When the spring weather finally comes, you may be anxious to quickly stow the winter gear so that you can get on with enjoying the sunshine with your horses. But if you take the time to clean your turnout blankets thoroughly and store them away carefully, you'll extend their useful life--and you'll thank yourself when it's time to get them back out this fall.
Follow these steps to keep stored blankets in good shape:
1. Wash them well. A quick spray-down with the hose may be enough to clean lightly soiled blankets, but for the best results, take them to a laundromat. (Before you go, be sure to ask whether they will allow horse items in their machines.) Run the rinse cycle twice to ensure no detergent residue is left behind.
2. Dry thoroughly. Hang the blankets in the sun until they are completely dry; this could take a day or more for heavier items. Storing them while they're still damp can lead to mold.
3. Repair or replace, as needed. Examine all the fabric, stitching and hardware for loose connections, wear and holes. Have any repairs done now; waiting until the fall can leave you short of time as the cold weather approaches. Spring is also a good time to buy replacement blankets, if needed. You may catch a good sale, and you won't have to rush to find one later.
4. Store them securely. Fold the blankets neatly and place them inside large plastic bags, then stack them in a dry place. To provide even more security against nesting rodents, store your blankets in clean trash cans or storage bins with lockable lids.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #427.