Rugs are not cheap but are an essential investment for the well being of the horse and convenience for the busy working rider/owner. Fitting in time to ride in daylight is bad enough in the average working day, however throw in a soaking wet, muddy horse courtesy of our fab English weather and you often wonder why you risked driving home at 90mph to fit in a 'quick' ride! Caring for them, therefore, is also essential for the comfort of your horse and to prolong the life of the rug.
Of course, the easiest way to clean your rugs is to send them to a professional. They can arrange for the rug to be reproofed and repaired, if appropriate, however the cost of this can be prohibitive and often not dissimilar to buying a new rug!
Synthethic Waterproof Rugs - Almost all turnout rugs these days come under this category as the old fashioned canvas style New Zealands are very rare these days. If you still have a serviceable one of these, you probably don't need to be reading this article! We recommend that you do not use detergents or any type of chemical on synthetic waterproof rugs as these can damage the waterproofing membrane and your horse may also be allergic to them. Simply hand wash them in cold water or wipe off with a damp cloth or sponge or hose with a normal hosepipe. Never use a high pressure hose as this will damage the small pores, allowing water to enter immediately. Similarly never wash these types of rugs in hot water as this will affect it's waterproofing ability. It is sometimes advisable to reproof the rug after washing if it hasn't been reproofed recently. Never put a damp or sweaty rug away for long periods of time as mould and mildew will eat away at the membrane over time. Ensure the rug is fully dry and at room temperature before storing away.
Cotton Rugs/Fly Rugs/Coolers/Lightweight Stable Rugs - these are usually small and light enough to wash in a domestic washing machine, however ensure that a cold wash is used as some machines use a very hot cycle which can damage the binding of the rug and cause it to change shape. Similarly, never tumble dry. Also be aware that they usually have metal straps which can damage a machine and may invalidate your machine's warranty and can sometimes damage the rug if a strap gets caught up or pulled off.
* Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines
* Use an old dandy brush to remove excess hair/sweat/dirt from the underside of the rug and excess poo/dirt from the outside of the rug before washing to make your and your washing machine's lives easier!
* Always clean and dry a rug thoroughly before reusing it, storing it or sending it away for repair
* Rug liners or cotton sheets under a rug will help keep the underside of the thicker rug cleaner and are easier to wash as they can usually go in a domestic washing machine
* Larger, heavier rugs are best cleaned in a commercial washing machine as they are larger and the pumps are usually gravity rather than pump emptied. Pumps in domestic machines are easily damaged by excess hair and dirt
* If you do manage to fit your thicker rugs in your domestic machine you may have to wash them more than once due to the limited space for the water to circulate or fold them the other way to rewash