How to Clean 9 Types of Winter Coats

  • 01 of 10

    How to Clean 9 Types of Winter Coats from Faux Fur to Suede

    how to clean winter coats
    Illustration: Wenjia Tang. © The Spruce, 2018

    Winter coats are sold in a wide variety of fabrics and styles. They can be designed to be fashion-forward or simply styled to keep us warm and are usually one of the most costly items in a closet.

    Learn how to care for nine winter coat fabrics to protect your investment and keep your coat looking its best.

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    How to Clean Wool Coats

    How to Clean Wool Coats
    Bernd Vogel/ Getty Images

    Wool is a natural fiber spun from the hair of sheep or goats. Woven and knitted wool is washable by hand or in a machine's gentle cycle using cool water and a gentle wool wash. However, almost all wool coats are labeled dry clean only. Why?

    To achieve the structured shape of tailored wool coats, the manufacturer must use interfacings and padding to give the wool extra body and to prevent stretching. These inner fabrics are not washable. Many of them will dissolve or become misshapen in water. Wool coats may also be lined with fabrics that are not washable.

    Take a wool coat to a professional dry cleaner for the best results.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 10 minutes

    Total Time: 1 hour

    Skill Level: Beginner

    If your coat just needs to be freshened or spot cleaned, you can use a home dry cleaning kit.

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Home dry cleaning kit

    Tools

    • Dryer
    • Steam iron
    • Pressing Cloth
    • Sturdy hanger

    Instructions

    1. Treat Stains

    Treat any visible stains with the stain remover pen included in the kit.

    2. Load the Kit Bag

    Load the coat into the kit's dryer bag with the kit's damp cleaning cloth. Clean only one coat per bag. Follow the package directions for the length of time the coat should be in the dryer.

    3. Hang to Air-Dry

    Remove from bag and hang immediately from a sturdy hanger to air-dry completely before wearing.

    4. Press to Remove Wrinkles

    Wool coats can also be pressed carefully at home to remove excessive wrinkles. Always read the care label and follow the instructions.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    How to Clean Down Coats and Vests

    How to Clean Down Vests and Coats
    Gpointstudio/ Getty Images

    Down coats and vests are lightweight and incredibly warm. The secret to their success is keeping the down clean, dry, and fluffy. Even though you've probably heard disaster stories about wet down clumping, down garments can be successfully washed and dried at home

    Project Metrics

    Working Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Skill Level: Intermediate

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Stain remover
    • Down wash

    Tools

    • Washer
    • Dryer
    • Wool Dryer Balls
    • Sturdy Hanger

    Instructions

    Always read the care label to be sure that the outer fabric, which can be a natural or synthetic fiber like olefin, is washable.

    1. Treat Stains

    Pretreat any visible stains following the guidelines for the type of stain.

    2. Load the Washer

    Load the down coat into a front-load washer or high-efficiency top load washer without a center agitator for gentle agitation. 

    3. Add Detergent

    Add a detergent formulated specifically for down and wash using cool or warm water.

    3. Dry on Low Heat

    Place in a dryer on low heat. Add wool dryer balls to help fluff the down as it dries. During the drying cycle, stop the dryer and massage the coat with your hands to help break up any clumps of down.

    4. Hang to Air-Dry

    Remove the coat while still slightly damp and hang to finish air-drying completely.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    How to Wash Fleece Coats and Garments

    How to Care for Fleece Coats and Jackets
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    Fleece is a high-tech lightweight fabric that provides incredible warmth and some types can even wick away perspiration to keep you dry during strenuous activities.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Skill Level: Beginner

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Stain remover
    • Laundry detergent

    Tools

    • Washer
    • Dryer (optional)
    • Drying rack or clothesline
    • Hangers

    Instructions

    1. Pretreat Stains

    Pretreat any visible stains following the guidelines for the type of stain.

    2. Sort Laundry Correctly

    Fleece can be a magnet for pet hair and lint, so be sure to avoid washing it with-lint- producing clothes and follow all tips for reducing and removing lint from laundry.

    3. Select Detergent, Water Temperature, and Washer Cycle

    Use a regular or heavy-duty laundry detergent. Wash in cold or warm water on the permanent press cycle, which has a cold rinse and does not spin excessively fast that can set-in wrinkles.

