Washing a Heavy Horse Blanket

This topic contains 11 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  juandaful 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • JRmercede00 Original Poster JRmercede00
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 6

    Hello. Does anyone know how to wash a heavy duty horse blanket? It smells like pee from being so muddy and my horse rolling. I have rinsed it down real good. I wouldn’t want to chance putting it in the washer. No, there is no washing service near me (I wish there was!) Is there a regular detergent I can use that won’t ruin the waterproof layer? Please help me! Thank you 🙂

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by JRmercede00 JRmercede00.
    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    The waterproofing should survive several washings. I hang mine on something sturdy, and use Dawn dish soap (figure if it is safe for birds it won’t hurt my blanket). Soap it well and rinse with a hose until all the soap is gone. Or, check the manufacturer’s site for their recommendations. You can also get stuff to waterproof it again, should that be necessary. Usually, the smell is on the inside, which is not waterproof anyway.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    There are several horse blanket wash products on the market. I believe that I have seen waterproofing products as well. Schneiders is one that comes to mind. Just google something like “horse blanket detergent”. I was able to send mine out for cleaning but I would check on the turnaround time for this option. Good luck.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    You can wash horse blankets, including T/O’s in a washing machine, but they need to be line dried, and you need a large capacity front loader. Also, you need to wash T/O’s in cold or cool water. Part of the waterproofing is created by the membrane fused to the underside of the top nylon layer, and while this membrane will eventually delamninate, as long as you wash the blanket in cold or cool water, you should get at least 5 years and sometimes more before this happens. This normal delamination is a reaction to UV rays, so short of keeping your horse out of the sun in the winter, there is no way to prevent this eventual delamination. Once delamination starts, you can rewaterproof the T/O’s with a waterproofing spray, but without an intact membrane, the spray on waterproofing will only last 4 – 6 weeks, long enough so the blanket could be used as a back up while the main blanket is being repaired. The washing instructions for most T/O’s list a “mild” detergent and no bleach. The blanket washes are typically substantially more expensive that normal mild detergents, and don’t prolong the life of the blanket any more than following the manufacturer’s washing instructions by using a standard mild detergent. I use powder detergent but only because my extra-large capacity washer has one programmable setting, which I use for blanket washing, and which has 2 washes, multiple rinses, but requires powdered detergent for 2 washes. Other machines with a programmable setting may be able able to use a mild liquid detergent, which also meets the manufacturer’s washing instructions.

    There are 2 types of dirt: surface dirt & ground in dirt. “Surface dirt” is pretty much self explanatory, but “ground-in dirt” (my term, not an official one) is dirt that has been ground into the weave of the fabric. Most surface dirt will come out in the washer, but the only way to get ground in dirt out is to hand scrub the outside layer with a stiff brush & detergent, and for this I prefer liquid detergent. You can tell where you are getting dirt loose because the foam from the detergent will start off white, but will turn brown where you have loosened the ground in dirt. The darker the brown, the more dirt you have freed. You can also have stains, and they usually do not come out.

    Since I repair blankets, I almost always rewaterproof a blanket after it has been washed or repaired, or give the client detailed instructions so they can same some money by doing it themselves. The best waterproofing I have found is the one with the orange cap sold by Wal-Mart in the tent & camping section, for $6/can. You can also order it on-line, but for reasons no one has been able to explain to me, it cost $7/can online, but only $6/can in a Wal-Mart store. Wal-Mart has a different waterproofing spray in the shoe department, but that one does not work well on horse blankets.

    Most revues have been positive for the orange cap waterproofing. You will need 2-1/2 – 3 cans for a 78″ blanket, less for smaller blankets, more for larger blankets. The amount of spray you will need also depends on how much of the original waterproofing is still intact, as the original top layer waterproofing is also affected by UV rays. I hang the blankets over a garment rack, and start from the top and spray a strip across, spraying until the material is saturated & I see fluid running down the material. Then I move down & spray the next strip across. By hanging the blanket, the “run off” will be absorbed by the parts of the blanket below where you started, and will be used, not wasted. I usually respray the top when I have finished the first side, so I have a clear demarcation line & know where to start the 2nd line. The spray will be one color when wet and will either be lighter or darker when dry, so you want to have enough spray on hand to do the entire blanket. Otherwise, when it dries, you may not be able to tell where you left off.

    If any repairs have been done, you will need to seal the needle holes with waterproofing.

    You need to keep the blanket dry from rain while the waterproofing agent cures & dries, and I personally find the odor of the spray really nasty, so I try to inhale as little as possible, and when possible, I do the waterproofing outdoors. In the summer, when I can hang the T/O’s outdoors in the sun, the waterproofing will cure/dry in as little as 12 hours, and the odor will dissipate in 24. At this time of year, I have to waterproof blankets in the garage, but I open both big car doors, but the people door (which is not on same side as the 2 car doors) so I get cross ventilation. When it is below 50F, the waterproofing takes at least 48 hours to dry/cure & at least another 24 to 36 hours for the odor to dissipate. However, if the smell has not completely dissipated, you can put the T/O back on the horse, especially if he/she lives out 24/7. Very few barns are heated or air tight, so if a little odor is left, you can put the blanket back on the horse in the barn.

    A few last comments. If you decide to buy a front loader to wash horse blankets, buy the one with the biggest capacity you can find, or look for a used commercial triple load washer. Some laundromats do allow horse blankets to be washed, but they usually have one machine designated for that purpose, and if you wish to be allowed to continue to wash horse blankets, bring some old towels with you and wipe out the tub to remove any leftover hair.

