can you put raincoats in the washing machine

Can You Put Rain Coats in the Washing Machine?

Raincoats, an essential item for any wardrobe, can be a bit challenging when it comes to cleaning. Many of us often ponder whether these resilient garments can endure the harsh cycle of a washing machine.

Yes, you can put raincoats in the washing machine, provided you follow proper care instructions. Ensure you use a gentle cycle, mild detergent, and air dry afterwards to maintain the coat’s quality.

Let’s delve into some practical methods to clean rain coats and to address some of the most frequently asked questions.

Machine Washing a Raincoat

Machine washing can be a safe method for cleaning your raincoat if done correctly. Here is a more detailed guide to ensure the best outcome.

  1. Check the Label: Your journey begins with the care instructions on the label. Each garment may have specific cleaning needs. So, if the label expressly states “do not machine wash,” respect that to ensure the longevity of your raincoat.
  2. Empty Pockets and Close Fasteners: Before you place your raincoat into the washing machine, empty all pockets and secure all zippers or other types of fasteners. This not only protects the material from potential damage but also ensures nothing in the pockets can harm the fabric.
  3. Turn Inside Out: Turning the raincoat inside out can minimize wear and tear on the external surface during the washing cycle. This is particularly beneficial for raincoats with reflective or decorative elements.
  4. Use a Laundry Bag: Place your raincoat in a large laundry bag or pillowcase. This extra layer of protection can help prevent snagging or pilling during the wash cycle.
  5. Use Gentle Cycle: Set your machine on a gentle cycle with cold water. Raincoats often have water-resistant properties that could be affected by aggressive washing or high temperatures.
  6. Use a Mild Detergent: Choose a mild, non-detergent soap or specialized cleaner for outdoor clothing. Regular detergents can harm the coat’s waterproofing properties.
  7. Rinse Twice: To ensure all soap residue is removed, which can affect the water-resistance, run an additional rinse cycle. This is especially important if you’re reproofing your raincoat after washing.
  8. Air Dry: Finally, let the coat air dry completely. Machine drying can degrade the waterproofing and overall quality of the coat. Consider reproofing the coat at this stage if water no longer beads on the surface.
  9. Reproof If Necessary: After several washes, your raincoat might require reproofing, which is reapplying a water-resistant coating. There are several reproofing products available, which you can spray or wash onto the coat, following the product’s instructions.

By following these steps, you can ensure a thorough clean for your raincoat without jeopardizing its quality and durability.

Hand Washing a Raincoat

Hand washing offers a gentle and thorough cleaning option for your raincoat. It may be time-consuming compared to machine washing, but it’s a surefire way to maintain your garment’s integrity. Here are the extended steps:

  1. Prepare Your Washing Solution: Fill a large tub or basin with cold water. Hot water can damage the water-resistant properties of your raincoat. Add a small amount of mild, non-detergent soap or a cleaner designed for technical outerwear. Regular detergents can damage the water-repellent finish.
  2. Submerge the Raincoat: Turn the coat inside out and immerse it completely in the soapy water. Ensure that the entire garment is submerged for effective cleaning.
  3. Soak: Allow the raincoat to soak for at least 30 minutes. This helps to loosen the dirt and grime that may have embedded into the fabric.
  4. Gently Scrub: Using a soft cloth or a sponge, gently scrub the raincoat, paying extra attention to the areas that are particularly dirty. Avoid scrubbing too harshly as this could damage the fabric or the waterproof layer.
  5. Rinse Thoroughly: Drain the soapy water and rinse the raincoat under cold, running water until all soap residues are gone. Incomplete rinsing can leave a residue that impacts the waterproofing.
  6. Squeeze Excess Water: Instead of wringing out the raincoat, which could stretch or damage the material, gently squeeze or press the water out.
  7. Air Dry: Hang the raincoat up to dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, which can be damaging. Do not use a dryer as the heat can compromise the waterproofing and overall material integrity of the raincoat.
  8. Reproof If Necessary: If you notice that water no longer beads up on the surface of the raincoat, it might be time for reproofing. This process involves applying a new layer of water-resistant coating following the specific product’s instructions.

Hand washing might be a longer process compared to machine washing, but it provides a gentler cleaning approach that’s particularly suitable for high-quality, technical, or older raincoats.

