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 drying.
How to Wash an Electric Blanket
If you still have the care instructions that came with your blanket or pad, follow them. If you have lost the instructions follow these:
- Remove all cords and controls before washing.
- Pretreat any stains following the guidelines for the specific type of stain.
- Wash the blanket in cool to warm water with your regular detergent. Do not add chlorine bleach or fabric softener.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 gently squeezing. Do not wring the blanket or pad.
- Use a cool or air only setting on your dryer. It is best to only partially dry in the dryer, 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. No high heat!
Would Dry Cleaning be Better?
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 an Electric Blanket
Don't do it! The iron's heat can damage the wires' insulation. If it is wrinkled, hang the blanket from a shower rod, hand smooth and let gravity pull out the wrinkles.
How to Use Electric Bedding Safely
- Keep the electric blanket or mattress pad as flat and smooth as possible. Bunching or folding can generate excess heat that can cause problems.
- Never run the control cords between the mattress and box springs or any spot that can cause friction that can damage the cords.
- Electric bedding should not be used on adjustable beds, sofa beds or reclining chairs that could pinch the heating wires or control cords. This is a fire hazard.
- Do not use electric bedding on water beds.
- Do not use electric bedding for anyone who can not operate the controls properly. Babies, small children, adults with disabilities or those that are immobile can be exposed to excessive heat and harm.
- Take extra precaution with electric bedding around pets who might chew or puncture the wire insulation.
- Always turn off electric bedding when not in use.
Folding and Storing an Electric Blanket
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the cords and the bedding together in a soft cloth bag or plastic container to prevent dust from settling.
- Store in a dry, climate controlled, rodent-free space.
Learn more about the care of winter bedding including pillows, comforters, and blankets.