    Top loaders should not be used to wash horse blankets because they spin like a whirl wind, which spins the dirt floating in the water into the folds of the blanket. Front loaders spin on the other axis, so the blanket gets lifted to the top and dropped back into the dirty water, so it also moves more, rather than have the floating dirt spun into the folds. The blankets also move better in a front loader, and the more they can move in the washer, the cleaner they will be.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Rats, I knew I had forgotten something important. If you plan to wash your horse blankets at home, and especially if you have a septic system, you will want to filter the water going into your septic system to remove as much of the horse hair as possible. My washer empties into a laundry tub, which in turn empties into a cement pit with a sump pump, that sends the water up from the basement to the septic system. So it is easy for me to put a filter over the out going dirty water where it empties into the laundry tub. You can buy filters specially designed for this, but I have found that 1 knee high nylon & a standard clamp (the type that tightens & loosens with a screw driver) works just as well. I buy the box of 10 pairs, and this box of 20 “filters” usually lasts me over a year.

    JRmercede00 Original Poster JRmercede00
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 6

    Hi everyone! I think I will go with Joe-Joe. It really isn’t that bad after rinsing, rinsing, and rinsing. It does have that smell still to it but it really isn’t bad at all. If I change my mind to still wash it I will notify you! Thank you for the help! I will use this for future reference.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    I did forget one other important fact: as long as you store the unused portion of a can of waterproofing spray in a cool, dry, dark space (such as a dry basement), it will keep indefinitely. And it is always better to buy an extra can than to run out mid-way through applying the waterproofing.

    I also do recommend that T/O’s be rewaterproofed once a year, as one frequently can’t tell how much of the waterproofing is still intact, until the blanket starts to leak. The cost of rewaterproofing once a year is minor, compared to a horse being strapped into a wet T/O until his body heat dries the blanket lining & fiberfill. Especially since his/her human may not even realize the T/O is leaking.

    Cheval Noir Cheval Noir
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    If you want to de-stink a T/O of whatever variety, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash. Magic.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    I wash mine once a year in the spring. Can get away with just one was because my horse rotates through 3 sheets/blankets depending on temperature. I initially wash in wash rack scrubbing with plain water and a broom to get the worst of the grim off. Then after it is dry I take it to my local laundromat (I have been going for yrs and have yet to be refused to allowed to use the largest machine). I use Rambo wash and then hang to dry. All my straps come off and I wash them by hand. The place where I see a lot of people go wrong is that the leave dirty blankets hanging up all summer and then shake them out and use dirty blankets the next year. It’s 100 degrees in Texas in the summer. That plus constant UV plus bugs does not equal long lasting blankets. Yuck!!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Hi JR,
    There is a foaming shampoo by EQ Solutions for washing horses, but it’s also excellent for washing blankets, your truck and trailer, etc. It comes with a canister that you attach to a hose at the handle. First spray the blanket with water to get it fully wet. Pour the desired amount of shampoo from the bottle it comes in, into the canister, attach the hose and spray the foam on the blanket. The foaming soap mixes with the water in the ideal ratio. Scrub heavily soiled areas with a brush, then rinse with a regular sprayer attachment, the kind you get at the hardware store. I clean both sides of the blanket, wring out some of the water and let the rest drip dry in the sun hanging on a fence. Buckle the blanket to the fence if it’s windy.

    I use the horse shampoo, but you can buy this product made just for washing your truck and trailer too. The horse shampoo is a gentle cleanser. Here’s the link:

    Also available at Valley Vet. UltraCruz is a similar product. The canister lasts forever. It’s so easy you’ll love it and it makes washing your horses a breeze. (Get them used to the white foam though.) Have fun!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Itasca.
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    Rambo and Schneiders both make blanket wash detergents that preserve waterproofing; and you can wash it in a ultra-capacity or commercial machine at a laundromat. Just wipe out the machine when you are finished, so they don’t ban you from the premises in the future. I use cold water and low to medium spin cycle, then hang to dry. When it is dry, I often spray around the neck opening and along the back area with “Camp Dry” (available at Wal-Mart and outdoor stores) to bolster waterproofing.

    There is a limit to how much you can expect waterproofing to last, especially if the blanket is a few years old and has been exposed to a lot of wet weather. Eventually, the fiberfill is also compromised. When your horse is not warm to the touch under the blanket, you know it’s time to get a new one.

    Good luck!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Look up the brand of sport wash called Atsko. It’s the same company which makes the orange capped waterproofing spray which can be found at Wal-Mart mentioned in another post. They have sport wash which works on rain jackets, down coats, and any waterproof breathable materials, like most horse blankets. They also have a wash specific to horse blankets. It is not very expensive when you compare it to having to buy a new blanket due to ruining the w/b barrier. In most cases I know of the w/b barrier actually works better when it’s clean–but you really have to use the correct type of wash, since detergents can ruin the w/b abilities of some materials–and some of the membranes actually improve and are reactivated when dried in the drier. So know what’s in your blanket. Do some research on re-waterproofing rain coats or tents and you’ll find that cleaning them properly often returns the waterproofing. Atsko also sells water resistant sprays and water proofing sprays. Some are breathable some are not, so be aware of what you are sealing/ spraying your horse blanket with before you do so. Most horse blankets are waterproof BREATHABLE, not just waterproof. Good luck!

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