How to wash a winter jacket

How to wash a winter jacket

Winter slush, sleet and salt can make any coat look dingy in no time. Whether it’s because your coat simply needs to be cleaned or you want to store it for the summer (minus the dirt), here are some hints for how to wash your winter jacket to keep it looking like new.

How to wash a winter jacket
How to wash a winter jacket

First, check the label

It’s important to distinguish the material your winter jacket is made from before tackling stains, as techniques differ depending on the material.

  • Check the label first. If you’re not sure what those symbols mean, visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.
  • It will save you the aggravation (and cost) of replacing your winter coat because you accidentally cleaned it the wrong way!

Down-filled jackets

Down feathers can break down from detergents and dry cleaning, so use a special down soap when washing these types of jackets.

  • Remove the hood. If there is no fur lining, wash in the same load as the jacket, but leave it unattached.
  • Empty the pockets including any lint, debris or food – like candy. Don’t forget any inside pockets.
  • Pre-treat stains with a gentle pre-wash treatment.
  • Fasten all zips and snaps. Then, turn the jacket inside out.
  • Wash in cold water.

*Important: Top-loading machines can be too harsh if used incorrectly. If you don’t have access to a front-loading machine, put the coat in a mesh laundry bag to prevent damage.

  • Use an extra rinse cycle.
  • Tumble-dry on low heat with a couple of clean tennis balls to help fluff up the down.
  • Make sure the coat is completely dry. This may take more than one cycle.

Wool jackets

It’s a good idea to wash wool coats before storing at the end of the season. Moths are attracted to human scents.

  • It’s preferable to hand wash your wool jacket, but you can wash it in a machine on a gentle setting.

As necessary, spot clean during the winter to remove stains: dab stain with a wool-friendly detergent and damp cloth, but don’t rub it. To rinse, blot with a wet cloth until soapy residue is gone. If you still want to wash your wool coat, remember to:

  • Take off any removable parts, like a hood.
  • Empty the pockets. Don’t forget any inside pockets.
  • Pre-treat any stains with a gentle pre-wash treatment. Don’t rub a stain – dab to remove it.
  • Fasten all zips, snaps, buttons and velcro closures.
  • To hand wash, fill a sink or tub with cold water and a wool-friendly liquid detergent. Add the jacket, squeezing the soapy water through until it’s fully wet. Let the coat sit for a few minutes.
  • Remove the jacket and drain the water. Refill sink or tub with clean water.
  • Rinse the jacket by squeezing and swirling the coat. Repeat as necessary until all soap is gone.

*Important: As with down-filled jackets, top-loading washing machines can damage a wool coat. If you don’t have access to a front-loading machine, place it in a mesh laundry bag. Remove promptly when the wash cycle is complete.

  • Lay the wool coat on top of a large absorbent towel. Roll the jacket up in the towel, squeezing to remove moisture. Do this once or twice with a dry towel each time until the jacket is lightly damp.
  • Press out any wrinkles and hang it to dry on a good, sturdy hanger.

Follow these tips to get your winter jacket ready for the cold season and you’ll have a clean, new-looking coat to keep you warm for many seasons to come.


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