You’re Not Washing Your Throw Blankets Enough (and It’s Gross)

You’re Not Washing Your Throw Blankets Enough (and It’s Gross)
Photo: Eastmanka, Shutterstock

Throw blankets — along with mattresses and duvet covers — are the types of household items whose cleanliness tends to be taken for granted. Because we may only use them an hour or two each day, it’s easy to forget them when laundry day arrives. But considering they largely exist in common areas, where all manner of food, dust, pet hair, and stinky feet come in contact with them, they may need more washing than we realise. How much is enough?

How often should you wash your throw blankets?

In the broadest terms, throw blankets should be washed every two to four weeks, depending on usage. As Stephen Light, Co-Owner of Nolah Mattress told The Spruce, “If [the blanket] sit[s] draped on the couch with little use, you’re probably fine to throw it in the wash once a month.” However, he notes, if it’s wrapped around you every day, “your pets sleep on it, and it drags along the floor as you shuffle to the fridge and back, you’re better off sticking to once every week or two.”

What about blankets heavily used by pets?

Blankets that spend a lot of time underneath your favourite four-legged family member require extra laundering. In general, pet bedding should be washed every 1-2 weeks, and more often if anyone in the house has pet allergies or asthma. (The Sleep Foundation recommends washing your sheets every 3-4 days if your pet sleeps on them.) Products such as Fur Zapper, which moves pet hair to your dryer’s lint trap, can improve fur removal and overall cleanliness.

How should throw blankets be washed?

While specific care instructions vary, John Mahdessian, founder of cleaning specialist Madame Paulette, told Apartment Therapy that unless the blankets are dry-clean only, “dropping them in your washing machine shouldn’t be a problem. Stick with a cold (or slightly warm) wash on a short, delicate cycle and don’t over-do it with detergent or softener, because too much can break down your blanket faster.”

A surfeit of detergent will be difficult for your machine to rinse out completely in one cycle, while fabric softener is a no-no because it coats the fabric in a waxy film that can trap dirt, create buildup, and make it less soft over time. Delicate materials like loosely woven cable-knit can benefit from being washed in a mesh laundry bag to prevent stretching.

What about wool blankets?

Wool is too delicate to be put in a washing machine and should be hand washed only. And that “washing” can simply be letting the blanket soak in a gentle detergent for 30 minutes before rinsing. The upshot of that extra labour is that wool repels stains and odours better than other fabrics, and it doesn’t need to be washed as often — only once every few months.

Should throw blankets be put in the dryer?

After referring to your blanket’s care label, the general rule of thumb is to avoid tumble-drying, if possible. Over-drying can cause your blanket to lose its softness and shape more quickly (and gain snags and pilling). If you don’t have the time or space to hang-dry your blanket for hours, tumble dry on a no or low-heat setting until it’s about 80% dry before hanging for the remainder.

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