How to Wash Horse Blankets

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Have you ever struggled with the daunting task of keeping your horse’s blankets clean and fresh? If so, you’re not alone. “How to Wash Horse Blankets” is a comprehensive guide crafted just for you, ensuring your equestrian gear remains in top-notch condition. In this article, we’ll delve into the step-by-step process of cleaning horse blankets, from initial preparation to the best drying methods.

How to Wash Horse Blankets

You’ll discover pro tips and insider secrets that not only save time but also extend the lifespan of your horse blankets. Read on to unlock these valuable strategies and make your horse’s comfort a priority without any hassle.

Understanding Your Horse Blankets

Before we dive into the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand the different types of horse blankets and their unique characteristics.

Types of Blankets

Horse blankets come in a variety of materials, and weights, and serve different purposes.

  • Turnout Blankets: Designed for outdoor use, these blankets are typically waterproof and durable, made from materials like polyester or nylon. They come in light, medium, and heavy weights to accommodate different weather conditions.
  • Stable Blankets: These are for indoor use in the stable, offering comfort and warmth. They are often made of materials like fleece or cotton and are not typically waterproof.
  • Coolers and Fleeces: Used to keep a horse warm after a workout or bath, preventing them from catching a chill as their sweat evaporates. They’re usually made of materials that wick away moisture like fleece or wool.

Fabric Care Considerations

How to Wash Horse Blankets

Different materials require specific care to maintain their quality and functionality. Nylon and polyester are typically more durable and easy to clean. On the other hand, fleece and wool may require more delicate handling due to their natural fibers.

Reading the Label

It’s crucial to read and follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions on the label. This will provide specific guidelines on water temperature, detergent type, and drying method, preserving the life of your horse blanket and ensuring maximum comfort for your horse.

Equipment List: What You’ll Need

To effectively wash and take care of your horse blankets, having the right equipment is essential. Here is a comprehensive list of the necessary items:

Washing Equipment

  • Large Capacity Washing Machine: Ideally a front-loading machine with a capacity of at least 4.5 cubic feet.
  • Large Tub: Useful for hand washing when dealing with delicate materials.
  • Mesh Laundry Bags: To protect both your washing machine and the blanket elements like buckles and straps.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Mild, Horse-Specific Detergent: Essential for both machine and hand washing.
  • Stain Remover: A gentle product suitable for pre-treating stubborn stains on horse blankets.
  • Soft Brush: For scrubbing during hand washing and removing loose dirt during pre-cleaning.
  • Stiff Grooming Brush: Important for the initial step of brushing off large debris from the blanket.

Pre-Cleaning Tools

  • Hose: Ideal for rinsing the blanket and removing heavy soiling before the main wash.

Drying Equipment

  • Drying Rack or Line: Air-dry the blankets post-wash, ensuring they keep their shape and waterproofness.

Additional Items

  • Buckets: Handy for transporting water or holding cleaning supplies.
  • Sponges: Useful for spot-cleaning specific areas of the blanket.

Having these items on hand will simplify the cleaning process, ensuring your horse blankets remain in optimal condition for longer periods.

Pre-Cleaning Your Horse Blanket

Before you start the washing process, pre-cleaning your horse blanket can make the task a lot easier and more effective. Here’s how you can do it:

Removing Large Debris

Begin by brushing off loose dirt, hair, and straw from the blanket. For this, use a stiff grooming brush and ensure you cover all areas of the blanket. Pay particular attention to heavily soiled sections. Remember, the aim is to remove as much debris as possible before the wash.

Tackling Stubborn Stains

Next, look for any visible stains on the blanket. If found, pre-treat these stains with a gentle stain remover that is suitable for horse blankets. Apply the stain remover as per the instructions on the product label, and let it sit for a while.

Hose It Down (Optional)

If your horse blanket is heavily soiled, consider hosing it down with cold water. This step is particularly effective for removing caked-on mud or manure. Ensure you hose down both sides of the blanket, focusing on areas with stubborn dirt. Do this until the runoff water is clear.

By following these pre-cleaning steps, you can ensure that your horse blanket is ready for a thorough wash.

Choosing the Right Washing Method

When it comes to washing horse blankets, three primary approaches can be considered – machine washing, hand washing, and professional cleaning. Each method has its advantages and potential drawbacks, which we will discuss in the following sections.

