Pulling your heavy-duty winter coat out of the depths of storage is like a game of Russian roulette. Will it last for one more season? You can extend the life of your outerwear by laundering everything properly. And no that doesn’t mean a mountainous dry-cleaning bill.
Lindsey Boyd, cofounder of The Laundress, an eco-friendly cleaning brand with a laundry-centric storefront in SoHo, NYC, tells SELF the right way to refresh your jacket at home. First rule: clean your coat at least once a season, especially before packing it away. “Wash sweaters and jackets before storing, ” explains Boyd. “Perfume and oil from your skin can appear later and attract bugs.” Here's everything you need to know before throwing your coat in the washing machine.
DownMatthew Sperzel / Getty
CeCe Frey is seen on Michigan Avenue wearing a white Marvin Richards coat, blue denim Levis jeans, and black Steve Madden boots on December 19, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.
Giving your puffer coat a good shampoo once a season will help persevere the oils of the feathers within. Select the delicate cycle on the washer and the shortest, low temperature option on the dryer. A 20-minute fluff is all that is required. Boyd recommends throwing a few tennis or woolen balls into the drum to fluff and prevent the down from clumping together—it’s just as if your hands were doing the work.
Turn your machine to the delicate, woolen, or hand-wash cycle. The water temperature should be cool to lukewarm. Hang dry. “Don’t put a wool coat into the dryer because it will shrink, ” warns Boyd. The spin cycle should wring out any excess water. If the fabric comes out of the wash dripping, take a clean white towel and lay the coat flat. Roll the jacket into the towel to squeeze out any extra moisture.
Faux FurTimur Emek / Getty
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 10: Thais Morbeck in the streets of Paris during the Paris Fashion Week on March 10, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Timur Emek/Getty Images)
Yes, you can wash your faux fur vest or coat. Even though the real deal is dry clean only, faux a synthetic cotton blend that you can pop into the delicate cycle. Avoid the dryer, but do give your coat a steam treatment after it’s fully dry to fluff the fur.
“Steaming is a really good way to finish versus ironing, ” says Boyd. “Direct heat isn’t good for the fibers. Steaming freshens things up and kills a lot of bacteria.” It’s also a quick way to get rid of unwanted scents (like the aroma of the smoky bar where you did happy hour last night). If your fur is still matted it’s totally OK to use a brush—just not the same one you use on your hair—to get the clumps out.
Note: Your suede, leather, and fur coats should always be left up to the professionals. Trust the label when it reads "dry-clean only."