Professionally Clean a Raincoat

For high-end raincoats or those with complex care instructions, professional cleaning can be a secure and efficient option. Professional cleaners have the expertise and the necessary equipment to handle a variety of materials and constructions. Here’s how to use professional cleaning services for your raincoat effectively:

  1. Find a Reputable Cleaner: Begin by researching and selecting a professional cleaner experienced with raincoats or technical outerwear. A cleaner with relevant experience will have a deeper understanding of how to clean and maintain these garments without damaging them.
  2. Discuss Cleaning Process: Once you’ve selected a cleaner, discuss their cleaning process. This can give you insight into how they will handle your garment and allow you to communicate any specific care instructions that come with your raincoat.
  3. Follow Their Instructions: Professional cleaners may provide instructions for preparing your coat for cleaning. This could include emptying pockets, closing zippers, or other preparatory steps. Following these instructions carefully can help the cleaning process go smoothly and effectively.
  4. Regular Check-ins: Stay in touch with your cleaner during the process. Regular communication can give you peace of mind about your raincoat’s status and help address any potential issues early.
  5. Post-Cleaning Care: Once your raincoat is cleaned, ask the professional cleaner for any specific post-cleaning care instructions. Some coats may require particular handling after professional cleaning to maintain their condition.
  6. Reproof If Necessary: If your raincoat requires reproofing after the professional cleaning, discuss this with the cleaner. They may be able to apply a water-resistant coating or recommend a suitable product for you to apply at home.

By entrusting your raincoat to a professional, you’re ensuring the garment is handled with the appropriate expertise. It might cost more compared to other cleaning methods, but it can be worth it for maintaining the longevity and functionality of high-end raincoats.


Will washing a raincoat in a washing machine damage it?

Machine washing a raincoat can potentially cause damage if not done correctly. The mechanical agitation, especially in regular or heavy-duty cycles, could wear down the water-resistant coating or cause physical damage to the fabric.

If the label says it’s okay, you can wash your raincoat in the machine. Just use a gentle cycle, the right detergent, and air dry to keep it in good shape.

Can you use regular laundry detergent to wash a raincoat?

While it’s technically possible to use regular laundry detergent to wash a raincoat, it’s not recommended. Many standard detergents contain additives (brighteners or fragrances), that can leave residue on the fabric. This inhibits the performance of the waterproof coating.

Opt for a mild, non-detergent soap or a specialized cleaner for technical outerwear. These are designed to clean effectively while preserving the fabric’s special characteristics.

Should you use fabric softener when washing a raincoat?

Fabric softener should be avoided when washing a raincoat. The softener can leave a coating on the fabric that interferes with its water-resistance and breathability. The chemicals in fabric softeners can also react negatively with the materials in some raincoats, potentially damaging the fabric or reducing its lifespan.

If you find that your raincoat feels stiff after washing, consider using a specialized conditioner designed for technical fabrics.

Can you dry a raincoat in a dryer?

It is generally recommended to avoid using a dryer for a raincoat. The high heat can degrade the waterproofing and overall quality of the fabric. Instead, allow your raincoat to air dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. This natural drying process helps preserve the material’s integrity and water-resistant properties.

How often should you wash a raincoat?

The frequency of washing your raincoat depends on usage and personal preference. Generally, unless it is noticeably dirty or has a lingering odor, it should only need washing every few months. Regular washing can help maintain the performance of the coat by removing dirt and oils that can degrade the water-resistant coating.

Excessive washing, especially improper washing, can also deteriorate this coating. Therefore, it’s about finding a balance, and when in doubt, always refer to the manufacturer’s care instructions.


Navigating the process of cleaning a raincoat can be complex, with various methods to choose from. Whether you decide to machine wash, hand wash, or seek professional cleaning, it’s important to follow specific steps and precautions to maintain the integrity of your garment.

Machine washing, while convenient, requires careful attention to detail, including using a gentle cycle and a mild detergent. Hand washing offers a gentle approach, especially for delicate or older raincoats, but requires more time and effort. Professional cleaning provides a hassle-free solution, particularly for high-end or complex raincoats, but comes with a higher cost.

In addition, it’s vital to be aware of common questions surrounding raincoat maintenance. Understand that while machine washing won’t necessarily damage your raincoat if done correctly, it’s crucial to avoid using regular detergent or fabric softener and to refrain from machine drying. Regular, but not excessive, cleaning will keep your raincoat in top condition, ready to protect you from the elements when you need it most.