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Did you know that a lack of sleep can affect your brain in the same way as severe anxiety? That was the finding of a recent report, where researchers also discovered that chronic sleep deprivation could catalyze the onset of an anxiety disorder.
Weighted blankets are designed to help soothe the symptoms of both insomnia and anxiety, as well as chronic pain. These special blankets, which usually weigh around 30 pounds or less, deliver deep pressure to users, which can relieve feelings of unease and lead to an increased sense of calm.
If you have one, then you know how effective they can be. However, these accessories aren’t like their traditional counterparts, which might leave you wondering how to clean and maintain them.
Are you wondering how to wash a weighted blanket the right way? Today, we’re sharing a step-by-step guide that covers every aspect of this process from start to finish!
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets work as their name implies. These are therapeutic blankets that can promote stress relief and healthy sleeping habits for a wide range of users, from children to older adults. Usually, they weigh between five and 30 pounds. Those made specifically for children are usually between five and 13 pounds.
When you cover up with one, you experience the relaxing effects of a sensation known as deep pressure stimulation. In short, this is a hands-on technique that relaxes your nervous system. If you’ve ever felt better after a tight hug, then you’ve seen it at work.
Weighted blankets work in a similar way. They deliver physical pressure that works to relieve your nervous system and calm your psyche.
In addition to soothing pain, they can also lessen anxiety and even improve your mood. While you can achieve deep pressure stimulation with your hands or special massage ways, weighted blankets are a great alternative.
What makes these blankets so heavy? Weighted blankets can be filled with a variety of different materials, including:
- Plastic pellets
- Poly pellets
- Micro-glass beads
- Smooth pebbles
- Organic material (e.g. rice, beans, or corn)
- Steel shot beads
In addition to different filler materials, you’ll also find that the blankets themselves are made from a variety of fabrics, such as:
- Faux fur
While most of the fillers work in the same way, some can be bulkier than others. For instance, glass beads are denser than poly beads, so you won’t need to use as many to achieve the same effect.
A 10-pound blanket filled with poly beads will usually be heftier and more cumbersome than one filled with glass beads.
As you shop around, you’ll find that these blankets are available in a range of different weights. To choose the best one for you or a loved one, most providers recommend calculating 10% of the user’s body weight, plus one additional pound. This is approximately how heavy your blanket should be.
How to Wash a Weighted Blanket: A Step-by-Step Guide
Once your weighted blanket arrives, you’ll naturally be eager to start wrapping up in it immediately! Yet, after a few uses, you may want to freshen it up a bit. Or, you might prefer to wash it straight out of the packaging, so you can make sure it’s clean.
Either way, you can’t exactly toss these into the washing machine with the rest of your like-colored fabrics. After all, they’re filled with a special medium and you want to protect the stitching as much as possible. Plus, if something does go wrong in the machine, you could be out a substantial amount of money.
A good-quality weighted blanket can cost hundreds of dollars, though it’s a valuable investment for those who need it.
It can help to know the basics. Here is an in-depth guide on how to wash a weighted blanket the right way!
Step 1: Check the Care Instructions
It’s always best to consult the special care instructions provided by the blanket’s manufacturer. Certain fabrics, like fleece, will often require special care. In addition, some types of fillers aren’t able to be washed in the machine at all, while others are fine.
For instance, micro-glass beads are among the most durable. You can wash these in cold or lukewarm water, and they will hold up if tumble dried at a low temperature.
On the other hand, plastic pellets can melt in warm water and should only be washed in cold water. It’s also best to air dry them rather than drying them in the machine.
Then, there are some materials that are best to hand-wash, only. These include:
- Smooth pebbles
- Steel shot beads
Finally, weighted blankets filled with organic materials such as rice and corn should not get wet at all. Instead of submerging the entire blanket in water, it’s best to only spot-treat them as necessary.
Often, the care label will provide complete information on the type of material used outside and within the blanket, along with detailed washing instructions.
