It’s that time of year again. The temperature is dropping, and it’s time to bust out your trusty winter coat. But before you bundle up in your perfect parka and hit the town, you need to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. A quality winter coat can be a significant investment, and proper care is essential to extend your jacket’s life and keep it looking (and feeling) great. Here’s a detailed guide to coat cleaning for different types of winter jackets.

The Basics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty coat cleaning and care details for specific types of coats, let’s cover some basic tips that apply to all winter coats.

  • Always hang your coat instead of folding it or throwing it over a chair. Steer clear of hooks and favor wide-shouldered hangers for long-term storage to protect your garment’s form.
  • Apply perfumes and colognes before you put your coat on. Use extra caution around your leather and suede coats because alcohol and chemicals in personal fragrances can cause fading and spots.
  • The care label is your friend. Wondering how to wash a winter jacket? Check the label for care instructions and stick to them.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at how to care for the most popular types of coats.

Down Coat Care

A good down jacket is pure bliss on a cold winter day. It provides incredible warmth and feels light as a feather because, well, it’s made from duck or goose feathers. To clean a down coat, start by checking the care label. Some manufacturers call for dry cleaning, but many down coats can be machine-washed. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and go with the gentle cycle and use cold water and down-specific detergent. Why? To avoid stripping away the precious natural oils that protect and preserve the down feathers and help them maintain their powerful insulating properties.

Once your coat is clean, the key to drying it without damaging the down is low heat. A few fresh tennis balls thrown in the dryer will gently break up clumps of down as your coat tumbles around and restore the full fluffy glory of your garment (it might take a cycle or two to completely dry). Avoid using fabric softener. Like hot water and harsh detergents, it can affect your garment’s natural feather oils and impact the warmth of your coat.

Wool Coat Care

Wool is a classic material for winter gear because it’s naturally water-repellent, durable, and keeps your body insulated even when wet. However, wool is also susceptible to pilling (those annoying little balls of fabric that form on the surface of your garment). The best way to prevent pilling is to regularly brush your coat with a sweater stone or fabric shaver.

When it comes time to wash your wool coat, again, check the care label. While some manufacturers call for hand washing, in our experience, taking wool coats to a professional dry cleaner is the best way to preserve the garment’s shape and avoid the (dreaded) shrinkage that makes wool notorious. If your care label allows it and you choose to wash your wool coat at home, be sure to use cold water and reshape it before hanging it up or laying it flat to dry. Never put a wet wool coat in the dryer!

Faux Fur Coat Care

Animal-friendly faux fur has come a long way in recent years! These days it’s easy to find coats featuring high-quality, realistic-looking faux fur. When storing your faux fur coat, hang it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. You might also want to invest in a garment bag to keep your coat dust-free.

Cleaning faux fur is a little different than other materials. First, check the care label. Many faux furs can be spot cleaned as needed with a damp cloth or machine-washed, but some require dry cleaning. If your coat is machine washable, remove any detachable fur trim and wash the coat on a delicate cycle with cold water. Avoid using fabric softener or putting your faux fur in the dryer, as this can damage the fibers. Instead, hang your coat to dry in a well-ventilated area. After cleaning, it’s a good idea to use a special tool called a slicker brush to help restore the coat’s original look.

Suede Coat Care

If you have a suede winter coat, you’ll want to take extra care when storing and cleaning it. Suede is a delicate, easily damaged material that responds poorly to water. If your suede garment does get wet, hang it up to dry in a cool, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Never put a damp suede coat in the dryer!

Use a suede block and brush to remove minor stains and dirt. A suede block is a small, rough-surfaced block that gently rubs away dried dirt and stains. Rub the suede block on the affected area and follow with a suede brush taking care to brush with your garment’s natural grain. Regular suede brush use also helps maintain your garment’s nap (the fine, soft fibers that give suede its unique velvety texture).

When it comes to cleaning, machine washing and standard dry cleaning are off the table. Instead, take your garment to a cleaner specializing in leather care.

Leather Coat Care

To clean leather, start by wiping down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris but try not to saturate it with water. If needed, you can use mild soap, but be sure to wipe away any excess carefully with fresh water. After wiping down your leather coat, apply a leather conditioner with a soft cloth. The conditioner will likely darken your coat a shade or two, so spot-test an inconspicuous area before you go all in.

Leather is a timeless material that only looks better with age (we love a well-worn bomber jacket), but like any natural material, it requires special care. As with suede, professional leather dry cleaning services is the way to go.


We hope you found the above tips helpful and learned a thing or two about how to clean coats of all stripes! If you’re ever in doubt, find your nearest ZIPS Cleaners and give us a call!

Looking for more great advice on caring for your wardrobe? Check out ZIPS Tips!