My hands unplugging my electric blanket

Shockingly Clean: How To Wash Electric Blankets

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Ever slid under your cozy heated blanket on a cold winter’s night and noticed that it smells? Or maybe you found food stains or other debris? If you don’t know how to wash electric blankets, it’s time to learn. Because, like any bedding, they pick up dead skin cells, dust mites, and more.

Now, let’s get this up front: you do not need to pull the entire cord out of your electric blanket before washing it. I learned that the hard way and, since I’d ruined one of my favorite frugal ways to stay warm, I had to buy a new one. Thanks to proper washing, that one has lasted over a decade.

Step 1: Unplug It.

Here’s where people get confused about washing electric blankets: you need to unplug it from the wall then disconnect the controller cord where it plugs into the blanket. See the photo at the top for what I mean.

That leaves a heating cord inside your blanket—the one that winds like an S through it—but that cord is insulated, so it’s safe to wash.

Pro Tip

Always check the cord for signs of damage like fraying or loose wires. Do not use a damaged blanket.

Step 2: Spot Treat Stains.

Shake your blanket outside if possible to get rid of pet hair and dust. Then spread it out and check both sides for stains.

Use a spatula to scrape away crusty messes, and blot the others with cool soapy water and a clean cloth. Scrub with an old toothbrush if you need to. If blood doesn’t come out that way, a dab of hand sanitizer can get out blood stains, too.

Step 3: Options for Washing Electric Blankets.

Machine: Choose the delicate cycle with a cold water setting and half the usual detergent. Don’t add fabric softener, bleach, or other laundry additives—they can cause damage. If your machine allows, skip forward after 5 minutes of washing to complete the rinse and spin.

Bathtub: Run cool water about 4 inches deep and add a 1 tablespoon liquid laundry detergent. Squish the sudsy water through your blanket, drain the tub and gently press the water out. Refill the tub to rinse and drain it again. Work quickly. Soaking electric blankets risks the water damaging the cord housing.

Step 4. Blot and Reshape.

Now grab another blanket of the same size. Lay your wet electric one on top of it and compare their sizes. If your electric blanket looks smaller, start at the center and gently tug until it matches the other one. Now, roll them up together to blot the excess water.

Step 5: Get it Good and Dry.

I think we all share a concern about getting shocked when you get something electric wet then plug it in, right? To avoid that, let’s get yours dry the right way.

Tumble dry your electric blanket for 15 minutes on low heat—just long enough to remove excess water but not so long you’ll shrink it. Finish air drying it on a rack, thrown over a laundry line, or draped between two chairs. Flip it now and then to help it dry evenly. This takes between 8 and 24 hours.

Step 6: Plug it In.

Feel the blanket at the very center, the corners, and along the hems. Once your electric blanket is completely dry, reconnect the controller cord and plug into the wall.

How Often to Wash Electric Blankets

If you use your electric blanket nightly, wash it once a month like you would any blanket. Otherwise, give it the sniff test. And, of course, wash it right away if anyone has an accident on it or you spill something.

Before you store it at the end of winter, clean it one more time then tuck a few silica gel packets into the folds to keep it dry. I stash mine in a plastic container. If you keep it on a shelf, wash your electric blanket again when you get it out for the season—sleeping under a dusty one is no one’s idea of a good time.

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19 Comments

  1. Can someone help me; I have a thick wool underlay which has therapeutic magnets shown inside it… how do I wash it as too heavy for a washing machine and its thick wool?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Maree,
      Your best bet would be a laundromat with commercial or oversized washers and dryers. Many offer those machines for items like this which are too big for standard washers and dryers. If possible, however, you should remove the magnets prior to laundering. That will protect not only the machine but reduce the risk of damage for your underlay. Then launder it according to the care label’s directions.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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. 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!

  7. 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 .

  8. 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

  9. 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.

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