You’re Probably Not Washing Your Throw Blanket Enough

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Margaret Wright)

If you’re anything like me, then you love cuddling up with plush throw blankets when you’re in bed (and on the sofa). But with all that close-knit nightly snuggling, it can be hard to figure out the right time to let go of your favorite throw and toss it in the wash.

Luckily, we have laundry experts John Mahdessian, founder of Madame Paulette, and Kim Duk Won, owner of Manhattan’s Nordic Cleaners to call upon for help. We asked them for advice on how often—and how-to—to clean our beloved blankets, and here’s what they had to say…

How often do we really need to wash our throw blankets?

Answer: Every two weeks, to be safe.

“The average person will need to clean their throws at least once a month,” Mahdessian explains. “But of course, your level of cleanliness also makes a difference. For example, if you’re a person who likes to eat on your sofa wrapped in a throw, or you let your dog sleep in bed with it, then you’re probably going to want to wash your throws every two weeks or so.”

“If you’re using a throw nearly everyday, then you should wash it every other week,” adds Duk Won. “This way you can prevent too many stains from accumulating and keep germs at bay.”

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

So, can I just throw them in the washer to clean?

Answer: Probably, yes. But check the tag.

“Assuming they’re washable blankets (i.e. don’t specify that they’re dry-clean only) then dropping them in your washing machine shouldn’t be a problem,” Mahdessian says. “Stick with a cold (or slightly warm) wash on a short, delicate cycle and don’t over-do it with detergent or softener, because too much can break down your blanket faster.”

And if you’re dealing with an extra delicate material, such as a loosely woven cable-knit, Mahdessian also suggests washing it inside a large net laundry bag to prevent it from stretching.

Don’t have a washing machine? Duk Won believes that’s even better for your throws. “Since throw blankets are often composed of fragile materials, I recommend hand-washing them in cold water only,” he says. “This will ensure your throw blanket gets a thorough, but gentle, clean.”

And what about drying?

Answer: It takes special care. According to our experts, how you dry your throw blanket can make or break its softness—and life expectancy.

“It’s important to leave some moisture in the blanket when drying it to avoid shrinking it, says Mahdessian, “Especially ones made of woven materials. When there’s no moisture in the material, the fibers will contract and shrink,” he explains, “so you should only dry your throws on low heat and if your washing machine allows, with a low moisture level on.”

No moisture sensor on your machine? No problem. Mahdessian says to just stick your throw in the dryer on low heat and remove it before it’s fully dry instead. “Check on your throw every 20 minutes and take it out of the dryer when it’s about 80 percent dry,” he says. “Air drying it towards the end will safeguard your blanket from shrinkage and over-drying (which can harshen fibers and make your throw less comfy).”

Or, Duk Won says, you can always play it safe and simply let your throw blankets hang dry. “It’s the only way to guarantee your blanket maintains its shape,” he explains, “and stays nice and snag-free.”