There’s nothing like fleece—its softness, warmth, and infinite possibilities for casual clothing make it a go-to for all of us. But to get the most out of your favorite women’s fleece jacket and all of your fleece clothing and blankets, give them a little TLC. Let’s talk about how to keep your fleece feeling like new.
Stains happen. Whether it’s a spilled drink, mud from the great outdoors that made it indoors, your beloved pet’s paws, or simple perspiration or body oils, don’t let it hurt your fleece. Kids’ fleece jackets are stain magnets.
Your first line of defense is time. Most stains that are rinsed thoroughly in cold water and mild soap right after exposure will fare better. Never use hot water on stains. Hold the item under running water for several minutes to try to remove or “loosen” the stain while gently rubbing the area with a mild soap. Be careful about using commercial stain removal products. Many of them can damage the fabric while removing the stain. Be sure to read the label carefully if you try this method.
Natural stain removers and cleaners can be a safer option for your fabric. White vinegar can brighten and whiten clothing and is a natural stain remover for yellow perspiration stains. Borax (yes, that old-fashioned laundry detergent is still available) is good at removing stains. It is made from a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. For oily stains, try cornstarch. Sprinkle cornstarch liberally on the stain and let it absorb the oil for 10 minutes. For “just stained” items, cornstarch can sometimes remove the entire stain before laundering. Table salt is also a mild abrasive that can be used to help loosen stains before they set.
For regular washing, you won’t need to empty the kitchen cabinets as you will for stain removal, but a little planning will help keep your fleece looking (and feeling!) like new. Wash your fleece regularly. If the fleece is worn next to the skin, it should be washed weekly. Start with a gentle laundry detergent. Empty all pockets and close all zippers on your fleece and turn it inside out. Always wash your fleece with similar colors and fabrics. Jeans and heavy jackets could damage the fabric. Also, avoid fabric softener. Ironically, these chemicals can build up on fabric and make them feel less soft over time. It’s a great idea to rinse your fleece a second time to remove all the detergent. You just want clean fleece, not clean fleece plus chemicals.
To keep your fleece looking its best, consider skipping the dryer. If you live in an apartment or dorm, beware of commercial dryers. They run hotter than residential dryers, and you often don’t have the option of adjusting the heat. Your favorite fleece throw will start to pill if exposed to high heat and friction.
If you do choose to dry your fleece, perhaps split the difference between line drying and machine drying—put your fleece in the dryer on low for 15 minutes to get most of the moisture out of it, and then place your fleece on clothing hangers or drape them over a laundry rack for final drying. This will help avoid wrinkles (and be less messy) than line drying while still protecting your fleece long term.
As the weather changes (sometimes quickly like it does in the Midwest), it is easy to forget your fleece in the closet. Don’t leave less than freshly laundered fleece for next season. This will shorten the life of your garments and blankets. You can take care of this while you store away your women’s fleece gloves and winter hats by washing them gently per the suggestions above.
Make sure that your fleece is 100% dry before you store it for the summer. Although fleece is naturally protected from insects because it is made from polyester, nothing is worse than finding out that you have mold or mildew on your favorite jacket. When you store your fleece, make sure to keep it away from light and extremes of temperature and humidity. Your attic may have plenty of free space, but it’s not the place for your fleece. Basements are notorious for being humid. If you don’t have closet space, pack your fleece away in plastic bins and keep them on a shelf at room temperature.
With a little TLC, you can enjoy the warmth and beauty of your favorite fleece for years to come.