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How to waterproof horse rugs: H&H’s ultimate guide


  • With winter now upon us, we know the the good old British weather is sure to dish out some wet and wild weather, so it is likely that many horses will be wearing turnout rugs. So, to help your horse or pony remain warm and dry, here is our complete guide on how to waterproof horse rugs…

    How are rugs waterproofed?

    When most rugs are made, a waterproof membrane is applied to the underside of the fabric to provide the waterproof quality. How waterproof the rug remains, both initially and over time, depends a great deal on the quality of this membrane, as the quality also marks the difference between cheaper and more expensive rugs .

    The best way to check your rug is waterproof is to use a sink or large tub, lay the rug over the top and create a small indent – ensure you choose an area of the rug with no fittings. Then pour a glass or two of water into the indent and allow the water to pool. The denier layer should hold the water and not allow any seepage to the inside.

    How to waterproof horse rugs

    Firstly, cleaning is important when it comes to rug care and keeping your rugs in the best possible condition.

    Proper care products and methods are important. Many rug manufacturers provide cleaning instructions for each individual rug, and you should stick to these instructions as conventional detergents leave behind residues that harm water-repellency.

    Some manufacturers recommend washing your rugs in a specially designed wash bag, which can help to prevent the breakage of any straps, pockets, and buckles that are attached to the rug.

    Never use fabric softener, as it deteriorates the rug’s breathability, water-repellency, and wicking capabilities.

    Water-repellency won’t last forever. Over time, the factory-applied water-repellency will wear off, but you shouldn’t throw your rugs away at this point, as you can clean them thoroughly and then re-add water-repellency, while maintaining breathability.

    There are many water repellent sprays, such as the Lincoln waterproofing aerosol, and washes, such as this product from Nikwax, specifically formulated for horse blankets available on the market.

    Professional rug cleaners recommend that you waterproof and re-waterproof your rugs once each year using equestrian rug waterproofing agents. Alternatively, you can send your rugs to a rug cleaner and waterproofing specialist, where they will treat your rugs for you.

    Tips on waterproofing a horse rug – and how to keep it waterproof

    • Machine wash synthetic rugs with caution, following the rug manufacturer’s instructions as well as checking the capacity of your washing machine.
    • Only use cold water when washing a synthetic rug to help prevent damaging the membrane – you will ruin the waterproofing entirely if you use hot or warm water
    • Avoid using detergents or any type of chemical on synthetic waterproof rugs as this can damage the waterproofing membrane.
    • Don’t use high pressure when washing your rugs as it will damage the rug pores and will allow water to leak through immediately.
    • Never use a harsh bristled brush to scrub the outer denier, you can spike the membrane
    • Never put a rug away damp or sweaty for long periods of time. Mould will eat away at the membrane over time.
    • UV will eventually affect the lining over a long period of time. When rugs are not being used, avoid leaving them out in direct sun for days or weeks at a time.
    • Before storing your rug away, ensure it is dry and at room temperature. Don’t take directly from a warm sunny clothesline and pack it away, as this can be detrimental to the waterproofing membrane. Allow the rug to cool down and air at room temperature for a few hours before storing.
    • Once your rug is ready to be stored, folding them into large laundry bags will help to keep them clean, dry and secure.

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