A lot of us love cuddling up with a plush throw blanket in our favorite chair, on the sofa and in bed. When it’s cold out, a throw is that “just right” layer of warmth to knock off the chill and keep us toasty. Most of us probably even have a favorite that gets plenty of use around the house. That’s because they’re portable and cozy! But are they clean?
Unfortunately, that throw blanket you’ve been snuggling with all fall and winter is probably in desperate need of a cleaning. Think about all the dirt and contaminants your throw endures between washings. Some of us wrap up with our throw blanket after dinner and keep it with us for the rest of the night. That means a barrage of pet hair, drink spills, food crumbs, dust, dirt and body oils night after night. These blankets might also take trips to the bathroom, kitchen and who knows where else.
And that’s just what we put it through! There could be worse offenders in your family who are contributing their share of germs, bacteria and filth.
Thankfully, you can freshen up and wash most throw blankets frequently enough to keep them soft, clean and germ-free.
How Often Do You Wash Your Throw Blanket?
If you’re about to express your answer in “months” instead of “weeks,” you probably have some pretty dirty throw blankets. For many people, the time to wash a throw is when it develops an odor or has obvious stains. Even then, some of us just switch out throws and let the dirty one fester until we get around to washing it. But the recommended time to wash a throw you use regularly is about every two weeks.
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According to laundry expert John Mahdessian from Madame Paulette, different lifestyles mean different amounts of time between washes. “The average person will need to clean their throws at least once a month, but your level of cleanliness also makes a difference. For example, if you’re a person who likes to eat on your sofa wrapped in a throw, or you let your dog sleep in bed with it, then you will probably want to wash your throws every two weeks or so.”
“If you’re using a throw nearly every day, then you should wash it every other week,” says Duk Won, owner of Manhattan’s Nordic Cleaners. “This way you can prevent too many stains from accumulating and keep germs at bay. Since throw blankets are often composed of fragile materials, I recommend hand-washing them in cold water only,” he adds. “This will ensure your throw blanket gets a thorough, but gentle, clean.”
4 Ways to Keep Throw Blankets Clean and Cozy
If it’s been more than two weeks since you washed a throw blanket, round it up and get ready to wash. Don’t forget the ones you use to make your bed and the ones stuffed into baskets and cubbies. Follow these washing tips and your throw blankets will look, smell and feel their best.
1. Pre-treat throw blankets before washing.
Inspect your throw blanket in a good light to identify stains and then pre-treat them. If you neglect this step, you could end up with a permanent stain on your throw. Whether you use a commercial laundry stain treatment or other stain-fighting options, the key is to leave the stain remover on for at least 10 minutes to break down and loosen the stain.
After letting the solution work for at least 10 minutes, gently dab the area with a paper towel to lift away the cleaner and the stain. Your goal is to remove as much of the stain as possible without rubbing it in. If you do this right, your washer will take care of the rest. Keep in mind that tougher stains may need to sit for 20 or 30 minutes before washing for best results.
2. Wash throw blankets according to the label.
Whether your throw blanket is made from cotton, microfiber, wool or acrylic, most will have a label with laundering guidelines. Each fabric is different, so err on the side of caution and read the label. You’ll find that you can wash many electric throw blankets, certain weighted throws and even some wool blankets. Regardless of the style and fabric, there are some general laundering tips for safely getting throw blankets clean and smelling good.
“Assuming they’re washable blankets (i.e. don’t specify that they’re dry-clean only) then dropping them in your washing machine shouldn’t be a problem,” according to Mahdessian. “Stick with a cold (or slightly warm) wash on a short, delicate cycle and don’t over-do it with detergent or softener, because too much can break down your blanket faster.” For delicate fabrics or designs like loosely woven cable knits or throws with lace trim, Mahdessian also suggests washing it inside a large net laundry bag to prevent it from stretching and snagging.
To save time and energy, wash throw blankets with similar fabrics and colors together. Most labels advise washing in warm or cold water only and recommend using the most gentle wash cycle. In most cases, traditional laundry detergent will get the job done. Choose a detergent with one of your favorite scents and enjoy a freshly laundered aroma every time you cuddle up. Never use detergents with bleach; they can discolor fabrics and decrease their softness. You should also avoid fabric softeners, which may create buildup that gives your blanket a scratchy or sticky feel.
3. Weighted and wool throw blankets need special care.
The best way to wash a weighted blanket will depend on its design, type of fabric and filler. Blankets weighted with glass microbeads or plastic pellets are usually washer-safe, but check the label to be sure. You can wash most blankets weighing up to 20 pounds in your washer on a gentle cycle with cold water. Anything heavier should be washed at a laundromat using a commercial washer. You can dry most weighted blankets in your dryer on low heat or you can let them air dry.
Because wool blankets naturally repel dirt, stains and odors, you typically need to wash them only a few times each year. Between washes, you can freshen up a wool throw blanket by shaking it out and brushing it. Use a soft-bristled fabric brush and brush in one direction to prevent damage to the fabric fibers. Some wool is machine-washable, so check the label to be sure. If it can be machine washed, use wool-safe detergent and cold water.
Never dry a wool blanket in a clothes dryer to avoid damage to fibers that can cause shrinkage and a scratchy feel. Instead, remove excess moisture by rolling the throw in a towel and gently squeezing out the water, followed by laying it flat or line-drying it. If you’re drying your wool throw outside, avoid direct sunlight, which can cause colors to fade.
4. You can use your dryer — if you’re careful.
According to laundry experts, how you dry your throw blanket can make or break its softness and its life expectancy. “It’s important to leave some moisture in the blanket when drying it to avoid shrinking it’,’ says Mahdessian. “Especially ones made of woven materials. When there’s no moisture in the material, the fibers will contract and shrink,” he explains, “so you should only dry your throws on low heat and if your washing machine allows, with a low moisture level on.”
If you have a dryer without a moisture sensor, Mahdessian says to dry your throw blanket on low heat and remove it before it’s fully dry instead. “Check on your throw every 20 minutes and take it out of the dryer when it’s about 80 percent dry,” he says. “Air drying it towards the end will safeguard your blanket from shrinkage and over-drying (which can harshen fibers and make your throw less comfy).”
Duk Won says you can always play it safe and simply let your throw blankets hang dry. “It’s the only way to guarantee your blanket maintains its shape,” he explains, “and it stays nice and snag-free.” Whether you line dry or machine dry your throw, it must be completely dry before you fold it up or store it. Once your throw blanket is clean and dry, you can fold it up with a dryer sheet or two so it stays fresh until it’s called into duty.
Always check the labels on your throw blankets before washing or drying, wash them regularly and enjoy that freshly laundered scent and cozy feel all year long. Want to keep your whole home as fresh and clean as your throws? Let The Maids show you what our healthy approach to cleaning can mean in your home.