I would like to have a go at reproofing my horse’s turnout rugs. How easy is this to do?
There are several companies on the market offering products that can be used for washing and reproofing horse rugs at home i a domestic washing machine. Although this is fine to do occasionally, if you’re planning to wash a number of rugs on a more regular basis, you would be wise to invest in a washing machine designed specifically for tackling horse equipment.
Equestrian washing machines and tumble dryers can be bought or leased, and some companies even offer a great line in reconditioned models, which helps to keep costs down.
These horse rug washing machines are built with drums large enough to take two to three rugs at a time, with enough space to ensure even coverage of the reproofing liquid – and cope with the challenges of mud, hair, buckles and clips that can give domestic models such a hammering.
Do It Yourself
That aside, if you want to try out some DIY reproofing at home – perhaps two or three rugs a year – your washing machine should be fine. As a rule, a rug should normally be reproofed every 12 months once it gets to three years old.
Ensuring a rug is completely clean before you start is key. Stick to one rug at a time and clean with a proprietary washing fluid, rather than the regular product you use for your own clothes. If you don’t want to use your machine, you could do this outside with a bucket and hose.
Once the rug is rinsed, you are ready to reproof. Some products can be sprayed or painted on, but there are also those that can be introduced in a wash and you don’t even have to wait for the rug to dry before you start. Most are made with environmentally friendly materials and are fine to discharge into your household drains.
High and Dry
Once the proofing is complete, dry the rug either by air or on a low setting in the tumble dryer if the care label allows. I tend to dry the rugs naturally wherever possible because the rug’s nylon bindings, rather than the main fabrics themselves, can shrink and become brittle over time.
Step-By-Step Guide to Reproofing Your Horse Rug
Rugs are a bit investment but if you look after them, they’ll protect your horse from the elements for many years. Now’s the time to clean and re-proof them, so they’re ready for action when you need them.
If you’re up for a bit of scrubbing, you can clean your rugs yourself – it only takes three simple steps. All you need is a warm, dry day, a bit of elbow grease plus a cleaner and re-proofer specifically for rugs – a normal laundry detergent will remove the waterproofing from your rugs.
We like Nikwax Rug Wash (1 litre cleans four rugs) and Nikwax Rug Proof (1 litre reproofs two rugs).
1. Soak Your Rug
The mud and dirt that’s still stuck to rugs after a long miserable winter is much easier to remove if you leave your rug to soak for a few hours before you start cleaning it – a clean dustbin is idea for this.
2. Dilute The Detergent
Dilute your horse rug wash and get to work. Use a scrubbing brush or broom to help remove all the dirt, paying particular attention to the seams. Make sure you clean both sides, then rinse thoroughly.
3. Apply Rug Proofing
When using the Nikwax rug reproofer products you can apply the Rug Proof while your rug’s still wet. Work it into the fabric using a sponge, or use the horse rug reproofer spray and then leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse.
4. Drying Out
Hang your rug out to dry (this may take a while, depending on the thickness and material) and only pack it away when it’s completely dry, otherwise it’ll go mouldy.
Expert Tip: If you’re struggling to find the time to clean your rugs there are companies who’ll wash, reproof and do any repairs too. Your rugs come back to you clean and packaged for storage.
Prices vary, but expect to pay around £20 to have a turnout rug washed and reproofed. Some companies will arrange collection and may offer discounts for large numbers of rugs, so it can be worth getting together with friends to save money.