How To Care For Your Wool Coat

by Elizabeth Williams

Wool coats are pretty low maintenance. Wool has natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties so, unlike synthetic fabrics, it does not require numerous washes in order to smell fresh. Most manufacturers suggest only 1-2 trips to the dry cleaner in the span of one year. I recommend that one of those trips happen in the spring before you store your coat away for the summer . 

Undoubtedly, wool's greatest enemy is the dreaded moth hole. Unfortunately, once a moth hole is discovered it is already too late and so prevention is key. Moths (or moth larvae specifically) love wool, but more importantly they love tiny bits of food particles left on wool clothing (including those beloved cashmere sweaters!). Keeping your wool clothing clean and properly stored is the best prevention for moth holes over the summer months.

Additionally, no one likes to pull out a wrinkled, dirty coat on the first day of fall. By cleaning and properly storing your coat in the spring, your coat will retain its best shape and feel amazing when you slip it back on year after year. Proper care for your wool coat can add years to its life.

I know there are many of us who would love to avoid the dry cleaners, however dry cleaning is really the best method of cleaning for wool coats.

Unlike wool sweaters, most wool coats have numerous components. In addition to the woollen outer fabric, a nicely tailored coat could also include a variety of interfacings, linings and paddings that give it a beautiful shape. However, these components can react to water differently and shrink at different rates. For this reason washing most tailored wool coats is not recommended. 

How to prepare your coat for the dry cleaners

Empty your coat pockets in order to keep them from stretching out. Plus, you may find a surprise five dollar bill!

Make a repair (if needed.) Most dry cleaners can tackle small repairs but if you are savvy with a needle and thread you can quickly enforce and repair any small holes at their seams. In either case, it's always important to make repairs before a dry cleaning service since dry cleaning can turn a small tear into a large one.

Give your dry cleaners clear instructions. In general, wool should be steamed or lightly pressed since hard pressing wool can cause a permanent crease. Let your dry cleaner know how you like things pressed or if they should be pressed at all. I usually point out soft rolls such as draped collars and ask these areas not to be pressed. 

How to care for your coat after the dry cleaners

Check it over, make sure everything looks okay.

Replace the wire hanger with a padded hanger or suit hanger so that the shoulders do not stretch out over the summer months.

Store your coat hanging, sealed up in the plastic dry cleaning bag or a garment bag. Give your coat room in your closet so that it isn't squished where it could get wrinkled or flattened.

Hang your coat with a lavender sachet or cedar hang up to keep moths at bay and place a pheromone trap in your closet.

Coat care is essential throughout the year

Steam, lint roll, or spot clean your coat as needed to keep your wool coat looking fresh. Trips to the dry cleaners are important once a year and after big spills, but otherwise a bit of water on the tip of a wash cloth can clean up most small spills and lint rollers can pick off bits of fuzz or pet hair. If you find that your wool coat is looking a little wrinkled, hang it outside your shower and let the shower steam do the work for you. 


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