Machine Washing

How to Wash Horse Blankets

Machine washing is a popular choice due to its convenience. This method allows for thorough cleaning with minimal physical effort. However, there are certain limitations. Not all horse blankets are machine washable, and those that are may require specific settings to prevent damage.

Capacity and Settings

Choosing the right washing machine involves considering its size and cycle settings. The machine should be large enough to accommodate the blanket without overfilling. Generally, a front-loading machine with a capacity of at least 4.5 cubic feet is recommended for horse blankets. Use a gentle, cold water cycle to protect the blanket’s fabric and waterproofing.

Detergent Selection

When it comes to detergents, it’s crucial to use a mild, horse-specific product. Standard laundry detergents can be too harsh, potentially damaging the fabric or compromising the waterproofing of your blanket.

Safety Measures

Before machine washing, secure all buckles and straps to prevent them from tangling during the cycle. Utilizing mesh laundry bags can also protect your blanket and machine from potential damage.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is another option, particularly beneficial for delicate materials or blankets with extensive repairs. This method offers a gentle, controlled cleaning process that can effectively remove dirt while preserving the blanket’s quality. If you want to know about how to wash saddle pad, visit.


Start by filling a large tub with cold water and a gentle horse-specific detergent. Submerge the blanket and scrub using a soft brush. Pay special attention to heavily soiled areas, rinsing and repeating the process until the water runs clear.

Professional Cleaning

Lastly, you might consider professional blanket cleaning services. While this option can be more costly, it offers the convenience of having experts handle the cleaning process. This can be particularly helpful for specialized care requirements or if you simply don’t have the time or facilities to clean your horse blanket adequately.

How to Wash Horse Blankets: The Washing Process

Machine Washing (Detailed)

Loading the Machine

  • Ensure the washing machine is large enough to accommodate your horse blanket without overstuffing it. An overcrowded machine can lead to imbalance during the wash cycle and may not effectively clean the blanket.
  • Place the blanket in the machine evenly. If you’re washing multiple blankets, distribute them equally around the drum to maintain balance.
  • Secure all buckles and straps on the blanket before loading to prevent them from tangling or causing damage during the wash cycle.

Detergent and Additives

  • Opt for mild, horse-specific detergents such as “Horse Blanket Wash” or “RugSafe USA Blanket Wash”. These are specially formulated to clean horse blankets without damaging the fabric or compromising the waterproofing.
  • Avoid using bleach as it can weaken the blanket’s fibers and damage its waterproof coating.
  • Stay away from fabric softeners. They can leave a residue on the blanket that may irritate your horse’s skin and compromise the blanket’s breathability.

The Wash Cycle

How to Wash Horse Blankets
  • Choose a gentle wash cycle to protect the blanket’s fabric and waterproofing. High agitation can cause unnecessary wear and tear.
  • Always use cold water. Hot water can shrink the blanket and strip away its waterproof coating.
  • For heavily soiled blankets, consider a pre-soak or an extra rinse cycle to ensure thorough cleaning.

Rinsing and Extracting Water

  • Make sure the blanket is thoroughly rinsed to remove all soap residue. Soap left on the blanket can cause skin irritation for the horse and may deteriorate the fabric over time.
  • Avoid wringing out the blanket. Instead, let the washing machine extract the water on a slow, spin cycle. This helps maintain the shape of the blanket and prevents stretching or distortion of the fabric.

Hand Washing (Detailed)

Preparing the Area

To prepare for hand washing your horse blanket, you will need a few specific items. A large tub or a clean, dedicated area with a drain is ideal for this process. Make sure the tub is large enough to accommodate the blanket and allow for easy movement during cleaning. You’ll also need a gentle, horse-specific detergent that will effectively clean without damaging the blanket’s fabric or waterproofing. Lastly, a soft sponge or brush will come in handy. The softness will prevent any potential damage to the blanket during the scrubbing process.

Soaking and Agitation

Begin by filling your tub with cold water and adding a recommended amount of your chosen horse-specific detergent. Fully submerge the blanket in the soapy water, ensuring every part of the blanket gets wet. Let the blanket pre-soak for a while; this will help to loosen up any stuck-on dirt or manure. After pre-soaking, gently scrub the blanket with your soft sponge or brush. Pay special attention to heavily soiled areas. Gentle, controlled scrubbing is beneficial as it mitigates the risk of damaging the fabric while ensuring the blanket is thoroughly clean.

