Fleece jackets can be washed by hand or by machine. Choose a front-loading or top-loading washer without a center agitator. These machines are much gentler on clothes than one with a center agitator. If you don’t have this type of machine at home, head to the laundromat to find one instead.
Read the Care Label
Read the care label to make sure your fleece jacket is washable. Some jackets may have trim that requires specific care.
Sort and Load the Washer
Avoid washing your fleece jacket with lint-producing clothes, like cotton flannel or cloth towels, as fleece is a magnet for shedding fibers. Fleece also attracts pet hair, so reduce and remove lint before laundering, and wash your jacket alone.
Make sure to check the pockets for tissues or paper that may disintegrate in water and stick to the fleece. Close all zippers, buttons, and fasteners, and then turn the jacket inside out to prevent snags.
Pink fleece jacket turned inside out for washing
Choose a Detergent
Use a mild detergent (like Hex Performance, Woolite, or Ivory Snow), as they are the gentlest on fleece fiber. Do not use chlorine bleach or add fabric softeners to the wash or the rinse cycle.
Pink fleece jacket folded next to pink bottle of Woolite mild detergent
To help reduce perspiration odor, add 1 cup of baking soda directly to the empty washer drum before loading the jacket.
Select the Water Temperature and Start the Cycle
Always select the cold or warm water setting—never hot—when washing fleece jackets. High temperatures can damage, or even melt, fleece fibers.
Choose the gentle cycle for fleece jackets that are lightly soiled. For heavily soiled pieces, use the permanent press cycle, which has a cold rinse and a lower spin speed. Gentle cycles should last anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes.
Washing machine set to permanent press cycle to clean fleece jacket
Line Dry the Jacket
Turn the jacket right side out and hang it on a sturdy hanger, or fold it over a drying rack to air-dry. When hung in a warm room, the jacket should be dry in a couple of hours, max.
Do not use a clothes dryer to dry fleece. The high temperature and the friction will cause pilling.
Pink fleece jacket on white hanger air drying on drying rack
How to Hand-Wash Fleece Jackets
Some care labels recommend hand-washing fleece due to unstable dyes that can bleed in the washing machine. Follow the guidelines on the label for both water temperature and detergent recommendations, even when hand-washing.
Choose Your Vessel
Use a tub or large sink for washing your fleece jacket. Make sure the receptacle is big enough so that the entire jacket can be fully submerged in the water.
Choosing a vessel to wash your fleece jacket in
Mix a Solution
Fill the sink or tub with warm water. Create a washing solution by adding approximately 1 tablespoon of detergent to every gallon of water.
Mixing a cleaning solution for fleece jackets
Soak the Jacket
Add the jacket to the soapy water and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes. Gently squeeze the fibers to loosen the soil, but do not aggressively rub them together or use a washing board.
Soaking the jacket in soapy water
Rinse the jacket well in cold water so that no residue remains on the fibers. Leftover soap can make the fleece feel scratchy. Gently wring any excess water from the fabric.
Submerging the jacket into a tub
Line Dry the Jacket
Air-dry your jacket in the same way you would for machine-washing. If you are drying it outside on a warm day, locate it in a shady spot to avoid excess heat from the sun.
Pink fleece jacket lying on a metal drying rack
How Often to Wash Fleece Jackets
Fleece jackets worn daily should be washed at least once a week. Other fleece garments worn next to the skin should be washed bi-weekly to remove body oil and soil. If you notice odors or surface stains, it’s time to wash the garment.
All jackets should be cleaned well at the end of the season before storing them. While polyester cannot be damaged by most insects, some stains can become permanent if left on the fabric for too long.
Treating Stains on Fleece Jackets
For visible food stains or body soil stains, place a dab of enzyme-based stain remover or laundry detergent on a white microfiber cloth. Rub the stained areas with the cloth to help lift the stain. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing the jacket to allow the cleaner to fully penetrate. Then, wash as normal.
Oil-based stains can be difficult to remove from polyester fibers. You may have to treat the stain for an hour or more with an enzyme-based stain remover. If all else fails, you can try dabbing a little isopropyl alcohol onto the stain before washing. Test an inconspicuous spot for fading first.
Fleece Jacket Care and Repairs
Luckily, polyester fleece rarely results in fading or shrinking. Still, hot water washing and machine drying should always be avoided. Should your favorite jacket suffer a rip or lose a button, you can easily mend it by repairing the seam with a sewing machine, or hand-sewing a new button onto the garment. Overwashing should also be avoided, as the more you wash a fleece jacket, the more the fibers will degrade and eventually mat. Fleece fabric rarely shows wrinkles, so ironing should be avoided at all costs, as it could melt the jacket.
Storing Fleece Jackets
Fleece jackets should be laundered, carefully folded, and stored in sealed plastic bins. Hanging fleece for an extended time on a hanger could result in permanent darts in the shoulders or a misshapen jacket. Make sure to always store your fleece in a cool, dry space. Hot temperatures may damage the fleece fibers, and moisture could attract mold.
Tips for Washing Fleece Jackets
Gently remove lint with a lint roller before washing.
Use cool water and a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine.
Wash fleece jackets separately without other items.
If your fleece is matted, dampen it and carefully brush it with a soft-bristle brush to fluff.