a person cleaning a winter coat in a bright, clean laundry space with a focus on a person's hands performing spot cleaning on a thick, navy blue winter coat laid out on a white table.

How to Clean a Winter Coat

Winter is a fantastic time of year. Snowball fights, hot cocoa, and of course, cozy winter coats. But wait, have you ever stopped and thought about when you last cleaned your winter coat? You know, the one you wear every chilly day? If you’re scratching your head trying to remember, then this article is perfect for you.

“How to Clean a Winter Coat” isn’t just a cool title; it’s a handy skill to have! Think about it: Your coat faces rain, snow, and sometimes even the accidental spill of that delicious hot chocolate. Over time, it can start to lose its charm, not to mention its warmth. But no worries! We’re here to help you bring back that fresh and clean feel to your favorite winter coat.

So, buckle up (or maybe, zip up your coat?) as we dive into the best tips and tricks. By the end of this, you’ll be a pro at keeping your coat looking as good as new. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Material of Your Coat

Common Coat Materials and Their Cleaning Needs


Wool coats are classic and warm, but they can also be a bit tricky when it comes to cleaning. Never toss them into a regular wash! Instead, gently hand wash with cool water and a mild detergent.


Down coats are known for their superior warmth. To maintain their puffiness and warmth, special care is needed. Use a front-loading machine, and ensure you dry it completely to avoid the down from clumping.

Synthetic Materials

These are the everyday heroes of winter wear. Generally easier to clean, most synthetic coats can be machine washed. However, always check the label first!

Fur or Faux Fur

Real fur requires professional care most of the time. Faux fur, on the other hand, can often be hand washed. Be gentle, and brush it out afterward to maintain its fluff.

Checking the Care Label for Specific Instructions

No matter the material, your winter coat will have a care label tucked inside. This label is like the coat’s personal diary on “How to Clean a Winter Coat.” It gives specific instructions on washing, drying, and ironing. Always give it a read before doing anything!

General Cleaning Tips

No matter what type of winter coat you own, some universal rules apply when it comes to cleaning. Mastering these tips will not only make your “How to Clean a Winter Coat” journey smoother but also ensure your coat stays in tip-top shape.

Importance of Emptying Pockets and Closing Zippers/Buttons

Emptying Pockets

We’ve all been there—finding old receipts, candy wrappers, or even some spare change after a wash. Before cleaning, always empty your pockets. It prevents unwanted surprises and ensures an even, thorough clean.

Zippers and Buttons

Zippers can snag on delicate materials, and buttons can get damaged or even break off. Ensure all zippers are zipped up, and all buttons are fastened. This simple step can save you a lot of heartache in the long run!

Spot Cleaning: Addressing Spills or Stains Immediately

Oops! Dropped some sauce on your coat? Don’t wait! The quicker you address spills or stains, the better. Dab the area gently with a damp cloth to remove as much of the stain as possible. Remember, rubbing can spread the stain, so be gentle!

Choosing the Right Detergent or Cleaning Product

Just like picking the right tool for a job, choosing the right cleaning product for your coat is crucial. Mild detergents are usually a safe bet. If your coat is of a particular material, like wool or down, consider getting a specialty detergent. And remember, always follow the product’s instructions!

Hand Washing a Winter Coat

Sometimes, the gentlest way to refresh your winter coat is with a good old-fashioned hand wash. Though it may seem a bit more time-consuming, hand washing ensures your coat gets the TLC it needs. Let’s break down how to do it step-by-step.

Preparing the Cleaning Basin

  1. Choose the Right Basin: Depending on the size of your coat, you can use a bathtub, large sink, or a spacious basin. Ensure it’s clean and free of any residues.
  2. Fill with Cool or Lukewarm Water: Hot water can shrink or damage certain materials, so it’s better to stick with cooler temperatures.
  3. Add Detergent: Pour in a gentle detergent, swishing the water around to distribute it evenly. Remember to use the right amount—too much can leave residues, while too little might not clean effectively.

Steps for Effective Hand Washing

  1. Submerge Your Coat: Gently press your coat into the water, ensuring it’s fully soaked.
  2. Gently Agitate: Use your hands to move the coat around in the water. This helps the detergent penetrate the fabric and lift away dirt.
  3. Treat Stubborn Spots: If you notice any lingering stains, apply a small amount of detergent directly and gently rub the area with your fingers.

