OUTDOOR BASICS

How to Wash Fleece Jacket: Step-by-Step Instructions

Fleece jacket
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Fleece jackets are loved by everyone including kids and adults because of their fuzziness and the comfort they provide on a cold day in the wild. Lots of hikers use them during their adventures to remain warm during the day and at night.

Fleece jackets are always exposed to dust, body oils, hair products and all these make it necessary to wash the jackets once in a while.

What is fleece made from?

This fabric has two types, namely fleece and microfleece. The difference between both is the thickness of the material. As the name implies, microfleece is thinner and tighter, while fleece is thicker and more comfortable.

Woman holding fleece material in hands

The characteristic feature of fleece is its ability to withstand reasonable wear and tear and also resist moisture. It’s warm, just like wool, but it dries quickly and it’s prone to accumulating small wooly balls when it gets older.

Fleece is preferred in outdoor gear because it keeps the wearer dry and warm. The fabric resists moisture and will hardly become wet. When it absorbs moisture, it will dry quickly to prevent any discomfort to the wearer. Besides being warm and fuzzy, the fleece fabric is also lightweight, which makes it easier to carry on hiking trips.

Some people may become disappointed after washing their jacket for a while, and it loses its softness. This could happen when the jacket isn’t washed and dried properly. If you learn how to take care of and clean your jacket, you will be able to keep it soft and cuddly for a long time.

General Tips for Caring for your Fleece Jacket

In the past, people made use of different kinds of wool to insulate themselves against heat, and it worked well for them. Well, until it got wet. Today, technology has improved greatly and fabrics such as nylon and polyester have been created.To care for your fleece jacket, it is vital to remember that heat negatively affects the fabric, so you need to avoid hot washer and dryer settings to protect the jacket.

To keep your fleece jacket soft and cuddly, follow these tips:

Read the tag

Just like all other fabrics, fleece jackets come with specific care tips on their tags that show you how to maintain it. Since fleece jackets have different types, general care may not suffice. Ensure that you read the label carefully to know what to do. Fleece jackets shouldn’t be the only fabric that you check for washing instructions. You need to cultivate the habit for all your other fabrics.

Care tags for clothing

Washing

Just before you wash a fleece jacket, turn it inside out as this will preventpilling. This also applies to body warmers as well. Place the fleece jacket in the washer with only the same colors. It should only be washed in cold water.

Also, you shouldn’t wash your fleece jacket with other clothing items that produce lint because removing it is frustrating and almost impossible. If you want to use a powder detergent, you should premix it with water as this will prevent residue. Remember that you should never consider using fabric softener or bleach, and you should never have your fleece jacket dry cleaned.

Woman putting clothesinto washing machine

Drying

As mentioned earlier, a hot dryer can affect the jacket adversely. This, however, doesn’t rule out the use of a dryer entirely. You can still use a dryer at a very low temperature. Don’t add a dryer sheet as it can affect the fleece jacket’s coating. The safer option, even though it takes some time, is to lay it flat to air dry. Avoid hanging it on a clothes hanger because hanging it may stretch the fabric and this will alter the appearance of the jacket.

Clothes hanging on the dryer

Dangers

Do not iron, dry clean, steam or press your fleece jacket, because this could melt it. Heat must not be applied to it at any time. The only time you can use fabric softener or bleach on your fleece jacket is when it is specified by the manufacturer on the label. Using such products will cause pilling in the jacket.

Woman fills the washing machine with fabric softener

Issues and Recommended fixes

This table will highlight some problems you may face when caring for your fleece jacket, as well as the causes and the recommended fixes you could undertake to make your fleece as good as new again.

IssueCausesRecommended Fix
Stretched and broken down fibersHot dry

Hot water wash

Wash only in cold water and reduce the washer temperature.

Use low heat setting with the dryer.

SheddingExposed damaged fibersPut jacket in a laundry bag before washing it.
Coating on jacketDryer sheets

Detergent remains in jacket after rinse

Don’t use dryer sheets

Initiate another rinse cycle.

Static clingDrying without the dryer sheetPlace the fleece jacket in your dryer with a clean tennis ball.
PillingJacket rubbing against the sides of the dryer.Line dry
Lint on the jacketWashing the jacket with towelsThe material attracts lint balls, never wash the jacket with towels or any other items that may have lint.

Maintaining your fleece jacket

Besides washing it, a fleece jacket needs to be cared for and stored properly to maintain its texture for years to come. Failure to care for this material properly may result in a breakdown of the fibers, causing it to appear shabby and bumpy-looking.

Try not to spill

Even though jackets don’t need daily cleaning like other kinds of clothing, you must be prepared just in case you splash or spill something on it accidentally. Fleece jackets were made to be stain-resistant, but when they have an unexpected stain from hot coffee or tea, it may leave a small layer of dirt on that particular surface.

Even after treating the stains successfully, it is still a great idea to wash the fleece jacket to ensure that any residue that was left behind has been removed.

Fleece jackets usually have DWR coatings which repels moisture, which causes liquids to bead up and then fall off the material. However, spills can enter into the seams and also stain the jacket. When you wash it, you help to reinforce its DWR coating and also ensure that every part of the fleece jacket is clean.