However, this isn’t always the case, especially if you purchase a handmade blanket online or from a local craft fair. If you have any questions about washing those items, then be sure to ask the maker before you get started.
Step 2: Consider the Blanket’s Weight
Want to get your weighted blanket so fresh and so clean? Before you do anything, check its weight. If it’s more than 20 pounds, your best bet is to take it to a laundromat that provides commercial-grade, heavy-duty machines designed specifically for large loads.
Even the largest residential washing machine isn’t up to the task. While it might be able to accommodate the blanket, the weight could put a lot of wear and tear onto its gears, which can degrade it over time.
We’d venture to guess that you plan on washing your blanket more than once, and this isn’t the type of exhaustion you want to force on your machine more than once.
Does yours weigh in at under that amount? If so, then you can wash it at home, but it’s important to take the proper precautions. If you’re on the fence about using your machine, then consider how it does with a king-sized comforter. If it can wash yours with ease, then it should be up to the task.
On the other hand, if the comforter blocks the agitator and you usually wind up with a puddle of water on the floor, then it’s safe to assume that the same will happen when you try to was your blanket.
If you do decide to use your washing machine, then use a gentle cycle and wash it by itself with cold water and mild detergent. Again, it’s critical to check the care tag or manufacturer’s instructions. Most weighted blankets that are filled with glass micro-glass beads or plastic/poly pellets will be safe in a machine, but you never want to assume.
Step 3: Pretreat Stains
Did you spill coffee while relaxing under your blanket on a Saturday morning? Maybe you brought popcorn into the bed to watch a late-night movie and it’s now covered with drips of butter. Or, you may have simply sweated in the middle of the night, waking up to pale yellow marks where your underarms hugged the covers.
Regardless of what caused the stain, you should be able to get it out with the right products. This pretreatment should be done before you put the blanket into your machine or take it to the laundromat. This way, the extra scrubbing action can lift out the stain even more!
To pretreat your weighted blanket, simply create a solution of warm water and laundry detergent. If you’re using powdered detergent, then add a teaspoon of it to a few cups of water.
For liquid detergent, mix about 1/4 of a cup of soap with the water instead. Then, dip a toothbrush into the solution and scrub the affected area for a few seconds before washing it.
Some homeowners prefer to use the cleaning power of vinegar to treat laundry stains. This solution is safe for your weighted blanket and can be created by following these steps:
- Mix together equal parts liquid detergent and distilled white vinegar (one ounce each).
- Add 10 ounces of warm water to the mixture.
- Dip a toothbrush in the solution and apply it to the stain.
- Gently scrub it for about five minutes before washing.
Step 4: Wash Your Blanket
If you’re using a machine, then here are the basic steps to follow when you’re ready to wash your weighted blanket:
- Add your preferred laundry detergent into the correct compartment of your washing machine.
- Carefully place your pretreated blanket into the machine.
- Select the gentle cycle and begin washing your blanket.
- Immediately remove the blanket as soon as the washing cycle is complete.
Once your weighted blanket is successfully out of the wash cycle, it’s time to dry it. You might find that this step takes a shorter amount of time than you first imagined!
Both glass and poly beads tend to repel water rather than readily accepting it, which means they won’t be soaked to the brim when you pull your blanket from the machine.
Note that while most washing machines will adequately ring the extra water from your blanket before it goes into the dryer, some older models might be a little less efficient. This is especially the case with heavy items like a weighted blanket.
If you notice that your blanket still feels excessively damp after washing it for a full cycle, then you can put it back on the spin cycle to get rid of that excess water before adding it to the dryer.
Step 5: Dry Your Blanket
If your blanket is light enough for at-home care and you want to use your dryer, then place it in the machine by itself. Use the low-heat or delicate cycle to make sure it’s not tossed about too erratically.
Note that the only filler materials that are completely safe to machine-dry are micro-glass beads. If possible, it’s safest to air-dry all other types.