Rinsing and Removing Excess Water

  1. Drain the Soapy Water: Once you’ve washed the coat, empty the basin of its soapy contents.
  2. Rinse: Fill the basin with clean water and immerse your coat again, gently swishing it around to remove the detergent. You might need to repeat this a few times until all soap residues are gone.
  3. Remove Excess Water: Don’t wring out your coat as this can distort its shape. Instead, gently press it against the side of the basin or lay it flat on a clean towel and roll it up, pressing gently to absorb the water.
  4. Dry: Lay your coat flat on a clean, dry towel or on a drying rack, reshaping it if necessary. Always dry away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

With these careful steps, your hand-washed winter coat should come out looking and feeling refreshed and clean!

Machine Washing a Winter Coat

Hand washing might give that personal touch, but let’s be honest: nothing beats the convenience of a washing machine. If you’re planning to let technology do the heavy lifting, here’s how to ensure your coat comes out in one cozy piece.

Determining if Your Coat is Machine-Washable

  1. Check the Care Label: This is the coat’s ‘instruction manual’. Look for symbols or specific instructions. If the label shows a washing machine icon, you’re good to go. If it’s crossed out, it’s a no-go.
  2. Material Matters: While many synthetic materials can brave the machine wash, materials like wool and down might require a gentler touch or specific settings.
  3. When in Doubt: If you’re uncertain, it’s safer to opt for hand washing or seek professional advice.

Settings and Cycle Recommendations

  1. Temperature Setting: Cold or lukewarm settings are safest for most winter coats to prevent shrinking or damage.
  2. Spin Cycle: Use a gentle or delicate cycle, especially for puffier or down-filled coats.
  3. Load Size: Don’t overcrowd the machine. Your coat should have enough space to move around. This can mean washing it alone or with just a few other items.

Detergent and Fabric Softener Considerations

  1. Detergent Choice: Opt for a mild or specialty detergent, depending on your coat’s material. For down jackets, there are specific detergents that help maintain the feather’s structure.
  2. Avoiding Fabric Softeners: While they might make your regular clothes soft and fragrant, fabric softeners can affect the water repellency of winter coats or reduce the loft in down-filled jackets. It’s best to skip them for your coat.
  3. Measure Properly: Don’t just eyeball the detergent amount. Too much can leave residues, while too little won’t clean effectively.

Tossing your winter coat into the machine doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Armed with these tips, you’re all set to keep it looking spick and span with minimal fuss!

Drying Your Winter Coat

So, your winter coat has had its bath—whether by hand or machine—and now it’s dripping wet and heavy. Drying it might seem straightforward, but there’s a bit more to it than just hanging it up and hoping for the best. Here’s how to ensure your coat dries properly without losing its shape or warmth.

Air Drying Versus Tumble Drying

  1. Air Drying:
    • Benefits: Preserves the coat’s structure and reduces the risk of shrinkage.
    • How-to: Lay the coat flat on a clean, dry towel or hang it on a padded hanger. Always dry away from direct sunlight and heat sources to avoid fading or damage.
  2. Tumble Drying:
    • Benefits: Faster and can help fluff up down-filled coats.
    • Precautions: Only tumble dry if the care label allows it. Use low heat settings to prevent damage.
    • Dryer Balls: For down-filled jackets, adding a couple of tennis balls or dryer balls can help maintain the loft.

Ensuring Even Drying to Prevent Mold/Mildew

  1. Position Right: Make sure the coat isn’t folded or creased. This ensures every part dries evenly.
  2. Ventilation is Key: Dry in a well-ventilated area. Moist, enclosed spaces can promote mold growth.
  3. Check Pockets: Pockets can retain water. Turn them inside out if possible.

Fluffing Down-Filled Coats to Maintain Loft

  1. During Drying: As mentioned, using dryer balls during tumble drying can help fluff up down-filled coats.
  2. Post Drying: Gently pat and shake the coat to break up any clumps of down.
  3. Occasional Fluff: Even after drying, give your down coat a good shake from time to time to keep it fluffy and lofty.

Remember, drying is just as crucial as cleaning when it comes to “How to Clean a Winter Coat.” Taking the time to do it right ensures your coat remains cozy, warm, and ready for the next winter adventure!

Professional Cleaning

While many winter coats can be easily cleaned at home, sometimes, a professional touch is what’s needed to truly refresh and rejuvenate your trusty garment. Whether it’s a delicate material, a stubborn stain, or just the luxury of a professional clean, here’s how to know when it’s time to bring in the experts.

