When you think about how often we wear our coats during the wintertime, it's amazing to think that some of us don't wash our coats more than once or twice per year. Even if you don't think your coat is dirty, it probably is if you haven't washed it in a while, and you surely don't want other people to notice.
Keeping your winter coat clean isn't just about good hygiene; it also protects your investment so you can use your coat year after year. These tips will help you keep your coat squeaky clean throughout the year no matter what type of material it is made of. Here's how to wear a winter coat in a pinch this holiday season.
Wool is typically made from the hair of goats or sheep. If it is knitted or woven, you may be able to wash it on your machine's gentle cycle with cool water and a gentle detergent. But most wool coats are labeled as "Dry Clean Only" because the inner fabrics that give the coat its structure are typically not washable. You can spot clean any stains using a wool-safe cleaner, but in order to play it safe, you should probably take it to the dry-cleaner for a seasonal cleaning instead of washing it yourself.
Down coats are popular picks because they're some of the warmest winter coats, and they can be ironically compact despite their fluffiness. The key to keeping down in tip-top shape is to keep it clean, dry, and fluffy. It shouldn't be too difficult to do, however, since they can be both washed and dried at home. Just be careful with drying them, as they prefer to be hung dry and then fluffed in the dryer on low for about 10 minutes to regain their shape.
Fleece is great because it's so lightweight but also so warm. But it also attracts hair and lint, so be sure to run a lint remover over your fleece coat before throwing it into the washing machine. You can use whatever type of laundry detergent you normally would, and fleece can be washed in either warm or cold water (depending on the color) on the permanent-press cycle. As for drying, it's best to hang dry. Never dry a fleece jacket on high heat, as it could shrink.
Reading the care instructions on a faux fur coat is key, since the "fur" may be washable, but the rest of the structural components may not be. Hand-washing is typically the best choice. Just submerge it in a tub of cool water using a gentle detergent. Swish it around for about 10 minutes before removing it from the water, then gently squeeze the water out of it. Drain the soapy water and then submerge the coat in clean water before rinsing it gently one more time. Then lay flat to dry. Never put faux fur in the dryer as high heat can cause the faux fur fibers to melt and become matted.
Leather coats never go out of style, providing you take care of them and keep them looking soft and supple. You should probably take expensive leather coats to a professional cleaner, but if you feel comfortable enough doing it yourself, you can hand wash the leather. Just be sure that you first test its color-fastness by using a clean, wet, white cloth. Apply it to the interior of the jacket where any leather is exposed. If any color transfers to the white cloth, you should not wash it at home. If it doesn't transfer, feel free to proceed by completely submerging the jacket in water with a gentle detergent, and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. Without wringing it, gently squeeze the water out before soaking it in water without detergent, and repeat. To dry it, turn it inside out and hang it over a tub to air-dry. Be sure to use a leather conditioner when dry to condition the coat so it is soft and supple again.
Suede coats are attractive, but they're very sensitive to dirt and stains. You can treat small stains yourself, but anything more than that should be dry cleaned by a professional. At home, you can remove any dust or debris from the coat with a suede brush. If there is any oil on the coat, sprinkle some cornstarch or baby powder on the spot, and let it sit for about an hour. The powder should attract the oil, drawing it out of the coat. Brush the powder away, and repeat with another clean layer until the powder no longer attracts oil.
While all of the cleaning advice above is typically common practice, it doesn’t hurt to air on the side of caution. Always check the tag on your coat for washing instructions. You can also consult the brand’s website or email their customer service, as well. If you’re still not sure, when in doubt, always clean your jacket in the most gentle way possible and air dry. Be super careful, though, you don’t want to ruin your favorite coat!
The best winter coats are those that are timeless and made of good quality. If you have a coat that you can consider your go-to year after year, protect your investment by taking good care of it and keeping it clean all year.