Washing horse blankets, sheets, and coolers can be hard on both the washer and the horse blankets. Commercial blanket washing services are available but are usually pricey, and laundromats may not be an option if there are staff on site that see you come in with horse blankets (horse blankets are explicitly banned at many commercial laundrymats)
But never fear! If you find yourself washing horse blankets at home, there are simple steps you can take to protect your washer and ensure that the blankets come out refreshed!
Protect the Metal:
Sometimes it’s possible to wash a horse blanket in a home washing machine. One of the best secrets for washing horse blankets in a home washing machine is covering the buckles and hardware with fabric.
We use tube socks, attached to the horse blanket with just a few stitches of strong thread (we use upholstery thread). Covering the surcingles, removing the leg straps, and covering exposed D rings takes about five minutes but saves a lot of wear on our washing machine!
Gather up any straps that hang loose — like the surcingle strap. Place the tube sock over the entire length and stitch the sock toward the base of the strap. Adjust the slide on the strap so the strap is as short as possible before washing. This saves wear and tear and will also prevent the strap from getting twisted around the sheet or horse blanket in the wash.
The problem with washing horse blankets at home tends to be volume. Blankets are often caked in horse hair on one side, dried mud on the other, and may have heavy fill insulation between the layers of fabric. The drum that fills and empties in a home washing machine may not be sufficient to move the fabric enough to lift and rise the debris away. But there’s a solution:
Washing Horse Blankets at the Carwash
Unlike laundromats, car washes won’t chase you off for showing up with things that are really, really dirty- they even include heavy duty clips (meant for auto floor mats) that are perfect for holding a sheet or blanket in place while you blast the caked on layers of mud and horse hair.
Car washes work great when you just don’t want to deal with the expense of a powerwasher or the soapy, grimy runoff. The softened water and high pressure spray at a carwash will return gross old horse sheets and coolers to sparkling in minutes. I’ve even had great luck doing this with sheets that were starting to mildew from being wet too long- one trip to the car wash and letting them fully dry in a sunny spot in my yard had them looking and smelling like new again.
After I’d been taking my blankets and sheets to the carwash for a few years I bought a small, portable power washer. Guys, owning a homeowner-grade power washer was LIFE CHANGING. only exaggerating a little. The electric powered hand-held pressure washer units have a TON of power, are easy to use and maintain, and are about what you’d pay for a round or two of having someone professionally wash your blankets.
I like using a pressure washer for my blankets because most washing machine agitators only swish water past embedded dirt and debris- power washing my horse blankets cleans them through a through, and after being hung to dry in the sun they can be stored for the winter totally clean.
Airedale in a Horse Style Dog blanket
This is a picture of an Airedale dog in a horse blanket style dog blanket. Some brands of horse blanket manufacturers also manufacture blankets for large breed dogs. Using this type of blanket on your dog has several advantages over typical dog sweaters. Not only do horse blankets made for dogs look a bit more distinguished, but horse style blankets for dogs are also more functional and stay on a better than typical dog coats and sweaters. The design of a horse blanket made for dogs covers the dog better but leaves the belly open. Horse blankets are great for big dogs and little dogs. We like to use horse style dog blankets on snowy days and when we have very cold temperatures after our dog has recently been groomed. Some dogs with thick winter coats don’t need an extra blanket, but dogs bred in warmer climates or dogs that are frequently groomed close to the skin may appreciate a little extra warmth offered by a horse style dog blanket.
Horse Rain sheets
This photo shows a horse in a rain sheet that is khaki colored with black highlights. Horses can benefit greatly from a rain sheet depending on their environments, coats, and other factors. Most horses are fine as long as they have access to some sort of shelter – run in stalls, a pavilion, or just a large sheltering stand of trees. They usually don’t need any additional protection from the elements if they are allowed to grow winter coats without clipping or other interference from humans. But some horses, such as those who have been body clipped recently or horses who do not have access to a sheltered area, can benefit from a sheet. Rain sheets are style like horse blankets but without the padding or fill found inside horse blankets. Rain sheets are usually one layer of covering, possibly lined with a silky fabric at the shoulders and withers, and have a waterproof coating to prevent rain from soaking through. They fit just like turnout horse blankets, these sheets prevent rain, snow, or other wet weather from soaking through to the horse’s skin, Rain sheets can help prevent skin conditions such as rain rot or other fungi that can be caused by horses staying wet for too long. waterproof sheets have the added benefit of keeping the horse clean. A clean horse covered with a waterproof sheet can lay down in mud or manure without staining their coat. Rain sheets should be checked often to make sure they aren’t rubbing on the shoulders, withers, or chest and that the horse is still dry underneath.
This image shows chest closure of a TuffRider Stretch Rain Sheet (Though, whoops!, buckled incorrectly. The snaps should be crossed) This sheet has snaphook closures instead of buckles- which can be undone by curious horses- with Velcro at the top to help make the sheet even more secure. Use the Velcro at the top to fit the neck contour to your horse. It is important for a rain sheet to fit the horse’s neck contour well, as a poorly fit rain sheet will actually cause more water to leak down inside the blanket and become a potentially harmful to the horse’s skin.
Many times horse blankets, horse sheets, and turnout blankets and cannot be washed in a home washing machine and must be taken to the laundromat. But some lightweight sheets, turnout sheets, dress sheets, rain covers, and quarter sheets can be watched in a home washing machine.