    4. Avoid High Drying Temperatures

    Air-drying is best for fleece but you can tumble on low heat to get started but remove it while it is still slightly damp. NEVER dry on high heat.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    How to Wash Faux Fur Coats and Trim

    How to Wash Faux Fur
    Emma Innocenti/ DigitalVision/ Getty Images

    The key to taking care of faux fur coats is to read the care label. The "fur" is almost always a washable synthetic fiber but the inner linings and structural components of the coat may not be washable.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 20 minutes

    Total Time: 24 hours

    Skill Level: Intermediate

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Gentle or mild detergent
    • Cool water
    • Hair conditioner (optional)

    Tools

    • Sink or large basin for washing
    • High-efficiency washer (optional)
    • Indoor drying rack
    • Soft-bristled brush

    Instructions for Hand Washing

    1. Mix the Water and Gentle Detergent

    The best choice for washing any type of faux fur item is hand washing. For large coats and blankets, the cleaning can be done in a large plastic storage container or bathtub. Fill the sink or basin with cool water and one to two teaspoons of gentle detergent (Woolite or Studio by Tide).

    2. Submerge the Faux Fur

    Place the faux fur in the detergent solution making sure that it is fully submerged. Swish the fur through the water for no more than 10 or 15 minutes and avoid excessive agitation and wringing.

    3. Drain and Rinse

    Lift the fur out of the water and gently squeeze out as much soapy water as possible. Drain the basin and refill with clean water. Rinse until no suds remain.

    4. Remove Excess Water

    Gently squeeze out as much excess water as possible. You can roll the fur in a thick bath towel to help remove the water.

    4. Allow to Drip Dry

    Use an indoor drying rack to dry the faux fur flat or place it on a sturdy, padded hanger and hang from the shower rod to dry. (Place the rack in the bathtub or shower to catch the drips and avoid a wet floor.)

    Reposition the coat or blanket often so there are no crush marks on the faux fur. Use your hand to smooth any areas that don't appear smooth. Keep out of direct sunlight and heat. It may take 24 to 48 hours to dry. Do not wear or use until the faux fur is completely dry.

    Warning

    DO NOT put faux fur in a clothes dryer. High heat can melt the faux fur fibers and cause the fibers to fuse and become matted. Once this has happened, there is little to be done that can reverse the damage.

    5. Brush Lightly to Remove Matting

    Use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush any matted fur and lift the fibers.

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    How to Care for Natural Fur Coats

    How to Care for Natural Fur Coats
    Allison Michael Orenstein/ Getty Images

    Natural fur coats come from the pelts of animals and the fur is a protein fiber like our hair. However, specialized care must be used when cleaning a fur coat to keep the hide that holds the hair supple. If the hide becomes too dry or isn't maintained properly, the fur will shed.

    Instructions

    A professional furrier or dry cleaner should be used to clean a natural fur coat.

    Warning

    Do not attempt to clean a real fur coat at home.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    How to Wash Waterproof Coats

    How to Wash a Waterproof Coat
    PeopleImages/ Getty Images

    The key to keeping a waterproof coat in good shape is to clean it correctly to preserve the waterpoof finish. to always wash in cool water using a gentle detergent that will not harm the waterproof finish. Never place the coat in a dryer, always air dry, and keep it away from high heat.

    If you have heavy stains, follow these tips for stain removal.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Skill Level: Beginner

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Stain remover
    • Laundry detergent

    Tools

    • Washer
    • Drying rack or clothesline
    • Hangers

    Instructions

    1. Pretreat Stains

    Pretreat any visible stains following the most gentle treatment for the type of stain.

    3. Select Detergent, Water Temperature, and Washer Cycle

    Use a gentle laundry detergent or one formulated for waterproof clothing. Wash in cold water on the permanent press cycle. Reduce the spin cycle speed, if possible, to reduce wrinkling.

    4. Air-Dry Only

    Do not place a waterproof coat in a dryer. Hang to air dry. Wrinkles should fall out during the drying process.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    How to Wash Vinyl Coats

    How to Care for Vinyl Coat
    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    Vinyl and faux leather coats are man-made fabrics that are quite easy care. Read the care label, but most vinyl coats can be machine washed.     

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Skill Level: Beginner

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Laundry detergent
    • Water

    Tools

    • White cloth
    • Washer
    • Drying rack or clothesline
    • Hangers

    Instructions

    1. Remove Stains

    Stains can usually be removed by just wiping down the surface with a damp cloth. 

    3. Select Detergent, Water Temperature, and Washer Cycle

    Use regular laundry detergent and wash in cold water on the permanent press cycle. Reduce the spin cycle speed, if possible, to reduce wrinkling.

