Fleece jackets come in a variety of colors, weights, and styles. They are durable, warm, and water-resistant and can be easy-care with just a few tips to prevent fuzzing and pilling.
Fleece fabric is made with polyester fibers—often recycled plastics. The texture is created by weaving the fabric with small, loose loops on one side. After the fabric is woven, the side with the loops is passed over brushes that cut and pull the loops apart to create a soft, fuzzy, napped finish that helps create the insulating qualities of fleece.
Unfortunately, those tiny fibers can also trap lint and become knotted leaving fleece looking pretty bad. You can help prevent this by avoiding excessive heat and friction when washing fleece jackets or blankets. With proper sorting of laundry, attention to water temperature, and avoiding the heat of a dryer, your fleece jackets can look great for years.
How Often to Clean a Fleece Jacket
Since fleece is often worn next to the skin as a lining or lightweight jacket to wick away perspiration, it should be washed frequently to remove body oils and soil—at least once a week if you wear the jacket daily. If you notice odors or surface stains, it's time to wash the jacket.
All jackets should be cleaned well at the end of the season before storing them. While polyester cannot be damaged by insects, some stains can become permanent if left on the fabric for too long.
Equipment / Tools
- Large sink or tub
- Soft-bristled brush
- Sturdy hanger
- Clothesline or drying rack
- Mild laundry detergent
- Enzyme-based stain remover
- Baking soda
Read the Care Label
Take a few minutes to read the care label to make sure that your fleece jacket is washable. Some may have trim that requires specific care.
Hand or Machine Wash?
Fleece jackets can be washed by hand or by machine. The best choice for machine washing is a front-loading washer or a top-loading washer without a center agitator. These machines are much more gentle on clothes than a top load washer with a center agitator.
Some care labels recommend handwashing due to unstable dyes that can bleed in the washing machine. If washing by hand, use the bathtub or a very large sink so that the entire jacket has room to move in the water so it can get really clean.
Follow the same guidelines for water temperature and detergent as those recommended for machine washing. Create a washing solution without an excessive amount of detergent. Add the jacket and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes, gently squeeze to remove soil, and be sure to rinse well so that no residue is left in fibers that can cause the fleece to feel scratchy.
Oil-based stains can be difficult to remove from polyester fibers. If there are visible food stains or body soil stains around collars and cuffs, place a dab of enzyme-based stain remover or laundry detergent on a white microfiber cloth. Rub the stained areas with the cloth to help lift the stains. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing to allow the cleaner to fully penetrate and begin lifting the stains.
Select the Correct Cycle and Water Temperature
Choosing the best cycle depends on how dirty your coat is. If it's only lightly soiled, the gentle cycle will be fine. If it's pretty grimy, use the permanent press cycle that has a cold rinse and a lower spin speed to prevent set-in wrinkles.
Always use cold or warm water—never hot—for washing fleece.
Choose a Detergent
A mild detergent (Hex Performance, Woolite, Ivory Snow) is the most gentle to fleece fibers. Do not use chlorine bleach or add fabric softeners to the wash and rinse cycle.
Add one cup of baking soda directly to the empty washer drum before loading the fleece to help reduce perspiration odors.
Sort and Load the Washer Correctly
Fleece can be a magnet for pet hair and lint, so avoid washing it with-lint-producing clothes like cotton flannel or terry cloth towels, and be sure to follow all tips for reducing and removing lint from laundry.
Check the jacket pockets for tissues and paper that can stick to the fleece. Close all zippers, buttons, and fasteners and turn the jacket inside out to prevent snags.
Skip the Dryer
Once the washer cycle is finished or handwashing is complete, turn the jacket right side out and hang on a sturdy hanger to air-dry. If hung in a warm room, the jacket should be dry in a couple of hours.
Do not use a clothes dryer to dry fleece. The excessively high temperature and friction caused by the tumbling action will cause pilling.