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Caring for your
winter accessories

Caring for your winter accessories such as gloves, hats, scarves will help you get several winter season's worth out of them, particularly if you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Depending on the type of item you have to clean, caring for your winter accessories is pretty straightforward; it will either be machine-wash, hand wash or dry-cleaning.

Washing your winter accessories

For the most part, you can wash scarves and gloves but do check the manufacturer's instructions first. If you can safely wash the item then caring for your winter accessories is fairly easy.

Man-made synthetics

  • Using a gentle wash cycle with mild washing detergent in warm water is ideal for synthetics.

Woolens and wool blends

  • Check the label as some may need dry cleaning while others could be washed in cold water with mild clothes detergent. Beware: Wool will shrink in hot water, hot-air and warm-air dry cycles in the dryer.

Silks, poly-blends, cottons

  • Check the cleaning instructions but generally can be machine-washed. For silks though, I'd hand wash them. Any of these items listed here are better left to air dry after you wash them.

Dry-cleaning your winter accessories

For pashminas shawls, wool blends, pure Cashmere and silks blends, dry-cleaning is usually the recommended way to clean these items. Caring for your winter accessories like I've listed here where dry-cleaning is recommended quickly adds to the cost of owning that item. When buying a new winter accessory, check the cleaning instructions first which may influence you buying or not buying it.

Machine and Air-drying your winter accessories

  • Man-made synthetics and acrylics scarves and shawls can easily be hung up to dry on a drying rack or go into the dryer on a short warm-air cycle. A short cycle to almost dry them is probably a good option as you don't want to over-dry them.
  • Woolens and wool blends tend to loose their shapes quite easily if they are hung up to dry so it's best to lay this type of accessory down flat on a towel to dry. Remember to turn the item over everyday to evenly dry.


For man-made synthetic, material, wool or knit gloves, you can either hand wash with a gentle clothes detergent or use the delicate cycle on your washing machine. For leather, do not wash!

Man-made synthetics

  • Wet gloves dry best by hanging them on something that lets the air circulate inside them. You can buy a plastic or moulded hand dryer or boot stand specifically designed for air-drying winter accessories. These are available from general retail department stores for a few dollars. You'll also have to leave them for a few days to dry as well. Wearing damp gloves is particularly icky!

Wool or knit gloves

  • It's best to lay them flat on a towel so they retain their shape. Turn them frequently until they are dry.

Leather gloves

  • Let them dry naturally away from any heat source like sitting on top of a radiator. If you do, the leather will shrink and quite likely begin to crack and be ruined. After air-drying them, there's still some chance they may not be in the same shape as before. You will probably need to rub in some leather conditioner cream to keep them soft and wearable again once they are dry. I've found sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't but it's worth a try.


Caring for your winter accessories like the synthetic materials used in scarves and sometimes shawls is the easiest to take care of. The fabrics used are fleeces, acrylic blends and fluffy chenille. These fare quite well when washed although you still need to read the washing instructions. Mostly likely you need to use a gentle clothes detergent in a delicates wash cycle to be on the safe side.

Now, with pure wool or cashmere scarves, getting them dry-cleaned is more likely. However, you can wash some woolens in cold water and lay flat to dry on a towel so they retain their shape.

Remember, never put woollen items into a dryer to dry - ever. It will shrink with the hot or even warm air cycle - I know! You might be able to turn your temperature setting down on your dryer but it still might be a hit and miss thing. Do you want to risk ruining a favourite scarf or hat?


I would wash them by hand using a very mild clothes detergent. Lay the headband flat to dry if it's wool. If it's fleece or acrylic, you can hang it up to dry as the fabric is more forgiving and retains its shape very well.


Cleaning earmuffs is a bit more tricky due to their odd shape, different textures and fabrics. Depending on the outer fabric used, a soft brush to buff the material might be fine to use first. Then hand-wash, possibly leaving them to soak for a few minutes before rinsing and hanging up to dry.

You might have to reshape them before leaving them to air-dry. Some earmuff types may allow you to take of the ear covering and wash them separately from the frame. All well and good, but beware, those ear coverings may be a little awkward to put back on.


Hats made of synthetics are fine to machine or hand-wash and air dry. For the more elaborate hats with different textures or are shaped, hopefully there are some cleaning instructions to help you. If not, then some of your options are:

  • Dry-clean (minus any removable embellishments like feathers or costume jewelry).
  • Soft brush it if you think this will work
  • Spot-spray cleaning using an aerosol cleaning spray and then soft brush it (to dissolve the white residue (the cleaning agent)) from the fabric after.

For shaped hats, I'd check with the dry-cleaner first to see if this is even possible.

Caring for your winter wardrobe

The winter clothes that you wear everyday will also need cleaning and attention too. Some of your winter clothes can be machine and hand washed easily like shirts, long underwear and sleepwear. However, it's more than likely that a large percentage of your winter trousers, coats, jackets and formal wear will need dry-cleaning and so be more expensive to own.

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