How to Wash a Blanket


Blankets, like other clothing and bedding items, need regular cleaning. For comforters and throw blankets that receive a lot of use, it is recommended that you wash them around once a month to keep dust and soil from building up. Most blankets are washing machine safe under the right settings, but if you're unsure of the best cleaning method for your blanket, you can also wash it by hand.


[Edit]Washing by Hand

  1. Fill a tub with cool water and add detergent. Find a tub or basin large enough for your blanket to fit in and fill it up with cool water. Mix in mild detergent and let it spread through the water. You'll essentially be doing the same thing as a washing machine on a gentle setting, only manually, which gives you greater control over how the blanket is treated and helps ensure that every part gets clean.[1]
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    • Don't fill the tub up too much or it may overflow when you put the blanket in.
  2. Swish the blanket through the water. Using soft, kneading strokes, drag the blanket back and forth in the soapy water. It's best to take hold of one section of the blanket for a few passes, then smooth it out and wash a new section. Do this until the blanket has been cleaned thoroughly.[2]
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  3. Press out excess water. Take the blanket out of the tub and let the saturated water run out. Fold the blanket in half two or three times and then use both hands to apply pressure to the blanket, squeezing out excess water. Pressing the blanket is a safer alternative to wringing it out, which can stretch the fabric out of shape.
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  4. Wash again using plain water. Give the blanket another quick wash in some plain cool water. This will rinse away any detergent that might have soaked into the blanket. Swish the blanket through the water, touching each section individually. Make sure there are no traces of soap remaining on the blanket.[3]
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    • Drain and refill the tub with fresh water until it remains clear after rinsing. You may need to do this several times.
    • Make sure you hand wash delicate fabrics like wool, silk and linens. These fabrics are woven from natural fibers and may be irreparably damaged if treated with harsh washing methods.

[Edit]Using a Washing Machine

  1. Make sure the blanket will fit in the washing machine. Depending on the size of the blanket you're washing, you may have trouble getting it to fit into a washing machine. Front-loading washers and top-loaders without agitators will produce optimal results, as the drum is spacious and allows plenty of room for the blanket to move. If your blanket is too big to fit in a standard washing machine or is made of an especially delicate material, wash it by hand instead.
    Wash a Blanket Step 5 Version 4.jpg
    • Take the blanket outsides and give it a good shake to remove any loose dirt or dust before washing.
    • Laundromat washing machines are typically bigger than commercial washers and might be the best option if you're washing a blanket that is particularly large or thick.
  2. Perform a quick color test. If the blanket has never been washed before, it might be a good idea to quickly test to see if the dye used to color the blanket will run in the washer. Soak a colored portion of the blanket in cool water for a few minutes, then dab the blanket with a piece of plain white fabric or paper towel to see if the color bleeds. Wash the blanket by hand if there's a substantial amount of color on the test cloth.[4]
    Wash a Blanket Step 6 Version 4.jpg
    • Avoid washing a new or brightly colored blanket with other clothes.
  3. Select a gentle cycle and use cool water. When machine washing blankets, always use cool water and choose the gentlest wash cycle. Washing machines are rough on clothes: that's partially how they manage to get things so clean. The downside of this is that all the spinning, beating and agitating can stretch your blanket out of shape and cause it to come out looking worse than before. Similarly, hot water can shrink threads and cause dye to run. Be aware of this and protect your blanket from damage.[5]
    Wash a Blanket Step 7 Version 5.jpg
  4. Add a mild detergent. Pour a small amount of mild detergent into the washer after it fills but before you put in the blanket. This way, the detergent will diffuse evenly throughout the water, creating a gentle washing solution and keeping you from having to pour the detergent directly onto the blanket. Most laundry soaps are astringent and can cause wear and fading to textiles in high concentration, so pick a detergent approved for delicates and go easy on it.[6]
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    • A little goes a long way: a quarter cap full of detergent is plenty.
  5. Load the washing machine evenly. Place the blanket into the washing machine, making sure that the weight and bulk of it is evenly distributed around the inside of the drum. Otherwise, not all surfaces of the blanket will get cleaned equally, and the motion generated during the wash cycle can throw the washer off balance. If the washer you're using has a center agitator, coil the blanket loosely around the agitator as you lower it in.[7]
    Wash a Blanket Step 9 Version 5.jpg
  6. Wash the blanket. Let the blanket go through the process of washing. If the blanket is of a heavy-duty or synthetic material, it's alright to let it finish a full wash cycle. However, you can also take the blanket out and drain the washing machine after 3-5 minutes; for delicate and natural fabrics like wool or down, there's no need for the blanket to undergo a complete wash, rinse and spin cycle.[8]
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    • The longer the blanket is in the washing machine, the higher the chance it will come out warped, stretched or damaged. The spin cycle in particular may be too forceful for certain fabrics.
    • Fabrics that are washing machine safe include cottons, which are preshrunk, and synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which don't stretch out or shrink.

