Hot toweling your horse – Great for winter deep cleaning.



Hot toweling accomplishes a few things:


  • Get your horse sparkly clean in the winter.  Yes – you can give your horse this type of “bath” in the winter. 


  • Work on your strength by employing elbow grease.  Hot toweling, or hot clothing as some horse lovers call it, takes a bit of time and effort on your part. 


  • Steam clean your own pores.  Hot toweling uses steam and perhaps a bit of no-rinse shampoo to clean your horse. 
Work in small areas. Perhaps even smaller than this area pictured. Have a cooler on your horse to cover his steamed areas. This prevents chills and helps the drying process.



What is hot toweling a horse, exactly?


  • Hot toweling is basically a way for you to use a hot towel to steam clean your horse using small rags or towels soaked in piping hot water.


  • For best results, start with a thorough curry, brush, and vacuum of your horse. This will remove most of the dirt and dust and leave the steam to do the super dirty work.  The more you can curry and brush, the cleaner your rinse water and cloths will remain. 

Hot toweling steps


  • Well, gather some towels.  Washcloths or dishtowel sizes are best, otherwise, you are slogging around a huge wet towel that’s hard to wring and use. 


  • You will also need a clean bucket (or two) and access to steamy hot, hot water. Not boiling, but definitely hotter than you could stand. I use an instant hot kettle, which allows you to almost instantly get hot water.  It does cool quickly in cold weather, so keep making fresh batches.  


  • I also like to use rubber gloves so my delicate hands don’t get drier and more cracked than they already are. VIDEOS BELOW!



This instant hot water kettle is great for having a fresh supply of steamy goodness.


  • You can use hot water from the faucet if you have it, you can lug it from the house, or you can use a water heater that plugs into an outlet. Use your preferred hot water method with supervision so that nothing gets melted or overheated.


  • Soak your towels in the hot water and thoroughly wring out a towel. You want steamy damp, not hot wet. Use the towel like a curry comb to work back and forth in small areas at a time. Work with and against the natural lay of the hair.


  • To encourage drying, leave the hair poking up and cover with a cooler to help dry and keep warm. If the hair is wet, you have too much water and need to wring out the towel more.  Aim for your horse to be barely damp.  Almost dry.


  • If your horse is clipped, please be super careful with the water/steamy towel temp as a clipped horse has much less protection from the heat.  


I like to use the second bucket of hot water as my “rinse” bucket for tossing used rags into.


  • Then I don’t muck up the original hot water, and hopefully, it’s still hot enough to keep going with more towels. You may also find that you need to have a system here, perhaps like this:


  • Create a steamy towel soup in a bucket of clean, hot water.  Add some spot cleaner and deodorizer like Easy Out if you like.


  • Curry your horse with the damp steamy towel.


  • Let the used towel soak in a rinse bucket to remove dirt, dust, remnants of stains, hair.


  • Cycle through your towels – steamy, dirty, rinsed.


  • Stop occasionally to admire your buff arms. This is probably the most important step. 


Does hot toweling work for all horses?


  • It’s all a giant experiment – your horse’s hair coat is totally different from every other horse! Very thick winter coats can be helped with hot toweling, but often end up too wet and take too long to dry. However, if you need to do it, you can always try it in critical areas (like the saddle) and go from there!


  • You can also add a few drops of mild shampoo to your bucket, some folks like to add a few drops of baby oil. I use a deodorizing spot remover, which squashes funky smells and helps stains lift without leaving a residue behind. The residue may be totally fine – it may also attract more dirt, or it could be itchy for your horse.


Hot toweling instructions.


Oil buffing vs. hot toweling – similar, but not really. More details on oil buffing your horse for an amazing shine are here


When you are all done, your arms will have had a great workout and your horse will be awesomely clean!



The following links go to my favorite oil buffing and hot toweling options. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, and there is no extra charge to you. Your support means that I can float this website to keep bringing you good information and bad jokes. THANKS!

The BEST for winter grooming – a hot water kettle!


You can also snap up a bottle of the grooming oil I love 

I love Easy Out for touch-up stain removal!

Handy cloths for all things horse grooming

Thank you!