How to Wash a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are a great way to relax and improve sleep, but they’re not great if they are hard to care for. Learn how to wash a weighted blanket.

By Sheryl Grassie

Weighted blankets are one of the best things to lounge around in. That added weight has a way of relaxing you as you recline. Cleaning them after an unfortunate spill or just a long term period of use can seem like a daunting task. It’s easier to understand the cleaning process when you learn a bit about the history of weighted blankets.

Weighted blankets were originally developed as a way to help calm and soothe people with anxiety, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to help them sleep. These conditions respond well to deep touch or pressure therapy, and weight can accomplish the same thing. To start, therapists tried actual weights, but they were awkward, imbalanced, and the weight was not evenly dispersed. To achieve a more uniform weight distribution a blanket filled with tiny weighted particles was designed.

Washing machine and dryer

The first blankets were filled with materials like rice, beans, sand, corn, or buckwheat similar to a large beanbag. Even small stones were tried, but they wore the surrounding fabric out very quickly. All these initial materials, which are still available today, are very difficult to clean and not machine washable, they have additional drawbacks like some can develop mold or the seeds can sprout.

When experts started recommending weighted blankets for a wider audience, manufacturers jumped on board and started using more wash-friendly materials like glass micro-beads, steel shot similar to buckshot, and plastic pellets for fill. Additionally, some blanket materials like wool and cotton are naturally heavy and don’t require any additional fill.  

Washing a Weighted Blanket

The good news is that most weighted blankets are now machine washable. Before we get into the nitty gritty of washing instructions here is a list of fabrics and fills that can and can’t be machine washed with water.

Machine Washable:

  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Minky
  • Polar Fleece 
  • Micro Glass beads
  • Plastic beads
  • Metal Pellets

Not Machine Washable:

  • Sand
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Seeds
  • Popcorn Seeds
  • Buckwheat

Start by Reading the Washing Instructions

In an ideal world you would read the washing instructions even before you purchased your weighted blanket, so you would know what is involved. Check out our article on the Best Weighted Blankets for some help in purchasing. 

Your blanket label should tell you things like whether it can be washed or if it needs dry cleaning. Many of the natural materials originally used in weighted blankets don’t do well with water and washing can be a mess. They can sprout, dissolve, or become one large clump defeating their purpose. 

The newer weighted blankets, however, are easily washed, just follow label directions. Manufacturers know their products and want to help you keep your weighted blanket clean and performing well. 

Consider a Cover

You can cut down on the frequency with which your weighted blanket needs to be washed by adding a cover. Duvet covers, essentially two sheets sewn together, are readily available and easy to machine wash and dry. They act as a protective barrier for dirt, hair, small amounts of liquid, and food. You can easily slide your weighted blanket inside the cover, and it will not lessen the effectiveness of the blanket.    

Prepare Your Weighted Blanket for Washing

If it is the first time you are washing your blanket, and the cover has color, you can add up to half a cup of salt or vinegar to the wash water to help stabilize the color so it doesn’t fade. This is only necessary for the first washing. 

Next, check for stains that may need attention before washing. Spot cleaning for stain removal can be done by applying a small amount of baking soda and water or vinegar and water to the stain and letting it sit before washing. Commercial stain removers and non-chlorine bleach may or may not be recommended by the manufacturer. 

When you wash your weighted blanket, it is a great time to check for any holes, splitting seams, or fraying edges. Weighted blankets that are filled with micro beads of any kind can present a choking hazard and it is important to stay on top of any possible leaks if you have little ones in the house. Check before and after washing so repairs can be made.  

Assess the Weight of Your Blanket

Most weighted blankets are less than 20 lbs. which is the weight at which you may need a commercial washing machine. If you do have a large or extra-heavy blanket, then plan for a trip to the laundromat. Cramming a big blanket in a smaller machine won’t allow for enough water to circulate, and the blanket won’t get clean. 

Hand washing can be an alternative if your washer is too small, you can try hand washing by soaking the blanket in a large laundry tub or bathtub, rinsing thoroughly, and squeezing (not ringing) out most of the water before drying.

Other Washing Tips

  • Use a mild detergent: Most manufacturers recommend a mild detergent to keep the fabric intact. Soap can break down the fibers and cause premature wear. Choose something natural or chemical free. 
  • Use the gentle cycle: The nature of the hard glass, metal, or plastic fill can cause rapid wear on the fabric if overly agitated in the wash. The gentle cycle helps to preserve the fabric of the blanket whether it is filled or a heavyweight material like Minky, wool, cotton, or synthetic. 
  • Choose the right temperature: To preserve the fabric, cool to warm is the most common temperature rage. Again, manufacturers will have more specifics on the washing instructions. 
  • Dryer or air dry?: Most washable fabrics and fills can also be machine dried. Use a warm, not hot, temperature and plan on a longer dry time for some fabrics. Because of the mass of the item, if you are drying things like wool or cotton or synthetic materials on a low temperature setting it can be very slow. Conversely, weighted blankets filled with glass, plastic, or metal which don’t hold water can dry very quickly and are easy to line dry if desired. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, some blankets are not designed to go in the dryer.

Summary

Washing your weighted blanket can be a daunting task if it is one of the earlier types of fill like sand, rice, beans, or corn. The good news is that there are now many types of weighted blankets on the market, and most can be easily washed and dried at home with no special care. 

There are recommendations like no hot water, gentle cycle, and mild soap that help prolong the life of the blanket. Using a duvet cover can also support longevity and cut down on the frequency of washings. Follow the simple steps outlined above for a fresh clean weighted blanket to help you relax and enhance your sleep.


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