To dry your newly-laundered blanket, spread it out on a large, clean surface, such as your shower bar. You can also hang it on a drying rack, chair, or even the edge of your bathtub.
If you choose to dry it on the floor, then add a plastic tarp below the blanket to protect the surface. If you notice that any of the filling has shifted, go ahead and gently position it back into place.
If possible, choose a spot that will allow the air to circulate on all sides of the blanket and not just the top, which means your bed is out. At the same time, avoid hanging it by one end only, such as stringing it up on a clothesline. Doing so could put too much pressure on the seams and cause the blanket to open.
You may need to gently shake or flip the blanket every few hours as it dries to expedite the process. It should be completely dry within 24 to 48 hours.
Washing Your Weighted Blanket By Hand
Maybe you want to avoid the hassle of lugging your heavy blanket to the laundromat. Or, perhaps you just want to take a more careful and controlled approach to your at-home cleaning method. In some cases, your blanket might not be compatible with your washing machine at all.
Either way, you can definitely wash your weighted blanket by hand!
Keep in mind that this process will be much more labor-intensive and will require plenty of space, so be sure to schedule an afternoon for the effort and plan accordingly. When you’re ready to get started, here are the steps to follow:
- Fill a bathtub or large basin with cold or lukewarm water.
- Add your preferred laundry detergent to the water.
- Gently stir the detergent into the water to distribute it evenly.
- Carefully place your pretreated weighted blanket into the solution.
- Knead the blanket into the solution (like kneading dough) to thoroughly wash it.
- Allow the blanket to soak for 15 minutes.
- Drain the dirty water in the basin and replace it with fresh water.
- Rinse the blanket and wring out any excess water.
- Hang the blanket up to dry.
Before performing this task, make sure the bathtub or basin that you plan to use is completely clean and free of debris.
Washing a Weighted Blanket: Products to Use and Avoid
When washing your weighted blanket, it’s best to avoid using any type of bleach or fabric softener. Bleach can discolor your fabric and cause the material to degrade. This is true even if you dilute the bleach with water.
At the same time, fabric softener can put a thin layer of chemicals (including benzyl acetate and ethanol) on the material, which can block its pores and reduce its breathability. Over time, it can actually make your fabric feel scratchy or stiff!
In addition, we also recommend skipping any type of laundry detergent that’s labeled as “tough” as these often contain special stain-fighting chemicals that could damage your blanket. It’s also smart to steer clear of strong stain removers, especially if you aren’t sure how they’ll react on the fabric.
To keep yours in top shape, stick with mild, dye-free detergent and warm water.
Want to help preserve the life of your weighted blanket? Consider using a removable duvet cover on top of it. This way, you won’t actually have to wash the blanket itself when it gets a little grimy. Most duvets will tie onto your blanket via little tabs that keep them in place. When it needs cleaning, you can just take off the duvet and toss it into your machine! It’s easier on you and easier on your laundry room.
Keep in mind, however, that your weighted blanket might still need freshening up, even if you use a duvet cover. In this case, you can simply take it outside on a bright, sunny day. As the sunlight enters the blanket, it can naturally clean it and help extend its lifespan.
Answer: Is your weighted blanket the centerpiece of your bedding ensemble? If so, then you might be a little disheartened to find that it comes out of the dryer wrinkled. Or, you may notice that it looks a little disheveled after you let it air dry.
If this happens, your first instinct will likely be to grab the iron, especially if you already iron your bed skirt, sheets, and other linens.
However, it’s best to steer clear of the iron in this case, and here’s why: Even if the fabric is safe to iron, the filler usually isn’t.
If you apply the high heat of an iron directly on top of your blanket, it could cause the inside material to melt. The only exception would be glass beads, but even these aren’t completely melt-proof. As the filler melts, it could also clump together and become a complete mess as it cools. From that point on, the weight wouldn’t be evenly distributed and the blanket would be rendered ineffective.