Rinsing and Draining

After cleaning, it’s crucial to rinse the blanket thoroughly. Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with clean, cold water. Submerge the blanket again and agitate it to rinse out the detergent. You might need to repeat this process multiple times until the water runs clear, indicating that all the soap has been rinsed out. It’s important to ensure no soap residue remains as it can cause skin irritation to the horse and potentially deteriorate the fabric over time. Once rinsing is complete, allow the blanket to drain naturally. Avoid the temptation to wring out the blanket, as this can damage the fabric and distort the blanket’s shape. Instead, hang it up or lay it flat to let the water drain out on its own. This method will preserve the quality and lifespan of your horse blanket.

Drying Your Horse Blanket

Air Drying

The preferred method for drying horse blankets is air drying. This process ensures your blanket maintains its shape, prevents shrinkage, and avoids any possible damage from heat. To air dry your blanket, use a sturdy clothesline or lay it out on a flat surface in a well-ventilated area. This allows for optimal drying conditions, promoting efficient water evaporation while preserving the integrity of the blanket’s fabric.

!Horse Blanket Drying on a Clothesline

Sun Exposure

While air drying is the recommended method, it’s important to avoid drying your horse blanket directly under the sun. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to color fading and degradation of the fabric, compromising the blanket’s durability and aesthetic appeal. Instead, choose a shaded yet airy location to retain the blanket’s vibrant colors and maintain its fabric quality.

Tumble Drying

Tumble drying is not usually advised for horse blankets due to the high heat typically used in this process, which can lead to shrinkage and damage the blanket’s waterproofing. However, if you opt to tumble dry, ensure it’s suitable for your specific blanket type, and always use the air fluff setting on low heat. This setting uses no heat or just enough to remove excess moisture while preventing any heat-induced damage. Always remember to refer to your blanket’s care label for specific drying instructions to maintain its optimum condition.

Tips on Storing the Blanket

Clean the Blanket Thoroughly

Before storing your horse blanket, ensure it is completely clean and free from dirt, manure, and sweat. Follow the washing guidelines previously outlined to ensure the blanket is spotless. A clean blanket reduces the risk of attracting pests and prevents any residual grime from causing damage over time.

Dry Completely

Ensure the blanket is completely dry before storing it. Even a slightly damp blanket can lead to mold and mildew growth, which can severely damage the fabric and create an unpleasant odor. Air drying in a shaded, well-ventilated area is ideal.

Choose the Right Storage Location

Select a cool, dry place for storing your horse blanket. Basements and attics are generally not recommended due to potential moisture issues. Instead, opt for a climate-controlled area such as a dedicated tack room or a closet in your home. Avoid areas exposed to direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure can fade the fabric and weaken its integrity.

Use Storage Bags

Invest in high-quality storage bags specifically designed for horse blankets. These bags protect against dust, dirt, and pests. Additionally, the bags should be breathable to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and lead to mildew growth.

Fold Carefully

Fold your horse blanket neatly to avoid creases and stress on the fabric. Smooth out any wrinkles and make sure the straps and buckles are securely fastened to prevent them from snagging or causing damage. Proper folding helps maintain the blanket’s shape and longevity.

Check Periodically

Regularly check your stored blanket for any signs of damage or pests. This allows you to address any issues promptly and ensure the blanket remains in good condition for future use. If you notice any signs of mold, mildew, or pest activity, clean and dry the blanket thoroughly before returning it to storage.

Re-Waterproofing Your Horse Blanket

Importance of Waterproofing

Effective waterproofing of your horse blanket is crucial to ensuring the comfort and health of your animal. During cold and wet weather, a waterproofed blanket acts as a protective shield, keeping the horse warm and dry. This prevents the horse’s coat from becoming wet and chilled, which can lead to discomfort and potential health issues such as hypothermia.

Testing the Repellency

To test if your blanket requires re-waterproofing, perform a simple water droplet test. Sprinkle some water on the blanket’s surface. If the water beads up and rolls off, the blanket’s waterproofing is intact. However, if the water soaks into the fabric, it’s time to re-waterproof your blanket.

Choosing the Right Product

Choosing the right re-waterproofing product is determined by the blanket’s type and fabric. For instance, a wash-in product like “Nikwax Rug Proof” is ideal for breathable fabrics, while a durable water-repellent spray like “Granger’s Performance Repel” works well for robust outdoor fabrics. Always check the product label to ensure compatibility with your blanket’s fabric.

