Skip the Dry Cleaner—Here's How to Clean Bulky, Hard-to-Wash Winter Coats at Home

You can safely clean your winter coats, gloves, and scarves at home—here's how, with step-by-step tips from a fabric care expert.

When was the last time your winter coat got a cleaning? What about your chunky sweaters, scarves, and gloves? You know you need to clean your winter gear, but the potential dry cleaning bill is probably incentive enough to put it off for, oh, several years. The good news is, you absolutely can—and should—wash both bulky and delicate winter clothes at home.

"Many people think they need to utilize professional dry cleaning for down and other fluffy items, but it's usually fine to wash and dry them," says Laura Goodman, senior scientist and fabric care expert at Procter & Gamble. Follow Goodman's top cleaning and care tips for winter gear to save a little money, spare yourself a trip to the dry cleaner's, and keep your belongings good as new.

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How to Wash a Down Jacket or Puffy Winter Coat

According to Goodman, "winter weather gear, especially waterproof fabric, doesn't need to be washed after every wear, unless it gets really dirty." For a heavy-duty clean, use a dye-free detergent (Goodman recommends Tide purclean Liquid) to remove dirt and sweat, then dry according to the fabric label.

"Always check the care label for drying instructions before you start to make sure that your fabrics can be machine dried, and at what temperature," she says. "Follow these steps to wash your puffy winter jackets at home and ensure they stay puffy, warm, and freshly scented."

1. Read the fabric care labels to check whether your down coat can go in the washing machine.

2. Zip up all zippers and empty out all pockets. Then check puffy jacket seams for durability and mend any loose seams to make sure they don't get worse in the wash cycle.

3. Unless otherwise noted by the care label, choose a normal or gentle wash and normal spin cycle, depending on how delicate your jacket is. Add a dye-free detergent.

4. Submerge the coat when the washer is half full and balance the load by adding a few similarly colored towels. Stop the washer occasionally to press air from items. If you have a front-loading washer, there's no need to submerge the items—simply use a gentle cycle and run it through two rinse cycles to wash out all the soap.

5. Tumble dry on low. "Add a few dryer balls or clean tennis balls stuffed in clean cotton socks to help break up any clumps in the feather or down filling," Goodman adds.

RELATED: 5 Chemical-Free Ways to Spiff Up Your Laundry

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How to Wash Winter Gloves

"Many of us forget about our gloves, but they're often the dirtiest winter accessory as they come in contact with the most dirt and germs," Goodman says. Here's the simplest and most effective way to keep gloves clean.

1. Check fabric care labels to make sure your gloves can be put in the washing machine.

2. Pre-treat stains on gloves by pouring detergent on the stain and letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Place the gloves in a mesh bag and wash on a gentle cycle in cold water.

4. Hang to dry, or tumble dry on low, depending on what the fabric care label instructions.

And yes, you should wash your gloves and other winter gear (hats, scarves, etc.) before putting them away for spring and summer "to avoid stains setting in or odors from body oils, grime, and dirt build-up to remain."

At the end of the cold-weather season, Good recommends you "store them in air-tight, plastic bins to prevent moths and other bugs from crawling in, and throw in a sachet of dried lavender or a dryer sheet to keep things smelling fresh."

RELATED: You're Storing Your Winter Clothes All Wrong—5 Mistakes to Avoid

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