It is incredibly disappointing to pull a beloved blanket out of the dryer only to find that it is shrunken, crunchy, pilled or dull. In order to keep your blanket super comfortable and in good condition we have discovered some fool-proof tips and tricks for cleaning a variety of blanket types.

How Often Should You Wash Your Blanket?

Well, it depends. If the blanket in question stays on your guest bedroom mattress and only gets used when your in-laws come to town, it probably only needs to be washed once in a while. Blankets that get a lot of use though, like the throw that lives on your couch (and behind your couch, and wadded up in a corner of your living room because your kids were using it to make a fort, and sometimes migrates to your bed when you have a cold, and occasionally is mistaken for a litter box by your kitten) should be washed fairly regularly. In order to tackle stains and prevent dirt and grime from building up on your most-loved blankets, try to wash them every two weeks to once a month.

You can get away with waiting a little bit longer to wash your bedspread, comforter or other blankets that do not come into direct contact with your body, like decorative throws on your bed. If your comforter has a duvet cover, try to wash the duvet seasonally. Your big feather down winter comforter that you only pull out once a year for those nine freezing weeks in the dead of winter? That really only needs to be washed annually when you are about to pack it back up to put in storage. 

Blanket Washing Dos And Don’ts

No matter what kind of blanket you are trying to wash, there are a few rules that you should follow. First and foremost, check the tag. All linens should have a laundry care tag which dictates how the item should be washed. If the tag says “dry-clean only,” dry-clean it to be safe and ensure longevity.

If your blanket does not have a laundry care tag, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind. 

First and foremost, spot treat any stains on your blanket. The spot treatment that works best really depends on the type of stain and the material of the blanket. For more cleaning tips, we have a few posts about some not-so-nice stains caused by bodily fluids like cleaning bloodcleaning urine and cleaning vomit

When you wash your blanket, use luke-warm or cold water, never hot. Hot water should really only be used on heavily soiled items, like cloth diapers and towels. Also, use a shorter or delicate cycle and a small amount of gentle, bleach-free detergent. 

If your blanket has a tendency to shed or come unfurled, you can wash it in a cloth laundry bag or a similarly colored pillow case in order to keep the blanket in good condition. 

Drying your blanket is where you need to be especially careful. If the blanket is exposed to too much heat, it could shrink or fry the fibers. To be safe, your blanket should only be tumbled dry on low and doesn’t need to get bone dry in the dryer. After you’ve taken it out of the dryer allow it to hang dry or press it flat between two clean towels to absorb the moisture overnight. Doing this will ensure that it is still soft and fluffy.

laundry hanging on line
Hanging your blankets to dry can prevent pilling and damage

If you are wary of putting your blanket in the wash at all, there is always the option of doing it all by hand. Hand washing your blanket in luke-warm water with a gentle soap in a bathtub or wash basin, and then allowing your blanket to hang dry, preferably in indirect sunlight, can really help keep your blanket in tip-top shape.

The Material Matters

If you have a cotton or synthetic fiber blanket, it should be able to be washed in your washing machine without much hassle. Just to be sure, though, don’t forget to read the tag. Blankets made from other fibers, however, might be a bit more finicky when it comes to washing. Here are a few special things to keep in mind with common blanket types.

Wool Blankets

  • If 100% wool, hand wash only
  • If wool/acrylic blend, wash cold and gentle cycle
  • Use Woolite or other gentle detergent
  • Wool can easily shrink or stretch
how to clean a wool blanket
Wool blankets are super soft and warm but should be laundered carefully
  • Do not tumble too long
  • Best to hang dry 
  • Use fabric brush or dry towel to revive wooly nap and texture

Down Comforters

  • Don’t need to be washed as often
  • Use a duvet cover to keep them clean
  • Down comforters, especially king sized ones, are often too big for household machines
  • Use a commercial laundry machine at the laundromat
buffy comforter breeze review
A duvet cover typically can be washed annually to keep it fresh
  • Don’t use too much detergent, it can cause feathers to clump
  • Hang dry white comforters in the sun to brighten color
  • Fold or roll immediately to prevent wrinkles

Electric Blankets

  • Most electric blankets can actually be machine washed (check the tag!)
  • Examine to make sure no wires are exposed or damaged
  • Remove cord and control box before washing
  • Use a short and delicate spin cycle
  • Do not use any heat if putting in the dryer
  • Recommended to hang dry fully before reattaching cord

Fleece Blankets

  • Fabric softener is fleece’s friend
  • Good substitute for fabric softener is 2 cups white vinegar
  • Hang dry to prevent pilling and lint in dryer spin cycle

Electric blankets are great for freezing cold nights, but did you know that your sleep quality improves when you sleep in a cooler environmentthan a hot one? Read more about that and other sleep tips and facts on our blog.