How to Wash Fleece Without Risking Doing Any Damage

How to Wash Fleece

It can certainly be difficult or frustrating when learning how to wash your fleece. There are so many types of fleece, and a lot of the time they have different washing instructions. Fleece jackets are a great way to keep warm in the cold weather, whether you are camping, hiking, or just going outside in the winter. Not only are fleece jackets extra-warm, they are comfortable too.

Fleece is a durable, thick, moisture-resistant material that is common for many everyday cold-weather activities. It is important to understand how to wash our fleece, in order to keep it in good condition. 

How Frequently Should You Wash a Fleece Jacket or Blanket?

Depending on how often you use your fleece jacket or blanket, how often you wash them can vary. If you like to wear a fleece jacket frequently, you should wash it after six or seven wears. Fleece blankets do not need to be washed as frequently. Once a month should do the trick unless they appear to look dirty. 

Factors to Consider When Washing Fleece 

How to Wash Fleece

When washing fleece, there are quite a few things to consider. You will need to know what type of fleece you are washing, if there are any specific washing recommendations, and how to wash the fleece if you cannot meet those recommendations. Let’s look at some things to remember when washing fleece.

What Type of Fleece

Fleece is made from many different materials. When you shop for fleece, you can actually look for the specific type of fleece that will meet what you are looking for. Whether you want a specific type of fleece for bundling up in the cold, staying comfortable by wearing a sweatshirt, or even something to stay warm in while going for a job, there are many options to choose from.

A common fleece for sweatshirts and sweatpants is the cotton-blended fleece. 

This type of fleece is smooth on the outside and plush on the inside. This type of fleece is great for relaxing and feeling comfortable. Polyester fleece is very similar to the cotton-blended fleece. The only difference is that its smooth side is shiny and is better at keeping moisture away. 

A lycra spandex fleece is mostly made up of cotton and has a small amount of lycra spandex which makes it stretchy. Another type of fleece is microfleece. This type of fleece is soft, thin, lightweight, and is excellent at keeping moisture out. Microfleece is rather popular with performance wear and garments.

If you are trying to stay warm and bundle up, polar fleece will be what you want to look for. This type of fleece is very thick and warm and is usually what jackets and blankets are made out of.  A similar type of fleece is Sherpa fleece. This kind of fleece is 100 percent polyester and is meant to be extremely fluffy. It appears to look like wool, but it really isn’t. It is mostly used to line jackets for extra warmth.

A mild type of fleece is French terry fleece. This fleece is not fluffy or soft like most fleeces, but it is thin and flat. A slub fleece is also a different kind of fleece that isn’t fluffy. The slub sleeve is made out of yarn and is very textured.

What Do The Manufacturer Instructions Say?

It is very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when washing fleece so you don’t ruin the fleece. Since there are so many different types of fleece, it is important to check the directions out before washing them. Not all fleece can be washed in the same way. 

When washing a cotton-blended fleece, it is important to wash it inside out. You will want to wash it with detergent or soap in cold water to minimize fade and preserve its color. It is recommended not to use any bleach so it doesn’t ruin its color. You should dry this type of fleece flat, inside out, and in the shade. If it is line dried, the fleece could grow longer and stretch out.

Since a polyester fleece is naturally stain resistant, it is good to wash this type of fleece in cold water with soap or detergent. If it is stained, the stains should be able to come out without a stain remover since the fabric is typically resistant to stains. To keep your fleece soft, try not to wash it in hot water and to avoid shrinking, do not put it in the dryer. It is important to try it flat to not stretch it out.

Lycra fleece does best washing it in lukewarm water for both washing and rinsing. Use a mild soap or detergent with no bleach. This type of fleece can stain, so if there is a stain, gently rub it with soap until you see the stain start to disappear. Rinsing this type of fleece in lukewarm water will clear the stain and leave it fresh and clean. Heat is bad for lycra. Do not put this type of fleece in the dryer or in hot water as it will damage the fleece. Also, do not use fabric softener as it will make the fleece stretch out and lose its shape.

Microfleece blankets and garments should be washed in cool water with just a little bit of soap. Using too much soap with this type of fleece can result in the soap getting stuck inside of the base fibers of the fleece, making it difficult for the soap to come out when rinsing it. The fleece will feel not as soft if this happens, possibly making it feel uncomfortable. Like the other types of fleeces, heat will cause damage so it is best to lay it flat and dry it.

When washing your polar fleece, wash in cold water and gently rub any stains it may have with soap. Make sure it is gently washed in cold water to avoid any damage. It is similar to the other fleeces – no heat or fabric softener. Lay your polar fleece blanket or jacket flat to dry to avoid any damage or stretching out of the fabric.

Sherpa fleeces absolutely need to be washed very delicately. Sherpa fleeces should be washed in cold water with a very small amount of soap. No fabric softener or heat, as it will get damaged. Bleach will also cause harm to your sherpa fleece. Never use bleach, as it will ruin the fabric and make the color fade. Dry flat, or hang to dry. Sherpa will not stretch out so you can line dry this type of fleece.

French terry fleece is actually a bit different than the other types of fleeces. This fleece can be washed in cold water, with soap, and can be put in the dryer on low. It can be line dried or laid flat to dry as well, but putting it in the dryer won’t damage it.  It can shrink the first couple of ryer cycles, though. It is also recommended not to use bleach to wash french terry fleece.

