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Key Takeaways
  • There are three main ways to wash a blanket: spot cleaning, hand-washing, and machine-washing.
  • The best way to wash your blanket will depend on its fabric, and you should always consult a blanket’s label and wash it according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Careful washing can keep your blanket clean and fresh without causing unwanted damage.

The best way to wash a blanket depends on its material. While it’s important to keep your blanket clean, you want to avoid damaging your blanket when you wash it. 

In most situations, you will choose between spot cleaning, machine-washing, and hand-washing. Many blankets are easy to wash by spot cleaning or using a washing machine, but certain materials require the gentler, more time-consuming hand-washing method.  

We’ll go into detail about these approaches to washing blankets, including what they are and the step-by-step process for performing them. We’ll also review how frequently you usually need to wash a blanket and provide general advice for washing different kinds of blankets.

How to Spot Clean a Blanket

Spot cleaning involves delicately removing dirt or stains by hand. The process focuses on soiled areas without washing the entire blanket. In many cases, spot cleaning involves pressing a cleaning solution into parts of the blanket that are visibly dirty and then rinsing out the stain.

This type of wash is the quickest and easiest way to remove stains from blankets. It also avoids the wear and tear that can be caused by a complete wash. 

What You Need

To spot treat a blanket, you need: 

  • Paper towels
  • Clean cloths or rags
  • Water
  • Cleaning product or stain remover
  • Space for the blanket to air dry

How to Spot Clean a Blanket

  1. Remove any solids, such as food, from the soiled area with a paper towel.  
  2. Place the blanket on a flat surface. If your blanket contains a significant amount of fill material, try to push the fill aside so that you can treat only the stain. Place a clean cloth underneath the stained area to absorb any liquid that soaks through. 
  3. Dampen a clean cloth with a non-abrasive cleaning product. Always prepare and use any cleaning product according to its provided instructions.
  4. Use the cloth to gently work the cleaning product into the stain, starting from the edges of the stain and moving toward its center to prevent it from spreading. 
  5. Dampen another cloth with water and use it to lightly rinse out the cleaning product. 
  6. Repeat the process more than once if necessary. 
  7. Let the blanket air dry. 
  8. If the stain persists after drying, you can try to repeat the same spot-washing process again or try using a different cleaning product. 

In some cases, you may be able to follow this same process but apply the cleaning product through the opposite side of the blanket to help push the stain out onto a clean cloth that is underneath the stain.

Tips for Machine-Washing Blankets

The optimal way to machine-wash a blanket depends on the blanket’s material. While we give general advice for machine-washing several popular blanket materials, you should always check the care label for detailed cleaning instructions for your specific blanket. 

What You Need

When machine-washing a blanket, you will need: 

  • A washing machine
  • A dryer or a place to hang or spread out the blanket to dry
  • Light, mild, or specialty detergent

Cotton and Linen Blankets

Wash cotton and linen blankets on a short, delicate cycle with cold water. Cooler temperatures prevent the shrinking or fading caused by hot water. Use a gentle, pre-diluted liquid detergent without bleach, brighteners, or other harsh chemicals. Bleach can weaken the cotton and linen fibers, causing the blankets to break down faster. 

You have a choice between air drying and tumble drying. If you can, air dry the blanket in a shady spot to prevent fading. Alternatively, you can tumble dry on a delicate setting using low to medium heat.

Wool Blankets

Washable wool blankets typically require a gentler machine-washing process. Make sure to check your blanket’s manufacturer tag to see if your wool blanket can be machine-washed or if it is dry clean only. 

  1. Shake out the blanket and lightly brush the wool fibers to remove any solid dirt. 
  2. If needed, spot clean any stains using a mild cleaning solution.
  3. Soak the blanket in cold water in the washing machine for approximately 15 minutes. 
  4. Set the washing machine on a short and gentle cycle with a wool-safe detergent. 
  5. Run the rinse cycle and remove the blanket to make sure it does not have any soap or suds remaining on it.  
  6. Roll the blanket up in a dry towel to absorb excess water. 
  7. Air dry the blanket outside away from direct sunlight. 

Fleece Blankets

Wash fleece blankets in cold water using a gentle cycle. Harsh wash settings can form knots in the fleece. We recommend using less detergent than a typical wash to avoid making the fibers stiff or rough. 

