They bundle us from the cold and bear the brunt of blizzards and winter blasts. Yet our winter coats, with their Herculean hoods and elephantine heft, tend to be last in line on laundry day. But winter coats require care too, including being washed at least once a season. And depending on what material your coat is — performance outerwear, for example — they should be cleaned even more than that, especially if heavily used.
First and foremost, washing a winter coat involves looking over the care label and taking a few sustainable steps to help with longevity. While winter jackets are crafted to keep you warm and stylish through the coldest of months, they don’t often come cheap. But you can ensure their longevity by giving them proper care. So, from puffer vests to parkas, here are sustainable care tips to keep your cold weather outdoor apparel looking great.
Wash according to the fabric
If you want to keep your beloved winter wardrobe from being ruined in the wash, always be sure to follow the care label instructions. Being mindful of the material your coat is made of, and letting these instructions guide you, will help keep your item in good shape.
Winter coats can be made of all sorts of fibers from wool and mohair to nylon and fleece. Get to know the material to help guide you. For example, nylon coats need to be washed in cool water on a delicate setting. They can be tumble dried on low and cannot be ironed.
As for wool and other natural fibers like cashmere and mohair, these coats need to be washed in cold water. You can choose the woolens cycle, if available on your machine. Otherwise, use the delicate or handwash setting. Do not put wool coats in the dryer — hang them to dry instead.
Use a mild eco-friendly detergent
Just because they guard you against the harshest elements doesn’t mean your winter coats don’t deserve to be treated gently. That includes using a mild detergent that has zero harsh chemicals while still providing an effective wash for all fabrics. So, why not go a step further and choose plant-based laundry detergent sheets? Packaged with zero plastics and produced without the toxins found in regular detergents, SaltyLama’s sheetsare hypoallergenic and perfect for people with allergies or sensitive skin. Best of all, because they come pre-measured, there are no spills, messes, or guesses about how much detergent to use.
Spot clean stains
Just as never washing your winter coat isn’t a good thing, washing it too frequently can be just as bad. That’s because every time you wash — especially if you haven’t already been using SaltyLama’s gentle laundry detergent sheets — you slowly wear down the material. So, wash your coat only when it’s needed. Instead, consider spot cleaning for minor stains and splotches. How? Take one of our laundry detergent sheets and tear off a small piece. Dissolve it in a bit of cool water. Use the mixture on the stain and let it set for 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain comes out. For tougher marks, add a small amount of white vinegar or baking soda. This targeted approach also reduces water usage while maintaining the integrity of the fabric. That makes it a win for the environment, your energy bills, and your winter coat.
Let your coat breathe
Over washing can strip natural oils from the fabric, damaging its insulation. So, instead of tossing it into the machine, let it air out by hanging it in a well-ventilated area. This helps eliminate odors and will help keep your coat fresh between washes. Rule of thumb: two washes per season is the recommended average for outdoor winter apparel.
Invest in high-quality pieces
Make your winter wardrobe more sustainable by shopping smarter. Rather than buying items according to the latest trend, invest in high-quality, timeless pieces made from durable materials. This way your winter coats will last for years to come. You’ll minimize your fashion footprint and save money in the long run.
Donate or sell old winter coats
Ready for a new look? Then give your winter coat new life by donating it to a local charity. This way, it can provide warmth and comfort to someone in need. Doing so ensures your garments serve a meaningful purpose instead of going to waste in a landfill. Another sustainable approach? Sell the coats you have fallen out of love with online at a secondhand marketplace. By selling your coats, you support a circular economy, where items are reused and repurposed.
Repair, don’t discard
A quick online search or a trip to the tailor can make a damaged coat good as new again. So, before discarding a coat with minor damages, explore various repair options. Your local tailor, for example, can mend small tears, replace buttons, or fix zippers. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you can also mend any holes or tears yourself. And if not, there is no better time to learn a new skill than when you are stuck indoors during a long, cold winter.
Store your winter wardrobe properly
After you have made thorough use of your winter coats — and the ice and snow have started to thaw — it’s time again to store your winter garments. Clean each item using a gentle cycle or hand wash, following the item’s specific instructions. Remember, wool and other natural winter fibers shouldn’t be put in the dryer. Always ensure your items are completely dry before storing them to prevent mold and mildew. For more, check out our complete guide on properly storing winter clothes.
Giving your winter coats the extra love and attention they need will help them last for many years — which itself is a sustainable practice. Remember to wash with care using eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets, spotting clean stains as you go, and make conscious choices when shopping or saying goodbye to old winter coats, so they can keep someone else warm and protected during the winter months ahead.