There’s something deliciously wonderful about wrapping yourself up in a soft, cozy blanket. A perfectly soft blanket can melt away your worries and cares (at least for a moment). Unfortunately, your favorite blanket can lose its fluffy feeling over time. If your favorite blanket has lost its velvet feel, you may be wondering what you can do to recapture that comfort.
Why Do Blankets Lose Their Softness?
You already know that a soiled blanket will feel stiff and sticky, not soft. It’s important to keep your blankets laundered, but how you wash your blanket can greatly impact how soft it feels.
Certain types of blankets, like the super soft and fluffy ones, are made from synthetic fibers that need a little extra care to avoid feeling clumpy or crunchy. Heat is the number one enemy when it comes to maintaining your fluffy blanket’s softness. High heat wash and dry cycles can cause those fluffy synthetic fibers to warp, curl, and damage.
Your laundry products can also impact the softness of your blanket. Using too much detergent will negatively impact the feel of your blanket if it can’t get completely removed in the rinse cycle. Bleach and harsh disinfectants can ruin the fibers, much like heat. And fabric softener may sound like the answer to your softness problems, but keep reading to find out why it could actually make your blankets less soft (and what to try instead).
How to Make a Blanket Soft Again
If your goal is the softest, fluffiest, coziest blanket, then it’s critical to understand what material your blanket is made from. Take a look at the care label attached to the blanket, or the packaging it came in, to find out what type of blanket you have and how the manufacturer recommends washing it.
Your care instructions will vary depending on whether your blanket is made from natural materials, such as cotton, wool, or muslin, or synthetic fibers such as polyester fleece.
If your blanket can be machine-washed, you can take a few steps to help it regain its softness. First, launder your blanket in the lowest temperature water recommended. This is especially critical for synthetic materials like polyester fleece. Use a small amount of mild detergent when washing. Add half a cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the wash and half a cup of white vinegar, poured into the detergent drawer, for extra softness.
Some blankets can’t be machine-washed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them regain their softness. If your blanket is made out of wool, cashmere, mink, or mohair, it’s likely going to require hand-washing. And if you have a blanket that has sentimental value, like that embroidered blanket your grandmother made for you by hand, you may also want to consider this gentle washing method to help it regain its softness.
To wash a blanket by hand, you’ll need a bathtub or deep sink, mild detergent, baking soda, and vinegar.
- Fill the tub or sink halfway with cool water.
- Shake your blanket out to remove any loose particles.
- Add a small amount of mild detergent, half a cup of baking soda, and half a cup of vinegar.
- Swish your hands in the water to evenly distribute the detergent, baking soda, and vinegar.
- Add the blanket to the water and let it soak for 5 – 30 minutes, depending on how soiled it is.
- Gently swish the blanket around in the water, using your hand to agitate and work the mixture into the blanket fibers.
- Drain the water and detergent mixture.
- Gently squeeze out excess moisture from the blanket.
- Refill the tub or sink with cool water and swish again.
- Drain, rinse, refill, and repeat until all of the soil and detergent has been rinsed from the blanket completely.
- Squeeze as much moisture from your blanket as you can before hanging it to air dry completely.
How to Keep a Blanket Soft
Keeping your blanket soft is easy once you understand what to use (and avoid) when washing it. Remember that heat, harsh detergents, and bleach will sap away the softness from most blankets. But there’s one more laundry essential that may inadvertently work against you if you’re trying to keep a blanket soft: fabric softener.
If you’ve been pouring fabric softener in with your blankets to help keep them fluffy and soft, we can’t blame you. Not many people realize that fabric softener can actually result in a blanket that’s less soft and cozy! Fabric softeners are made up of chemicals that can impact your blanket’s fibers, often resulting in a less-than-soft fabric.
Instead, there’s an alternative softener that you probably already have available in your home. And that is…
White vinegar is a super-star multi-use cleaning ingredient that can help clean and soften your laundry. White vinegar has a low pH, making it an effective cleaner that can banish the residue and build-up that make fabrics stiff and matted (plus it gets rid of unwelcome odors, too).
Adding white vinegar to your detergent can boost its cleaning and whitening powers. But where white vinegar really shines in the laundry room when you use it as a replacement for fabric softener, resulting in super soft and silky fabrics.
Caring for Your Blankets
The best way to care for your blankets is to read and understand the manufacturer’s care instructions so you can launder them properly. Using the proper water temperature, wash cycle, detergent type, and drying temperatures can go a long way in keeping your blankets soft and cozy. In most cases, washing a blanket incorrectly won’t be the end of the world, and you can quickly help it regain its softness the next time it goes through the wash. However, some blankets must be appropriately cleaned, or else you run the risk of ruining the blanket and doing serious damage to your washing machine.
Weighted blankets are one type of blanket that could be damaged if washed incorrectly. Be sure to read the care label carefully. If you’ve lost the care label, don’t guess. Visit the manufacturer’s website for more information about what fill materials are adding the heft and weight. Different fill types have different care instructions, and some (such as food-based fills like dried beans or rice) can not be washed at all.
Once you know how to wash a weighted blanket, you’ll also need to be sure that it can fit into your washing machine and won’t be too heavy to fit into your standard-sized machine when wet. You’ll likely hand-wash or machine-wash your weighted blanket on a gentle cycle and let it air-dry completely.
Can you wash an electric blanket? You may be surprised to learn that many modern heated blankets are completely washable, with electric components encased in waterproof, fireproof materials. However, older heated blankets may not be washable. Again, always take the time to read the care label or visit the manufacturer’s website when you want to know how to wash a heated blanket. You will likely be instructed to hand-wash or machine-wash on a gentle cycle with warm or cold water.
Does washing a blanket make it less soft?
Washing a blanket can make it less soft if you are not following the recommended care instructions for the fabrics and materials used in the blanket. Avoid hot water, harsh detergents, bleach and even fabric softeners if you want to keep your blankets soft.
Will washing a blanket ruin it?
Your blanket could get ruined if the materials aren't meant to be machine-washed or washed by hand. The easiest way to ruin a blanket is to not follow the care label when washing it.
How do you fix a matted blanket?
If your blanket is matted and no longer soft, add baking soda and white vinegar in with your detergent. Wash on the coolest and most gentle settings recommended on the care label, and don't dry at high heat. Avoid using bleach, harsh detergents, or fabric softeners, which can actually worsen matting.
Melissa Zimmerman is a writer with a passion for sleep and wellness. When she’s not researching and writing about health and wellness, you can find her reading books and spending time with her son and dogs in her Northern California home. Connect with Melissa at www.proseandpurpose.com.