As the seasons change and chilly air pushes its way into our lives, it’s time to pack away the warm-weather gear and swap it out for cold-weather coat. If you stored them properly, they should be all set to go. But, if you’re left wondering the best way to keep your coat looking fabulous year after year, check out TBMPOY's cleaning and storage advice.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CARE FOR YOUR COAT?
You will know it is time to clean your jacket or pants when something obvious happens to them (like the examples below), or when you notice that the fabric is starting to absorb rain or snow, rather than repel it.
- Bump into a sappy tree on your last run, or rub up against your greasy car door?
- Store your ski jacket at the bottom of your closet, all crumpled and creased?
- Spill your “apres beer” all over your jacket?
- Sit in front of the open fire pit at the base of the ski hill?
Decreased repellency can happen over time, extended periods of heavy usage, or even after the outer fabric layer (known as the “face fabric”) and Durable Water Repellent coating (DWR) have been compromised.
Pro tip: Nearly all ski apparel brands and manufacturers use a hyper-thin DWR coating on the outside face fabric of their ski jackets and pants; this coating is what causes water droplets to bead up and roll off. There are various types of DWRs, but most often, when your ski apparel “stops working” it is simply because its DWR layer has faded away, flaked off, or been soiled by dirt, grime, or other agents (food residue, other liquids, campfire smoke, snot, etc.).
Once a jacket’s face fabric starts absorbing water rather than repelling it (this is called “wetting out”), the breathability of the jacket also stops functioning properly. If you lose breathability in a jacket, your body heat and sweat vapor cannot escape, creating more moisture vapor, leading to a “leaking” feeling of moisture against your skin. This is referred to as “sweating out” from the inside.
In summary, if your technical ski jacket is “wetting out”, it is time to clean it.
HOW TO CLEAN A COAT?
When it comes to winter coats, several different styles and fabrics are designed to keep you warm and dry during the frigid winter months. Different fabrics require different care to protect and keep your carefully-chosen outerwear looking its best. When you need to clean your coat, check the care instructions first. If you can just throw it in the washing machine, fantastic! But for winter coats that need special treatment, here’s a rundown of ways to clean the ones most likely to be found in your closet.
- Down coats and vests: Wash down coats and vests once or twice during a season. Any more than that can cause the feathers to break down. Wash in cold water on delicate with a non-detergent product to avoid flattening the feathers. Tumble dry your coat on low along with a few tennis balls to fluff the feathers. To avoid clumping, make sure the coat is completely dry, even if it takes extra cycles.
- Fleece jackets: When washing fleece, turn the garment inside out and wash normally to keep the nap fluffy, smooth and soft. Run an extra rinse cycle to remove all detergent residue, and air dry.
- Wool: You can wash wool coats once or twice a season to help them look bright, not dingy. However, most will have to be professionally cleaned. To remove dry dirt that gets on the surface, rub with a stiff brush. Spot-clean the collar and cuffs with a damp cloth and mild soap, or use a home dry cleaning kit to clean and freshen your wool.
- Leather and suede: A professional annual cleaning is recommended to keep your leather looking its best, but you can also rub your coat with a specially-designed leather lotion to keep it soft and prevent cracking. You can also spot-clean many leather stains with dedicated leather cleaners. Suede should be brushed often to keep it in tip-top condition.
- Faux fur: It’s best to dry clean coats with faux fur, but you can wash most of them at home. Faux fur is a synthetic blend that you can wash with a very small amount of gentle detergent in a washer. Let the washer fill partway with cold water, add the detergent, and let the coat soak for 15 minutes. Set the washer to drain and spin, then switch to the rinse cycle. Don’t let the machine agitate. Drain and spin again, and rinse again if needed, without agitation. If the fur is matted and clumpy after washing, use a clean, dry brush to gently separate the fibers.
HOW TO STORAGE A COAT?
When winter finally flees and is supplanted by warmer weather, it’s time to properly clean and store your cold-weather coats. This not only protects them from premature wear and tear, but proper storage means they’ll be ready to wear straight out of storage in the fall, just in case a sudden cold snap catches you by surprise.
- Cleaning: Check the care instructions on the label and wash thoroughly before storing. Wool, leather and suede should be professionally cleaned. Check all the pockets to make sure there are no loose articles that could damage the coat, such as pens, keys or cough drops. Then fasten all snaps, buttons and zippers.
- Hang dressy and heavy coats: If any coats have been dry cleaned, remove the protective plastic bags. Use sturdy, broad hangers than can easily support the weight of the coat, then cover the coats with breathable garment bags to protect them from mold and mildew.
- Folding and boxing: Lightweight coats should be neatly folded and placed gently in plastic storage boxes, largest on the bottom and smallest on top. Label the boxes with the contents. Puffy coats, believe it or not, should be stored in vacuum-sealed bags to reduce storage space. When the bags are opened in the fall, the coats will naturally puff back up.
- Storage locations: Keep your coats in a cool, dry, dark place, ideally with a stable temperature around 65 degrees. If you don’t have a suitable closet to hang heavy coats, gently roll them and also store them in labeled plastic boxes.