Sleep is vital for our wellbeing. If anything, it’s just as important as eating; it gives the body a chance to rejuvenate itself. The last thing that you want is to be sleep deprived. As it is, that can affect your health in several ways. For instance, it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, asthma, and stroke.
How much sleep do you need? It depends on your age. As a general rule, however, adults should get at least 7 hours of rest every night. Not only will you get sick less often, but you’ll be at a lower risk for health problems. With that said, falling asleep is not always easy. After all, insomnia is a thing. In fact, it’s more common than you think—it’s estimated that around 30% of Americans have some sort of sleep disorder.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to treat this problem (aside from medications). For instance, it helps to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Not only that, but you want your bedroom to be cool and dark. Why? Light and noise can interfere with sleep. In addition to that, you want to avoid blue light exposure before going to bed. In other words, turn off your smartphone, laptop, and tablet!
What else can you do for your sleep? Use a proper mattress and pillow. Believe it or not but that can make a big difference at night. Speaking of which, the type of blanket that you use is important as well. Take weighted blankets, for instance—they’re meant to provide a calming effect. On this page, however, we’ll be focusing our attention on electric heated blankets.
What Are Electric Heated Blankets?
Electric heated blankets are exactly what they sound like—they’re electric blankets with a heated element on the inside. You can pretty much think of them as a huge heat pad. All you have to do is plug it in and it will provide you with soothing heat while you sleep. If anything, they’re great for those cold, winter nights. As far as the actual heat goes, you can adjust it via a control unit that’s attached to the blanket. In some cases, you might have to pre-heat it before going to bed.
Picking an Electric Blanket
Electric blankets are not all the same—some will be more dangerous than others. For your safety, it’s highly recommended that you get one that’s UL listed. The certification means that they conform to the highest levels of safety. Don’t forget to factor in power usage as well. Ideally, you want to find a blanket that’s energy efficient.
Most electric blankets nowadays come with an auto-shutoff mechanism that prevents it from overheating. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful when you’re using them, though. After all, there’s always a chance that it can malfunction. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Do not sleep on top of an electric blanket. Similarly, do not place anything on top of it (e.g. books, pillows, pets, etc)—that can cause it to overheat
- Keep the blanket flat (i.e. do not fold it up)—otherwise, the heat can become too intense, which can turn into a fire hazard
- Keep your pets away from the blanket—they can easily damage the wires or cord insulation with their teeth or claws
- Turn the blanket off immediately if you notice any smoke or smell something burning
- Turn your blanket off before going to sleep if it doesn’t have an auto-timer
- Don’t leave it on if no one is using it
- Coil the cords loosely when putting it away for storage
Things that you shouldn’t do:
- Do not use electric blankets on toddlers or infants or those with disabilities—they will not be able to take it off if anything happens
- Never use a blanket overnight unless it’s rated safe for overnight use (even then, you want to be cautious)
- Do not use an electric blanket if you have a water bed
- Never iron your blanket—the heat can melt the cord insulation
- Do not use them with electric mattresses—the combined heat can become a fire hazard
- Do not twist the cords as that can damage the insulation
Can You Wash Electric Heated Blankets?
Some electric blankets are washable. How does that work? You remove the cords and heating element from the blanket. With those gone, you can just wash it like a normal blanket. As you can imagine, regular washes are important. Over time, sweat and dirt will get on the blanket. For this reason, you want to choose a product that’s washable (otherwise you’d be stuck with a dirty blanket).
Note: Never place an electric blanket in the washer without first confirming that it’s washable.
How to Safely Wash Electric Heated Blankets
There’s more than one way to wash electric blankets—given that they’re washable. We’ll be outlining the different methods below.
Putting Your Electric Blanket in the Washer
Start by preparing the blanket—you want to get rid of as much debris as possible by giving it a good shake. Make sure to remove all the controls and cords. You do not want to get those components wet. Once you’ve done that, place the blanket in the washing machine. Do not bunch it up—spread it evenly around the drum (assuming that your washer has a central agitator). Consider adding a couple of towels to help balance the weight.