Applying the Repellent

How to Wash Horse Blankets

To apply the repellent, clean your horse blanket as per the instructions provided earlier, ensuring all dirt and detergent residues are removed. If you’re using a wash-in product, add it to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. For a spray-on product, apply it evenly on the blanket’s surface once it’s dry, ensuring full coverage. After applying the waterproofing agent, allow the blanket to air dry, preferably in a well-ventilated area.

Common Mistakes: Avoiding Pitfalls

Using the Wrong Detergent

One of the most common errors when cleaning a horse blanket is using the wrong type of detergent. Household detergents are typically too harsh and can damage the blanket’s fabric and waterproofing. Always opt for a gentle, horse-specific detergent designed for such purposes. This will ensure the blanket remains intact and durable, prolonging its lifespan.

Not Securing Buckles and Straps

Failing to secure buckles and straps before washing can lead to significant damage. Loose buckles can snag on the fabric, tearing it or causing other wear and tear issues. Ensure all buckles, straps, and closures are fastened or removed if possible to prevent any unexpected damage during the cleaning process.

Improper Drying Techniques

Drying your horse blanket incorrectly can result in shrinkage, loss of waterproofing, and general fabric degradation. Avoid tumble drying on high heat, direct sunlight exposure, and wringing out the fabric. Instead, stick to air drying in a shaded yet well-ventilated area to maintain the blanket’s integrity.

Neglecting to Rinse Thoroughly

Not rinsing the blanket thoroughly is another common mistake. Residual detergent can cause skin irritation for your horse and may deteriorate the blanket’s fabric over time. Ensure you rinse the blanket multiple times until the water runs clear, ensuring all soap is removed.

Forgetting to Re-Waterproof

After cleaning, it’s essential to re-waterproof your horse blanket if needed. Overlooking this step can leave your horse unprotected against the elements. Regularly test the waterproofing and reapply as necessary to maintain the blanket’s protective qualities.

Storing the Blanket Incorrectly

Once the blanket is cleaned and dried, improper storage can undo your hard work. Store the blanket in a dry, ventilated area to prevent mold and mildew growth. Avoid stacking heavy objects on top of it or leaving it in a damp location, as this can damage the fabric and waterproofing.

Maintenance Tips for Your Horse Blanket

Proper maintenance of your horse blanket can significantly extend its lifespan and maintain its effectiveness. Here are some practical tips to keep your horse blanket in top shape:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Regular cleaning is essential to prolong the life of your blanket. Accumulated dirt and sweat can degrade the fabric and interfere with the blanket’s waterproofing capabilities. Aim to clean your blanket at least once per season or more often if it gets heavily soiled.
  2. Proper Storage: When not in use, store your horse blanket in a dry, clean location away from pests. Use a zipper bag or a dedicated blanket bag to protect it from dust and insects.
  3. Regular Inspections: Frequent inspections of the blanket for wear and tear ensure early detection of any damages, allowing for timely repairs. Look out for loose stitches, torn fabric, or broken buckles and straps.
  4. Professional Repairs: For significant damages or complex repairs such as torn fabric or broken buckles, consider professional services. They have the expertise and equipment to perform durable repairs that can extend your blanket’s life.
  5. Re-waterproof Periodically: Even with excellent care, the waterproofing of horse blankets will wear off over time. Remember to re-waterproof your blanket periodically to maintain its protective function.
  6. Follow Care Labels: Always follow the care label attached to your blanket. These labels provide specific instructions on washing, drying, and overall care tailored to your blanket’s material and design. Ignoring these instructions could cause unnecessary damage to your blanket.

Following these tips will help maintain the quality and durability of your horse blanket, ensuring it continues to provide comfort and protection to your horse for many seasons.


In conclusion, maintaining your horse blanket is a critical aspect of horse care that should not be overlooked. By paying attention to regular cleaning, proper drying, re-waterproofing, and by following the specific care instructions, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your horse blanket. It’s not just about preserving an investment, but ensuring your horse’s comfort and protection against harsh weather conditions. Properly cared for, a horse blanket is a durable tool that provides essential protection for your horse year after year. So, don’t neglect these simple maintenance tasks – your horse will thank you. Thanks for reading this article about how to wash horse blankets.

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