December 1, 2023

How to Wash Winter Clothes

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Cold weather means extra layers—and a fuller laundry basket. That means it’s the perfect time to learn how to wash winter clothes.


Start by embracing the chill and washing your clothes in cold water, which can help reduce your electric bill—and your carbon emissions1. Then choose laundry products that nurture your family and planet all year long. Seventh Generation Free & Clear laundry detergents use powerful bio-enzymes to fight tough stains while still being formulated for sensitive skin thanks to Safer Choice Certified formulas.


Keep reading to learn how to wash puffer coats, knit sweaters, snow boots, and the rest of your family’s cold-weather gear:

  • Treat slush, mud, and salt stains right away. It's tempting to wait until the end of the season, but set-in stains are much harder to remove. Spray ugly marks with an enzyme-based stain remover and wash as soon as you notice them.
  • How do you wash down jackets? Machine wash down (or down-alternative) jackets twice a season. Soak the down coat(s) in your washer with cold water and detergent for 30 minutes. Wash on the gentle cycle, then squish out extra water (but don’t twist!). Dry on low with a few tennis balls to refluff.
  • Wear a base layer under sweaters. A light camisole or t-shirt not only keeps you toasty, it also keeps your sweater clean so you'll need to launder it less frequently.
  • Re-wear sweaters, jeans, and pajamas. During winter months, outer layers can go more than one wear without washing as long as they're not smelly or stained. Tumble dry on low with a dryer sheet for 5 min. to freshen between wears.
  • Hand wash grandma’s knitted sweater or a special cashmere scarf. Fill a bucket or sink with cold water and add a few drops of Free & Clear Dish Soap formulated without fragrances or dyes. Swish the sweater around. Empty the bucket, refill with cold water, and swish gently until the sweater is rinsed clean.  
  • Help sweaters keep their shape. Before washing, lay the sweater on a large piece of paper and trace its outline. After washing, roll the sweater in a towel to absorb extra water, then lay the sweater on the paper and reshape it to fit the outline. Dry flat.
  • Wash hats, scarves, and gloves in a mesh laundry bag. The bag will keep pairs of gloves together and prevent scarves from getting tangled around your other laundry. Wash these items once a month and always air dry.
  • Wash "performance” clothing like long underwear and fleece jackets with regular detergent, but skip the fabric softener (it can keep these fabrics from wicking moisture properly).
  • Deodorize stinky snow boots. Fill a bucket with cold water, ½ cup of vinegar, and 1 capful of biobased laundry detergent. Pull out the boot liners, soak them in the solution for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and hang to dry. Wipe the outside of the boots with a soapy rag and sprinkle a little baking soda inside before re-inserting liners.
  • "Line dry" even in the winter. Hang clothes over shower curtain rods and bathroom towel bars—or use collapsible racks that store easily. As a bonus, the damp clothes will help humidify dry winter air.
  • To keep air-dried clothes from getting crunchy, add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle, which helps soften and remove excess detergent. Shake your clothes, then hang to dry. If they’re still a little stiff, tumble dry for 5 min. with a damp washcloth.
  • Take it Easy(Dose)—Take your sustainable washing to a new level with our EasyDose Ultra Concentrated Laundry Detergent. Our compact bottle uses 50% less water, 60% less plastic, and is 75% lighter compared to our 90 oz. liquid laundry detergent.

We hope these tips help you make the best of winter so you can play all season long and keep your gear clean and protected along the way.