How To Wash Electric Blankets

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Your electric blanket or heated mattress pad is washable, so long as you know these general tips to get it safely clean.

How Often to Wash Electric Blankets

Electric blankets or throws and heated mattress pads can make your bed cozy on cold nights and provide relief to sore muscles and aching joints. As with any blanket, frequent use means your electric blanket will get dirty from body oils and maybe food or beverage spills, too. Blankets and throws also collect dust mites and pet dander. 

So, you should wash your electric blanket at least two or three times during the cold season while it’s in use, and again before storing it for the warmer months. (See also, How Often to Clean Everything.)

Steps to Wash Your Electric Blanket

Before you start washing your electric blanket, make sure your home machines are large enough for the task. Your blanket needs enough space in the washer to swirl, and enough room to tumble dry. If it’s crowded in the washer, follow the tips further down to hand-wash it in the bathtub. If it’s crowded in your dryer, the commercial dryers at your local laundromat offer more space.

Active time 45 minutes.

Materials and Supplies

• Mild laundry detergent
• Microfiber cloth
• Washing machine
• Clothes dryer (optional)
• Clothesline or drying rack

  1. Unplug and shake it

    Remove the power cord and controller from your blanket. Then, shake the blanket to dislodge as much dust and pet hair as possible. Since you’ll be using a very short wash cycle, this step helps get your electric blanket cleaner quickly.

  2. Pre-treat stains

    Remove food spills and other crusty messes from your blanket’s surface with a rubber spatula or old credit card. Pre-treat stains by dabbing them with a small amount of laundry detergent or even soap and warm water on a microfiber cloth. Avoid rubbing stains, since this can spread the mess. 

  3. Set the washing cycle and temperatures

    Top Loading Machines: Use half the usual amount of laundry detergent, and no other laundry additives. Set the washer for the gentle cycle using cold water. Let the machine’s drum fill with water, so the detergent dissolves. Then add your blanket to the washer’s tub, arranging it around the agitator. If needed, you can add a lint-free towel or sheet to the load to balance it. 

    Front Loading Machines: Set the washer on the delicate cycle using a cold water setting. Add a minimal amount of detergent and the blanket. Do not use bleach, fabric softener, or any other laundry additives.

  4. Time the washing cycle

    Start the washer and let it agitate for 2 to 3 minutes, then skip to the rinse cycle. Allow the machine to complete the rinse and spin, then remove the blanket immediately after the spin cycle ends.

  5. Dry your electric blanket

    Use a low heat setting for 15-20 minutes, just long enough to remove excess water. Then transfer your electric blanket to a clothesline or drying rack to finish air-drying away from direct sunlight, which can damage the heating elements.

  6. Plug it in

    Feel the blanket in several places with your hands to ensure it’s completely dry before you return it to your bed and plug it back in.

Washing Older Electric Blankets

All electric blankets manufactured in the U.S. since 1990 are required by law to be washable. If your blanket is from overseas, or you are not sure where it was made, consult the care label’s washing instructions. Or, if it came with a user manual, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and drying.

Hand-Washing Electric Blankets

Fill your bathtub with 3-4 inches of cool water and swirl in 2 tablespoons of mild laundry detergent until dissolved. Add your electric blanket and soak it for 10 minutes, agitating it a few times with your hands. Take care that you do not bend the wires. Drain the tub and gently press down to remove soapy water. Refill the tub with fresh water to rinse away the soap and immediately drain it again. Carefully roll your blanket to get rid of excess water without bending the wires, then follow the steps to dry it in the dryer or air-dry it over a rack.

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Important Tips

• Do not use bleach. Chlorine bleach can damage the electrical components in your heated blanket.

• Avoid soaking. It’s important to minimize how long your electric blanket or heated mattress pad remains wet. Be sure to watch the times carefully for the best results.

• Do not use high heat. If you choose to use your dryer, make sure to tumble dry your electric blanket on low heat. This will take longer, but protects the electric wiring from damage.

• Never dry-clean an electric blanket. The harsh chemicals used for dry cleaning can damage your heated blanket and electric mattress pad. Most dry cleaners will know this, but you can avoid problems by washing your electric blanket at home.

