Not to gross you out, but after spending the season all bundled up, your cozy scarf, hat, and gloves are most likely a little, um…unsanitary. Other clothing items that come into direct contact with your skin get washed regularly, but some winter accessories will never meet the germ-fighting dynamic duo of soap and water. And that’s a shame for your complexion.
One too many wears of a grimy scarf can result in a breakout around you neck and chin. Your forehead is prone to pimples caused by a woolen hat caked with dirt and oil. Fortunately, giving your delicate winter accessories a wash isn’t as time-consuming as you’d think. Cleaning winter hats, gloves, and scarves rids them of funky smells (you know the ones!), too.
Enough causes of acne exist already; your clothing shouldn’t be one of ’em.
Here’s how to expertly clean your winter accessories
When using a washing machine, placing items a mesh laundry bag helps prevent damage, says Lynsey Crombie, the cleaning expert behind Queen of Clean. “It gives your scarf some extra protection when you’re washing it and stops it from getting caught on anything, which can make it fuzzy,” she says. “Wash it on a cooler setting—or a setting specifically for wool, if you have one—and make sure to wash it separately from other items.”
Crombie recommends adding a capful of white vinegar along with the detergent. The vinegar brightens, softens, and fight odors. Let your scarf air-dry on a flat surface or on a hanger in a well-ventilated area. “Don’t use your regular tumble dryer as this will pull your garment out of shape,” she explains.
When it comes to winter accessories, hats—depending on the type—probably require the most TLC. If it’s wool, Crombie says to use a mesh laundry bag. If it’s not, you can pop it in the machine separately from other items. If your hat is more delicate—maybe it has a poof on top that you don’t want to risk damaging in the washing machine—you can wash it by hand and air-dry. Like scarves, drying hats your dryer will ruin the shape.
Winter gloves are the least picky out of the winter accessories. Unless the tag says any otherwise, toss ’em in the washing machine—just like your everyday clothes—then let air-dry. Wool and leather goods require more care. If they’re wool, put them inside a mesh laundry bag before washing. For leather or faux leather, dampen your gloves using a microfiber cloth or paper towel, add a little dish soap, then gently clean, Crombie says. Allow the items to dry thoroughly and then use a tiny bit of leather cleaner for protection.
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