Asked on Sep 03, 2013

How do I wash/clean vintage wool blankets?

B.J. B
by B.J. B
I have my mother's 100% wool blankets. I know she had them since the 1940s or maybe earlier. She treasured them. I know nothing about them other than the tag says "Hudson Bay Company" and they were made in England. I don't want to do anything that might ruin them, they are in perfect condition. Can anyone give me advise?
They are large blankets that will easily fit a queen size bed.
Blanket tag.
  18 answers
  • do they just need freshened up? if that is the case then put in a damp dryer sheet on low or air heat and see if that fluffs them and makes them smell better. I have actually washed wool blankets in cold water in a front loader on gentle cycle but since these are heirlooms you may want to just freshen them up. Dryel or drycleaning sheets found at the stores can work too. the dry cleaners will charge a hefty fee but that is the other option. those type of wool will be itchy and scratchy no matter what you do so maybe hanging them as display pieces in stead of on the bed to get soiled would be better.
    • See 2 previous
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Sep 04, 2013
      @The Garden Frog with C Renee Thank you. The colors in the blankets are very bright and I don't want to do anything to change them.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Sep 03, 2013
    @B.J. B Generally speaking pure wool should be dry cleaned. I did find this site that provides cold washing instructions on the gentle cycle. Be sure not to put in the dryer. BTW nice HBC blanket, looks to be in great shape!
  • Karen Faust Karen Faust on Sep 03, 2013
    I have put t hem in my washer on a delicate cycle on cool water with woolite. Do NOT put them in the dryer! The dryer shrinks wool. I would hang them outside. Those blankets were meant to to used and washed. I just washed an old quilt my grandma made and it turned out fine.
    • See 1 previous
    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Sep 03, 2013
      @B.J. B you can get rid of that must smell by either adding baking soda to the wash cycle, but I prefer downy in the rinse cycle, because they stay fresher longer. Had towels in the outdoor bin all winter and they still had a fresh smell this summer.
  • Marilyn Highley Marilyn Highley on Sep 03, 2013
    If a crafter/artist wants wool to felt (shrink and lock fibers together), water, heat, friction, and sometimes soap is used. I would be very careful using moisture in a dryer since you would be using 3 out of 4 of the variants, unless you are wanting a smaller, thicker blanket.
  • Teri Teri on Sep 03, 2013
    I have worked in a dryer cleaners for 27 years. If you just have them freshened up then make sure you wrap them in light blue acid paper. You can buy it at a craft store. All it is is tissue paper like you wrap gifts in. Make sure its the light blue. This keeps out moths and from them eating the fibers. Then put it in a dark bag tied shut for storage. That way there is no moths and no sun damage.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Sep 04, 2013
    I am a long time lover of these vintage Hudson Bay Camp Blankets. They can be quite valuable. Please do use a professional dry cleaning service for any 'freshening up'. Then enjoy them! They are wonderful, collectible and yours looks to be in excellent condition! xoxo
    • See 1 previous
    • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Sep 04, 2013
      @B.J. B You are most welcome! The value depends on a few factors. 1. How many 'points', (which are the lines that are on the side) 2. Condition 3. Age 4. Size. Those are the one's folks usually base the 'value' on. Other factors play into the mix, but those I've listed are the most common. Enjoy!! xox
  • Judy Judy on Sep 05, 2013
    I agree with Sia. Some of these blankets are very valuable. If there is an antique dealer in your area, call and see if you can have them evaluated. They can tell you how to clean them and let you know the value. If you watch Antiques Roadshow, sometimes you see a fairly simple blanket that is worth a lot. Let us know what you find out!
  • Dona Dona on Sep 05, 2013
    HB Co. blankets are very valable and older blankets in good shape are coveted by many! Yours, if new, would cost around $500.00. You should probably have it checked by an antique dealer.
  • Lynn Lynn on Sep 05, 2013
    I have my parents wool blankets (army issue 1943) and they are still the absolutely warmest thing in my house! There is nothing like wool, and if/when we ever loose our 'grid' I sure do want to have them available so have hung on to them. I have washed in regular cycle and used very cool dryer with no detriment but these were Army issue, and perhaps more durable. I have also had a disaster with a wool sweater that didn't fare so well. But I consider these blankets "comfort GOLD"
  • Twila Palmatier Twila Palmatier on Sep 07, 2013
    I have two wool blankets almost like yours. Identical except mine are not Hudson Bays. They are old however. They were "stuffy" smelling when I got them. I just took them to a professional dry cleaners and they were returned as good as new. I love them! Good luck to you and enjoy your blankets.
  • Bill Bill on Apr 07, 2015
    A Hudson Bay point Blanket in good condition is a pretty rare find. Do not wash it or put it in the dryer. Detergent, agitation or heat will felt it, shrink it and remove the natural oils. If it just smells a little stale, shake a box of baking soda on it, let it stand a day or more and then vacuum it out and or air it outside on a dry day. If you feel you still need to wash it, do some more research first. Dry cleaning may be an option. Pendleton or Fairbault can advise you. Don't listen to people in the internet, they don't know what they are talking about.
    • See 1 previous
    • Lilly Cohen Lilly Cohen on Oct 04, 2015
      @Teri Can you give some more details on this "blue acid paper"? I've been googling around but can't find any info. Do you maybe mean just plain blue tissue paper and something about the blue repels the moths?
  • Ellen Giem Ellen Giem on Jul 14, 2015
    My late husband bought beautiful hand woven wool? blankets in Mexico in1970. How do I clean them/store them?
  • Suzanne Suzanne on Sep 14, 2016
    Hudson Bay blankets will have black lines on one corner 3 point,4 point and 6-point, meaning the weight and price . I have had a 4-point since 1978. Was in a Muzzle loading group. We went to Ft. Mackinaw ,Michigan for Memorial Day.
  • Laurielparks Laurielparks on Feb 19, 2017

