couple holding hands and wearing winter jackets

How to Wash Winter Jackets and Coats: The Ultimate Guide

Winter jackets are essential for staying warm during the colder months but can also accumulate dirt and stains over time. To keep your jackets looking fresh and lasting for years, cleaning them properly is essential. This comprehensive guide will discuss the best methods for washing various types of winter jackets, including wool coats, puffer coats, fleece jackets, and more.

Table of Contents

How to Wash Winter Jacket – Step by Step

two women wearing colorful winter jackets

Step 1 – Check the Label

Before washing your winter jacket, check the care label for any specific cleaning instructions. This will help you determine the best method for washing your jacket and avoid damaging the fabric.

Empty Pockets and Close Zippers

Empty all pockets and close any zippers, snaps, or buttons on the jacket. This will help prevent damage during the washing process.

Treat Stains

If your winter jacket has any visible stains, pre-treat them using a stain remover. Apply the stain remover according to the product’s instructions, allowing it to sit for the recommended time before washing.

Step 2 – Washing the Winter Jacket

Choose the Right Laundry Detergent

Select a laundry detergent that is suitable for your jacket’s fabric. For most winter jackets, a regular laundry detergent will suffice and remove stains. However, a specialized detergent may be necessary for some materials.

Load the Washing Machine

Place your winter jacket in a washing machine for a machine wash. If possible, use a top-loading machine without an agitator, as this can be gentler on your jacket. If you have other coats to wash, consider washing them separately to prevent color transfer and fabric damage.

Select the Wash Cycle

Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. This will help protect the fabric of your winter jacket and prevent damage during the washing process.

Add Detergent and Start the Wash Cycle

Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent to the washing machine, and then start the wash cycle. Avoid using fabric softeners, as they can damage certain fabrics and reduce the effectiveness of the jacket’s insulation.

Step 3 – Drying the Winter Jacket

Remove Excess Water

Once the wash cycle is complete, gently remove your winter jacket from the washing machine. If necessary, gently press the jacket to remove any excess water. Do not wring or twist the jacket, as this can damage the fabric and insulation.

Dry the Jacket

Place your winter jacket in the dryer, and set it to a low or no-heat setting to avoid damaging the fabric. Add dryer or clean tennis balls to help fluff the insulation and maintain the jacket’s shape. Start the drying cycle, and check the jacket periodically to ensure it dries evenly. You can also look for some popular home dry cleaning kit options.

Air Dry if Necessary

If your winter jacket cannot be dried in a dryer, hang it up to air dry. Make sure to hang the jacket inside out and in a well-ventilated area to speed up the drying process and prevent mildew growth.

Step 4 – Storing and Maintaining the Winter Jacket

Ensure the Jacket is Completely Dry

Before storing your winter jacket, make sure it is completely dry. This will help prevent mold and mildew growth and ensure your jacket remains fresh and clean for future use.

Store the Jacket Properly

Store your winter jacket in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. If possible, hang your jacket to maintain its shape, or gently fold it and place it in a storage container.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

To keep your winter jacket looking its best and prolong its lifespan, be sure to clean winter coats regularly according to the care label’s instructions. If your jacket requires special care, such as professional cleaning for materials like leather or suede, be sure to have it professionally cleaned as needed to maintain its appearance and functionality.

Inspect and Repair the Jacket

Regularly inspect your winter jacket for any damage, such as rips, tears, or loose seams. Make any necessary repairs to maintain the jacket’s integrity and insulation properties. If you are unable to repair the damage yourself, consider taking your jacket to a professional for assistance.

Refresh the Jacket Between Washes

To keep your winter jacket smelling fresh and clean between washes, consider using a fabric refresher spray or hanging the jacket in a well-ventilated area to absorb odors. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using fabric refresher sprays to avoid damaging your jacket’s fabric.

Protect Your Jacket from High Heat and Sunlight

Exposure to high heat and direct sunlight can cause damage to your winter jacket’s fabric and insulation. To protect your jacket, avoid using high heat settings when washing or drying, and store your jacket in a cool, dark place when not in use.

Choose the Right Hangers

When hanging your winter jacket, opt for sturdy, broad-shouldered hangers that provide adequate support and maintain the jacket’s shape. Avoid using thin wire hangers, as they can cause creases and damage the jacket’s fabric over time.

Pay Attention to Synthetic Fibers

If your winter jacket is made from synthetic fibers, be extra cautious when washing and drying. Some synthetic materials can be sensitive to heat and may require air drying or special care during the washing process. Always follow the care label’s instructions to prevent damage to your jacket.

Be Mindful of Washing Frequency

While keeping your winter jacket clean is important, be mindful of how often you wash it. Excessive washing can cause wear and tear on the fabric and insulation. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended washing frequency, and consider spot cleaning or refreshing the jacket between washes to prolong its lifespan.

Properly Dispose of Worn-Out Jackets

When it’s time to retire your winter jacket, consider donating it to a local charity or recycling it through a textile recycling program. Properly disposing of worn-out jackets can help reduce waste and give new life to the materials used in the jacket’s construction.

