Electric blankets, throws, weighted blankets, and mattress pads offer extra warmth that's welcome 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. 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.
How Often to Clean 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.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Clothesline or drying rack
- Laundry detergent
|How to Wash an Electric Blanket|
|Water Temperature||Cool or warm|
|Drying Cycle Type||Cool or air-only|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
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.
Add the Blanket to 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
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.
Wash Quickly and Switch to the Rinse Cycle
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 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 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.
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.
Check for Loose Wires, Tears, or Scorching
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.
Store the Clean, Dry Blanket
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.
Roll but Don't Fold
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.
Store the Controls 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 them. Place the cords and bedding together in a soft cloth bag or plastic container to prevent dust from settling.
If the blanket has stopped working, unplug it, and double-check 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 not be used again.
Treating Stains on an Electric Blanket
Treat a stain on the blanket as quickly as possible following guidelines for the specific type of stain. However, 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 air-dry completely before using.
Tips for Washing an Electric Blanket
- 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.