How to care for and clean vintage coats

Vintage coats need special care and handling to look their best. With the right cleaning, storage, and maintenance techniques, you can wear vintage and antique outerwear for many years.

care for and clean vintage coats

Vintage coats are often made of delicate fabrics and materials that require gentle care. By following the right cleaning and maintenance practices, you can preserve the integrity and beauty of your cherished vintage pieces for years to come. Let’s delve into the step-by-step process of caring for and cleaning vintage coats.

Spot Cleaning and Brushing

Before embarking on a thorough cleaning process, it’s important to spot clean your vintage coat to remove any stains or debris. Gently blot the affected areas with a damp cloth or sponge, using a mild detergent or stain remover if necessary. Avoid vigorous scrubbing, as it may damage the fabric. Additionally, regular brushing with a soft-bristled brush will help remove surface dirt and keep the coat looking fresh.

Air Drying and Steaming

After wearing your vintage coat, it’s advisable to turn it inside out and hang it in a well-ventilated area to air dry. This allows any moisture and odors to dissipate naturally. If your coat requires a quick refresh, you can use a handheld steamer to remove wrinkles and eliminate any lingering odors. Always ensure that the coat is completely dry before storing it.

Washing Techniques

When it comes to washing vintage coats, it’s essential to take a cautious approach. Washing at low temperatures, preferably 30 degrees, is recommended to minimize the risk of damage to delicate fabrics. For coats made before the 1960s, it’s best to opt for hand-washing instead. Fill a basin or sink with cool to tepid water and add a very mild soap or a gentle shampoo. Gently agitate the coat in the water, ensuring all areas are cleansed. Finally, rinse the coat thoroughly with cold water.

Soaking and Conditioning

For certain fabrics, a soaking step can help remove deep-seated dirt and revive the coat’s appearance. Prior to washing, soak the coat in cool to tepid water with a small amount of mild soap or a gentle shampoo. Allow it to sit for a short period, then gently agitate the water to loosen any dirt particles. Afterward, rinse the coat thoroughly with cold water. To restore softness and maintain the fabric’s suppleness, add a small amount of fabric conditioner during the final rinse.

Rinsing and Fabric Considerations

Different fabrics require varying water temperatures for rinsing and soaking. For synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon, cold water is best to prevent damage. Natural textiles, like cotton or silk, can be rinsed with warm water. Always refer to the garment’s care instructions or consult with a professional if you are unsure about the appropriate water temperature for a specific fabric.

Professional Laundering for Structured Garments

Structured garments, such as coats and suits, often have inner linings and fabrics that contribute to their shape. While the outer fabric may be washable, it’s crucial to have these types of garments laundered by professionals. They possess the expertise to handle and clean these intricate pieces without compromising their structure and integrity. By entrusting your vintage coat to a professional cleaner, you can ensure it receives the specialized care it deserves.

Leather Coat Care

Cleaning and maintaining leather coats require specific attention. To ensure the longevity and luster of your leather vintage coat, it’s recommended to seek the assistance of a professional specializing in leather cleaning. They possess the knowledge and tools necessary to handle and clean leather garments effectively. By relying on their expertise, you can maintain the quality and appearance of your leather coat for years to come.

Preventative Measures

Prevention is key to preserving the beauty and condition of your vintage coat. One effective way to keep your coat clean is by wearing a dress shield underneath it. Dress shields act as a barrier, protecting the fabric from sweat, body oils, and other stains. By implementing this preventative measure, you can minimize the need for frequent cleaning and prolong the lifespan of your vintage coat.

Handling and Storage

Proper handling and storage are vital in maintaining the longevity of your vintage coats. When handling these delicate garments, ensure your hands are clean to avoid transferring oils and dirt. Additionally, store your vintage coat in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and excessive humidity. Consider using garment bags or acid-free tissue paper to protect the fabric and prevent creasing. By following these storage practices, you can preserve the quality and beauty of your vintage coat.


Caring for and cleaning vintage coats require attention to detail and adherence to specific techniques. By implementing the tips provided in this article, you can ensure the longevity and beauty of your treasured garments. Remember, prevention is key, and when in doubt, consult with a professional who specializes in vintage garment care. With proper care and maintenance, your vintage coat will continue to be a timeless and stylish addition to your wardrobe.


  1. Can I machine wash my vintage coat? It’s generally not recommended to machine wash vintage coats, especially those made before the 1960s. Hand-washing or professional cleaning is often the safer approach.
  2. How often should I clean my vintage coat? The frequency of cleaning depends on various factors such as wear, exposure to stains, and the fabric type. Spot cleaning as needed and occasional thorough cleanings are usually sufficient.
  3. Can I iron my vintage coat? Ironing vintage coats can be risky, as high heat can damage delicate fabrics. If necessary, use a low heat setting and place a cloth between the iron and the coat to protect the fabric.
  4. Is it necessary to condition a vintage coat? Conditioning a vintage coat can help restore softness and maintain the fabric’s quality. However, consult the care instructions and consider the specific fabric type before applying any conditioners.
  5. Where can I find a professional cleaner for my vintage coat? Look for reputable dry cleaners or specialists in vintage garment care in your local area. They possess the expertise and knowledge required to handle and clean delicate vintage coats effectively.

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