Discover how to keep fleece and flannel blankets soft and comfy with these tips for how to wash baby blankets to keep them soft!
Have you ever had a sweatshirt that starts out so soft and fluffy, but after a few washes it feels stiff and loses its fluff? The same thing can happen to your baby’s blankets! These tips for how to wash baby blankets to keep them soft will help your little one’s favorite blankets stay soft and fluffy wash after wash.
In this post we’ll look at two of the most popular types of soft baby blankets – fleece and flannel – to discover what makes them stop being soft and how to wash them for maximum softness.
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Why do baby blankets stop being soft?
There are several reasons that fleece and flannel stop being soft and they all have to do with how you wash and dry your blankets!
Many of the reasons flannel stops being soft are similar, so this section is helpful whether you’re washing fleece or flannel.
Fleece is a synthetic fiber (it’s usually made from recycled plastic or petroleum products) which means that it can melt. Washing or drying fleece at warm or hot temperatures can cause the fibers to melt slightly and become matted down and/or hard.
Although flannel is typically made from cotton, it still needs to be washed cold or warm, not hot. Washing flannel hot can cause pilling and shrinkage, which make the fabric feel less soft.
Washing fleece with other non-fleece clothing can cause abrasion that roughs up the fabric and makes it lose its fluffy softness. For some types of fleece, washing with other fabrics can also cause unattractive pilling.
Flannel should be washed with a fairly gentle, delicate cycle. Flannel fabric is a fairly loosely woven fabric that can be damaged by heavy-duty cycles. This damage will make the fabric feel less airy and soft.
Fabric softeners can also make blankets become less soft. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true! Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can build up and create a coating that makes the blanket feel stiffer and less fluffy.
Using too much detergent can cause a similar buildup problem that reduces softness. Buildup from detergent and fabric softeners can also lead to smell issues if your blankets are soiled. (The same thing happens to towels, even though they aren’t made from fleece!)
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How to wash baby blankets to keep them soft
Properly caring for your baby blankets begins with reading the care label and following its instructions. I know that sounds super simple and obvious, but I know I can’t be the only one who routinely ignores garment care labels! Those instructions are there for a reason – following manufacturer directions will help keep any clothing or blanket looking nice for longer.
Both flannel and vinegar can be washed with vinegar in place of a fabric softener. Vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener and helps kill bacteria (which is great after spit-up or a blowout!). Additionally, vinegar can help remove residues from fabric softener or detergent buildup. Add up to a cup of regular white vinegar in place of a liquid fabric softener. You’d don’t need to do this every wash, though – just as needed.
Use a mild detergent and make sure not to add too much. Adding too much detergent doesn’t make your blankets cleaner. On the contrary, it can lead to buildup that causes blankets to become hard and stinky! Using too much detergent can also damage HE washing machines. To help keep fleece and flannel blankets soft, use a small quantity of gentle detergent.
Don’t pack your washer too full. As discussed above, it’s best to wash fleece with other fleece, if possible. Whenever you pack your washer too full, it can cause extra wear and tear on your fabrics from the added abrasion. It can also keep blankets from getting rinsed completely, which can cause detergent buildup.
If your front-loading washing machine has a small load cycle, make sure to use it whenever you’re only washing a couple of things. Most front loading machines require multiple items in the drum in order to balance the land. Washing just one or two items in a front loader without a small load cycle can end up damaging the machine in the long run, so you might want to get a small hand-powered washer if you only have a couple of fleece items. I’ve used our EasyGo manual washer many times – it’s surpassingly effective!
Dry your baby blankets on low or allow them to air dry on a clothesline or drying rack. Sometimes letting things completely air dry can make them feel less soft, so throw them in for a quick air fluff after they’ve been line dried! Drying on low or air air drying will help both fleece and flannel blankets stay soft.
And there you have it! How to wash your baby blankets to keep them soft.
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