A skier takes off her jacket on a beautiful sunny day on the mountain. 
SKI & SNOW

How to Wash Ski Jackets and Other Winter Clothes

A complete guide to washing, drying, and waterproofing your ski and snowboard gear
BY DAVID YOUNG
Take good care of your ski jacket and it will take good care of you for years to come. It’s one of the keys to keeping you warm, dry, and comfortable while skiing, snowshoeing, or simply getting around town.

Your snow jacket does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to protecting you from the elements, so you’ll want to make sure to properly care for your investment.

One of the best ways to care for your winter clothes is to wash and waterproof them to ensure they continue to stand up to cold, wet winter weather.

Below, we’ve broken down how to wash snow jackets, with everything from types of detergent to drying methods, as well as how to wash ski pants. So grab your winter clothes and prepare to get them clean.
A ski jacket is pictured in a dryer with the door open.

When is it time to wash your ski jacket?

The most important tip when it comes to washing your winter jacket is to only wash it once or twice a season to maintain the integrity of the materials.

Overwashing waterproof technical gear is the fastest way to shorten its lifespan. So before you head to the washing machine, make sure that your ski jacket or ski pants are really in need of cleaning.

Can you put a ski jacket in the washing machine?

Yes. The best practice for washing your ski jacket is to close all the zippers and turn the jacket inside out before putting it in the washing machine. This will help protect the fabric and prevent fraying or damage.

Use a liquid detergent (if you can find one especially designed for outdoor clothes, that’s even better). Try to avoid powder detergents, and wash your ski jacket on low spin in 86° water, or at the cold/cool setting.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and it’s important to always check the label to ensure that you are properly caring for technical materials.

What is the best detergent for ski clothes?

The best detergents for waterproof clothing tend to be mild liquid detergents that will not damage your waterproof ski jacket. (This is important for protecting advanced waterproof technologies such as Omni-Tech™ and OutDry™ Extreme). Look for specialized detergents that are made specifically for water-resistant gear. Just make sure to check the clothing labels to be sure your waterproof jacket detergent is compatible.

What setting do you wash your ski jacket on?

Knowing how to wash winter jackets in a washing machine means selecting the correct settings. These may vary depending on the jacket and washing machine, so always check instructions, but the general rule of thumb is to use cold water on a delicate or low-spin cycle. Because of the special settings and detergents, be sure to protect your ski jacket or ski pants by washing them separately from other clothes. 

How do you clean a white ski jacket? Can you use bleach?

A white ski jacket looks great on the slopes, but after a few aprés ski happy hours, it may pick up a stain or two. Cleaning a white ski jacket is the same as any other ski jacket—do not use bleach or fabric softeners on it. Instead, wash it on a cold setting with detergent for waterproof clothing. If stains still remain, you can try washing them out by hand.

How do you clean a ski jacket without using a washing machine?

You can wash a ski jacket by hand simply by turning the jacket inside out, filling a tub or basin with cold to lukewarm water, and using a gentle liquid detergent. Swirl the jacket with your hands until it’s clean, then thoroughly rinse it off and hang it to air-dry a safe distance from any heat source.

Spot cleaning is also an effective way to keep your winter ski jacket and pants clean. Simply place a small amount of liquid detergent on a damp cloth and rub the area you wish to clean. Thoroughly wipe away the detergent with a fresh damp cloth and air-dry.

Can you put a ski jacket in the dryer?

While most ski jackets do best with air drying, it may be possible to use a low or medium heat setting to tumble dry the coat. Again, always check the label. If in doubt, avoid the dryer and air it out.
A skier zips up her jacket in a close-up shot on the mountain.

What about other ski gear? Are you supposed to wash ski pants?

When washing snow pants, the process is generally the same as washing a ski jacket. As with all waterproof clothing, the key is to wash it only once or twice a season to protect the materials. Wash ski pants on a delicate cycle in cold water with detergent for waterproof clothing. Always check the care label on ski pants first and follow specific instructions.

How do you clean snow gloves?

Washing snow gloves is specific to the type of winter gloves and the material they’re made from. Some gloves are washing machine and dryer safe, while others require specific care for handwashing the waterproofing material. The safest and best bet is to wash snow gloves by hand and air-dry them to ensure they don’t shrink or get damaged.

How do I wash my baselayers?

Baselayers for skiing are typically made out of polyester, nylon, or merino wool. Typically you want to wash these materials on delicate and cold settings with technical detergents. Tumble dry on low, or better yet, just let them air-dry. As with your other ski gear, be sure to check the care label before washing.

Washing a down coat, fleece, or any midlayer involves the same process. Wash in cold water on a delicate cycle. You may want to run it a second time without soap to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out. Generally speaking, it’s better to air-dry fleece, and tumble dry a down coat with a tennis ball to add loft to the down.

Again, it’s important to read the care label for specific garments, but following these tips will help keep your gear clean and waterproof ski season after ski season.
Ready for a new ski jacket? Check out Columbia Sportswear’s winter collection.