle. If you are washing by hand, let the blanket soak in soapy water for 15 minutes. Using cold water, gently press or squeeze the blanket to remove any remaining soap and dirt.
  3. Tumble drying may cause tearing or stretching. So, make use of the dry towel method instead.
  4. Allow your towel to air dry for a few hours. Even if the blanket seems dry, leave it for at least 24 hours before using it.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Wash Blankets

No matter what type of blanket you own, here are the essential steps you will need to wash them:

How to Choose Your Load Size

If you overload your washing machine, you can’t adequately clean your blanket. If your machine is too large for your blanket, it may not agitate correctly either.

To find out the right load size, check your machine’s manual for recommended load sizes for different types of blankets.

Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to fill the washing machine up to around 2/3rds of its capacity with the blanket.

How to Select the Perfect Temperature

The water temperature you use during the washing process can affect the cleanliness and longevity of your blanket.

Here’s a general guideline for selecting the water temperature:

  1. Cold water (30°C/86°F) is suitable for most blankets. Wool blankets, fleece fibers, synthetic blends, and other delicate materials use cool water to preserve their integrity.
  2. Warm water (30°C to 40°C/86°F to 104°F) is safe for cotton and cotton-blend blankets. A low heat setting can be used to treat light stains too.
  3. Hot water (40°C to 60°C/104°F to 140°F) should only be used for heavily soiled blankets or to sanitize bedding thoroughly. Avoid using hot water for delicate fabrics.

How Much Detergent to Use

Using the right amount of laundry detergent is essential for effectively cleaning your blankets without causing detergent buildup or damaging the fabric.

The detergent bottle or box will usually provide instructions on the appropriate amount based on load size and water hardness.

When to Use Fabric Conditioners

Fabric conditioners, also known as fabric softeners, can make blankets feel softer and more comfortable. However, not all blankets require fabric conditioners, as they can reduce a blanket’s effectiveness.

Only use fabric softeners occasionally on cotton and natural fiber blankets to maintain their softness.

Machine Settings for Different Types of Blankets

The safest machine setting is a gentle wash cycle with cold water and a mild detergent, tumble drying on low heat, or air drying. This can be applied to cotton, wool, fleece, and Vellux blankets.

Other types of blankets may require hand washing or a delicate cycle with cold water. If you are uncertain, check your blanket’s manufacturer’s guidelines.

How to Hand Wash Blankets

Hand washing a throw blanket has a lesser risk of damage and shrinkage. Here’s how to get started:

Preparing to Hand Wash

You will need to prepare the following household items:

  • A large basin or bathtub that can comfortably accommodate your blanket.
  • A gentle detergent specifically formulated for your blanket’s material.
  • Enough clean water for rinsing.
  • Soft cloths or a sponge for spot cleaning, if needed.

Proper Techniques for Hand Washing

Here is how to hand wash your delicate blankets:

  1. Before submerging the entire blanket, check for any stains. Gently spot-clean them using a soft wet cloth or sponge. Do not scrub vigorously, as this could spread the stain.
  2. Fill the basin or bathtub with cold or lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water to prevent shrinkage.
  3. Gently submerge the blanket into the soapy water, making sure it’s sopping wet. Allow it to soak for about 15-30 minutes.
  4. Use your hands to gently agitate the water around the blanket. Only gently squeeze dry blankets and avoid wringing, twisting, or scrubbing.
  5. Drain the soapy water and refill the basin with more clean water. Submerge the blanket and rinse gently to remove any detergent residue.

Post-Washing Care for Your Blankets

Here are some tips for after you’ve washed your blankets:

How to Dry Your Blankets

Removing excess water after washing a blanket is crucial to maintain its integrity. You may machine-dry or air-dry them, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.

You can air-dry your blanket by laying it flat on a clean, dry surface. This method is suitable for most materials and helps prevent shrinkage.

For lightweight blankets, you can hang them on a clothesline with gentle support. Just make sure not to use clothespins that can cause stretching or damage.

Proper Storage for Blankets

Correct storage keeps your blankets clean and fresh for future use. Make sure to store them completely dry in a tidy space, not prone to dust and insects.

We also recommend folding your blankets neatly to avoid unnecessary creases or wrinkles.

How to Deal with Common Issues

Blankets can encounter issues like dry stains, persistent odors, or pilling. Here’s how to tackle them:

Handling Dry Stains

A small amount of detergent or baking soda can help clean stains. Gently blot the stain on your cotton blankets with a damp cloth and this cleaning solution.

Avoid rubbing, as it can set the stain further. Afterward, rinse thoroughly with clean water, pat dry, or line dry.

Dealing with Persistent Odors

If your wool blanket has a strong odor, neutralize the smell with some distilled white vinegar.

Make sure to thoroughly rinse and air-dry your blanket to eliminate the vinegar scent.

Managing Pilling in Blankets

Fabric shavers and sweater stones effectively remove pilling without damaging the fabric. Do not use scissors!

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve got more info on how to wash your blankets here:

Can I Use Bleach on My Blankets?

Using bleach on blankets is not recommended. Bleach can weaken the fibers and cause discoloration.

How Often Should I Wash My Blankets?

The frequency of washing your blankets depends on your personal comfort preferences. As a general guideline, it’s good to wash blankets every two to three months.

However, if you sweat heavily or have allergies, washing them every month may be more suitable.

For decorative blankets or other blankets less frequently used, washing them once or twice a year should be enough.

Can I Dry My Blankets in the Dryer?

Yes, you can dry blankets in the dryer. However, it will depend on the material and the manufacturer’s instructions.

For delicate fabrics like wool or fleece, it’s best to air dry or use the lowest heat setting on your dryer.

How Do I Wash Heavy or Large Blankets?

If your blanket is too big to fit comfortably in a standard washing machine, consider using a commercial-sized washing machine, a laundromat, or hand washing it in a bathtub.

How Can I Soften a Stiff Blanket After Washing?

If your blanket feels stiff after washing, try these methods to soften it:

Toss in a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls with your blanket to help fluff and soften the fibers.
Use a small amount of fabric softener during the rinse cycle to make them feel softer.
Add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. This can help break down detergent residues, making the blanket softer.

Conclusion

Whether you are hand washing or machine washing, choose the right water temperature, go for a gentle cycle, and use the appropriate detergent.

Always check the care label for specific instructions and follow the proper techniques for each type of blanket.

With that said, your blankets should stay fresh and last longer!

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