Stick to a gentle laundry detergent. Avoid bleach and fabric softener, which can damage the material’s fibers. Depending on the blanket’s care label instructions, you can either air dry it or use the dryer’s tumble dry setting.

Chenille Blankets

When using a washing machine to wash chenille blankets, choose a delicate or gentle setting with cold water and mild detergent. Stronger settings may increase friction, causing damage to the chenille. Dry the blanket on low heat or spread it out on a towel to dry. It may also help to wash and dry the blanket inside a mesh laundry bag to protect its fabric. 

Cashmere Blankets 

If your blanket’s manufacturer recommends machine-washing your cashmere blanket, we suggest selecting a wool or delicate cycle using cold water. Use a mild detergent or special detergent made for cashmere. It’s also best to use a mesh bag or garment washing bag to help preserve the material during the washing process. Avoid fabric softener or bleach to prevent damage and maintain the softness of the fabric. Air dry cashmere blankets away from direct sunlight. 

Sherpa Blankets

Wash sherpa blankets in a washing machine without a center agitator. An agitator can rip apart the sherpa material, potentially causing quick deterioration. 

In other washing machines, it’s best to wash a sherpa blanket alone to avoid getting fuzz on other items. Use a delicate spin cycle and cold water with a gentle detergent. Avoid fabric softener and bleach. The best drying method is to hang the blanket up to air out, which avoids potential damage from the dryer. 

Weighted Blankets

Most weighted blankets contain fill, such as pellets or beads, that provide the added weight, and this makes it more complicated to wash a weighted blanket. These fill materials usually should not be placed in the washing machine. For this reason, it is best to only machine-wash a removable cover that goes over a weighted blanket. The washing process depends on the type of cover. For instance, if the cover is made of cotton, you can wash it on a gentle cycle with cold water. 

Electric Blankets

Because electric blankets typically contain cords and wires, we generally do not recommend machine-washing them. However, if your electric blanket has a detachable cord, it may be machine washable. Confirm this by carefully reading the manufacturer’s care instruction label. 

If your electric blanket is compatible with machine-washing, remove the cord and then wash it on a delicate cycle using cold water. Avoid bleach, fabric softener, and hot temperatures that could damage the internal wiring. If the manufacturer instructions indicate that tumble-drying is safe, dry the blanket for approximately 15 minutes. Otherwise, hang it up to air dry. 

Knitted Blankets

It is best to use a mesh garment bag when machine-washing knitted blankets in order to prevent stretching or snagging. Wash the knitted blanket on a gentle cycle setting using cold water and mild detergent with no fabric softener, bleach, or other abrasive cleaning products. Once washed, lay the knitted blanket out on a large dry towel. Roll the towel up, gently pressing it to remove excess moisture. Lay the blanket flat to dry out. Hanging a knitted blanket to dry may cause stretching or misshapenness.

Tips for Hand-Washing Blankets

Several types of blankets require hand-washing and typically cannot be put in a washing machine. For instance, silk, mohair, mink, and embroidered blankets should be hand-washed to avoid damage from machine-washing. A blanket’s care label will outline whether or not hand-washing is necessary.  

What You Need

When hand-washing a blanket, you’ll generally need: 

  • A bin, sink, or tub large enough to easily accommodate the blanket
  • Cold water
  • A cleaning product such as a mild or specialty detergent
  • Two large dry towels

How to Hand-Wash a Blanket

  1. Fill your sink, tub, or bin with cold water and a small amount of detergent. Ensure the water and detergent are combined. 
  2. Add the blanket. 
  3. Gently submerge the blanket under the water and move it around, gently kneading one section at a time. Repeat this until you have kneaded and cleaned every section. If extremely soiled, allow the blanket to soak for up to 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove the blanket and drain the soapy water. 
  5. Refill the basin with cold water. 
  6. Put the blanket into the clean water and gently swish it around with your hands. 
  7. Repeat steps four through six as necessary until all residual detergent is gone. 
  8. Remove the blanket and place it between two dry towels. Gently press on the towels or roll them up to remove excess water from the blanket. 
  9. Air dry the blanket on a flat surface.

How Often Should You Wash a Blanket?

The frequency with which you wash a blanket depends on how often you use it. The more you use a blanket, the more you should wash it. 

For instance, a blanket that remains on the back of the couch or in a side basket may only require infrequent washing, such as once a month or once every few months. On the other hand, a blanket you wrap around yourself daily or that often comes in contact with your pets may need to be washed once per week. 

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