One of the toughest 'laundry problems' horse owners have is washing heavy blankets and turn-out rugs. These items get soiled with mud and manure and are exposed to wind and rain, which wears out their effectiveness. Many turn-out rugs are too big to put in even the largest home front load washer. Coolers and rain sheets can be laundered if you can stand the sound of the buckles and hooks clanging off the drum. My strategy for cleaning large blankets has involved a bucket of sudsy water, a garden hose and a car brush. More recently we've been using a pressure washer with good results.
It's important not to use harsh cleaners with horse blankets for several reasons. Harsh soaps may irritate your horse's skin, causing contact dermatitis. Strong cleaners may also destroy the waterproofing on some blankets. The fabric's breath-ability, if something like Goretex is used, may be compromised as well. If your horse's rug doesn't breath, your horse can become chilled as condensation and sweat are trapped beneath the blanket.
Nikwax Rug Wash addresses all of these problems with an environmentally friendly, “Beginners Guide to Revenue Assurance”., non flammable, non hazardous product that is safe for your horse and the environment.
Nikwax Rug Wash is cleaner that can be used in all washing machines or with the bucket and hose method I use. It removes dirt and detergent residues, while protecting the waterproof and breath-ability of the blanket. It also does not affect the loft of lining fabrics.
How Nikwax Rug Wash Works
How it Works
Nikwax recommends pre-treating badly soiled areas. For washing machines, place one rug or blanket in the machine and use 150ml for the load. To do a horse sized turn-out rug, you'll need a heavy duty large sized washer as a wet horse blanket can weigh over fifty pounds when saturated through. I would not recommend using your home washer. Items may be hung to dry or dried in the machine on a low heat setting.
For the bucket and hose method, wet the blanket thoroughly on a clean surface (deck, patio, etc...) and mix two parts water to one part Rug Wash. Scrub the solution into the fabric on both the top and underside of the blanket. Rinse well and allow to air dry.
Cleaning a rug is a pretty big job, and you may find you'll need over an hour to finish the task. We laid the blanket—a heavy winter rug that's well soiled after several seasons use, on our patio. We first wetted it down with the pressure washer, getting rid of the surface dirt as we sprayed. We were unsure how much product to use for a 'manual wash'. HE washing machines require much less detergent than regular machines do, so we didn't feel the 150 ml (5 oz) per item would be enough for the manual wash, especially as the ratio was one part Rug Wash to two parts water. We ended up putting about a third of the bottle into the bucket and adding the hot more water—somewhat more than two parts. As it turned out, the bucket was filled with sudsy solution—a lot more than we actually needed. We swished the sudsy water on the blanket top and underside, brushing it with the soft car brush as we went.
Even though we'd pressure washed the surface dirt off, we were able to work out a lot more grime. The product seemed to get out some really soiled areas, although some staining did remain. (This blanket is very old, well worn and was treated once with spray-on-waterproofing.) We had lots of suds, which didn't disappear in our hard water as some soaps do. And the suds were easy to rinse away with the pressure washer. Nikwax recommends wearing hand protection while using this product, and my husband felt his skin tingling after getting some on his hands—not sure if this was caused by the product though.
Nikwax suggests that this product can be used on new items, but if you have to hand wash a blanket, it's a lot of work to 'wash' a clean, new blanket. Even if you could machine wash, I'm not sure I'd want to wash a brand-new item.
When we were done, the blanket looked cleaner, and smelled fresher. Next time I use it, I will use much less as I felt I wasted a lot. I liked that it's environmentally safe—I don't have to worry about the grass dying around the patio. No soapy residue remained on the rug when we were done, and we were ready to apply the Nikwax Rug Proof while it was still wet.