Pro-tip: For the best results, fill the tub with cool water and let it soak for at least 10 minutes before running a cycle—that will allow the water to saturate the fabric. You can also add a little bit of detergent.
Add your laundry detergent. Next, select a delicate cycle and run it on the shortest setting—always use cold water (you want to keep heat exposure to a minimum when you’re washing electric blankets). If possible set the spin speed to low—that will prevent damage to the inner wiring. Press start and let the machine run for 2-3 minutes. From there, switch to the rinse cycle. Remove the blanket immediately once it’s finished.
Put the blanket into your dryer. Set it to the coolest possible setting and tumble dry gently for 10 minutes. Make sure to monitor the machine while it’s running—you do not want it to overheat as that damage the cord insulation. Not to mention that it can shrink the blanket!
Note: Do not force your blanket into the dryer. Consider bring it to the laundromat if your machine is not large enough (you want the blanket to be able to tumble freely).
Remove the blanket while it’s still damp (i.e. don’t dry it completely with the dryer). Hang it up and let it dry naturally. Do not fold it over a clothesline as that can damage the electrical wiring. It’s much better to spread it out on a drying rack.
Washing Your Electric Blanket by Hand
Don’t have a washer and dryer at home? No problem—you can wash it by hand. As always, you want to start by detaching all of the heating components; this includes the wires and controls (refer to the manufacture instructions). Once you’ve done that, fill a tub or plastic bin with cool water. Add a bit of active detergent and mix to create a sudsy solution. Carefully place the blanket in and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. During that time, agitate the water occasionally with your hand.
Pro-tip: Examine the blanket for any wear and tear before submerging it in water. Do not place it in the tub if there are any wires poking through the material. Repair will be necessary before you can wash it.
The next step is to drain the tub. Refill it with clean water and swirl the blanket around—you want to remove all the detergent. When you’re finished, drain away the water. Gently wring out the blanket to remove some of the excess water. Be very careful as to not damage the wires.
Finally, you want to let it air dry. As mentioned earlier, you do not want to fold it over a clothesline. Similarly, do not use clothespins as they can damage the cords inside. Draping it over a drying rack works best. Always make sure that the blanket is fully dry before turning it on. The last thing that you want to do is to apply electricity to something that’s wet!
Best Way to Remove Stains From Your Electric Heating Blanket
As with other items, you want to treat stains as soon as possible—otherwise, they can set in. Remove the control unit before running the area under cold water. For the best results, consider rubbing the stain gently with a soft-bristled brush (dampen it with a soapy solution first). Do not use hot water—it’s likely that the heat will cause the stain to set in, which will make it more difficult to clean.
Other Tips For Washing Electric Heated Blankets
Want your electric blanket to last? If so, be sure to follow these tips:
Do Not Dry Clean Your Electric Blanket
Contrary to popular belief, it is not better to dry clean your electric blanket. In fact, you should never dry clean it at all. Why? The chemical solvents used in the cleaning process can easily damage the cord insulation. In other words, there’s a chance that you’ll ruin the heating elements, which can turn it into a fire hazard.
Never Iron Your Electric Blanket
As a general rule, you want to clean and treat your electric blanket possible as little as possible. Never iron it as the heat will melt the insulation around the wires.
Always Inspect Your Blanket Before Washing
It’s crucial that you inspect your electric blanket before putting it in the washer (or tub). An easy way to do this is to hold it in front of a light source—you should be able to see the wires inside evenly spaced. Make sure that none of them are overlapped. Do not wash your blanket if any of the cords are damaged or displaced. Then in doubt about the condition, do not use it.
Do Not Use Commercial Dryers
Never put your electric blanket in a commercial dryer—they’re much hotter than the ones you have at home. Even on the lowest setting, it can cause damage to the inner wirings.