As a long-time horse person, but first-year HO, I'm running into "dilemmas" I've not had to face before.
For instance, I am coming out of winter with a pile of dirty turnout sheets and blankets (inside and out) and wondering if I should have done more than just knock off the mud with a stiff brush a few times a week. While they are definitely not hurting him, after 5 months of almost constant wear, they're stinky and muddy/dusty and certainly not anything I'd want wrapped around me.
Problem is, my washer is nowhere near equipped to clean anything more than a stable sheet or knit and its been waaay too freakin' cold this winter to hose off outside (plus, we don't have access to hot water at the barn). So my only option really, is to send them to a professional (which I am planning to do shortly before I put them away til next winter) or go to the sketchy laundry mat in the next town over.
What do you guys do? Any innovative tips for keeping them cleaner - on the inside at least - or getting them clean during blanket season without sending them off?
ETA: I do have more than one sheet/blanket as backups, so letting one dry over night - or two - wouldn't be a big deal.
I have two blankets for each horse, so they wear one for a couple of months, and then the other for a couple of months. By then it's about time for them to come off for the spring so they get sent in to be cleaned. If they get really, really nasty then I can always send one in the middle of the winter and have another for them to wear.
I have a friend who used to put nylon sheets on under blankets. That way she could wash and change the sheet to keep something clean on them, even if the blankets were gross.
Mine get washed at least once a month - I take them to the laundry mat that the owner said we could use - he has the heavy duty washers. My horses dont go out when it is really muddy so they aren't really bad - but I can't take the smell so off they go. My farrier once told me he hated to go to some farms to trim horses because the owners never washed the blankets and he could smell the horse when he walked into the barn - YUK. The turnout sheets, sheets, fly sheets and winter liners I can wash at home in my front load washer.
If you use liners (which I don't anymore, I have a lot of blankets), you can always throw them in the wash and dryer. It came in very handy one year when one of the horses had rainrot. I just disinfected and put on a clean liner every day.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant
I launder at the end of season - in fact, I just brought my 2 heavy weights home last evening. I try to wash 1 or 2 per week and by the time it gets warm enough to not use any sheets - I'm done. I knock off the big mud with a brush, then off to the laundromat I go. I hang them to dry and then check for any damage. If anything needs repaired, it's taken care of before packing away. I figure that the less I wash them, the longer turnouts retain their waterproof integrity EVEN though I only use Rambo wash or the Eqyss blanket wash.
I never laundered any of my horse's sheets / blankets. Waste of energy and money IMO. I wait until warm Spring / Summer days, and power-hose them inside and out till all the muck / mud is gone, and let them air dry in the sun, then store them until next season. They're still waterproof, and still in good shape.
However, my horse has a nice self-grown blanket all winter, and only wears extra layers in mucho bad weather. Makes my life, and my BO's life, much easier. No juggling with blankets all the time, no sweaty horse when the days warm-up, etc. etc.
Due to owning a horse who loves to get various types of skin gunk (not to mention rubs) if you look at him funny, I spend all winter "washing" one blanket after another. By "washing", I mean run it through a cycle of water only/ no soap, to help the waterproofing last longer. Probably because I do this before they get too gross, they come out quite clean. And it keeps his skin happy, so I won't argue!
At the end of winter, I usually run everything through the wash once on the super heavy duty cycle with detergent, then again without. Then let dry, and apply spray on waterproofer.
To avoid having to wash everything quite so often, I will sometimes use a thin/single layer nylon sheet as a liner and just wash that instead of a whole huge medium weight turnout.
I do all of my own blanket washing and repairs, and have access to a fairly large capacity top loader, as well as a front load washer. If I didn't, I would probably just go with the nylon liners and change them frequently and only wash the blankets themselves a few times a winter instead of sometimes once a week. Sigh.
Even if it's pretty cold, hosing it off and a bit of scrubbing to get the worst of the dirt off, then hang on the fence to dry. Might take a couple days to dry if it's cold, but it will eventually.
I'm going to take mine over to a saddlery that offers blanket wash and repair, once I'm sure we won't need them anymore. I live in an apartment, and my washer is "energy efficient." I can't even wash a saddle pad in there unless I want to smell like horse and wear shedded hair for the rest of the week.
Since this is my first year of horse ownership, I couldn't afford to get multiple sets of blankets all at once. Next year I'll probably get a second medium-weight blanket since that's the one she uses most, and try to take those over to be washed every month or so. Maybe a second sheet, too.
This year, I've had to make do with just brushing it off with a stiff brush regularly. I got her the Shires StormCheeta blanket in all three weights, and I"m actually startled by how well they stayed clean and sturdy.
I wash them every two weeks so they are never too horrible to put in my machines at home. I purposely bought large capacity front load machines so I could do them at home. I hang them up to dry. Each horse has two sets so I swap them out every two weeks so each blanket winds up getting washed once a month. They seem to hold up just fine.
Load them up in a pickup truck and drive to the car wash. Hang blankets facing one way off the sides of the truck bed and walk around the truck with the sprayer and give them a good hosing down. Flip blankets, repeat. Keep rinsing until water runs clear and spray in a downward motion. The higher pressure sprayers will also dislodge ground in dander and most hay bits and bedding, etc.
Pile back up into bed of truck, drive home. Hang from fences to dry, flipping halfway through the day.
I do wash mine all through the winter, as they get yucky or smelly. My washer can handle winter turnouts and in my basement there's a room that has a workshop and the furnace in it. That room stays 80 degrees and dry as a bone year round. I screwed alligater clips into the rafters and hang the blanket in there to dry. They dry overnight. But I do have back-up blankets for them to wear while the others are getting washed.
I find keeping them clean through the winter prevents rubs and they get clean easily if you don't let them crust up all winter. Of course it depends on each horse too, one of my horses is Pig Pen and the other keeps his relatively neat. And if we have a decent snow cover on the ground and it stays cold, the blankets stay pretty spotless. Even if they lay in the stalls and muck them up, a good roll in the snow cleans them, LOL!
Lots of folks can also go all winter without washing and their blankets don't get horrid, then just a good spring scrubbing and drying works well before putting them away for the next season.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
Gee. I actually don't wash my winter covers. They don't seem to get too bad (yes, they smell like horse, but not an awful pong), though I don't let them get hot under their covers either. After two or three winters they are getting a bit ick, but are due to be thrown out or relegated to emergency-only status anyway. If they really need doing I hose them, use a broom to scrub a bit of soapy water over the inside then hose again to rinse (and hang over a fence to dry).
Not that I could do a heavy rug in my front loader, I always worried about washing taking the waterproofing away.
Those that wash their waterproof covers regularly, do you re-proof afterwards or do they come out still waterproof?
No - I wait until winter is long gone. I have a ton of blankets and i'd be broke if I washed them anymore than that. That being said - winters in New England are snowy and not muddy. The base layer is always kept clean due to others being put on top - I use the junk Schneider T/O sheets as a top layer if there is mud anywhere (I HATE those sheets hence why I use them for a top layer). Winters up here usually require multiple layers especially on the brutal days of wind chills in the single digits and below. I always make sure the base layer is cleaned by a washing machine before it is used the next season. A lot of the other ones I wait until a hot/sunny day and then spread them out on the grass - spray them down and scrub them with a good brush then hang to dry (though I will have my Rambo's professionally done by a blanket washing place). If I had my own front loading washing machine and a warm place to hang them up during the colder months then I'd might be more inclined to wash them more but my method has worked just fine for years.
"When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered."CANTER New England