Protecting Your Native American Blanket
Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a beautiful Native American blanket or throw from Pendleton Woolen Mills.
Not only is your Pendleton throw or blanket an object of beauty and meaning; but it is also an investment piece that can last a lifetime if you care for it properly. This means cleaning, storing, and protecting it so that it maintains its color and vibrance, its softness, its shape and size, and is not vulnerable to clothes moths, carpet beetles, and other fabric pests.
Most Native American blankets and throws we offer at Indian Traders are made from wool. This natural fiber is hypoallergenic, strong, durable, naturally flame-retardant, and lasts a long, long time when cared for appropriately.
Important Tips for Protecting Your Native American Blanket
Unlike the more common manmade or cotton fibers we now see in most homes, natural wool throws and blankets (as well as clothing) are sophisticated, luxury items and are not machine washable.
Wool blankets should be well shaken frequently. This helps to refresh and fluff the wool fibers and naturally maintain the shape of the throw or blanket. Fresh air also removes microscopic and larger dirt deposits from the wool.
Wool is naturally protected by lanolin, which repels water and dirt – and it is even considered to be self-cleaning for this reason. It is also antibacterial.
Do not wash your Pendleton blankets! The Pendleton Woolen Mills recommend that their blankets be professionally Dry Cleaned only, as washing may shrink the blanket, compromise the design and the quality of the wool, alter the color and shape of the wool fabric, and ultimately ruin your precious item.
High heat exposure or direct heat will shrink the wool fabric, including felt.
(The Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool bedding line is the only exception to the dry-clean only rule. These throws and blankets are specifically woven and treated to enable washing at home, however, the care instructions on the blankets must be carefully adhered to.)
Never use detergents or bleach on your woolen Native American blankets. Detergents and soaps contain alkalis, which compromise the natural strength, softness, and luster of wool. Bleach not only causes permanent discoloration, but it also stiffens and can even dissolve the wool fibers.
You may carefully spot-clean a small area with white vinegar diluted 1:3 in cool water in a light spritz. (Hot water causes wool fibers to expand, while dry heat causes shrinkage.) Test for color-fastness, and use a white cloth – if the color bleeds at all, you must only ever dry clean your blanket - even for small stains.
Make sure your blanket or throw is clean before you store it over summer or any other time. This means removing all spills and other residues from the blanket, and ensuring it is completely dry before folding and putting it away. It’s also a great idea to shake, brush, and hang your blanket in fresh air and sunlight periodically to keep it looking, smelling, and feeling its best.
Store blankets in airtight bags or boxes (plastic is ideal) that are completely sealable. The blankets should be aired every few months, even if they are immediately returned to storage.
Prevention is everything when it comes to protecting your precious blankets from pests.
The best way to protect your blankets and throws against clothes moths and carpet beetles is to use them regularly (most pest damage occurs during storage). Exposure to sunlight on a regular basis, shaking the blanket in the fresh air, brushing it, and then hanging or refolding it will prevent moth activity. Sunlight in particular will help kill moth eggs.
Keep storage areas, wardrobes, and linen closets clean and swept or vacuumed. Look out for larva casings and death moths. If you notice an issue, call for a professional pest inspection and treatment, as your other fabrics will also be at risk. Use mothballs, cedar balls, or camphor in your closets to deter moths and other pests.
Caring for your Native American blankets and throws as we describe above will help you ensure that you can enjoy your beautiful investment for many, many years to come, and even pass it to the next generation. Pendleton blankets are made to last forever – and have been made to the highest quality since the company’s birth in 1863.