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Washing and cleaning winter coats: 11 tips


Winter coats are one of the most neglected items in our wardrobe; think about it, when was the last time you cleaned your winter coat? While it’s easy to forget to care for these important pieces of clothing, winter coats do require cleaning. Regular care will keep winter coats looking their best and lasting for many winters to come.

We consulted experts who explained the best ways to clean winter outerwear, from wool and wool blend overcoats to parkas and puffer vests, as well as fleece jackets and performance outerwear.

How to clean performance fleece jackets and outerwear

Corey Simpson, a public relations manager for Patagonia, says, “We recommend spot cleaning whenever possible, but generally we recommend washing items in cold water and line drying.”

Eucalan is a gentle detergent specially developed for safe use on wool.

Follow these steps to spot fleece:

  • Step 1: Using a damp cloth, dab a small amount of mild detergent onto the stain.
  • Step 2: Blot the stain until it is gone, taking care not to scrub the fabric, as friction can cause the fleece to pill.
  • Step 3: Once the stain is gone, gently blot the area with a cloth dipped in clean water to remove any detergent residue.

Tide’s fragrance and dye-free liquid detergent is as effective as it is gentle.

Simpson recommends using a fragrance and dye free detergent when washing fleece. “If you’re using a standard detergent, make sure you give the jacket an extra rinse to make sure no residue is left behind,” he says. Residue from excess detergent can give fleece a dingy look and save its softness.

Dryer balls are an alternative to fabric softener for use with fabrics such as fleece that should not be exposed to dryer sheets.

Fleece can be air dried flat or tumble dried on the lowest heat setting. “Don’t use fabric softener when you dry a piece of clothing. In general, we do not recommend using fabric softeners or fabric softeners on our products,” says Simpson. Dryer balls, which help speed up drying time and add softness to garments, are a smart alternative when washing fabrics such as fleece or terry that should not be exposed to liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets.

How to clean parkas and puffer vests

A representative from The North Face says, “Periodic cleaning of down jackets is essential to maintain maximum fluffiness and ensure long product life. While it is possible to wash your own down product, we recommend that you have your jacket professionally cleaned by a service that specializes in down cleaning.”

While professional cleaning is recommended by some experts, for most people, machine washing a down or synthetic-filled puffer coat or vest is the best option. If your jacket has a natural down filling, a detergent formulated for use on down is a smart choice (such as Nikwax). Fragrance- and dye-free detergents are also suitable for this purpose. Wash the jacket in cold water with the delicate program.


It’s a bit counterintuitive because of their weight and size, but stuffed winter coats should be dried on low heat. Use dryer balls to increase airflow in the drum, which will help speed up the drying time, as well as fluff up the fill and distribute it evenly in the jacket. Plastic dryer balls are best for people who are allergic to wool.

Make-up removing wipes aren’t just for your face! Between washing, if stains appear on the collar and cuffs of winter coats, use a soft make-up removing wipe to remove dirt from the body, such as skin and sebum, and from care products such as make-up and hair products.

The importance of using the right hangers for your clothes cannot be overemphasized! When it comes to hanging light but bulky parkas and puffer vests, slim non-slip hangers are a great choice as they help prevent the slippery material from slipping off the hanger and landing on the floor.

Says Wayne Edelman, president of Meurice Garment Care, “Wool coats should be dry-cleaned by a professional when they become visibly dirty, or at least at the end of the season.” While some wool items, such as sweaters, can be hand washed, Edelman cautions against washing winter wool coats, specifically because “the wool can be wet cleaned, but rayon acetate liners commonly used in wool coats cannot .” In between professional cleanings, you can keep wool winter coats in good condition with a combination of brushing, stain treatment and dry cleaning.

A clothes brush keeps wool winter coats looking good – and in good condition! – all winter long. Working from the collar down, brush the wool vigorously to remove debris such as dirt, road salt, hair, lint, etc.

To freshen up a wool coat that’s pilled or just looks a little weathered, use a shaver to remove pills and restore the nap. These razors from Gleener are one of the best on the market.

Baby wipes can be used to clean dirty collars and cuffs, or to remove stains quickly, as they are soft and low in moisture, making them safe to use on wool.

Prevent damage to wool winter coats by storing them on sturdy hangers when not in use.

When it comes to storing a wool winter coat, Edelman has two important pieces of advice. “Hang the coat on a sturdy wooden or plastic hanger when you’re not wearing it,” he says. And if you’re coming out of the snow, sleet or rain, keep in mind that the jacket needs to dry before it’s put away. “If it’s wet,” says Edelman, “let it dry with good air circulation. Don’t put it in a closet while it’s wet.