It's always a guessing game when you're wondering just how clean your kids’ clothes will be when they return home after school or from playing in the backyard. Wintertime leaves their attire even more vulnerable to all sorts of issues, from dirt and mud to streaks and stains. Suddenly those kids’ winter coats are practically unrecognizable from the once pristine outerwear you purchased months ago.
What’s the solution? Understand, first, that a little bit of stained grime is pretty much inevitable. They’re kids, after all, and if they aren’t playing a little rough in the snow then they aren’t doing it right! Secondly, recognize that you have plenty of ways to keep their coats in great shape and stain-free throughout the season. So long as it’s performing its top job — keeping your little one toasty and cozy all winter — you don’t have to worry much. Here’s how to ensure that those stains are a thing of the past.
Material matters where your kids’ coats are concerned. Some are simply easier to clean than others, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for the season right now. Consider just how much of a mess your kid is likely to make. If he or she is the rambunctious sort who never fails to come home with a splatter or two on their clothes, then you know what to do: find a fabric that you can wash more frequently.
Fleece is among the most forgiving in that department. It washes well, won’t pill, and retains its integrity no matter how many times you might toss it in the machine. You can turn it inside out to help the exterior remain even fresher. Warm water is great, but you can run it through a hot cycle if the stains are particularly stubborn. Keep an eye on the collar and sleeves in particular, as those areas are more likely to get more grungy with time.
Down is among the most popular materials used in girls’ and boys’ coats. That feathery topper is perfect if you live in a particularly cold climate where brutal winters are the norm. Modern down jackets for kids are especially comfortable and cozy and are available in a wide variety of styles and colors.
If your child’s down coat is stained, take prompt action. Use a stain treatment on affected areas on the sleeves and collar. Then wash the coat on a cold and delicate cycle and dry it on low heat. It will look as good as it did on day one, and the lining should feel plusher and softer than before.
Wool is a beautiful material that’s warm, toasty, and great for winter wear, perfect to pair with anything from corduroy pants to kids’ jeans. The delicate fabric does require some extra attention, however, so you need to be careful with how you proceed. As you would with down or fleece, spot treat any stains on the wool. You can use a detergent that’s specifically safe to use on wool, and then use a gentle cycle with either cold or warm water.
Just avoid tossing it in the dryer — that’s a surefire recipe for shrinking the coat down to unrecognizable sizes. Allow it to air dry instead. If your kid wears a wool coat, it’s a good idea to keep a down coat available as a backup if you need to treat stains and wash the wool. It may take a little while for it to dry out fully.
An alternative to a traditional winter coat is a kids’ puffer vest. These are the ultimate layering pieces, perfect for throwing on over a long-sleeve T-shirt, a flannel shirt, or a thin sweater. Styles filled with a down alternative material add coziness and lock in body heat so your child stays warm on even the coldest of days. But what to do when those unsightly stains settle into the material? Since vests are likely some of the most-worn pieces in your child’s closet, it’s best to school yourself on this technique so you can handle whatever splatters come your way.
Check the care label to be sure that you aren’t breaking any recommended protocol, then spot clean the surface on any affected areas. Try a dry microfiber cloth first, or one that’s slightly damp. You can also use a cleaning agent designed specifically for down products. For more severe stains, you can soak the garment in warm water and the cleaning agent of your choice. After you’ve rinsed it thoroughly, squeeze out the garment gently to remove excess water. That will help speed up the air-drying process just enough.
With the right tips and techniques, you can be sure that your child’s winter wear will remain as fresh, clean, and stain-free as it was on the day that you purchased it.