[Edit]Machine Drying

  1. Set the dryer to a low heat setting. When using a clothes dryer to dry your blanket, keep the heat setting between low and medium. Higher heats might shrink the blanket, or cause synthetic materials like polyester to scorch. If you're drying a down or wool blanket, set the dryer to tumble.[9]
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    • Because it uses no heat, tumble drying takes longer and should only be used if you're worried about damaging a natural fabric.
    • Once again, cotton and synthetics are resilient fabrics, which make them totally dryer-approved (just watch out for high heat on synthetics, as they're prone to burning after a while).
  2. Load the blanket into the dryer. Once again, make sure the blanket is distributed evenly in the dryer. Let the blanket lie loosely in the barrel, and try not to bunch it up.
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    • Clear out the dryer's lint trap before you begin drying. Fluffy items like bedding tend to shed a lot of lint, which can become a fire hazard as it accumulates.
  3. Allow the blanket time to dry. If your blanket is of heavy construction or has been washed and dried many times, it should be okay to let it go through a full drying cycle at low heat. Dry delicate or loosely-woven blankets in short bursts and keep an eye on the blanket's material as it dries. Set the dryer's timer for the desired time, or else monitor the blanket throughout the drying process.[10]
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    • Tumble drying a delicate blanket might take hours. Reset the dryer at the end of a tumble cycle and repeat until the blanket is no longer damp.
    • Overdrying can cause shrinkage or damage. Choose the appropriate time for the blanket you're drying and give it a feel from time to time when machine drying for longer periods.
  4. Remove and hang the blanket. Take the blanket out of the dryer while it is still slightly damp. In most cases, it's preferable to allow blankets to finish air drying—this will help instill a fresh fluffiness in the blanket as the remaining moisture dissipates and spare you the grief of dealing with shrinking, scorching, stretching and static. Smooth the blanket out by hand, then either hang it from a clothesline or drape it over something broad and flat. Let the blanket hang until it's completely dry.[11]
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    • A drying rack or ironing board can be useful for draping a drying blanket if space for a clothesline is unavailable to you.
    • Turn the blanket over periodically to expose both sides to direct air flow.

[Edit]Air Drying

  1. Press out any remaining water. If you decide to air dry your blanket after washing it, be sure that you've first removed as much moisture from the blanket as you can. This will save you a lot of drying time. Remember to press the blanket, don't wring or bunch.
    Wash a Blanket Step 15 Version 5.jpg
  2. Hang the blanket. Using a clothesline or ironing board, straighten and suspend the blanket to let it begin drying. Hang drying works best when it's done outside due to the movement of the air, but if you don't have a place to dry clothes outside you can also turn on a fan or simply let the blanket hang overnight.
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    • Smooth out all wrinkles and folds before hanging the blanket, or else the blanket will crease and dry unevenly.
    • Make sure the blanket is completely stretched out when hang drying. Greater surface area means faster, more thorough drying.
    • Wool, silks, linens and any blankets with loose weave-work, like crochet, should always be hung and allowed to air dry. This is the gentlest way to treat easily damaged fabrics and will help protect them for many more washings and drying.
  3. Roll the blanket up between dry towels. Alternately, sandwich the wet blanket between two clean, dry towels and roll or fold them up together. The towels will wick moisture out of the blanket from both sides, helping it dry faster. Place a heavy object like a book on top of the roll to apply pressure to the damp blanket and increase contact between the blanket and towels.[12]
    Wash a Blanket Step 17 Version 4.jpg
    • One advantage of the towel method is that there should be no need to smooth the blanket once it's dry since it's already been rolled taut or neatly folded.
    • Using an object heavier than a textbook to press water out of a blanket that is drying between towels may misshape the blanket or cause wrinkles once it's fully dry.
  4. Lay the blanket out. If you're pressed for space or don't want to use the towel method, find a clear, flat space to lay the blanket out. Place a couple dry towels underneath the blanket to absorb excess moisture as it dries, and flip the blanket over as needed to allow exposure to air on both sides. This will take considerably longer than any other drying method, but requires minimal effort. You may need to run an iron over the blanket after it has dried completely in order to eliminate wrinkles.[13]
    Wash a Blanket Step 18 Version 4.jpg
    • This method will also be useful for blankets made from delicate fabrics like wool which easily stretch out and lose their shape when subjected to rigorous washing and drying.
    • Use a low heat when ironing and only go over trouble spots in the blanket lightly once or twice.



  • Rinse at least twice when washing your blanket by hand. You don't want soap irritating you if you have sensitive skin.
  • Use soap designed specially for delicates, like Woolite, when washing natural or easily damaged fabrics. Camping stores also sell "sleeping bag soaps," which are special soaps that dissolve easily and don't foam too much, which makes them easier to rinse.
  • Placing a clean tennis ball or two in the dryer with the blanket will help move it around as it tumbles, allowing it to dry more thoroughly.
  • For best results, add the detergent to the water before you add the blanket so that it completely diffuses throughout the water. If you just pour it on top, it might get stuck in one part of the blanket.


  • Don't put the blanket back on your bed while it's still wet. This could easily open you up to a mildew infestation.
  • Don't leave your blanket in the dryer too long. Synthetic fabrics are prone to burning and melting when exposed to heat for long periods, and intense heat can even cause heavy-duty fabrics like cotton to shrink.
  • Wash blankets by themselves and one at a time. It's harder for the water and soap to circulate effectively when the washing machine is full.

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