Washing Winter Coats, Gloves & Hats, Oh My: Tips and Tricks for an All-season Clean

Winter coats and other accessories get their fair share of use throughout the season but may not make their way to the washing machine as often as you’d like (if at all). Washing larger items like jackets or snow pants may feel intimidating and get pushed to the “I’ll take care of it next week” list. And let’s be honest, who even has the time to think about washing winter accessories like gloves, hats and scarves?

But we often don’t realize how dirty our winter gear gets. These items go through it all, from snow to salt to sweat. We’re here to help you make this winter the season of clean coats and fresh gear. We’ve got tips and tricks to help you easily wash these winter items at home.

Washing Your Winter Coat at Home: Yes, it’s Possible

Properly taking care of your coat ensures it will keep you warm and comfortable all season long. While not all coats should be washed at home (wool and leather require special care), many can be. Here are tips to a successful wash:

  1. Before washing, fasten all zippers and buttons and turn the coat inside out.
  2. Coats should be washed alone, separate from all other pieces of clothing, linens or towels.
  3. Use liquid detergent only, not powder, and do not use fabric softeners.
  4. Wash on a gentle cycle at a low temperature.
  5. Wash the coat with clean tennis balls to prevent the internal lining from balling up.
  6. After washing is complete, rinse three to four times. 
  7. Unzip the jacket, turn right-side out and hang to dry in a well-ventilated area.

How Often Should You Wash Winter Coats?

If worn sporadically, wash your coat once a season. If worn regularly, wash it twice a season. Before being stored, winter coats should be washed to prolong the life of the coat and ensure it’s ready for wear next winter.

Washing Winter Accessories

Hats, gloves and scarves are often ignored on laundry day because they are likely stuffed in coat pockets or storage bins and easily forgotten. But these items take on a lot more than snow and cold. Facial oils, sweat and germs build up over the long winter season.

How to Wash Gloves and Mittens

Throughout the winter months, mittens and gloves should be washed at least three to five times. However, if you’re wearing gloves in high-touch areas—a store, for example—you’ll want to wash them more often. Just like coats, wool and leather gloves may require more specialty care while washable fabrics can be run through the washing machine (following care instructions on tags, of course). Eliminate mismatch nightmares and last-minute scavenger hunts as you rush the family out the door by washing mittens and gloves in a mesh laundry bag.

How to Wash Scarves

Scarves not only do a great job of keeping you bundled and warm, they do a pretty good job of collecting body oils and sweat. While there’s no need to wash scarves after every wear, they should be washed periodically. Depending on the length of your winter, it’s recommended to wash commonly worn scarves five to seven times during the season. Since scarves often touch your face, cleaning more often never hurts, especially after you’re in public places. When cleaning your scarves in a washing machine, place them in a mesh laundry bag and wash on a cool setting to help prevent damage. For cashmere scarves, hand wash using a few drops of dish soap or mild detergent and cold water to maintain the luxurious feel.

How to Wash Hats

Winter hats are often exposed to sweat, makeup and hair products. Like gloves, laundry experts recommend washing winter hats three to five times per season. However, depending on what you’re putting your hats through, you may want to consider washing them more regularly. Coming back from a day on the slopes or intense ice hockey session? It probably wouldn’t hurt to wash the hats before their next wear. Most winter hats (like beanies) can withstand a washing machine, but make sure to check tags for special washing instructions.

How to Eliminate Odor from Winter Boots

We’ve got you covered from head to toe. If winter boots need freshening, try this technique:

  • Fill a bucket with cold water
  • Add ½ cup vinegar and one capful of laundry detergent
  • Soak boot inserts for 30 minutes
  • Rinse and hang dry
  • Wipe the outside of boots with a soapy rag and sprinkle a little baking soda inside before putting the inserts back in

Washing winter coats, scarves and gloves can not only keep dirt and grime away, it can help prolong their use so you can wear them for many winters to come.