• If your electric blanket looks smaller after washing, place it on a flat surface and gently smooth the fabric to its original shape. Once you’ve reshaped it, hang the electric blanket over a laundry line or clothes drying rack overnight.

• Never iron an electric blanket. The iron’s high temperatures can damage the wiring insulation and cause it to melt. If you need to remove wrinkles after washing your electric blanket, hang it over a shower rod or drying rack while it is slightly damp and let gravity pull the wrinkles out.

How to Store Your Electric Blanket

Always wash your electric blanket before storing it for the season. Once your blanket is completely dry, roll it up or fold it gently without creasing or compressing the wires. Then place it in a plastic storage container to protect it from pests and your electric blanket will be fresh and ready for you to use next winter.

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17 Comments

  1. My blankets inside heating coils appear to be sewn into the blanket, how exactly did you get yours out?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You don’t remove the coils from the inside of the blanket. Unplug it from the wall and wash it.

  2. katie cloutier says:

    Katie how can I wash an electric throw? I live in apartment complex and my washing machine locks and it runs through a 45 min cycle and once it starts it cannot be altered in any way?
    Thanks
    Katie

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I think I’d do it in the bathtub by hand, in that case.

    2. is this your own washer? or the apartments one that you pay for with quarters? if your own….and it does lock….there should be a pause button or cancel, also if you try to open the lid several times while locked it will unlock it and you can open the lid, do what you need to then close the lid and it returns to doing what it should and the lid should remain unlocked the rest of the cycle, hope this works for you as it did for me…..GL

  3. I have been able to use your tips successfully before having to purchase a new washer when mine died. Unfortunately I now have an HE washer which gives you NO control. I personally hate it since half the stuff never gets wet so I have to use the bulky setting every time which is a waste of water. Anyhow, my options are to not wash it or handwash it. It’s a queen size and light colored. It needs more than handwashing. Any ideas. Next washer will be an old fashioned NORMAL one which I can control and doesn’t take an hour to wash with little water. HELP! Thanks so much!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Doesn’t your machine let you fast forward to the rinse cycle?

    2. Theresa Jordan says:

      I am with you totally I also will go back to plain and simple old fashioned washer. I believe these new washers are so hard on the clothes. I haven’t had mine long enough to want to eat the cost, and chalk it up to a big mistake ,but I’m close to that. Crazy thing will be the one that last forever ,ha ! Ready to give it a try on my blanket .

  4. Just a helpful hint….i have a “smart” (or so it wants to believe) HE washer. While the washer does take away some control you can get some control back. Set up a custom wash (minimal water is okay, just run the wash cycle a tad longer). Once ‘washed’ for the desired time (10 minutes or so) – power off the washer. My washer has a ‘rinse’ cycle. Power on the washer and choose to rinse- if your HE washer wont let you, try a spin cycle OR choose another ‘wash’ cycle just dont add detergent. Then either spin or take out and hand wring.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for sharing that, Kimberly!

  5. Poor blanket says:

    Thank you. I am lucky that my smart washer has a quick wash cycle. 13 minutes for the whole cycle. Tomorrow morning will finally wash my poor electric blanket

  6. Barbara Dorsey says:

    I believe you but how on earth does this not mess up the electric parts? Guess I am showing my age!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Once it’s unplugged from the controller and wall, it’s just a blanket with sealed electrical cord inside. They’re made so that water doesn’t affect the cord within the blanket, so as long as you don’t plug it back in until it’s dry there’s no problem.

  7. Rita Eaton says:

    Do I have to take out cords inside of heating blanket. I know I cants have the wall cord but what about the plug that is connected to the blanket that leads to all the cords inside?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Rita,
      No, you don’t need to remove the cords that are inside the blanket, just the one which attaches the blanket to the wall.

  8. I can’t seem to get my cord to come unattached from the blanket. Help! Lol

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Some electric blankets have extra fasteners that connect the cord to the blanket and keep it from accidentally getting dislodged. If yours has those, unplug it from the wall and use a flathead screwdriver or something similar to leverage the fasteners off the side. If you can’t remove them easily, don’t force it. But never wash an electric blanket with the cord still attached.