How To

Clean and Care for Your Winter Coat

Be honest. You've never washed your winter coat have you? And if you were to smell your coat, what do you think it'd smell like? That probably depends on a number of factors—like where you've worn it, how often you wear it and how long you've owned it. But the takeaway is the same: coats are clothes too. And oftentimes, they're expensive garments that deserve to be cared for properly. The problem with not washing your coats, ever, is that dirt and grime builds up, creating a dingy appearance that will, over time, ruin the look of the coat. Treat your outerwear well and it'll last longer and you'll look better.

Down Jackets, Parkas and Puffer Vests

 

Giving your down-filled outerwear a good washing once a season will help persevere the oils of the feathers within and keep it from looking like a deflated sleeping bag.

  • Prior to laundering, check the collar and the sleeves and apply a pretreatment stain remover if there's noticeable grime. (There will be grime.)
  • Wash with cold water on a delicate cycle with your standard laundry detergent. A warning: When you remove the coat from the washer, it will look pretty bad—soggy and disheveled, but all will be fixed in the dryer.
  • Dry on low heat and low tumble cycle. Adding clean tennis balls (or old ones covered with socks) will help to redistribute and fluff up the feathers and down/filling.

Tip

To remove strong odors like smoke, mildew or worse, the washing gurus at The Laundress suggest adding ¼ cup of vinegar before starting the wash cycle in the machine. All white vinegar is safe for down, but they've got a minty scented version that works like a charm and smells particularly nice.

Wool Overcoats

 

Don't think your fancy top coat or pea coat needs to be dry cleaned. A wool overcoat can easily be washed at home.

  • Prior to laundering, treat the collar and sleeves with a pretreatment stain remover. Turn the coat inside-out and also treat the underarms of your coat (since most overcoats fit more snuggly under the sleeves).
  • Add a detergent like Woolite or The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo to your washer and place the coat inside. Set your washer on the gentle cycle using cold or warm water. (You can use a mesh washing bag to prevent snagging.)
  • Hang dry and steam out any wrinkles. Never put a wool coat into the dryer because it will shrink it. The washer's spin cycle should wring out any excess water, but you can also roll the jacket in a clean towel to squeeze out any extra moisture.

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Tip

In between washings, keep your coat clean by brushing it with a suit brush. Lay it flat on a hard surface and brush it, starting at the top and working your way down. Make sure to attack areas like armpits and the tops of pockets which can gather lint.

Fleece

 

Fleece outerwear is predominantly made from polyester because of its warmth and water repellent qualities. Washing can ensure the texture of the fleece doesn't get matted.

  • Turn fleece items inside-out to wash them and set your washer on the gentle cycle using cold or warm water. Ideally, wash it separately from other clothes so the fleece does not pill. You can also hand wash them in the sink.
  • Use a mild, powdered detergent (such as Seventh Generation or Ivory Snow). Standard liquid detergents may cause the fleece to lose its water-resistance.
  • You can air dry the jacket by placing it on a towel rack, or tumble dry on low heat in the dryer. If using the dryer, do not add a dryer sheet and remove promptly when the cycle is done to prevent wrinkles.

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