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Can You Wash a Parka? How?

A young handsome man wearing a parka.

Winter coats are a necessity in some parts of the country, but they’re worn country-wide. It might not snow everywhere, but it does get cold. You might choose a warm leather coat or jacket, perhaps a suede winter garment, a quilted jacket, or a parka to wear in your winter wonderland. 

I’ve had beautiful suede coats that came to the calf, puff jackets, and my then-husband’s parka. Of them all, I preferred the parka for the warmth.

Washing it was a different story due to the down filling. It had to be dry-cleaned. However, not all parkas are down-filled. How do you wash them?

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How Will I Know With What Material My Parka Is Insulated? Will That Tell Me How To Wash The Parka?

A man wearing a parka in cold.

Getting your winter coat from Amazon will tell you all you need to know about the coat’s construction, its insulation, and, thus, its care and washing. Going to a store to get your winter coat leaves you in the position of detective. You must read and question in order to find out the pertinent points.

In general, parkas are lined with fur, fleece, or Sherpa. If the whole parka is lined with fur (fake or otherwise), then you have to take the garment to a furrier for proper care.

There’s no way around it; fur is different and requires special care. If only the hood is lined with fur and the jacket lined with something else, then detach the hood and take it to a furrier. 

The care and washing of any garment are described on the tag on the collar of the garment. It’s no different with parkas. The tag will tell you one of three things: it’s to be dry-cleaned, it’s to be taken to a furrier for care, or it can be washed if there’s no fur on the hood or jacket. Read the tag first.

Oops, My Parka Is Filled With Down. Does That Make Cleaning It Difficult?

A young woman in green parka leaning against huge old tree isolated on blurred background of green exotic forest.

No, just time-consuming. Feathers or down retain heat, yes, but they also retain moisture. Making sure every speck of moisture is out of those feathers is vital for a parka with no mold or mildew.

You might have to dry the parka for over an hour to make sure every feather is dry. Choose a day when you have nothing to do in order to give the parka enough time to dry properly.

So I Can Wash And Dry A Parka At Home Without Dry-Cleaning It?

Yes. If the parka is only stained, say, with coffee or tomato sauce, then use a gentle product to remove the stain. Since you’ll only launder your winter coat once winter is over, washing it regularly isn’t necessary. However, if you absolutely insist on washing the parka, then this is how you do it:

Wash The Parka Low And Slow

This means you should wash the coat on the gentlest or most delicate cycle. If you have a top-loading machine, the agitator won’t get tangled up with the garment. A front-loading machine without the agitator is best for washing a parka, so if you have to journey to the nearest laundromat, then that’s your best bet.

Use Gentle Soap

Use only cold water and the mildest laundry soap there is, such as Dreft or Seventh Generation. Gentle soaps are necessary for the jacket’s waterproof coating to remain intact. Abrasive soaps will strip it off.

Take The Fur Off

Close up photo of an animal fur used for parka jacket.

If it’s real fur or fake fur, it can be washed but not dried. Unzip the hood and take it to a professional for care. If the whole coat is lined in fur, then it can’t be washed. Take it to a professional.

You Have To Be Watchful When The Parka Is Drying

The down will clump up. You’ll have to stop the dryer every 15 minutes or so, take out the coat, and shake it well to loosen up the down. It’s a good idea to use dryer balls or tennis balls if you don’t have dryer balls.

This keeps the down from clumping up. Check the jacket frequently to see if all the moisture is gone. This could take up to or more than an hour for the jacket to be completely moisture-free.

Tip: It’s a good idea to wash a parka alone and not with other items. The water and soap have a better chance to do their jobs properly. Don’t close up the jacket; leaving it unzipped gets the whole coat cleaner. About half through the drying cycle, turn the coat inside out so it gets the best chance to dry thoroughly.

What If The Parka Is Lined With Fleece Or Sherpa? Can It Be Washed At Home?

Many different sizes of Parkas being hanged.

Absolutely. Fleece and Sherpa are actually the same thing, with one exception: Sherpa tends to be softer and warmer than fleece. Both are synthetic textiles that mimic wool.

It’s how they’re processed that makes them what they are. Both can be washed at home without any problems. Here’s how:

    • Wash Sherpa and/or fleece on the gentle or delicate cycle. Hand washing is best, but your Sherpa-lined or fleece-lined parka can be washed in the machine. The gentle cycle prevents the material from pilling.

    • Wash your parka with a scent-free and dye-free soap to prevent the matting of the material.

    • Wash the parka in cold water.

    • Do not dry the Sherpa-lined or fleece-lined parka. The heat will melt or scorch the textile. Air dry the parka.

Tip: Don’t use bleach or any other harsh laundry product on Sherpa-lined or fleece-lined jackets. It will ruin the texture of the Sherpa or fleece. If the parka is soiled or stained, seek professional help.

Can You Wash A Parka FAQs

How Often Should You Wash A Parka?

Some experts say once during the winter. Other experts say once per month. Either way, dirt, cigarette smoke, body oils, and moisture can damage your parka. How often you launder it is up to the circumstances.

Can Parkas Go In The Washer?

As long as the cycle is gentle or delicate, and the soap you use is gentle and harsh, chemical-free, then a washer won’t hurt your parka. Make sure to use cold water. It’s best if the parka is washed in a front-loading machine, so the agitator doesn’t harm the jacket.

Can You Wash A Down Parka?

It’s not recommended. Dry cleaning a down parka is recommended. Experts say that if you machine-wash a down parka, it will void the warranty. Be safe and dry clean the jacket.

Can You Machine Wash A Coat That Says Dry Clean?

A woman wearing a blue coated parka while standing beside the river,

That’s safe as long as the tag doesn’t read “dry clean only.” In that case, don’t machine wash it. Trust the professionals.

How Often Should You Wash A Parka?

Some experts tell you to wash them once or twice during the winter. Other experts tell you that if the jacket gets heavy or has frequent wear, then wash it once per month.

Is Dry Clean Only Truly Necessary?

Most people use dry cleaners for garments that haven’t been laundered frequently or that no longer smell fresh and clean. If the parka isn’t visibly dirty, then just freshen it. Steaming the jacket is a good way to do that.

Is There A Way To Dry Clean A Parka At Home?

Sure there is. You’ll need a dry cleaning bag, a dry cleaning sheet, and a dryer. Place the parka in the dry cleaning bag. Unfold the dry cleaning sheet and add it to the bag. Using medium heat, put the dry cleaning bag in the dryer for 30 minutes. Don’t let the jacket sit for too long, or it will wrinkle. Take it out of the dryer immediately and hang it up.

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