How to Care for Your Coat This Winter

We invest a lot of money into our outerwear. And rightfully so. After all, the better the quality the warmer they tend to keep you. And people see your coat before they see your outfit underneath. But let's 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 likely 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 the daily dirt and grime eventually builds up, creating a dingy appearance that will, over time, ruin the look of the coat completely. Treat your outerwear well and it will last longer and you'll look better.

Spot Cleaning

If you have a small spill or splash, you don't have to wash the whole coat. Simply blot (don't rub) with cold soda water using an absorbent cloth to soak up and remove the offending stain.

Wool Overcoats

How to clean wool overcoats

Sure, you could drop your overcoat off at the dry cleaners. No problem. But don't think your fancy top coat or pea coat can't be washed at home. It's a simple process that's easily accomplished.

How to clean wool overcoats

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 there).

Add a detergent like Woolite or The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo to your washer. Place the coat inside and set the cycle to "gentle" using cold or warm water. (You can use a mesh washing bag to prevent any snagging.)

Hang dry and steam out any wrinkles. Never put a wool coat into the dryer because it will shrink. The washer's spin cycle should wring out any excess water, but you can also roll the jacket in a clean towel and squeeze out any extra moisture.

Pro 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 under the arms and the tops of pockets, which can easily gather lint.

Miscly Boar Bristle Clothes Brush and Lint Remover

Boar bristle clothes brush
and lint remover, $29.97
by Miscly

Down Jackets, Parkas and Puffer Vests

How to clean 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.

How to clean down jackets, parkas and puffer vests

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 warm/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 a low tumble cycle. Adding clean tennis balls (or wool dryer balls) will help to redistribute and fluff up the down filling and prevent clumping.

Pro Tip: To remove strong odors like smoke, mildew or worse, the washing gurus at The Laundress suggest adding 1/4 cup of vinegar before starting the wash cycle in the machine. All white vinegar is safe for down, but they've got a scented version that smells like eucalyptus and citrus.

The Laundress Scented Vinegar

Scented vinegar,
$11.40 by The Laundress

Fleece Jackets

How to clean fleece jackets

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.

How to clean fleece jackets

Turn fleece items inside-out and wash on a gentle cycle using cold or warm water. Ideally, wash it separately from other clothes so the fleece doesn't pill. You can also hand wash them in the sink.

Use a mild, powdered detergent (such as Seventh Generation or All Free & Clear). 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 any wrinkles from setting in.

Pro Tip: Need to brighten dingy fleece jackets? Add some OxiClean to your wash cycle to help lift out any trapped grime and generally lighten up a dull appearance.

OxiClean Chlronine-Free Stain Remover

Chlorine-free stain remover,
$12.98 by OxiClean

J.S. Hanger Wooden Hangers

Invest in a better hanger

These wooden hangers have an extra-wide shoulder that prevents coats from falling off and helps them keep their shape.

$45 / $29.99 for six by J.S. Hanger