Washing a knitted or crocheted blanket is sometimes a simple matter of tossing it in the washing machine and then allowing it to air dry. Other times, you need to hand wash the item. The washing method you choose depends on the type of yarn used to make the blanket. Although machine-washing works well for acrylics, cotton and polyester, hand-washing is the safest method when the fiber is unknown, or for specialty fibers such as wool, silk, rayon or mohair.
Know What You Have
Attempt to determine what type of yarn the blanket is made from. If you made the blanket, simply check the care instructions on your yarn. If not, ask the crafter who made it what kind of yarn was used. If this is not possible, you can attempt to determine what type of yarn you have based on its look and feel. Cutting away and burning a small piece of the blanket, such as a single tassel, can also tell you what type of material it is.
- Cotton yarns feel smoother and stiffer than wool or acrylic, which have tiny scales that give them their "fuzzy" feeling. Cotton feels cool to the touch, while wool and acrylic retain heat. When burned, cotton produces a fine ash and smells like burning leaves.
- Wool feels somewhat rough and itchy. It holds heat and smells similar to a wet dog when dampened. It smells like burning hair when touched by flame and leaves a hard, crumbly ash behind.
- Acrylic feels much like wool but has no smell when it is damp. It flares up with a hot flame and melts as it burns,
producing black smoke with an acrid, chemical odor. Acrylic leaves amelted bead instead of ash.
- Polyester yarn burns very quickly and produces black smoke with a sweet smell. It leaves behind balls instead of ash and burns very slowly.
If your blanket is made of acrylic, polyester or cotton, place it in a large lingerie bag for protection and drop it in the washing machine.
Add a dash of mild detergent to the washing machine and turn it on, selecting either the delicate or permanent-press cycle. Wash dark colors together in case the yarn bleeds.
Lay out a tarp or shower curtain in a safe place, and then place a clean white sheet on top of it. Reshape the blanket and lay it flat on the sheet to dry for 24 hours.
Fill your bathtub or a large basin with cool water. Add a pinch of mild detergent and agitate the water to create suds.
Place the blanket in the water and swish it gently back and forth to work the suds into the fibers. Let the blanket soak for 15 minutes.
Drain the tub and refill it. Gently swish the clear water through the blanket. Drain, refill and repeat until the suds are gone. Press out as much of the excess water as you can by squeezing the blanket without wringing it.
Carefully lift the blanket from the tub and wrap it in clean, white bath towels. Roll the blanket in the towels, and squeeze to remove more water. Do not wring the blanket.
Spread a plastic sheet or shower curtain on the floor where no one will disturb it. Carefully lay the blanket over the plastic sheet, smoothing it into its original shape. Leave the blanket to dry for 24 hours. If the blanket is still damp, place a fresh sheet under it. You can speed the drying process by running a fan near the blanket.