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If there is one constant in caring of for horses, it is things get dirty. Boots get muddy, stables get messy, and saddles get dusty. Horse blankets are no exception. After a few weeks, they are sometimes the dirtiest, muddiest and grimiest things in the stable.
Blankets are a very specialized piece of equipment and require special care. By following a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule, you can help to ensure they maintain their functionality and durability. Here are a few tips:
Over-washing can potentially damage the integrity of the blanket so try to wash your blanket either at the end of the season or only when it is necessary. If a blanket needs some minor touch ups midway through the season, spot cleaning with a stiff horse brush will often suffice. Stain removers are also effective as long as they do not contain any bleaching agents.
Lightweight blankets can be washed in your machine. Coolers and show sheets aren’t as bulky as heavier blankets and have enough room to get properly cleaned in a washing machine. However, be careful when trying to wash your blankets in your home washing machine. The combination of hair, mud and manure can potentially damage not only the washer but also your home's drainage system. Hose it down before attempting to clean it in your home’s washing machine.
Cleaning a heavier blanket is a little more work. Use a shedding blade to remove as much built-up fur as you can. Next, you’ll want to utilize a stiff brush to try and remove as much loose dirt as possible. Once you’ve manually removed the bulk of fur and mud, hose down the blanket while scrubbing it with a powerful detergent specifically made for sensitive skin. Detergents specially made for delicates, especially when washing waterproof blankets, are highly recommended. Always wash the blankets in cold water; it prevents the breaking down of the fabric over time while also preventing shrinkage.
It is recommended you do not use a fabric softener when washing your blankets. While fabric softener helps the blanket feel softer, it will also reduce the blanket's ability to wick away water and sweat from the horse's body.
Be certain the blanket is fully rinsed; soap residue can irritate a horse's skin. Remember, your horse will sweat underneath those heavy blankets and even small amounts of soap and detergent may lead to skin problems.
Make sure the blanket is fully dry before storing it. Moisture can cause the fabric to become moldy or rot. Hang the blankets over a fence or line to allow them to air dry; do not put them in a dryer as the forced hot air will damage the fabric and waterproofing material. Once the blanket is dry, use a good trunk or tack trunk for storing your blankets. This keeps them out of harm’s way until the next time you use them.
A clean and well-maintained horse blanket plays an important role in the health of your horses. With the proper care, they will last for numerous seasons and years.