I have a confession to make… In fact, I think every horse owner probably has the same confession. When I had my horse, I used to hide in the boot of my car, hairy saddle pads and rugs together with mud covered over reach boots which are all destined for some secret washing. Fly masks, head collars, lead ropes, leg wraps and bandages were all on the list that I would smuggle home from the yard to secretly wash in my domestic washing machine. It was pretty much down to strategic planning when the *OH was out at work all day and the house is empty and the weather forecast had been checked for drying purposes.
Home alone, these bags were quickly emptied outside, a swift brush off and then thrown in the washing machine on a speed wash with the hope no one sees. Being a horse owner for fourteen years I mastered the art of equestrian washing at home with evidence that was pretty hard to find. However, this has not always been the case. Back in the day, having a bright bay with none of us in the house matching his hair colour was very difficult to disguise. Despite putting an empty wash through my machine after the saddle pads and turnout boots had gone through it, copper hair was still everywhere. Pants, t-shirts, jumpers, the utility room floor – you name it, everything seemed to be covered in itchy horse hair. I have even been known to hoover the washing machine…I know, how mad is that!!
It is probably not advisable to put heavily soiled equestrian items through a domestic washing machine. The waste pipes from the machine can only carry so much dirt away and it will probably struggle with a field load of mud coming off turnout boots in January…. Also stay away from the bathroom with heavily soiled rugs. A friend of mine decided to soak her horse’s winter turnout rug in her nice new bathroom when her OH was out for the day. Trying to get a heavy sopping wet rug out of the bath without covering the décor in mud splats and flooding the floor is not an easy procedure….. She then found the mud would not drain away from the bath despite using every drain blocker product going and she finally had to fess up to a particularly unimpressed OH! So the best advice is to leave the heavy duty rugs to professional rug washing companies, they have the machines to cope with them. Try also to get rid of as much mud from these rugs as you can, it’s no joy for the poor person to deal with a damp smelly muddy rug and it will come out much cleaner for it.
We do however need to keep our equestrian kit clean which can be washed at home. Here are my top five tips for effective equestrian kit washing:-
- My biggest top tip is to invest in an equestrian laundry bag. I used one over the last few years and it’s been worth its weight in gold (not mud)! You can place all your equestrian items in them which is then sealed and popped into the machine. The clanking of lead ropes is reduced and the hair stays in the bag. My advice, however, is when you remove the bag from the machine, go outside and take the contents out, shake out the bag and turn it inside out to dry.
- Try and brush off all the hair and mud from your kit as much as you can. Do this at the yard (sweeping up after you of course) and then you can bring them home to wash without caking everything in hair and dust. Make sure clips are clipped together, especially on rugs as one getting hooked up and ripping the rubber trim of your machine or lost in the metal drum could be costly. Another tip is putting duct tape around the clips to stop any further damage to your machine. One of the most tedious jobs in the world is removing hair and mane from Velcro straps. You can buy a Velcro cleaning tool quite cheaply in hardware stores or saddleries that do this job efficiently.
- For washing sheepskin items don’t cut corners and buy the product which is especially for this wool. I have made the mistake of using a normal detergent and my seat saver came out looking like a matted poodle….
- If you are going to wash turnout boots or lightweight rugs through your machine, soak them first. Turnout boots in the winter are just plain grim. Soak them in a bucket for at least several hours and then drain. Always wash these in an equestrian laundry bag too. The same goes with rugs, soak or hosepipe the worse of the mud off before washing. It is also a good idea to use a detergent especially for this job which can be found in most country stores and saddleries. Again if in doubt with rugs, take them to be professionally washed and reproofed.
- Dry your items on a line outside or on a clothes horse through the winter. Use a tumble drier with care as your full size numnah may come out Shetland size. Some items can be dried easily with a tumble drier but just be cautious for shrinkage. Using tumble drier sheets which can help with excess hair that has made it through the washing machine.
When you have finished washing your horsey laundry then wipe out the rim with a cloth and then run the machine through on an empty hot cycle. Putting soda crystals in the bottom of the drum is a great way to get rid of any evidence resulting in a sparkling clean machine. So make good use of the summer months ahead. Wash and clean as much of your kit as you can, drying them on the line or over fences or gates.
However, when your struggling domestic machine finally gives in to all the mud and the hair – why not invest in a heavy duty machine to cope with the job? I’m sure the understanding OH wouldn’t mind…
*OH – Other Half
Written by Samantha Hobden from Haynet