    4. Air-Dry Only

    Do not place a vinyl coat in a dryer. High heat can melt the fabric. Hang to air dry. Wrinkles should fall out during the drying process.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    How to Clean Leather Coats and Jackets

    How to Clean a Leather Coat or Jacket
    Westend61/ Getty Images

    Keeping a leather coat soft and supple takes a bit of care but it can last for many, many years. Leather can be cleaned at home. However, expensive items should be taken to a professional dry cleaner who specializes in cleaning leather.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 30 minutes

    Total Time: Up to 48 hours

    Skill Level: Intermediate

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Saddle soap
    • Water
    • Leather conditioner

    Tools

    • White cloth
    • Large sink or tub
    • Sturdy hanger

    Instructions

    1. Remove Stains

    Many stains can be removed by simply wiping them away with a clean, damp cloth. However, removing stains like mildew or ink from leather requires a bit more effort.

    2. Read the Care Label

    If you are a novice with laundry, always follow the label instruction if it says to dry clean only. Hand-washing is appropriate for aniline leather finishes only. Never wash suede or nubuck garments.

    3. Test the Color-fastness of the Leather

    Before you attempt to hand-wash leather, test the color-fastness using a clean, white, wet cloth on an interior spot of the leather. If color transfers to the cloth, the dye is not stable on the leather and you should not proceed.

    4. Prepare for Washing

    Begin by emptying all pockets of the jacket and turn it inside out. Fill a large sink or plastic storage container with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of a gentle liquid detergent recommended for hand washing delicate items (like Woolite) and swish to disperse through the water.

    5. Add the Jacket to the Water

    Completely submerge the leather jacket. Swish through the water to be sure the entire lining is wet. Gently squeeze the solution through the lining. Allow it to soak for ten minutes or so. If there are specific stains, use a soft-bristled brush to help lift those away.

    6. Rinse Thoroughly

    When it is time to rinse the jacket, lift the jacket out of the soapy solution. DO NOT WRING. Simply squeeze out the excess moisture. Fill the sink with clean water and rinse. You may need to change the water several times to remove all of the soap and soil.

    7. Hang to Dry

    Turn the coat right outside and hang it over a bathtub to air-dry. Use a sturdy wooden or padded hanger to prevent marks on the shoulders. Never hang in direct sunlight or near a heat source. It may take two to three days for the coat to dry completely.

    8. Condition the Leather

    Using a good quality leather conditioner, condition the garment until it is once again soft and supple. 

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    How to Clean Suede Coats and Jackets

    How to Care for Suede Coats and Jackets
    Glasshouse Images/ Getty Images

    Natural suede is created from the soft underside of a split-grain animal hide. It has a nappy finish that is easily stained. While some small stains can be treated at home, suede must be cleaned by a professional dry cleaner who specializes in leather care.

    Fun Fact

    Some fabrics that appear to be natural suede are man-made fibers. Read the care label for fiber content and care instructions.

    Project Metrics

    Work Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Skill Level: Beginner

    What You'll Need

    Supplies

    • Cornstarch or baby powder

    Tools

    • Suede brush
    • Soft, white, clean cloth
    • Pencil eraser or art gum eraser (for removing adhesives)
    • Emery nail file or emery cloth (optional)

    Instructions

    Remove Dust and Debris

    1. Brush a suede garment after every wearing with a suede brush to remove dust and debris and smooth the nap.

    Treat Stains

    Oil stains and scuffs can be treated at home. Consult a suede stain removal guide to treat more difficult to remove stains.

    Each of the following steps gets progressively more abrasive, so try the gentlest first. After each step, brush the stained area with a suede brush to restore and smooth the nap.

    Oily Stains

    1. Sprinkle Stain With Powder

    As soon as the oil hits the suede, sprinkle the stain with baby powder or cornstarch to absorb the oil. You should see the powder begin to look oily after an hour or so, and it should be brushed away with a soft brush. It is fine to leave the powder on the stain for several hours.

    2. Repeat Process

    Repeat the process until the powder no longer changes color or texture.

    Scuff Marks

    1. Gently Rub Marks With Cloth

    Use a clean, soft cloth to gently rub the area and remove any dried-on surface stain. The cloth will also restore some of the texture to the nap.

    2. Try a Pencil Eraser

    If the stain remains, gently rub the area with a pencil eraser or art gum eraser.

    3. Use Emery File if Necessary

    As a last resort, use an emery nail file to gently rub the area.