Winter items to clean – how often you should wash your cold-weather favorites

Knowing the winter items to clean frequently is the key to feeling fresh all festive season long...

mudroom and cosy living room images
(Image credit: Future PLC / Olive & Barr)

It's easy to forget about the winter items to clean regularly, as you cozy up on the sofa or brave the chilly outdoors. However, during the cold-weather months, it's likely there are certain possessions around your home that you're going to use rather often to stay warm.

Indeed, while sunhats and swimwear might be the preserve of summer, your winter essentials are likely to include everything from coats and blankets to gloves and boots. 

What's more, since you'll be wrapping up in these items on the regular, it's important to keep them fresh. with some winter cleaning.

Winter items to clean, according to the pros

Because the festive season is a busy time, we've called on the experts to share some of their cleaning tips for winter items – including your much-loved outerwear and favorite living room soft furnishings. Tuck in and enjoy.

1. Clothing

mudroom with storage and wood panelling

(Image credit:

If you can, amid the festive season rush, try and be proactive when it comes to your outerwear. ‘Drop off your winter coats for dry cleaning before the temperatures get too cold,’ suggests cleaning expert Amelia Pleasant Kennedy, founder of A Pleasant Solution. Short on time? Learn how to dry clean clothes at home.

As you sort through your chilly-weather wardrobe – including other clothing like sweaters – use it as an opportunity to evaluate what you really use. ‘Consider how many items you realistically wear and which ones bring a feeling of joy,’ advises Rachel Yates, a professional organizer, declutter coach and owner of A Tidy Mind

Similarly, if you’ve got children, then it may be the case that they’ve outgrown the options that have been hanging at the back of the wardrobe during the summer months. ‘It’s an ideal time to get coats out and make sure they still fit the family,’ notes Hayley Harrison, decluttering expert and co-founder of Organise-d. ‘If not, it’s a brilliant time to donate to charity.’

Throughout winter itself, it’s a case of cleaning coats by hand or machine where necessary – perhaps if they've got dirty during a muddy walk or need to be saved from red wine stains. When it comes to sweaters, a wash every few wears should do the trick.

2. Accessories

mudroom with storage

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

It's also worth staying on top of all those cozy accessories – like wooly hats, gloves and scarves. ‘Throughout winter, prioritize cleaning items you use frequently,’ says Ava Wilson, a cleaning expert at Unclutterer. It may be the case that they require just a single thorough wash to freshen them up at the start of the season, or perhaps they've got dirty during a snowball fight.

However, it's not just about keeping them clean – these are wardrobe items often ripe for decluttering, because they can easily pile up and take up space. ‘Gloves are probably the most used clothing item that needs to be sorted throughout the winter, especially for children,’ notes decluttering expert Jan Arkwright, a member of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals. ‘They can easily be dropped or left somewhere, so ensure upon returning home that there are mates for each, that they still fit and are in good condition without holes – to make the next time you run out the door easier.’

Jan Arkwright
Jan Arkwright

Jan Arkwright is an organizing professional who left her job as an attorney to start her own organizing business in 1997. Before & After Organizing by Jan LLC offers custom, sustainable solutions to help you reach your organizing goals; whether it be managing paperwork, eliminating clutter, or better space utilization. Jan is also a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and a Golden Circle Member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.

3. Footwear

mudroom with wood panelling and cubbie storage

(Image credit: Olive and Barr)

Depending on the weather they have been subjected to and their material, footwear will also likely need a special clean at various points during winter. If your boots are put through their paces, then they perhaps need a good monthly scrubbing. Meanwhile, it's best to wash sneakers every fortnight, and the same goes for freshening up your slippers.

What's more, it's not only things like smell and appearance that are important, but also that they keep doing the job of protecting your feet. ‘It’s key to clean and maintain winter-specific gear, such as rain boots and snow boots, to ensure they remain functional and hygienic throughout the season,’ notes Wilson. She adds that this could include using waterproof spray on some footwear.

4. Soft furnishings

cosy living room with exposed stonework, fireplace and chaise longue

(Image credit: Future)

You’ll likely be spending a decent amount of time cozying up among soft furnishings during the winter season. ‘It’s definitely worth getting your winter blankets, throws and cushions dry-cleaned before winter,’ recommends decluttering expert Kate Hunter, who is working with Anthony Ward Thomas Removals.

However, that's not it. ‘These items will need to be regularly washed throughout winter to keep them fresh,’ insists Wilson. After all, they will likely become home to the crumbs of Christmas movie snacks and other debris as the holidays pass by. You'll also need to freshen them up more frequently if you have pets or if someone in your home has been ill. Additionally, regularly rotating soft furnishings is key if you're learning how to clean for quiet luxury.

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This wool and cashmere shampoo is perfect for keeping the most delicate of fibers fresh and free from damage, for sweaters and blankets that stay soft for years to come.


Which areas of the home should I clean before winter?

If you have the headspace, it is worth getting ahead of the colder months so that you can sit back and enjoy the festive season as well as the new year. ‘Focus on areas which you most commonly use in winter,’ suggests Yates. ‘There may be a particular room where you spend more time, for example, the living room. Here, add candles, cushions and throws to make a calm space for relaxation.’ Additionally, it's a great place to start with decluttering when encouraging minimalism at home.

Your kitchen is likely also ripe for a clearout. ‘Use the winter months to similarly declutter and refresh your kitchen,’ recommends Yates. ‘Think about any appliances infrequently used. Do this in small chunks, a cabinet at a time, for example, to reduce overwhelm.’

Another part of the home to get on top of is the entryway. ‘Ensure that it has been decluttered from remnants of summer such as flip-flops and lighter jackets,’ advises Arkwright. ‘Winter gear is bulkier, and will therefore need more room whether on hooks or in a closet, and a boot tray keeps water and snow from being dragged into the house.’

Don’t forget to take a look at your children’s bedrooms or play areas too, and go through their toys and clothes. ‘Make room for the inevitable new items that kids receive during the festive seasons,’ suggests Arkwright. ‘Discard anything broken and donate things that have not been used or played with.’ She adds that getting the kids involved will help teach them valuable organization skills.

What do you have to clean everyday?

There are, of course, things that you should try and freshen up on a daily basis regardless of the season – and it may not even be necessary to whip out the vacuum cleaner. ‘Kitchen counters and tables are spots where items tend to land throughout the day, and they can also quickly accumulate grime – therefore, you should clear up and wipe them down each evening,’ suggests Arkwright.

Elsewhere in the kitchen, Harrison advises staying on top of your refrigerator. ‘By regularly checking use-by dates and the period by which the items must be used once opened, it prevents clutter and ensures everything stays fresh,’ she explains.

Similarly, your bathroom is a key room to keep sparkling. ‘Regularly wipe down counters, the toilet, shower, bath and other surfaces – which can easily collect dirt and grime quickly – to prevent a build-up of bacteria,’ says Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote.

Next door, in your bedroom, try and keep your clothes in order. ‘Fold them away and make sure everything is in its rightful place,’ she adds. ‘Taking a few moments to do this every day will ensure your home always looks clutter-free.’

Entryways often become clogged – especially during the festive season – by mail piling up. 'It should be sorted every day to prevent it accumulating, leading you to miss something important,' warns Arkwright. 'Discard junk daily and have one special place where you put letters and parcels that need attention.'

Lauren Clark

Lauren Clark is a freelance writer and editor with more than eight years of digital and print journalism experience. She covers all aspects of lifestyle, specialising in health and wellness topics, and her work has previously been published in titles such as Women's Health, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Stylist, Woman & Home, Grazia and Dazed.