I hate to break this to you, but that cozy throw blanket you've been snuggling up with all winter is probably filthy. Just take a moment to consider all the gross things it comes in contact with on a daily basis: pet hair, food crumbs, drink spills, household dust, body oils, hair products. The amount of grime that could be lurking in the folds of your favorite blanket is astounding. Whether it's weighted, electric, wool, or fleece, your throws should all be washed from time to time. So gather up the spreads from your sofa, bed, and everywhere else: Here's exactly how to wash every type of blanket in your house.
Ann VanderWiel Wilde
How to Wash a Fleece Blanket
The tricky part of washing fleece blankets (or other fuzzy throws, like faux fur and microfiber) is maintaining their super-soft feel. To prevent pilling or matting, wash fleece blankets separately in cold water on a gentle cycle. Use only a small amount of detergent—more soap won't necessarily make your blanket cleaner. In fact, the excess detergent can actually stick to the fleece fibers and make your blanket feel less soft.
Avoid using bleach, which can damage the fibers or affect the blanket's dye. Because polyester fleece is naturally stain-resistant, a cold water wash with detergent should get your fleece blanket clean. For tough stains that won't budge, pre-treat them with a drop of dishwashing liquid, letting it set on the spot for about 10 minutes before blotting it away with a paper towel or cloth. After washing, hang fleece blankets up to line-dry, or toss them in the dryer on a low- or no-heat cycle. Don't dry your fleece blanket on high heat, which can cause the blanket fibers to melt or shrink.
How to Wash a Weighted Blanket
The best way to wash a weighted blanket will depend on its design, including the type of fabric and filler. Blankets weighted with glass microbeads or plastic pellets should be safe for the wash, but check the manufacturer instructions for specific washing guidelines.
You can wash most blankets weighing up to 20 pounds in your household washing machine on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach, which can damage the blanket's fibers over time, and fabric softeners, which may create buildup that gives your blanket a scratchy feel.
For small stains that don't require a full washing, spot-clean the weighted blanket with a solution of warm water and laundry detergent. And if washing a weighted blanket is too much trouble, consider purchasing a duvet cover (or a weighted blanket that comes with one) that you can easily remove and toss in the washing machine when it gets dirty.
To dry your weighted blanket, place it in the dryer on a low-heat cycle, or spread it out on a clean dry surface or the edge of a bathtub to air dry. Make sure the blanket hangs evenly as it dries so it doesn't lose its shape. If your weighted blanket is more than 20 pounds, take it to a laundromat instead. Large, commercial-sized washing machines are better equipped to handle heavy blankets.
How to Wash a Wool Blanket
Because wool blankets naturally repel dirt and stains, you only need to wash them a few times each year. Between washes, you can refresh a wool blanket by shaking it out and brushing it with a soft-bristled fabric brush to remove dirt or debris. To prevent damage to the blanket's fibers, be sure to brush in the same direction.
Before washing a wool blanket, check the manufacturer's care instructions to make sure it's not dry-clean only. If the blanket is machine-washable, use cold water and a wool-safe detergent. First, place the blanket in your machine and allow it to soak in the water and detergent solution for about 15 minutes. Then select a gentle cycle and let it run for about two minutes before switching to the rinse cycle. Once complete, hang your wool blanket to dry away from direct sunlight, which can cause the fabric's colors to fade. If necessary, roll the blanket in a towel and gently squeeze (don't wring it out) to remove excess moisture before hanging. Avoid placing wool blankets in the dryer, as this can damage the delicate fibers and result in shrinkage or a coarse, scratchy feel.
How to Wash an Electric Blanket
Washing an electric blanket might sound like a sure-fire way to ruin it, but most heated throws are actually designed to be machine washable. First, make sure the blanket is unplugged, and disconnect all cords and controls from the blanket. Wash it using cool water and detergent (no bleach or fabric softeners, which could damage the fibers), and select the gentlest cycle possible to prevent excess force on the wiring inside. Let the machine agitate for 2-3 minutes, then skip to the rinse cycle and remove the blanket immediately after the cycle finishes.
To dry wool blankets, carefully shape the blanket back to its original form and drape it over a clothesline or shower rod to air dry. Alternatively, you can place your electric blanket in the dryer on a low- or no-heat setting (high heat can damage the interior wiring). Let the dryer run for about 10 minutes, then take the blanket out and hang it up to let it finish air-drying. Make sure the electric blanket is completely dry before plugging it in and turning it on again.