Horseowners of the northern hemisphere are entering spring. Spring means warmer weather, mud, and shedding horses.
Spring also means that it’s about time to put away the blankets for the year. Of course you don’t want to put them away filthy, right? Nobody wants to store blankets crusted in mud and manure…no thank you.
On the other hand, it’s important to be mindful of how you care for those blankets.
Horse blankets ARE NOT CHEAP. Sure maybe some sheets are available on sale for $40…but others cost anywhere from $100-$400. From my experience, you get what you pay for. My more expensive blankets ave held up better, fit better, and are simply worth the money provided they are properly cared for.
Horse blankets can be quite pricey and are designed to be breathable yet waterproof. That’s not as simple to care for as some might think.
So how to keep a long life for your turnout blankets?
Before storing my horses’ blankets for the year I wash them. I want to put them away nicely so when fall comes they are ready to go.
There are a few ways I go about this…
The first thing I do is take out my cheap electric pressure washer. This pressure washer I bought at Ace Hardware for $70 at a Memorial Day Sale. It is gentle compared to the industrial gas-powered style. I turn the nozzle onto fan spray and spray down the blankets to remove dirt, hair, and sweat. I rinse down the inside and outside of the blankets and hang them to dry.
Next, I grab a large tote and take a trip into town. I found a laundromat that approved of my use of their machines. Yes….I reached out to the company on Facebook and explained the situation. I told them my blankets we pre-rinsed so they aren’t filthy and asked if I can bring them in. To my pleasant surprise, they got back to me in minutes and said they’d be happy to have me and they had industrial machines for me to use.
Before I found this place I went to a laundromat that was open 24/7. I brought the blankets in black contractor bags and didn’t draw attention. My blankets were pre-rinsed off so they were not absolutely filthy going into the shop.
It is important to note…many laundromats are not as welcoming. Some have signs banning equestrians.
Find yourself a GOOD laundromat and DO YOUR PART not to lose the privilege. If you do find a good laundromat, pre-rinse those blankets to get the bulk of the grime off! Even if you only have a hose.
You’re at the laundromat.
I do not use just any detergent.
Most commercial detergents are powerful enough to strip the waterproofing of your blankets.
I prefer to use Horseware Ireland’s RamboWash. The wash is designed specifically for horse blankets. It’s safe for the waterproofing and al of the materials used for the blankets.
I have an 8oz bottle and let me assure you, a little goes a long way. You only need 1-2 oz per blanket.
I use the large industrial-sized washers. I can usually fit 2-3 blankets in each. I pay a little extra to get an extra rinse. For some of the more stained blankets I add an extra wash cycle.
My laundry loads don’t usually take longer than 20-30 minutes to finish. Assuming I am not washing my Back On Track sheet, I often throw my sheets in the dryer for a bit…if it’s beautiful outside I might just bring them home to hang dry. In using the driers I opts for medium to low heat.
Once I know they are completely dry they get folded nicely and go into a Rubbermaid tub with some fabric softener sheets to wait for next winter.
Important note: Back on Track uses a special material that will no hold up to drier cycles. The heat will damage this material and ruin the effectiveness of your Back on Track product
This is what has worked for me.
I launder my blankets s seldom as possible. I will brush them off at times, but I try to keep the actual washes to a minimum to preserve the waterproofing. If I can get away with it I aim for once per year as they go into storage.
That said I also have a back-up of each weight in case one gets really gross. I will simply hang the gross blanket it up and let it dry out while my horses get a comfortable new one.
It also helps if your horse has a good winter coat and rarely needs his/her blanket!
There maybe other methods that work better than this, but I have had several blankets for years and they maintain their original waterproofing well.
I haven’t had to do it, but there ARE ways to re-waterproof, though I have heard it’s not the most ideal.
If you have a different routine I’d love to hear it!