While you may be nervous about machine-washing an electric heated blanket, most newer blankets are designed to tolerate machine washing without damage. However, the process requires some modification to avoid damaging the inner wiring. The key to successfully washing them is to have a watchful eye on the washing cycles so you can keep exposure to water and heat to a minimum.
Use a mild laundry detergent, cool or warm water temperature, and a shortened gentle cycle on your washing machine. Drying can be partially done in a clothes dryer at low heat, but should be completed by air-drying. Some older electric blankets may not tolerate machine washing—these will need to be washed by hand.
Here is a simple, proven method of machine-washing most modern electric blankets.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Clothesline or drying rack
- Laundry detergent
|How to Wash an Electric Blanket|
|Water Temperature||Cool or warm|
|Drying Cycle Type||Partial drying on low heat, then air-dry|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
|How Often to Wash||Every 2 to 4 weeks|
How to Wash an Electric Blanket
Prep the Blanket
Shake out the blanket to get rid of as much loose debris as possible. Before you put the electric blanket in the washing machine, remove all cords and controls.
Load the Washing Machine
For high-efficiency washers, load the blanket in loosely. For standard washers with a central agitator, evenly spread the blanket around the drum. You may need to add a couple non-lint-producing towels or sheets to balance the load.
Select a Water Temperature and Detergent
Wash the blanket in cool to warm water with your regular detergent. Don't add chlorine bleach or fabric softener—they could deteriorate the interior components of the blanket.
Choose the Washer Cycle
Use the short or gentle cycle setting. If you can set the final spin speed, reduce it to the lowest setting to prevent excess force on the blanket's inner wiring.
Shorten the Wash Cycle, Jump to Rinse
Let the machine agitate for two to three minutes, and then skip to the rinse cycle. Once the rinse cycle is done, remove the blanket immediately.
Use a cool or air-only setting on your dryer. It is best to partially dry in the dryer for about 20 minutes, and then remove the blanket while it is still damp and allow it to finish air-drying on a clothesline or drying rack. High heat may shrink the blanket and damage the wires' insulation.
Be sure your dryer is large enough to allow the blanket to tumble freely. If it is not large enough, use a laundromat dryer set on cool or air-dry only.
What Is an Electric Blanket?
An electric blanket is an ordinary two-layer blanket that includes heavily insulated, waterproof electrical wires that are looped back and forth and sewn into place between the fabric layers. As current passes through the inner wiring, normal electrical resistance causes the wires to heat up. Most electrical blankets run on ordinary 120-volt household current, drawing between 15 to 115 watts, governed by a temperature control unit on the power cord that acts as a variable switch (rheostat). There are some modern designs that use low-voltage current that is stepped down by a built-in transformer on the power cord. These blankets typically draw no more than 24 volts at the highest temperature setting.
Treating Stains on an Electric Blanket
Treat a stain on the blanket as quickly as possible following guidelines for the specific type of stain. Spot-cleaning an electric blanket is simple. Unplug the blanket first. Blot with a towel, and then use a butter knife, an old credit card, or your fingernail to remove any food, drink, or other substance from the fabric. Rub a little mild laundry detergent on the stain to loosen and lift it up. Remove the laundry detergent with a moist clean cloth until rinsed. Let it air-dry completely before using the blanket .
Electric Blanket Care and Repairs
If the blanket has stopped working, unplug it, and double-check to make sure that the connections are all tight. Any cracked or discolored components should be discarded and replaced. Small tears or rips can be repaired by hand with matching thread and a needle. However, if the rip exposes any wires or electrical components, the blanket should be discarded.
Because the iron's heat can damage the wires' insulation, electric blankets should not be ironed. If it is wrinkled, hang the blanket from a shower rod, hand smooth, and let gravity pull out the wrinkles.
Storing an Electric Blanket
During warm weather, electric blankets and heated mattress pads are usually stored away. Follow this checklist to ensure your blanket is stored properly and ready for that first cold snap.
- After unplugging the controls from the blanket and wall, check for any exposed wiring, scorched areas, rips, or tears. Determine if repairs can be made or if the blanket should be replaced.
- Before storing, wash and dry the blanket carefully. Be sure it's completely dry before storing. Check the controls and cords for any cracks or darkened areas. If you find these, the blanket should be replaced.
- Once the blanket is clean and completely dry, roll the blanket or pad gently. Don't create sharp, hard folds because they could damage the inner wires. Store in a dry, climate-controlled, and insect- and rodent-free space.
- The controls and cords should be stored unplugged from the blanket or pad. Loosely coil the cords, being sure not to crimp or pinch them. Place the cords and bedding together in a soft cloth bag or plastic container to prevent dust from settling.
How Often to Wash an Electric Blanket
A machine-washable electric blanket can be washed every couple of weeks or once a month during the cold season. Treat it gently, however, by alternating between air-drying and machine-drying as an extra measure to keep the interior connections of the blanket in good shape.
Tips for Washing Electric Blankets
- If your washer isn't large enough to hold the blanket, it can be hand-washed in the bathtub. Use cool water, a small amount of detergent, and gentle squeezing. Don't wring the blanket or pad.
- Electric blankets or heated mattress pads should never be dry-cleaned. The chemicals used in the process can damage the wire insulation.
- Don't place electric bedding in a commercial dryer that uses very high temperatures, which can also damage the wiring.
- Modern electric blankets can be washed because the heating element is completely encased in fireproof and waterproof insulation, but you still need to treat the blanket with TLC (for example, don't crush it) to keep the heating grid safe and intact.
- As an electric blanket ages, it becomes more prone to electrical shorts and other problems. It's best to replace electric blankets that are more than 10 years old.
Won't machine-washing ruin an electric blanket?
Most newer electric blankets can be washed in a machine without causing damage, but some older blankets should be hand-washed only; follow the advice of the care label regarding how to wash.
Can I dry an electric blanket in the dryer?
Partial drying at a low temperature setting is okay, but the drying should be completed on a clothesline or drying rack. High dryer heat can damage the wiring of an electric blanket.
How do I hand-wash an electric blanket?
Remove all power cords, then fill a bathtub or large wash tub with cold water and a small dose of mild laundry detergent. Let the blanket soak for several minutes, then agitate it in the water for several more minutes. Drain the soapy water, then fill the tub with clear water and agitate the blanket to rinse it.
Is it dangerous to use an electric blanket on pet beds?
A notable number of house fires have been traced to dogs and cats chewing through electric blankets provided by well-meaning owners hoping to keep their chilly pets comfortable. Pets are responsible for about 1,000 house fires each year, many of them started by animals chewing through electric cords and heated blankets. It's better to use a heated pet bed that is specifically designed for dogs and cats rather than to give your pet a standard electric blanket.