How often should you wash your coat? Here’s the answer

A rack of clothes with a beige coat facing front
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When it comes to laundry day, there are some items we wash routinely, and some items we just choose to ignore. This may be because it’s an awkward thing to wash, with even the best washing machines struggling to fit it, or we might just plainly forget about it or not realize that it needs washing.

There are plenty of items which fall into this category, but the one we’re talking about in this case is your coat. 

Now that we’re into the colder months, our coats are coming back out of the wardrobe — being worn day in day out. But, thinking about it, when was the last time you actually washed your coat?

Considering these items are exposed to the elements on a daily basis, it’s no surprise to learn that they should be routinely washed. How regularly you ask? — once a year, once a month? Here, we will reveal the answer and breakdown exactly why it’s so important.

Plus, here's how to store your winter wardrobe to keep it fresh.

Why is it so important to wash your coat? 

A woman wearing a yellow raincoat putting her hood up in the rain

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Just like every other item of clothing you wear, your coat will be subjected to residue from both yourself and the surrounding environment. While it’s not likely to have direct contact with the majority of your skin, there’s still exposure in places, such as sweat from around the neck and perfume on the cuffs. Your clothes under the coat themselves can also transmit residue, such as sweat from your armpits. Essentially, your coat is more exposed to your body than you’d think. 

Then there’s the external factors to think about as well. Your coat must endure any rainfall, which after repeated instances, can attract mold and cause it to smell. Your coat follows your journeys and activities as well, which means any surface you sit on or lean against will leave residue on your coat. If you live in a busy city, pollution will even leave an imprint on your coat over time. 

The problem is that unless there’s obvious stains on our coats, or they start to smell profusely, most of us won't attempt to clean them. This is often because coats are bulky, expensive items of clothing, which we don’t want to risk damaging in the wash. But, this chore is more essential than you’d think.

First, failing to wash your coat will eventually ruin its appearance — as sweat and grime accumulate, your coat will no longer appear as vibrant or pristine. Add to that, if you store your coat without washing it, the residual smells of perfume can attract pests, such as moths. If you suffer from particularly sensitive skin, dirty clothes can also cause irritations, so washing your coat every so often is a must, but how often?

How often should you wash your coat?   

Someone loading a down coat into a washing machine

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Of course, the answer to this question widely depends on how often you wear the coat and the conditions it’s subjected to. For instance, if you’re particularly active in it, or it’s the only coat you wear, it’s likely to need washing more often. 

But, as a general rule of thumb, you should be washing wool or down coats twice a season with regular use, so roughly once every six weeks. For thinner alternative materials, the item will require washing more regularly. Fleece jackets will need washing after about seven uses, while raincoats should be washed once per month. All items should also be washed before going into storage.

What’s the best way to wash your coat? 

Someone reading the care label on an item of clothing

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The best way to wash your coat will ultimately depend on the type of fabric and its composition. You should always refer to the care label for full instructions. Some coats will be machine-washable for ease of use, while others may require a hand-wash or even a trip to the dry cleaners. 

If you need to hang your coat out to dry in your home, make sure it’s in an area which is well-ventilated — if you can hang it outside in direct sunlight, then that’s even better.

Now you know how often to wash your coat, be sure to also check out how often should you wash towels.  

If you want more laundry tips, check out how to clean a washing machine for best performance. Or else you’ll end up wondering how to fix a shaky washing machine from wear and tear. Also, did you know that this is the cheapest time to do your laundry

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.