As for slub fleece, you will want to wash it in cold water by itself. You can use non chlorinated bleach if you really want to, but it is not necessary. Do not use fabric softeners because it will damage this kind of fleece. It can be put in the dryer on a low setting, but it is best to air dry.This way, the fleece won’t shrink. 

How Much Time Do You Have?

Depending on the type of fleece you want to wash, it is good to know how often you need to wash it. If you want to wash your cotton-blended fleece, you should wash it after two or three wears, since this kind of fleece is delicate. When washing your polyester fleece, only wash it when necessary, or once to twice each season.

Lycra fleece jackets or blankets should be washed after six to seven wears. It is unnecessary to wash them any more than that unless they are dirty. Microfleece should be washed after every three uses to help preserve its softness. 

Polar fleece jackets only need to be washed when absolutely necessary. You can wear polar fleece many times before you need to wash it. Sherpa fleece is similar to polar fleece and only needs to be washed when necessary. 

Terry fleece can be washed as needed. It is super friendly with washing and drying, so it can be washed when needed. Sub fleece should only be washed about two times a season. It is somewhat low maintenance to wash, but drying is what can wear it out. This is why it is best to wash it only twice per season.

Where Are You and What Resources Do You Have?

If you are home and have access to a washing machine, follow the manufacturer instructions on how to wash your fleece. Use soap and put it on the gentle or hand wash cycle in your washing machine to keep the fleece in good condition. 

When you don’t have a washing machine, fleece can be washed in a sink by hand. This is a great way to wash your fleece because it is being washed extra gently and will not get damaged. If you are not home and are camping or do not have access to a washing machine or a sink, you can absolutely wash your fleece in the nearest body of water – just not salt water because it will damage the material.

Fleece can be washed in fresh water, even without soap if you do not have any. If the type of fleece you have needs cold water, washing it in a river should be no issue. The water is usually not too warm in rivers, so you wouldn’t need to worry about damaging the fleece. This is a great strategy to use if you are camping or hiking and pack your fleece to stay warm.

If the type of fleece you have requires warm water, try to fill up a bucket with the water from the pond or lake, and let it sit in the sun for enough time to feel warm.  Then, you can gently wash your fleece by hand. If you do not have soap available, that’s okay. Do your best to gently rub out any stains with the water and carefully ring it out when you are finished.

When you find yourself without a washing machine, give a water bottle a try. You will need just enough water to be able to submerge the fleece. Use your resources that are easiest available to you and you will be able to clean your fleece under most circumstances.

How To Wash Fleece 

When it comes to washing fleece, you need to be careful and gentle in order to not damage the material. Here is how to wash fleece so you can preserve its softness, color, and not stretch it out.

Here’s What You Need

You will need a washing machine, a sink, basin, or a bucket. A mild laundry detergent is best to use for the soap, but you can also use dish soap if you need to. If you are not using a washing machine, have a minimum amount of water ready to be able to submerge the fleece. 

Step 1

If you are using a washing machine, gently rub any stains off your fleece with a towel and soap.  Turn your items inside out before washing. You will want to get your detergent ready and put it in the machine.

If you are washing in something other than a washing machine, check for any stains, get your soap ready and pour it over the fleece you have in a sink, basin, or bucket.

Step 2

Now that your fleece is ready, turn your washing machine on the gentle cycle, and make sure it is set to use the right temperature water your manufacturer’s instructions recommend. If you are washing by hand, make sure you are using the right temperature of water per your manufacturer’s instructions and gently start washing the fleece.

Step 3

Take the fleece out of your washing machine when it is done and lay flat to dry to avoid stretching. If the type of fleece you have allows tumble drying, put it in the dryer on low. When you are done hand washing the fleece, gently ring it out and lay it out flat to dry so it doesn’t stretch out.

Step 4

Now that you are done washing your fleece, wait for it to dry. Once the fleece is dry, you are all set!


Question: Can You Tumble Dry Fleece Fabric?

Answer: It is recommended that you do not put most fleece in the dryer, however, terry fleece can be put in the dryer on low. The reason it is recommended to lay fleece flat to dry is so that it does not stretch out and ruin the material when in the dryer.

Question: Can Fleece Be Washed in Hot Water?

Answer: Washing fleece in hot water can result in shrinking your fleece. It is usually recommended, depending on the type of fleece, to wash it in cold water or lukewarm water to avoid shrinking.

Question: Can You Wash Fleece With Fabric Softener?

Answer: It is recommended not to wash fleece using fabric softener. This is because it can stretch out your fleece, damaging the material. When washing your fleece with fabric softener, it can get stuck inside the fabric of the fleece, not rinsing out all the way. This can also damage your fleece and make it not feel as soft and comfortable as you want it to.

Question: How Do You Make Fleece Look New Again?

Answer: Fleece can easily get worn out looking after a few washes. Using a plastic hairbrush or pet brush on the fleece is a good way to make it look new again. Brush the fleece when it is still damp, and when it dries, it will look almost new again.

Question: Does Fleece Shrink?

Answer: Yes, fleece does shrink. It shrinks mostly because it is combined with a natural fiber, such as cotton or wool. With natural fibers, it is more common for the fleece to shrink than if it was purely 100 percent fleece. Fleece also shrinks when it is exposed to heat, like hot water or putting it in the dryer.

Final Thoughts

Now that we know how to properly wash our fleece, we are set for winter and can use these steps the next time we need to clean our fleece jackets or blankets.

Just remember to be gentle, check the manufacturer’s washing instructions, and try to avoid putting your fleece in the dryer. Doing these things should be a helpful way to not damage your fleece, and keep it looking great until next season.

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