Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blanket Care

Back a post or two ago, NCCatnip asked about blanket care and storage. I have to say that is a Great topic to cover! We buy them to keep the horses warm, but what do we do to take care of them? Taking care of your horses blanket keeps you from having to buy a new one every year. Considering the prices some are commanding- that can get pretty expensive.

As far as washing them goes, I know plenty of people who used to go to the local laundromat and hog the huge machines in the back. Packing the blankets in garbage bags to hide what they are, enter through the back door- hoping not to be noticed and sorta went under cover to have a clean horse blanket.

One farm I was at had a washer and dryer set up in a spare tack room. This was for blankets, polo's, English pads, coolers, shipping boots, wraps of all kinds, sheets and even the heavy stable blankets as needed. It was a Heavy Duty machine and it certainly did the trick! Anything that fit, in it went.

One thing I have found, is that Craigslist is a great place to find washers and dryers. Washers being more useful than the dryers, often cheap- $50-$100 for one that works, sometimes even freebies can be found. People are always moving and dumping appliances or selling the old ones when they buy new ones. Finding one for a price you are willing to pay and you are on your way to not worrying about sending the blankets out again.

Once you find your washer and bring it home, you will need a place to put it. Somewhere within a reasonable distance to power and water, drainage being another consideration. In the garden area of the local hardware store and you will find a Y shaped fitting for around $10. Ace Hardware has them online in a few different styles and you can have one shipped right to your door. Connect the garden hose to the Y, both of the washer hoses to the Y and your set up is almost complete.

For another $30, a swimming pool hose can be purchased for attaching the drain hose to. Slip the drain hose inside and clamp them together. Be sure to keep the hose going up as if it were going into the drain in your laundry room. Otherwise it will let all of the water out during the wash or soak part of the cycle. If you are using Eco friendly soap, you can then run the pool hose out to nearby plants and water the landscaping while getting clean horse blankets and pads... Yay! You are now multitasking at it's best!

When you plug the machine in, be sure the power cord has what is called a 'drip loop'. Basically it is a part of the cord being lower than the plug. If the water lines spring a leak and the cord gets wet, the water will run down the cord and drip off instead of going into the outlet. This can prevent a hellacious shock as well as electrocution or at the very least blown circuit breakers and tripped GFI outlets.

If this is just not an option where you are, I have found throwing the blankets over a hitching rail or fence and spraying them with the hose and a nozzle can work just as well. Wetting both sides evenly keeps the blanket from slipping off while you are working on it. When the top is clean, grab the wither area and pull straight back along the fence line to 'flip' it over.

It takes a bit more effort on your part, but the what about horses has ever been known to be easy? If the dirt or manure is a bit stubborn, get out your body brushes squirt some shampoo on it and get to work scrubbing. After rinsing it all clean and making sure the soap has been removed- you can leave it on the fence to dry, If you are in a warm enough climate to do so.

In the spring this may not be so much of a problem, but if you need the blanket that night you can wring as much water out as you can by rolling, twisting and squeezing it as best you can. I try to lay it over the fence, lining side out and front on one side of the fence, back on the other. This way the water runs down and if anything is left wet- it's the very front and back edges of the blanket.

Once the blanket is clean, if you wish to store it for the summer, I have found that the plastic bags your own bedding comes in- comforters for larger blankets- works really well. I can usually fold a few blankets and fit them nicely inside for storage.

This is actually two blankets and there is still plenty of room for a couple more. The black one is the blanket in need of repairs as can be seen by the piece of the lining hanging out there. I have pictures of this process and I will be featuring it soon for those who are willing to give it a shot. The green one is a yearling size Weatherbeeta turnout sheet.

I lay them out on their side fold the straps all up inside. Fold the front third of the blanket towards the back. It should reach to about the flank area. Fold the back third into the middle- back of the blanket reaching the girth area. Now fold the top down, folding it all in half and put it into the bag. Zip it shut and it's ready to be stored wherever it will be handy but out of the way until it is needed again.

You may choose to put a cedar block inside the bag, scented air freshener packets or even mothballs, but as long as you put the bags where there is no bug problems, it should be ready for use when you pull it out of the bag in the spring.

Strange how we are discussing putting the blankets away, when we are more likely to be pulling them out for use. Maybe a recap in the spring? It could happen.


  1. XL or Cube space bags ROCK!! Plus you can use them over each year.

  2. If they are kept out in the tack shed...mothballs keep out mice. And mothballs in the crawlspace under the tackshed keeps out skunks. In our area this is very important information!

