Cleaning Up the Mess

“Can I wash it myself?!” ABSOLUTELY, but don’t blame me when your husband finds out if you wash your blankets in your home machines!

If you want to take on this dirty job…you can do it, but for the sake of you, your horse and the blanket…DO IT RIGHT!

I see so many questions on a “popular” horse forum about how to best care for and wash a dirty horse blanket….and I see so many answers that do not even follow the very BASIC directions labeled on 99% of all horse blankets. Have you missed them?? Take a look:

By now you should be a professional! But lets review key points and explain!

Horse blanket manufacturers recommend you remove any excess dirt with a hose or a stiff brush. There is a very big misconception that using a brush to remove excess dirt will ruin the blanket material, however if your blanket cannot stand to have excess dirt removed before washing, it probably should not be washed, and better yet should not be on the back of your horse. Removing any excess will allow your blanket to become cleaner when washing, and will keep your machine much more clean! This will be especially important if you are planning on washing your blankets in your home machine (which I do not recommend, but is possible).


Do not use bleach or detergents. I see it so often that someone recommends to use “whatever you have at home”. It is your blanket to do what you want with…but if you want your blanket to last as long as possible and be as effective as possible….DONT DO IT! There are a few ways to effectively and quickly remove your waterproofing. Leaving a blanket sitting dirty, moist and covered in manure or urine will very quickly deteriorate your blanket. So get them washed as SOON as you are done with them for the season, to help save the longevity! The next best way to ruin your waterproofing is by washing in bleach or detergents. Every year, blankets come in that have been washed at home, and come in to be waterproofed. This is a complete challenge, since not only does detergent clear out the waterproofing that is there, but also can leave a residue (even if it says it does not) that softens the material. This residue makes it very difficult for the reproofer to be effective. SO avoid the detergents at ALL cost!

This includes house hold detergents or any product that when you look for the ingredients, if one is labeled “Detergent”, don’t use it! As far as bleach, this goes for color safe as well! These chemicals are too harsh for the waterproofing and sometimes horses will have allergic skin reactions.

I often see people recommending oxy clean or chlorox 2 for use on saddle pads, however, I have met several individuals looking for a horse blanket sensitive wash, that have horses that are very sensitive to these chemicals. They found out when they or someone else washed their pads in oxy clean and/or chlorox 2, and had such a reaction that it left the horse with a large bald patch on the horse’s back in the shape of a saddle pad. Again, this is something that I have heard of several times….if you are willing to take the risk, go for it. As for me, I do not mix any horse wear with detergents, including oxy clean products. JUST SAVE THE RISK and AVOID!

Use Cold Water

Use COLD WATER, this goes with the above. Cold water will prevent any of the delicate waterproofing from being melted away, removed, and keep the materials in good, working shape. Occasionally, I will have customers ask for their blankets to be washed in hot water to remove bacteria…first, I do not have hot water connected since I never need it. Secondly, I do not believe the water would ever get hot enough in a washing machine with horse blankets to kill the bacteria. Thankfully, I personally use a horse blanket wash that is antibacterial, so I have that covered. NEVER USE HOT WATER. Avoid risking blanket shrinkage and damage, do not wash in hot water, do not dry clean, and do not dry in a machine! Wash in cold water, and drip dry!

Front Load Machines

My last and greatest tip to getting a clean blanket and avoid damage…use a front load washing machine.  Whether you take it to a laundromat, or you have a small one at home…this will provide you the best way to washing your own blanket.  A large washing machine will also help you greatly. One of the problems with a small washing machine, is trying to get your blanket thoroughly clean. Make sure you hose and get off excess dirt, and to save your let straps, attach them to the blanket.

SO can you wash your own blankets? YES! Is it a dirty and detailed process? YES!

Want it done right? Get a professional. Because truth be told, it is very difficult to completely reapply waterproofing of a blanket, and it will never be as good as when you first got it, especially if you ruin in (unintentionally). It is better to maintain than to reapply. I highly recommend a yearly waterproofing, as do several blanket manufacturers, it is not a marketing scheme, it will save you money in the long run!


I personally use RUG SAFE. Rug Safe is actually sold to Horse Ware Ltd. and rebottled as the Rambo wash that everyone loves, It is also sold to many other blanket manufacturers throughout the UK and Europe. Rug Safe can be bought in a ready to use detergent, or a concentrate, for personal use. It is a COLD WATER wash that is DETERGENT FREE, (which if you have ever looked for a cold water wash, is not only difficult to find, but expensive and even more difficult to find one that is detergent free). ANTIBACTERIAL, which means that the odor your blanket has, which is actually caused by bacteria, is cleaned out…leaving your blanket fresh! SAFE on all materials and conditions the fibers, making the blanket look more like the original color, increases the longevity, and allows the waterproofing to last longer. WATERPROOFING SAFE, as it is detergent free and a cold water wash. Reproofers are effective, safe, wax and silicone free, meaning that it leaves your blanket breathable, which is very important!


This horse blanket wash and re-proofer was developed by the owners of the largest horse blanket laundry businesses in the UK, and specifically designed for the purpose of washing and reproofing horse blankets. Including washes with several different scents-cotton fresh, lavender, citrus, cherry, tropical, and the list goes on, some washes are specifically for stable blankets and coolers with added anti-static properties, an antiviral wash, and a sensitive wash for the ultra-sensitive horse. If you have questions or wish to purchase please contact me and SAVE YOUR BLANKETS!!

Thank you again for following along! See you next week…and happy washing!!





After the writing of this article, Rug Safe Won the 2017 Animal Health and Wellness Award for Best Specialist Equestrian Laundry Supplier in the UK. ~Congrats to the RugSafe UK Team!



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