Removing stains from your jacket

If you accidentally stain your fleece jacket, you can remove that particular stain. One method you can consider is the cornstarch and baby powder mixture. It can remove oil stains as well. To use, simply sprinkle the mix on the area liberally and use your fingers to rub it in. You can leave it on overnight before washing it in the morning.

If you have tougher stains, you can dab some oil removing liquid into the spot and let it sit overnight before washing it the next morning. After following any of these methods, use only cold water and rinse thoroughly to clean off all the soap before drying.

Store in a cool area

Fleece jackets can be affected by heat generally. This is why you should store it in a room that’s aerated. The heat can affect the material as well as appearance. When the weather becomes warm, make sure that you keep your fleece jacket properly. You can store it in a cloth garment bag as this will protect it from lint, dust, moths and carpet beetles, which eat through fleece.

Don’t launder too frequently

Normally, it isn’t advisable to wash your fabrics too frequently, especially jackets. After some time, the detergent will gradually degrade the fabric’s DWR finish, and this will reduce its effect after a short while.

Step-by-Step Guide

You’ll need a washing machine if you don’t want to hand wash. A front-loading machine will be preferred as those are a lot gentler on clothes. However, if you do not have that type, you can use the top-loading type.

Hand Washing

This is a particularly useful method if you need to clean your jacket while you’re out hiking. Though many people aren’t eager to get the dirt off their jacket after a hike, cleaning your jacket can help to preserve the material a bit longer.

  • Step One: Turn the jacket inside out and immerse it in a solution of cold water with a gentle detergent or soap – not regular detergent. Gently squeeze the soapsuds through the jacket. Don’t rub, squeeze or stretch the jacket during the process.
    Spot treat any stained areas using a spurt of detergent. Massage the solution into the spot with the tip of your finger.
  • Step Two: Rinse the jacket thoroughly in water. This should be repeated as many times as necessary to prevent damage to the jacket from detergent residue. Continue until the water is clear. It is important to ensure that the water temperature is kept even all through the hand washing process.
  • Step Three: Press the water out gently and set the jacket down laterally on a clean, and dry towel. Next, roll up the towel with the jacket inside and press it to squeeze out the remaining water. Do not twist or wring the material.
  • Step Four: When you’re done, unroll the towel. Smooth the jacket into its original shape. Pull the pockets straight, button up, and make sure that hems and sleeves are smoothed flat as these will help avoid unsightly wrinkles. Set down the jacket on a towel rack if one is available if not, use a clean, dry towel to air-dry by laying the jacket on the towel.

Hand washing

Machine Washing

Machine-washed fleece over a long time, even on a gentle cycle, will lose that signature soft appeal.Nonetheless, some fleece materials are specially treated so that they can be machine washed without losing their soft appeal. This is why it’s best to check the care instructions of the manufacturer. If you’re still in doubt, hand washing may be the best option for you.

If your fleece jacket is safe to wash in the washer, follow the method listed below:

  • Step One: Before placing the jacket in the washer, turn it inside out as stated earlier. You should also use a wash bag that will protect it from damage. Place it in the washer and set it to the gentle cycle setting. -30ºC is a good temperature to set it on.
  • Step Two: Put down the jacket on a clean, dry lint-free towel. Button up the jacket, pull pockets straight and make sure that hems and sleeves are smoothed flat to prevent any unsightly wrinkles. Let it air-dry on a flat surface or use a flat towel rack if you have it.

Clothes in washing machine

Dry Cleaning your Fleece Jacket

Some types of fleece can be dry cleaned, while others cannot be. Read the label to be sure. Dry cleaning it can deter moths because of the chemical smell, but the process can also undermine the fuzziness of the jacket. It is safer to avoid dry cleaning altogether.

Storing After Washing

Clean your jacket properly before storage, because newer stains which may not be visible can oxidize and stick during storage. You can use lavender, mothballs, or cedar chips to help protect the jacket from moths and other fabric-eating insects.

Conclusion

A fleece jacket is a great investment for an adventurer. It is lightweight and provides warmth during a camping trip.

Caring for the jacket may seem difficult, but following the steps and tips above will ease the entire process. You can choose to hand wash or machine wash your jacket, just make sure the machine is set for a delicate wash.

Blue fleece jacket

Rinse it thoroughly before air drying or machine drying it to remove all residues of detergent. Remember that heat destroys your jacket faster and always read the label.

Do you have a better idea of how to wash fleece jacket? We would love to hear it. Drop your comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Mark Williams

    I had a fleece jacket that was destroyed because I did not store it properly. You are so right! It is very sensitive to heat. I just bought a new one and I am now more careful. I store it in a cloth garment bag just like what you have suggested.

    • Daniel Carraway

      We are glad you are now aware how to take care of your fleece jacket! It sure can be devastating having one destroyed that you loved!

  • Tommy Alexander

    The cornstarch and baby powder mix is really effective in removing stains. I have used it several times already. I usually leave it for a couple of hours only, not overnight and it still does its job well. After that, I just hand wash it and the stain is gone.

    • Daniel Carraway

      For deeper stains, you might want to leave it on over night but for most stains, we can see how a few hours will do the trick. Thanks for confirming!

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