Storing Your Winter Jacket

Proper storage is essential to keep your winter jacket in the best possible condition. Here are some tips for storing your jacket when it’s not in use:

Clean Your Jacket Before Storing

Before storing your jacket, ensure it is clean and free of dirt, stains, or odors. Follow the washing instructions in this guide and the care label on your jacket to clean winter coats effectively.

Dry Your Jacket

Ensure your jacket is completely dry before storing it to prevent mildew and musty odors. Depending on the type of jacket and its care instructions, you may need to air dry it or use a drying cycle on a low heat setting in your top-loading machine or front-loading washing machine.

Fold or Hang Your Jacket Properly

When storing your jacket, gently fold it or hang it on a sturdy, broad-shouldered hanger. Folding is suitable for jackets made of materials that do not crease easily while hanging is ideal for more structured jackets that need to maintain their shape.

Store Your Jacket in a Cool, Dry Place

Keep your jacket in a cool, dry, and dark environment to prevent heat, sunlight, and moisture damage. A closet or wardrobe is an ideal storage location.

Importance of Washing Winter Coats

couple holding hands & enjoying the weather wearing winter jacket and coat

Washing your winter coats and other winter apparels regularly helps maintain their appearance, ensures they remain hygienic, and prolongs their lifespan. By following the proper cleaning techniques, you can avoid damage to the fabric and keep your coats looking great for years.

Frequency of Washing Winter Coats

Washing your winter coat at least once a year is recommended, preferably at the end of the season. However, some coats, such as fleece jackets and performance outerwear, may require more frequent washing, depending on usage and visible stains.

Washing Wool Coats: An Overview

Wool Coat Cleaning Methods

Wool coats are typically not machine washable and should be cleaned using a combination of brushing, spot-treating stains, and steaming. Alternatively, you can send your wool coat to a professional dry cleaner for thorough cleaning.

Brushing Wool Coats

Using a soft brush, gently brush your wool coat to remove dirt, dust, and other debris. This will help maintain the coat’s appearance and prevent damage to the fibers.

Spot-Treating Stains on Wool Coats

To treat stains on your wool coat, dampen a cloth with a gentle detergent and gently dab the stain until it lifts. Rinse the cloth and remove any detergent residue from the coat.

Steaming Wool Coats

Steaming your wool coat can help remove odors and allergens, leaving it clean and refreshed. Hang your coat on a sturdy hanger and use a clothing steamer to steam both the interior and exterior.

Washing Puffer Coats and Vests

Machine Washing Puffer Coats

Most puffer coats can be machine washed in cold water gently. Be sure to consult the care instructions on the coat’s tag for specific washing instructions.

Drying Puffer Coats

Puffer coats should be dried on a low heat setting in the dryer. Using dryer balls or clean tennis balls can help redistribute the coat’s filling and maintain its shape.

Cleaning Fleece Jackets and Performance Outerwear

Machine Washing Fleece Jackets

Fleece jackets can be machine washed in cold water on a regular cycle. Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets, as they can damage the fabric.

Drying Fleece Jackets

Fleece jackets can be air-dried or machine-dried on the lowest heat setting. They are quick-drying and can be laid flat to dry if preferred.

Washing Down Coats and Jackets

Preparing Down Coats for Washing

Before washing your down coat, check for any damage, such as rips or loose threads, and make necessary repairs. Empty all pockets and zip or button any closures.

Machine Washing Down Coats

Down coats can be gently washed using a front-loading washing machine in cold water. Top-loading machines with agitators can cause damage to the coat.

Drying Down Coats

Dry your down coat on a low heat setting, using a few dryer balls or clean tennis balls to help redistribute the down filling and maintain the coat’s shape. Be sure to check the coat periodically during the drying process to ensure even drying and prevent clumping of down.

Washing Suede and Vinyl Coats

Cleaning Suede Coats

Suede coats require special care and should not be machine washed or submerged in water. Instead, use a soft brush to gently remove dirt and debris from the coat’s surface. For stains, use a slightly damp cloth and a suede cleaner to clean the affected area gently.

Cleaning Vinyl Coats

Vinyl coats can be wiped clean using a damp cloth and mild detergent. Avoid machine washing or using harsh chemicals, as they can damage the vinyl material.

Tips for Washing Coats with Faux Fur Trim

Detaching Faux Fur Trim

Remove any faux fur trim from your winter coat before washing. This will help protect the faux fur from damage during the washing process.

Hand Washing Faux Fur Trim

Gently hand wash the faux fur trim in cold water using a mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly and gently squeeze out excess moisture. Lay the trim flat to air dry, and gently brush it to restore its fluffiness.


In conclusion, properly washing and caring for your winter coats or jackets is crucial to ensure their longevity and maintain their appearance. By following the guidelines in this article, you can successfully clean wool coats, fleece coats, and even down jackets. Remember that cleaning winter coats may require different approaches based on the materials and care instructions. Using the correct water temperature and opting for dry cleaning when necessary can help preserve your jackets in the long run.

When storing your outerwear, consider using breathable garment bags or plastic storage boxes to protect them from dust, moisture, and pests. Additionally, rotating your jackets seasonally and investing in a quality fleece jacket or other versatile outerwear can provide you with stylish and functional options throughout the year.

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