How to Clean and Care for an Electric Blanket

Linen closet electric blanket

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Electric blankets, throws, and mattress pads offer extra warmth that feels great on a chilly evening or when recovering from an injury or illness. But what happens when they become soiled? All electric blankets and heated mattress pads sold in the United States since the late 1990s are designed for machine-washing and machine-drying.

How to Wash an Electric Blanket
Detergent Regular
Water Temperature Cool
Cycle Type Gentle
Drying Cycle Type Cool
Special Treatments None
Iron Settings Do not iron

Project Metrics

The key to successfully washing electric blankets is to keep exposure to water and heat to a minimum.

Working time: 10 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Skill level: Intermediate

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

Instructions

  1. Prep the Blanket

    Shake out the blanket to get rid of as much debris as possible. Before you put the electric blanket in the washing machine, remove all cords and controls.

  2. Add the Blanket to the Washing Machine

    For standard washers with a central agitator, evenly spread the blanket around the drum. You may need to add a couple of non-lint producing towels or bed sheets for balance.

  3. Select a Water Temperature and Detergent

    Wash the blanket in cool to warm water with your regular detergent. Do not add chlorine bleach or fabric softener.

  4. Choose the Washer Cycle

    Use the short or gentle cycle setting. If you can set the final spin speed, reduce it to low to prevent excessive force on the blanket's inner wiring.

  5. Wash Quickly and Switch to the Rinse Cycle

    Let the machine agitate for two to three minutes, then skip to the rinse cycle. Once the rinse cycle is done, remove the blanket immediately.

  6. Dry Gently

Use a cool or air only setting on your dryer. It is best to only partially dry in the dryer for about 20 minutes, and then remove the blanket while it is still damp and allow to finish air-drying. 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.

Storing Electric Blankets

During warm weather, electric blankets and heated mattress pads are usually stored away. Follow this checklist to ensure that your blanket is ready for that first cold snap.

  1. Check for Loose Wires, Tears or Scorching

    After unplugging the controls from the blanket and wall, check for any exposed wiring, scorched areas and rips or tears. Determine if repairs can be made or if the blanket should be replaced.

  2. Store a Clean, Dry Blanket

    Before storing, wash and dry it carefully. Be sure it is completely dry before storing. Check the controls and cords for any cracks or darkened areas. If you find these, the blanket should be replaced.

  3. Roll, Don't Fold

    Once the blanket is clean and completely dry, roll the blanket or pad gently. Do not fold into sharp, hard folds that can damage the wires. Store in a dry, climate-controlled, rodent-free space.

  4. Store the Control and Cords

The controls and cords should be stored unplugged from the blanket or pad. Loosely coil the cords being sure not to crimp or pinch the cord. Place the cords and the bedding together in a soft cloth bag or plastic container to prevent dust from settling.

Repairs

If the blanket has stopped working, unplug it and double-check that the connections are all tight. If anything is loose, use electrical tape to keep it secure. Next, make sure there aren't any pins or metallic objects stuck in the blanket that could shock you when the blanket is turned on. If the object causes a tear, use a needle and thread to sew it back up.

Lastly, open up the control unit to look for loose parts. Tighten any connections inside the control box.

Treating Stains on an Electric Blanket

Treat a stain on the blanket as quickly as possible to avoid letting it set in. Run cold water over the stain and wash as soon as possible. Avoid using hot water which can cause the stain to set in further.

Tips for Washing Electric Blankets

Tips

  • If your washer is not 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. Do not wring the blanket or pad.
  • Electric blankets or heated mattress pads should never be dry cleaned. The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process can damage the wire insulation. Commercial dryers that use very high temperatures can also damage the wiring.

Ironing

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.