I wash them when they start to look like they need washing I wash at home, in my top-load agitator washing machine, with Woolite and bleach (if they're white.) I usually leave the pads on soak for a couple hours. They run through again with no soap and are line dried.
I wash them as necessary. I brush all the hair off the underside (well, during fuzzy season) and use Shout all over the underside nd then regular detergent in the machine. I wash them at my house, no more than three in my regular washing machine, and I normally send them through twice and then shove them in the dryer. All my pads are sturdy, and besides if one gets ruined then I get to go shopping for a replacement!
I use baby pads, and when they get dirty (say, after five uses or so, depending on the horse/amount of sweat), I wash them at home in my regular machine. Small amount of detergent, large amount of bleach, then dry.
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Winter, not usually in as much work, every few weeks or as needed.
I wash them at home now (previous boarding barn had a washer/dryer for saddle pads, wraps, etc., I miss that!) Top loader, normal cycle, normal detergent (whatever I have on hand, no fabric softener, no special rinse cycle.
I dump mine in my home front loader with normal detergent, and also add some Oxy stain remover, I also dry the schooling pads in dryer on low temp. Showing saddle pads get air dry treatment and delicate wash cycle
Get tough or die policy here. I have several lightweight pads that are all roughly the same color (or at least they are now...) When the pile has diminished, I throw them in the washer (front loader) with All Free and Clear (because it's what I use for everything) then put them in the drier. White show pads get washed separately with some bleach.
Well, I ride treeless so I have a really expensive Toklat Woolback (100% wool) with inserts. I have washed it one time in the 8 or so months I've owned it. And I ride several times a week! I hate coddling saddle pads too but I make an exception for this one.
What I do is lay it on the driveway and use a rubber curry comb to gently brush it in all directions to loosen dirt and hair. Then I use the shop vac.
Everytime I ride, I lay the pad out upside down so the sweat dries as quick as possible.
The one time I washed it, I used no detergent at all, did two rounds on the gentle cycle, then dried it on the line. It worked out fine.
This is pretty much how the endurance tack place instructed me to care for the pad so it lasts for many years.
I have a plain white pad only policy, which makes my cleaning routine easier.
I wash mine every few rides--or every day this time of year when the horses are coated in mud--in my top-loading washer. They get washed, three at a time, in hot water with normal detergent, oxyclean and bleach when they're really bad. They also all dry in my dryer. Mine last for years with this treatment.
When it's shedding season, I generally do several loads of pads, then run an empty wash with some bleach before washing my clothes in the machine.
I use a dressage pad that has a velvety look/feel to it. The directions say okay to wash in a front end loader but we don't have one. I tried washing in a top loader and the agitator rubs the pad wearing it. It kinda sticks there. So now I put warm water and dish detergent in the bath tub, soak for about thirty min. and then go over the pad with a soft brush while it's under water. I do let it drip til it doesn't drip any more (very absorbant pads) and then put in the dryer on permanent press til dry.
Our tennant has an old top loading agitator she bought used for $25 at a local appliance store. Works like charm.
For light, cotton show/work pads we wash as required (usually before a public appearance) in Woolite. If stained we'll use what gets rid of the stain (StainDevils, Shout, etc.). Seldom do we use bleach. Line dry. Then "finish" in the dryer for about 5 min. on low heat to soften the material.
For the FleecWorks pad we follow label directions (Woolite in cold water, line dry). We also do a 5 min. finish the dryer.
For the cavalry blankets we wash in cold water and Woolite and line dry. Again, finish for a couple of min. in the dryer.
The item must be completely dry before finishing or you risk shrinkage. Temp is always LOW and time does not exceed five min. You want just enough to warm and soften the material.
I have two different kinds of pads. I have a front-loading washer, and I use the same detergent as I do for my clothes. It's some form of All, I think it's the anti-allergen one. I also use the exact same settings: cold/cold, normal rinse.
1. Mattes pad
The Mattes pad gets washed only before a show or clinic. I just chuck it in the washer with some towels, and then put it in the dryer for a normal length of time, about 45 min. Comes out nice and fluffy.
2. Flat pad [s]
I have a lot of pads [over 20, but me and Mom share them ], and Ruby gets a fresh pad every week. I ride 4-5 days a week and she works pretty hard. She doesn't always need one, but I do it anyway. The pads get tossed in the washer, and then tossed in the dryer for 45 min. The ones that have ribbon or braided piping do best air drying, otherwise the ribbon/bpiping will shrink and look all funny. I have never had a problem with my actual pads shrinking.