  3. Blankets!! Whew - I am exhausted just thinking about cleaning them. I used to take them to the laundromat, but I just hate waiting for about 2 hours for the cycle to be done (extra wash/extra rinse)plus travel time. I end up washing them on the driveway using a scrub brush. I drape them over saw horses to dry. I made my own blanket hanger out of 1" x 2" boards and nylon rope and hang them in the basement when they are not in season. Because, being the PITA that I am, I have blankets for every possibility - cold, really cold, really really cold, rain, cold windy rain, bugs, sweat - you name it, I've got it!! LOL

  4. Ours are in the bags and either in the tack compartment of the horse trailer or else in a closet in the laundry room, bedroom or the office.

    Although it doesn't get incredibly cold here, it does get cold at night. Washing a blanket early in the day, they can be dry by nightfall when needed. Other places where it is just cold all day? I don't know how some of you do it. I really don't.

  5. When I replaced my old washer/dryer a couple of years ago, I splurged on the Whirlpool Duets. You can wash 16 pairs of jeans in the washer, so I figured my horse blankets, pads, and other assorted stuff would be a cinch. They were expensive but with the one year same as cash deal, worked out great.

    I do not put the blankets in the dryer, they are hung out over the porch railings but that washer does a great job on everything. I do dry some of my other horse stuff, just not the show pads.


  6. I used to take mine to the hand car wash . hang them where you would put the floor mats and go nuts! (no soap) I would not be happy to wash clothes in a laundrymat machine full of horse hair. anyhow hang them to dry at home then fold them and hang them over my blanket rack till I need them (which is rare)

  7. I use the big front loaders at the laundromat. They dont seem to mind here.

    The people that make Micro Tek, I think Equus...make a blanket wash that is really great. If I don't have that, I use Woolite. I re-waterproof them with spray cans of Camp Dry, works better than Scotch Guard. I usually hang dry them. I kind of worry about then in the dryer. Some, I just throw in the dryer, if they're old tired and if I'm in a hurry.

  8. CNJ.... define "cold" ; )

    I define "cold" as <20 in the daytime, <10 at night. Even then, I've never blanketed, though I own one. But I don't ride a whole lot during the winter.

    Our campus barn defines "blanket weather" as "real feel" of 26 or below. Accuweather is a handy cell phone app!!

    A girl from PA "horse country" told me that the laundromats in her area had designated "horse stuff ONLY" machines.

    Skunks.... my office is in a beautiful 1882 house with a shed containing a 2-holer privy attached by a breezeway. Well, it's also a real Skunk Factory, as is the space under the front porch!! The mothballs seem to help, but they smell... not great.

  9. CP- Cold as in cold enough the blankets don't dry on their own. Freezing instead of drying. That's too cold for me.

    The car wash and their high pressure nozzels are great on the felt saddle pads. Otherwise ours end up over the wash rack rail and blasted with the hose & nozzel. Left to dry of course.

    My english pads, leg wraps, polo's, standing wraps- into the dryer. Never had a problem. And now that I said that... I probably ought to go check the load going through as I type. Just gotta make sure the velcro is fastened back to itself and toss in a few dryer sheets. Static cling is not my friend.

    A lot of the laundromats here don't like the horse blankets because of the issue raised by FV. Nobody likes putting their clothes into the washer after it has been run through with mud and manure caked blankets. Even when tossing them into the washer in the house, I will run an empty load through afterwards, just to clean out all of the remnants.

    And for anyone thinking their laundry soap leaves no remnants, I has news for you. Ask a repairman next time you see one. The amount that is caked around the top of the inside of the plastic tub it all sits in can be incredible. Run a load through without soap some time and see how much the water is foamed up. I believe it was vinegar that is supposed to cut through the soap scum.

  10. Cold = CANADA.
    Jeeepers, pay attention:)

    I have nothing useful to contribute, so I'll just apologize for any truly ridiculous things I've blurted this year, and wish you all the very best in 2010!

    OH, almost forgot, this is semi-useful.
    Lesson I learned, is that you canNOT leave your winter blanket hung outside your horse's stall, in the summer.

    Bees made a nest...
    Thank goodness I noticed..

    hey, congrats, cattyPex!
    I'm jealous, but that's a common emotion for me, being painfully horseless and all.

    To A New Year!

