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How To Wash Fleece Shirts, Jackets, and More (Step-by-Step)

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Fleece is a cozy fabric perfect for cold temperatures, but it requires special care to keep in good condition. Without proper care, fleece fabrics can become matted, lose their shape and color, or develop pilling.

To ensure your fleece garments stay looking great wash after wash, start by reading the care label on your garment. Then, choose a gentle detergent, turn the garment inside out, and wash it with cool water. Be sure to let all of your fleece garments air dry instead of putting them in the dryer.

In this post, I’ll detail the above steps to keep your garments looking new and fresh. I’ll also discuss the specifics of washing fleece shirts, jackets, and other items.

So whether you’re trying to extend the life of your favorite cozy pieces or want to make sure they’re as clean as can be, read on for everything you need to know about washing fleece apparel.

How to Wash Fleece: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Read the Care Label on Your Garment

When it comes to taking care of your clothing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach—but one thing is sure: reading the care label on your garments should always be your first step.

Though small, that single label contains a myriad of essential information. It tells you how to wash and care for the item, helping you extend its lifespan for as long as possible. 

The labels on my fleece garments

Additionally, the label tells you what detergents and temperatures are safe for use. It can also inform you about particular fabric care practices, such as air drying or removing stains with a specific solution. 

By taking the time to read and understand these labels properly, you will be able to maintain the quality and appearance of your fleece garments for long periods.

2. Choose a Gentle Detergent and Wash With Cool Water

Reading the back of my gentle detergent to figure out how much I need.

If you cherish your delicate fabrics and want to ensure they stay in excellent condition, always choose a gentle detergent and fill your sink or tub with cool water before adding the clothes. 

Harsh detergents can be hard on delicate fabrics and using hot water will result in quicker fading. Instead, opt for mild detergents that don’t contain any of the following: 

  • Bleaches
  • Dyes
  • Optical brighteners
  • Fabric softeners
  • Enzymes

You can learn more about mild detergents and how to find a good one here. Many of these ingredients can break down delicate fabrics like fleece when the clothes are scrubbed during cleaning. 

Prepare the sink carefully to ensure the safest clean for your delicate garments by following these steps:

  1. Fill it up with a small amount of cool water.
  2. Add several spoonfuls of mild detergent (depending on how much laundry you have to do).
  3. Let the garment soak in it before scrubbing. 

This approach will keep your favorite fleece items looking their best and save you energy on laundering. 

3. Add Your Detergent to the Water and Agitate the Fabric

Here are some great settings for washing fleece in your washing machine.

When it comes to laundry, there’s no denying that detergent plays an essential role in cleaning your clothes. If you want the best results from your chosen detergent, add it to the water first and gently agitate the fabric. This step is true for all hand-washed laundry, not just fleece. 

Adding detergent first and agitating the fabric ensures that all the materials are soaked evenly, which helps the detergent penetrate more deeply for a better clean.

In addition, gently agitating helps to remove dirt particles and stains without damaging fabrics or snagging delicate fibers. Taking care of your washing process can also help minimize fading of colors over time – giving you brighter, longer-lasting clothes that look brand new again.

4. Let Your Garment Soak Before Rinsing

You can also try soaking the garments in a stain remover if they have hard-to-remove stains on them.

When washing clothes, one of the most critical, often overlooked steps is soaking your garments. While machine wash cycles consider the various materials and fabrics used in a laundry load, a good soak by hand can help boost cleaning power and ensure that dirt and stains come out easier. 

Follow these steps to properly soak your fleece garments: 

  1. Fill a bucket or sink with cold or lukewarm water. 
  2. Add some mild detergent. 
  3. Place the clothing in soapy water. 
  4. Swish it around until everything’s fully submerged. 
  5. Then, let it sit for five to ten minutes. 

You’ll give the detergent enough time to work its magic before rinsing and moving on with your usual laundering routine.

In addition, soaking helps loosen bits of dirt trapped deep within fleece and gives those stubborn stains more of a fighting chance when coming out in the wash. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all your garment types for the best results! One final tip – avoid using hot water for soaking, as many dyes may bleed or dissolve during this step.

5. Gently Press Out Excess Water and Lay Out To Dry

You may be tempted to throw your fleece clothes in the dryer, but don’t! When it comes to fleece, you’ll have better luck if you gently press out excess water and then lay them somewhere flat when it’s time to dry them. 

Squeezing out excess water first helps prevent damp clothes from becoming wrinkled and warped during the drying process and limits any damage from over-drying. 

If you prefer, you can also try running an extra spin cycle on the high setting. Just note that it will wear more on your clothes than just pressing the water out.

Plus, by hanging your clothes up with some space in between and laying them flat instead of bunching them together, the air will be able to reach all those damp spots more quickly—leading to a faster drying time overall. 

Dry Clothes WITHOUT a Dryer (Using Indoors Drying Rack)
Here’s how to properly dry clothes. I also wrote an article in case you prefer to read.

From ensuring that you don’t get shrinkage or color-fading to making sure your clothes stay their original size and shape, this simple method can help keep your fleece clothes looking their best for years to come. 

My Personal Tips for Drying

If you’re going to hang dry the clothes, I recommend using adding a little vinegar to the fabric softener tray during washing. Vinegar will help soften up the garments so that they won’t have that stiff feeling to them that some clothes have after air drying.

Here are the settings you want to use if you are going to use your dryer: Synthetic wash and low heat.

In addition to this, running an extra spin cycle on high can be really helpful for squeezing out the excess water, allowing the clothes to dry a little faster.

Specific Clothing Care

Fleece fabrics have been around for a long time and don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. You can read more about what fleece is and the pros and cons here. If properly taken care of, your fleece garments can last a long time.

While I’ve listed basic guidelines for washing fleece garments, you may have to take extra precautions when washing specific clothing items, such as shirts, jackets, and sheets.

Fleece Shirts

To wash shirts:

  • Use a mild detergent and cold or lukewarm water.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing motions, as this may cause damage to the fabric.
  • If you have stubborn stains, consider pre-treating them with a stain remover designed specifically for fleece before washing them.

Fleece Jackets

Dirty fleece jacket used for cleaning.

To wash jackets:

  • Only launder when the jacket becomes visibly dirty or stained.
  • Turn the jacket inside out.
  • Check the label to ensure it can go into the washing machine or if it should be hand-washed.
  • Never use heat or hot water, as this can cause fading and shrinkage.

Fleece Sheets

To wash sheets:

  • Use a gentle cycle in cold water with no bleach or fabric softener. 
  • Lay sheets out to air dry or put them on a low-heat setting in the dryer.
  • When storing clean fleece sheets, fold them neatly before placing them inside a dry plastic storage container or suitcase. 

Fleece Liners

A fleece liner.

To wash fleece liners:

  • Use a mild detergent and cold or lukewarm water.
  • Remove any excess dirt by gently agitating the fabric before rinsing.
  • Air-dry or tumble dry on a low heat setting to prevent shrinkage.
  • Avoid using high heat that can damage delicate fibers.

Final Thoughts

With a few simple tips, you can keep your fleece garments looking new season after season. The key is to avoid putting them in the dryer and to wash them with cold water on a gentle cycle. 

Deeper colors may bleed in hot water or the dryer, so it’s best to err on caution by washing them separately from lighter items. By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite fleece jacket or sweater for years to come.


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