Electric blankets offer an easy way to get cozy and warm without having to heat the entire home. They’re perfect for consumers who always feel cold when everyone else in the building is perfectly comfortable. However, given the very nature of their design, these covers come with a few special challenges that traditional blankets do not. This is especially true when it comes to keeping them clean. If you’ve been using an electric blanket to stay warm, there are several important things to know before tossing it in the washing machine.
The Age and Design of Your Electric Blanket Matters
At one time, these covers were simply not made to withstand hot water, rigorous agitation, and the high temperatures of clothes dryers. Older electric blankets that could be washed were often required to be washed by hand and then hung to dry. Now, however, electric blankets are increasingly manufactured with ease of maintenance in mind. After all, no matter how comfortable or effective a cover is, no one wants to snuggle beneath one that looks or smells dirty.
If you have an older electric blanket that came with strict warnings from the manufacturer in regards to washing it, it’s probably time to replace it. Although most modern electric blankets are washable, they still aren’t built for all washing machine or dryer settings. Some products must be washed on gentle cycles and dried with low heat. Others can be machine-washed but not machine-dried. When in doubt, the best place to start is the owner’s manual that came with your blanket, as it will prove to be the best guide on safely caring for your cover.
Electric Blankets With Duvet Covers
To avoid any challenges and risks that washing electric blankets might entail, many manufacturers now sell two-part blanket systems. You get a single, inner blanket that’s wired for heating, and a thick, comfortable duvet that can be removed and washed as needed.
With this type of blanket, there are usually no restrictions on how often you can wash your cover, how often it’s dried, or how you set your dryer temperature. Once the outer duvet is clean and dry, it’s simply slipped back over the inner heating unit. If you’re looking for an electric blanket and like washing your bedding often, this is the type to purchase. There are also removable covers that are sold separately for many electric blankets that don’t already come with duvet covers.
How to Wash an Electric Blanket Safely
The first step in washing any electric blanket is to review the owner’s manual. There’s absolutely no skipping this step, even if you’ve owned and washed multiple electric blankets before. The requirements for safely washing and drying these covers can vary significantly from model to model. If you no longer have your owner’s manual, take a minute to look it up online. Most manufacturers have digital copies of these guides available for download for free.
Before washing any electric blanket, disconnect its power control box. If the power control box on your blanket cannot be disconnected and removed, you may need to wash your cover by hand or not all. Once the power control has been taken off, check both sides of the blanket from end to end to see if there is any exposed wiring due to wear. If there is, not only should you avoid washing your blanket, but you should also retire it.
Most washing instructions for electric blankets suggest using cool water. If your blanket is heavily stained or if it has developed an odor, consider incorporating the pre-soak setting to ensure a thorough wash. You should also attempt to remove any solid debris from the surface of your blanket before putting it into the machine. Pet hair can be collected with a lint roller. Machine settings should be determined by the blanket manufacturer. However, it’s generally best to select the shortest and gentlest cycle possible.
Drying Your Electric Blanket
Dripping wet blankets can take forever to dry when hung, especially during the colder seasons. No matter how new or modern your electric blanket may be, it can only be partially dried in a clothes dryer. Even the newest electric blankets on the market aren’t meant to withstand the highest heat settings on dryers or to endure the challenges of a complete dry cycle. More often than not, manufacturers recommend only partially drying electric blankets by machine. These covers should be taken out while still damp and allowed to air- or sun-dry.
This poses a number of problems if your electric blanket gets especially dirty during the cold season. It isn’t likely to be hot enough outdoors to line-dry your blanket, and there may be the risk of snow or rain. Moreover, drying a wet blanket indoors can make your living environment humid.
Finally, in winter, if large, damp blankets don’t fully dry within a reasonable amount of time, they can develop deep, musty smells and problems with mold or mildew. This defeats the whole purpose and could pose some health risks.
Sleeping With an Electric Blanket After Drying
After you’ve washed and dried an electric blanket according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll need to reconnect the power control box. Before doing so, carefully check both ends of the connection for remaining moisture. If there are any grooves or cracks, use a cotton swab to thoroughly dry these areas. It’s also important to give your electric blanket a good test run after washing and drying it, and before you use it to doze off for a quick nap. After everything is connected, turn your electric blanket on for a while to make sure that it’s still functioning properly.
Signs Your Electric Blanket May be Ready for Retirement
Before going through the hassle of washing and air-drying or partially air-drying your electric blanket, take a minute to determine if it wouldn’t be better to replace it instead. Although washing these covers is always cheaper than replacing them, if your blanket is excessively stained, has developed visible problems with mold, or is threadbare in any areas, toss it out. You should also get rid of any electric blanket that has wires showing, a frayed cord, or any visible damage to its power control box.
Are There Better Alternatives to Washing or Replacing an Electric Blanket?
Despite being both comfortable and convenient, using and washing old and modern electric blankets comes with a number of risks. If you can, think about purchasing a duvet cover or any other lightweight, washable cover for your electric blanket. You can also upgrade your central HVAC system to a zoned HVAC system or have a ductless mini-split unit installed. With a zoned heating system, you can easily create warmer indoor temperatures in the room or zone that you’re using and do so without making others in your home uncomfortable.
At Thermo Direct, we provide reliable heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services for residents of the Greater Triangle area. We’ve been in business since 2000, and Raleigh locals can always count on us for competitive prices and cutting-edge home comfort solutions. In addition, we can take care of all your electrical needs. Call us today to find a safe and efficient alternative to your old electric blanket!