    I have an old wool Peruvian blanket it needs to be cleaned ?The dry cleaners here in town want 100.00 plus dollars to clean it.Not going to happen. So my question is can I wash in Woolite on gentle and line dry?

    • Jan Williams Jan Williams on Jun 27, 2017

      Forget woolite and use Eucalan.

      Eucalan delicate wool wash contains lanolin and is the best product for these old wool blankets.

      Be careful with line drying a wet blanket as the line mark may become permanent. On a hot/warm day, lay the wet blanket out on the lawn in the SHADE to dry.

      Then put it in the freezer to kill any remaining moth eggs if you suspect any.

  • Jan Williams Jan Williams on Jun 27, 2017

    The label looks like the "100% WOOL TYPE 1" variant from the mid 1940s to mid 50s.

    It appears to have much of the surface nap worn away but looks great and will still last generations if cared for.

  • 17335038 17335038 on Sep 14, 2017

    Agree with all the above comments to not take the risk of causing damage to the blankets by trying to wash them yourself.

    These Hudson Bay blankets are very expensive to buy new today, and now due to their age, they are in a semi-fragile state.

    It is not only the washing process, but the drying as well that could damage them if using automatic machines. Attempting to wash them yourself by hand would be very time consuming and cumbersome; half way through I'm sure you would regret your decision.

    Items this large and heavy made from 100% wool should be cleaned by a reputable dry-cleaner.

  • June Croft June Croft on Oct 04, 2017

    Thank you! I have my Mama's,She gave to me years ago, thank goodness,as she's in heaven now. It's at least 40 yrs. old.

  • Angie Angie on Jun 10, 2019

    The best way is to simply hand wash a wool blanket in a bathtub. I do it all the time. As for detergent I use only baby shampoo. At first I dry my blankets over the tub until water is gone and turn them over so the extra shower bar doesn’t leave a mark on the blanket. When the water is gone and blanket still dump I take it outside and finish drying by spreading the blanket on flat surface in the sun and turning it over frequently. When it is almost dry I put it in the dryer to finish the whole process. It has never shrunk and is always fluffy and fresh. I also have European 100% wool bedding and wash the whole set the same way as above during spring/summer months.

    Wool of any kind actually likes the water but you have to know how to proceed so it’s not ruined. I never take 100% wool items to dry cleaning. It ruins the wool, they usually use chemicals (when you wash any wool sweater or pillowcase after dry cleaning you notice this awful smell and very dirty water; all chemicals of course) and ultimately it gets disgusting. I’d never use dry cleaning.