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Ultimate Guide: The Best Way to Wash Fleece Clothing

Ultimate Guide: The Best Way to Wash Fleece Clothing

Fleece has become one of the most popular fabrics for cold weather apparel. Made from synthetic polyester fibers, fleece is lightweight, breathable and provides excellent insulation. However, fleece requires special care when it comes to washing. Improper washing can lead to damage, shrinking, pilling and loss of softness.

But with the proper care, your fleece jackets, pullovers and accessories will maintain their warmth, comfort and appearance for many seasons. Let's take a look at the best way to wash fleece clothing and some other essential care and maintenance tips for your fleece.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Fleece Care

Fleece is designed to insulate the body by trapping air between its fibers. When improperly washed, fleece can lose its loft and insulation. Additionally, the synthetic polyester material is prone to pilling, shrinking and damage when agitated too vigorously.

Taking the time to properly wash fleece helps the fabric maintain its soft feel and avoid premature wear and tear.

Why Fleece Requires Special Care

The loosely woven construction of fleece makes it prone to pilling, which causes bunches of fibers to clump together on the fabric surface. Aggressive washing can speed up pilling, creating an unsightly look.

Fleece is also at risk of shrinking when washed in hot water or put in the dryer on high heat. The fibers relax when overheated in the wash, tightening the weave.

Impact of Incorrect Washing on Fleece

Incorrect washing methods, like using hot water or a dry cleaner, can cause the fleece material to pill, lose its shape, shrink or lose its insulating properties. Pilling is not only unsightly but can impair fleece's insulating properties. The bunched up fibers prevent air circulation needed to retain warmth.

Not to mention, colors will appear dull and faded when subjected to bleach or other harsh chemicals. Whites can take on a dingy, yellowed tinge over time with inadequate care.

Major Benefits of Properly Washing Fleece Clothing

Properly caring for and washing your fleece jacket in cold water will preserve its functionality and ensure it maintains its heat retention properties, comfort and soft, fluffy texture. Aside from these aesthetics and functional benefits, appropriate care will invariably prolong the lifespan of your beloved fleece jacket.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Fleece Clothing

Follow these steps when laundering fleece clothing and accessories to get the best results:

Gathering the Necessary Equipment

Before you start the process of washing your fleece jacket, gather some essential supplies.

  • Laundry bag: Use a mesh bag to contain fleece items and prevent pilling during the wash cycle.
  • Mild detergent: Choose a gentle, dye-free detergent without brighteners or bleach. Woolite or other delicates detergent works well.
  • Non-chlorine bleach alternative: Use an oxygen-based bleach that won't damage or discolor fleece fibers.

Preparing Your Fleece for the Wash

Every washing process should ideally start with pre-inspection. Check for stains on your fleece jacket. If any, treat with a plant-based stain remover before washing. Also, ensure to zip up all zippers and secure velcros to avoid fabric damage during washing.

Washing Process: Specific Steps to Follow

Once your fleece is prepared to wash, follow these steps:

  • Wash fleece apart from other laundry to prevent pilling.
  • Use cold water on a delicate or gentle cycle. Warm water may be used for heavily soiled fleeces if needed.
  • Only wash full loads of fleece items to reduce friction and abrasion in the washer.
  • Use the recommended amount of mild detergent based on load size. Too much detergent can be difficult to rinse out fully.
  • Add the non-chlorine bleach alternative to brighten whites if desired.
  • Avoid using fabric softener as it can diminish fleece's natural softness.

Drying Your Fleece Clothing: Do's and Don'ts

When considering drying options, the best and recommended method is to air dry fleece jackets post-washing.

It's a good idea to avoid using a dryer as the heat can damage the fabric and compromise the jacket's insulating qualities. Instead, try to air dry the fleece if possible.

While air drying, spread the fleece out in a shaded, cool area. If you notice excess water in the clothing, gently squeeze it out, but don't twist or wring it as that might damage its fibers.

Maintenance Tips and Tricks for Your Fleece Clothing

Typically, it's best to wash fleece jackets in cold water using a washing machine. However, not all jackets are the same, and some may require a gentler approach, depending on the make and manufacturer. To maintain the integrity of your fleece jacket, consider using a natural detergent. Washing in cold water helps maintain the fabric's quality and aids in color preservation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Handling Fleece

When washing fleece clothing avoid mistakes such as using hot water or harsh detergent. Hot water can damage the fibers of the fleece jacket material, leading to pilling and a less smooth texture. So, always stick to washing with cold or cool water.

You also want to avoid using a dry cleaner for your fleece jackets. Dry cleaning exposes the jacket to harsh chemicals that can break down the soft fabric. Instead, think about hand washing or using a gentle cycle on your washing machine whenever possible.

Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your Fleece Clothing

Here are a few simple tips to make your fleece last:

  • Wash fleece after several wearings instead of after every use to minimize laundering. Fleece isn't prone to retaining odors.
  • Spot clean small stains instead of fully washing an item when possible.
  • Use a lint roller on fleece jackets to remove surface debris and extend time between washes.
  • Hang or fold fleece neatly between wears to prevent wrinkles from setting in.
  • Consider using a front-loading washing machine, which is gentler on fabrics.

Handling Stains and Strong Odors

Equally important in preserving your fleece garments is understanding how to handle stains and strong odors. Whenever you're dealing with stains on a fleece jacket, the first rule of thumb is to act quickly. Use a cloth dabbed with cold water and a small amount of a soap-based stain remover to treat the stain.

In cases where your fleece garment has developed a strong smell, sometimes simply washing it might not be enough. Try soaking the garment in cool water mixed with a half a cup of white vinegar before washing. This helps neutralize the odors and freshen up your garment before it undergoes the washing process.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.


How do you wash fleece without ruining it?

To wash fleece without ruining it, it's important to follow specific care instructions. Start by turning the garment inside out to protect the outer surface. Use a gentle cycle on your washing machine with cold water to prevent shrinking or damage to the fabric. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents that can weaken the fibers. Instead, opt for a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics. Additionally, consider using a fabric softener or vinegar during the rinse cycle to maintain the softness of the fleece. Once washed, avoid wringing or twisting the fleece to remove excess water. Instead, gently squeeze or pat it dry, and then lay it flat to air dry.

Is it OK to put fleece in the dryer?

Yes, it's generally safe to put fleece in the dryer. Fleece is a synthetic fabric that is designed to be durable and quick-drying. However, it's important to check the care instructions on your specific fleece garment before drying it in the dryer, as some fleece items may have specific guidelines. As a rule of thumb, use a low heat setting on your dryer to avoid damaging the fabric and to remove the fleece promptly once it is dry to prevent excessive wrinkling.

Is it better to wash fleece inside out?

It's generally recommended to wash fleece garments inside out. Washing fleece inside out helps to protect the fabric's surface and minimize pilling. By flipping the garment inside out before washing, you reduce the friction between the fabric and the washing machine drum, preventing excessive abrasion and wear.

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