  11. hi everyone, happy new year!

    washing blankets is a royal pain in the butt, so thank you for taking some guess work out of it...

    thanks for the eco friendly tip, definitely multitasking at its best. I am a little bit of a "green freak" so I always love to learn new green tips...

    I'd also like to know - does anyone water proof their blankets? if so, what do you use?
    I find that if I don't waterproof my blanket (especially rain sheets), it lets the rain/wet snow seep through and my horse ends up with slightly wet back. in areas I am from where it can can get extremely cold and windy, we need our horses to stay dry... my rain sheet is BIG D, quality rain sheet...anyone doing anything to repel water???


  12. Petra, I use 'Camp Dry'. You can get it at a hardware store. I buy mine at Ace Hardware. It seems to hold up better than Scotch Guard, and the waterproofer made for horse blankets costs a mint locally.

  13. I will try it out! thanks for the tip...happy new year!

  14. GL... I LOVES you.

    We got frontloading washer & dryer set this fall, too. LOOOOVE them.

    And yeah, supergrungy horse stuff will NEVER go in them I'm sure. Instead I will be one of those people the laundromat hates.....

    Don't forget to clean out your lint traps, your vent hose and if your washer drains into a sink, like mine, make sure that THAT drain is cleaned periodically!

    Hey, does anyone use Simple Green on their horse stuff? I've used it in the laundry before when I ran out of detergent, and it worked GREAT on filthy rags. Also it has a nice sassafrass scent. Supposedly it's gentle and biodegradable....

    Happy New Year y'all!!!!!!!

  15. CP- we have a gallon bottle of Simple Green under the kitchen sink. Never thought to use it in the washer, but it works on everything else I have used it on so far. Spraying too much can be a bit overwhelming in an enclosed area though.

    HP- ScotchGuard isn't all it's touted as. That's for sure. I used a can on a blanket once. Pony sized even, several coats just to be sure...... Rained that night and pony was soaking wet under the drenched blanket. I have also known others to spray a pair of jeans for ski pants. By the end of the day they have a cold, soaked lower half.

    I have also heard mink oil is good for waterproofing leather. But I have also heard it packs a strong smell. Since I haven't tried it, I have no idea if it works on fabric or not. Input anyone???

  16. I also forgot to mention in the OP, the local Goodwill, DAV thrift stores or even St Vincent de Paul thrift stores are another great place to find washers. They are offered at great prices and the money goes towards helping others in need as well as a job and training in appliance repairs. My moms first washer was $65 from the local SVdP thrift store and lasted For Ever! And who cares that it was harvest gold in color? It worked great.

  17. Harvest Gold, ah, that brings back memories. The 1970's were sure stylish weren't they.

    HP, thanks for the tip on Camp Dry. I don't use Scotchguard as it is pretty much worthless for blankets. I will try the Camp Dry.

    I will be blanketing tonight and for the next week, cold and windy. I do need to look into a new blanket for Buck, the 87" isn't big enough. It is workable, but just doesn't cover all of my big beastie. Any ideas of where to look to get that size at a price that doesn't require a bank loan?

  18. CCC- I will be making blankets in all sizes as things get rolling, but it sounds like you need one before then. Schneiders has some larger sized blankets. I think one line went up to the 90's or even 100's. I don't remember the prices though.

  19. Simple Green: I used to buy it at Sam's Club in a gallon jug, and dilute it in a spray bottle for cleaning. In the washer, I used what seemed a judicious amount. ;)

    One time, some friends asked me to go sledding but I didn't have any snow boots that year. Soooo I greased up my Ariat paddock boots BUT GOOD with Crisco. Damn, that worked great, and the leather felt awesome for a year.

    Low of 5 here tonight.

    Damn it's cold.

  20. CNJ,

    I'll check it out. His blankie is okay and luckily, I don't have to blanket that much, but I do need to start lookin around for him.

    When do you think you will be starting the blanket production?

  21. CCC- hopefully this summer. Off season? Not really, just in time for next winter really.

    Right now I gotta get fly masks done. They'll be here before we know it.

  22. Can I have a special flymask made for Buck, I haven't liked the ones I have gotten for him from the catalogues?

    I might be able to wait for the blanket for him. His is in good shape just a bit short in length from front to back and top to bottom. I really don't blanket much as our weather is pretty temperate.

  23. CCC- you will have mail tonight. I just gotta get to that part of it all...

  24. I'm not sure if anyone has used Dry Guy Waterproofing fro horse blankets, but I heard it works great. Please let me know if you have tried it.

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