When to Consider Professional Cleaning

  1. Care Label Recommendation: Some coats, especially those made of luxury or delicate materials like cashmere or real fur, may have labels that specifically recommend professional cleaning.
  2. Stubborn Stains: If home remedies don’t work or if you’re worried about damaging your coat, it’s time to call the professionals.
  3. End-of-Season Clean: Consider a professional clean at the end of the winter season before storing your coat for the warmer months. This ensures any hidden dirt or oils don’t degrade the material over time.

Benefits of Professional Coat Cleaning

  1. Expertise: Professionals have specialized knowledge and tools to handle different materials and types of dirt or stains.
  2. Longevity: A professional clean can extend the life of your coat, ensuring it stays in top shape for longer.
  3. Peace of Mind: No need to worry about shrinking, fading, or damaging your prized winter coat. It’s in expert hands!

Selecting a Reputable Cleaner

  1. Research: Look up reviews and ratings online or ask friends and family for recommendations.
  2. Ask Questions: Find out if they have experience with your coat’s specific material or if they offer any guarantees on their services.
  3. Check for Certifications: Some professional cleaners may be certified by industry associations, which can be an indication of their commitment to quality.

In the journey of “How to Clean a Winter Coat,” sometimes, the best step is to let professionals handle the task. It’s an investment in ensuring your coat remains a trusty companion for winters to come!

Storage and Maintenance

Once your winter coat is spick and span, keeping it that way is the next step. And when winter’s chill gives way to warmer days, storing your coat properly ensures it’s fresh and ready for the next cold spell. Dive into the art of preserving your coat’s pristine condition with these handy storage and maintenance tips.

Properly Storing the Coat in the Off-Season

  1. Clean First: Always store a clean coat. Dirt, oils, or unnoticed spills can become stubborn stains or damage the fabric over time.
  2. Cool, Dark, Dry: Store your coat in a cool, dark, and dry place. Avoid areas with high humidity or temperature fluctuations, like basements or attics.
  3. Avoid Plastic: Plastic bags can trap moisture, leading to mold or mildew. Instead, opt for breathable garment bags or covers.

Using Padded Hangers and Breathable Garment Bags

  1. Padded Hangers: They provide better support, ensuring your coat retains its shape. Especially important for heavier coats.
  2. Breathable Bags: These allow air circulation, preventing mold and bad odors. Look for garment bags made of cotton or other natural, breathable materials.

Moth Prevention and Odor Removal

  1. Mothballs: An oldie but a goodie. However, remember they can be toxic to pets and children, so use with caution.
  2. Cedar Balls or Blocks: A natural alternative to mothballs. They deter moths and impart a pleasant scent.
  3. Refresh: If your coat starts to smell a bit musty, air it out on a sunny, breezy day. Sunlight and fresh air work wonders for odors.
  4. Natural Odor Absorbers: Placing sachets filled with baking soda, dried lavender, or cedar shavings in the storage area can help absorb unwanted smells and keep your coat smelling fresh.

In wrapping up our “How to Clean a Winter Coat” guide, remember that proper storage and regular maintenance are just as important as the cleaning process itself. Care for your coat, and it’ll serve you faithfully through many winters!

In Conclusion

Cleaning and caring for a winter coat might initially seem like a daunting task, but as we’ve journeyed through each step, it’s clear that with a little knowledge and some TLC, it’s quite manageable. From understanding the unique needs of different materials to mastering the art of hand and machine washing, and from professional cleaning insights to storage tips, we’ve covered the A to Z of coat care. Remember, your winter coat is more than just a garment; it’s a trusted ally against the cold, a fashion statement, and often an investment. Give it the care it deserves, and it will not only look great but will also keep you warm and cozy for many winters to come. Here’s to many more seasons of stylish, snug, and clean winter wear!


Ideally, a winter coat should be cleaned at least once at the end of the season before storage. However, if it’s visibly dirty or has a noticeable odor, you might need to clean it mid-season as well.

It depends on the coat’s material. While some coats can handle regular detergent, others, especially down jackets or delicate materials, might need a specialty detergent.

In such cases, it’s best to be cautious. Opt for hand washing in cool water with a gentle detergent. If unsure, consulting a professional cleaner is a good idea.

Yes, for certain coats, especially those used in heavy rain or snow conditions, waterproofing sprays can be beneficial. However, always test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the fabric.

Clumping is common with down jackets. Tumble drying the jacket with a couple of tennis balls or dryer balls can help break up the clumps and restore its loft.

Mothballs, cedar balls, or blocks are effective deterrents. Also, ensuring your coat is clean before storage can reduce the chances of moth infestation.

Initially, try spot cleaning the affected area. If the spill doesn’t come out or if it leaves a noticeable ring, you might need to clean the entire coat.