Travelers to Mexico bring home all manner of souvenirs, from sombreros to exotic hot sauces, but none quite so popular as the colorful, woven cotton blankets available at stores and stalls throughout the country. The blankets are warm and sturdy, but they require special care on laundry day to prevent damage.
Set the washing machine water temperature to cold or delicate. Most blankets and towels should be washed with warm water, but many of the Mexican products are hand-woven or -loomed, and they often use various threads throughout. Washing in warm or hot water may result in uneven shrinkage.
Add standard laundry detergent to the filling washer. Cotton often retains odor, and if this is a problem, add a small amount of Borax or OxiClean to the washer. This will remove all unwanted smells.
Allow water and detergent to reach two to three inches before carefully placing the blanket inside. The process is less delicate with front-loading washers, as there is no center bar on which the blanket may twist. If using a top-loading washer, make sure the blanket is equally distributed around all parts of the water to prevent clumping.
Once the washing cycle is complete, re-shape and lay blanket on a flat surface to dry. If not possible, hang on a clothesline or drying rack, but flip every so often to ensure even drying.
Do not put blanket in an electric dryer, even on low. As with warm water, the heated drying may significantly shrink the blanket, and unevenly. The result will be a lumpy, misshapen blanket, and the texture will be considerably coarser.
Once dry, fluff or beat blanket lightly. As it was not subjected to a heated dryer, the blanket may feel slightly stiff, but this will decrease as the blanket is used.