Blankets are an essential layering piece in many spaces but they often go unwashed, leading to a build-up of invisible bacteria.
Here, cleaning experts explain how often you should be washing your blankets around your home for a hygienic and comforting space – and it is more often than you might think.
How often should you wash your blankets?
As with anything in your home, how often you wash your blankets will depend largely on how often you use them, where they are in your home, and how easy they are to wash. Washing fleece is quicker and simpler than washing wool blankets, for example. Luckily, there are some simple rules you can follow when it comes to washing your commonly used throws.
You should think of your blankets as you do your clothes, Laurie Fulford, laundry expert at SudShare begins. ‘Ask yourself how often the blanket touches a person's body or a pet. If the answer is "not often" then it is safe to wash these types of blankets monthly. But if a particular blanket comes in contact with people's bodies or with pets often, the best practice would be to wash these blankets weekly or every other week,’ she says. These blankets are often the ones you find on your sofa or bed.
While this frequency surprised us, it is important to keep blankets clean to prevent allergy symptoms from flaring up, household illness, and skin conditions such as breakouts.
‘Imagine you didn’t dust your dresser for a period of time, say a month. A film of dust, which is often comprised of allergens, would form on the surface. While you might not be able to see it, dust collects on the top-most layer of your bed in the same way,’ points out Cyndi Bray, laundry expert and founder of Wad-Free for bedsheets and blankets. ‘Some of that dust gets shuffled around every time you toss the covers around, ultimately ending up in the air, your hair, and your skin.’
Cyndi Bray is an entrepreneur turned laundry expert who created the Wad Preventer, a device used to help prevent laundry from balling up in an infuriating ball in the washing machine and dryer, testing it herself and with friends to find the perfect solution to the wasteful problem.
How to wash your blankets
If your blankets do not have a ‘dry clean only’ laundry symbol on the care tag, then they can often be popped into the washing machine like your regular laundry. But, there are some important things you should note if you want to keep them looking and feeling as soft as the day you bought them, Laurie Fulford, laundry expert advises:
- Wash your blanket alone, without any other clothes added to the cycle. While you could wash a blanket or two together in the washing machine (so long as it is large enough to sustain the weight of the blankets when they are wet), you should avoid washing sheets and towels together to prevent making either one scratchy or covered in pills and difficult-to-remove lint.
- The best water temperature to choose for your cycle would be warm or even cold. Using hot water could cause your blanket to shrink and can damage some blanket materials. Instead of using heat to kill bacteria, opt for a good laundry detergent like Seventh Generation from Amazon instead.
- If your washing machine has an agitator, turn the agitator off if possible. An agitator can also cause damage to certain blankets that are delicate.
- Where possible, select the delicate cycle on your washer to keep your blankets soft and free of lint.
What happens when you don’t wash your blankets?
If you do not regularly wash your blankets, then a build-up of dust and bacteria will thrive on the material, leading to increased allergy symptoms, or skin issues. They may also begin to smell musty. As a result, it is important to wash your blankets regularly to keep them fresh and keep your home hygienic.
How long can you go without washing your blankets?
It is best to wash your throw blankets around once or twice a month depending on how often you use them, if you have a pet or not, and whether anyone in your household has been ill. In these cases, you may wish to wash them more frequently, while you can wash them less frequently if they are mainly decorative – such as in a guest room or on a lesser-used chair or sofa.
Picking up your blankets on the way to the laundry room is essential to keeping your home clean and pristine. Washing them is simple and will help you to both freshen up your home's scent and ensure that allergy sufferers can relax and unwind on the couch in peace.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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