Plus, consider the challenge of maneuvering a weighted blanket onto a narrow ironing board. Even a twin-sized one would be cumbersome, and a queen-sized or king-sized one would be nearly impossible.
This is where a duvet cover comes in handy. If you choose one made of cotton, then it’s easy and safe to iron before putting your blanket back inside of it. However, avoid ironing if your duvet cover is made from any of the following materials:
Answer: You might love falling asleep to the scent of freshly-washed bedding, but how often do you really need to go to the trouble of washing your weighted blanket? In this case, it’s easiest to think of the blanket as a standard comforter.
While you don’t wash your comforter as often as your sheets, it can get dirty and needs routine cleaning. If it stays clean and stain-free and you only use it on occasion, then you should be good to wash it once every two to three months. Of course, you’ll need to wash it sooner if it gets excessively stained or develops an odor.
The same holds true if you use your weighted blanket every night and it sees a good amount of wear and tear. To extend your time between washes, try placing a top sheet between yourself and the blanket as you sleep.
Answer: Hot water can be great at sanitizing and cleaning your laundry. However, when it comes to your weighted blanket, it’s best to lean on the cool side.
Many types of fillers, micro-glass beads in particular, shouldn’t be exposed to hot water, as it could cause them to shatter. Plastic beads could melt under high temperatures. Then, there are also certain fabrics that simply don’t do well in hot water, such as silk, which could shrink.
Whether you hand-wash your blanket or use a washing machine, stick with cool or lukewarm water for best results.
Then, take the same approach with drying. Avoid using high heat on any type of blanket, and tumble dry on low heat instead. To ensure that the washing and drying process doesn’t damage your blanket at all, use cool water only and allow the blanket to air dry.
Answer: Once your weighted blanket is nice and clean, you might decide it’s time to put it away for a while. Maybe the temperatures are getting warmer and it will make your bed too hot. Or, you might find that you simply don’t need it to fall asleep anymore.
When that happens, you’ll need to know how to store the blanket. While most are too big and bulky for standard, decorative containers, you can find alternatives.
If you plan to use your blanket in various rooms, for instance, then try a large storage ottoman! These look great at the foot of your bed and make sure your favorite accessory is always within arm’s reach.
Similarly, you can also stash it in any type of furniture that features built-in storage, including a sofa or sectional. Other options include:
A soft-sided, under-bed storage bag
The bottom drawer of a large dresser
The bottom shelf of a bookcase
A decorative canvas bag
Remember that while your sheets and comforters might smell great with a few dryer sheets tucked between them in the linen closet, it’s best to avoid such products with your weighted blanket. Also, never store this item on a blanket ladder or hook, as its weight could cause it to come crashing down, which poses a safety hazard.
Answer: As they’re commonly used at bedtime, weighted blankets will often get the brunt of the impact if someone has an accident in the middle of the night.
While this can happen to anyone, it’s more common in young children and older adults. In addition, family pets might cause the same problem if they’re not house-trained or are unable to control their bladders.
s such, it’s smart to be prepared with an at-home solution that can remove all visible signs and scents of urine from the blanket. Thankfully, this one is easy to manage.
For fresh urine stains, treat the spot immediately with a mixture of laundry soap and warm water. If the stain is set in, then you can treat it with an enzyme-based stain remover.
If the stain is widespread, then you can wash the blanket thoroughly by following the directions above. You may need to repeat the cycle if you can still see or smell the urine after washing once.
Keep Your Weighted Blanket Clean and Cozy
A weighted blanket can be a valuable asset to any home. Not only does it soothe anxiety and alleviate chronic pain, but it can also help you drift into dreamland more quickly. In this fast-paced world, we could all use a little less stress and better sleep!
Once you invest in one, you need to know how to care for it. Now that you know how to wash a weighted blanket, you can help preserve yours so it can last as long as possible!
Looking for buying advice as you browse the different types of blankets, comforters, and sheet sets available online? We have you covered. Check out more of our informative articles for the unbiased reviews and trustworthy guidance you need!