How to wash a windbreaker? – [Full Guide]

Image with a girl wearing a windbreaker.

Quick Answer:

To wash a windbreaker you should get a gentle, non-chlorinated detergent, mix it with water, and apply it to the stained areas using a clean cloth. Try to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first, before you use it on the rest of your garment. Gently dab the dirty spots and repeat the process after most of the stains are gone. When you are finished, place the windbreaker inside a lingerie bag and set your washing machine to a gentle cycle.

That being said, deep-cleaning your windbreaker can actually cause irreversible damage to the fabric. Thin material can also lose its water-repellent properties when you wash off the coating. To prevent this from happening, be sure to use a gentle cleaning detergent and avoid using too much force.

This is why it’s recommended to let your windbreaker be as it is when cleaning is not required. To refresh the fabric, you can give it a quick wipe after coming home using a clean cloth. Cleaning also isn’t necessary when you get caught in the rain, simply leave the jacket to dry on a hanger.

Important side note: When cleaning a windbreaker be sure to check the label for any special care instructions. Some products may require extra treatment.

Before you start

Windbreakers are one of the most popular types of jackets, however, they were designed to be very lightweight and compact protection from wind and light rain. To achieve such results fabric had to be very thin yet still water resistant. The producers came to the conclusion that synthetic materials work the best of all options.

However, synthetic materials are also prone to shrinking, fading, and pilling, especially when exposed to heat and harsh detergents. You need to know that deep-cleaning your windbreaker involves such risks. Washing your jacket on a gentle cycle in cold water, avoiding bleach and fabric softeners, as well as air drying the garment is necessary to prevent any negative outcome. 

You should also consider whether you actually need to deep-clean your windbreaker. Since the fabric doesn’t tolerate washing very well, it may be better to let the jacket be as it is. Try to spot-clean the most stubborn stains without putting the jacket into the washing machine. 

We also recommend creating a habit of wiping down any dirt from your windbreaker, right after you come home. This greatly reduces the need for regular deep cleaning.

How to wash a windbreaker?

Infographic showing how to wash a windbreaker.
How to wash a windbreaker – Infographic

What will you need?

The process is rather simple and it requires items only readily available in most households. Investing in a professional cleaning solution can be beneficial if you want to maintain your windbreaker in a good condition for many years to come. However, if you have only one jacket for casual wear, that won’t be necessary.

Here is a short list of things you will need when washing your jacket:

  • Washing machine – One with a gentle cycle and cold water is recommended.
  • Gentle detergent – Try to look for one that is specifically designed for synthetic fabrics. If that’s not an option, go with one that’s chlorine free. Detergents with bleach or fabric softeners should not be used for this.
  • Garment bag – A bag made out of lightweight and breathable material should work well in this case. Lingerie bags are the perfect solution.

If you don’t have a washing machine, fill the sink or a basin with cold water and some gentle detergent. Pretreat stains with a professional cleaning agent and let the jacket soak in the sink for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water when you are done.

Mild liquid soap or a baby shampoo should also be suitable for hand washing a synthetic windbreaker. For a garment bag alternative, we recommend using an old pillowcase or a large t-shirt. Be sure to use similar-colored fabrics and tie both ends well. 

How to clean a windbreaker?

Washing a windbreaker is not a complicated process. Although, there are some things to keep in mind when dealing with such delicate material. Be sure to check the label before you take any action, as some products require special treatment.

Nonetheless, here is a step-by-step method of cleaning a windbreaker:

  1. Check the care label. Start by checking the care label as some products need special treatment. Many windbreakers specify that hand washing or dry cleaning is preferred.
  2. Spot treat the stains. Prepare a gentle, non-chlorinated detergent mixed with warm water for the most stubborn stains. Dip a clean cloth inside the solution and dab the stained areas. Keep in mind to be delicate and avoid using too much force. Repeat the process until most of the stain is gone.
  3. Wash in the washing machine. If this is possible with your type of windbreaker, put it inside a lingerie bag and wash it in the washing machine. Additionally, you can turn the jacket inside out before running a cycle. Set the machine to cold water and gentle cycle.
  4. Hang or lay flat to dry. Air drying is always your safest option after cleaning all types of materials. Putting a windbreaker in the dryer can shrink it or damage the fabric. Avoid leaving it in the direct sun or near a heat source.

You can store your windbreaker only after it has completely dried. Leaving it while still wet can cause mold and mildew growth, try to fold it neatly to avoid creasing and any changes in the shape.

Video tutorial

Proper care tips

If you want your windbreaker to last for a long time, proper maintenance is necessary. Caring for your jacket also helps keep it more durable and effective. Various contaminants such as sweat or dirt can cause the fabric to slowly degrade and lose its water-resistant properties.

Here are a few tips on how to care for a windbreaker:

  • Regular cleaning. By this, we mean just wiping down any dirt and debris that accumulates on your jacket with a clean cloth. Deep cleaning often can actually be harmful to the thin and soft material of the garment.
  • Storage. You should store your windbreaker jacket only when it’s completely wet. If you get caught in heavy rain, dry your garment before storing it for a long time. Doing so can prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Repair. Any damage that is done to the jacket should be fixed straight away. This will prevent further aggravation of the problem. Some experts also recommend inspecting all the seams and zippers once a month. In case you find any loose threads try to repair those using a needle threader and matching color thread. Lubricating all the zippers can also turn out beneficial, especially if you use the jacket in harsh conditions.

Following those simple steps should help you extend the life of your windbreaker significantly. Consider buying professional cleaning agents and seam tape, if you want to further prolong the garment’s life.


Can you put a windbreaker in the dryer?

We would advise against putting your windbreaker in the dryer. Doing so can cause the jacket to permanently shrink or lose its shape. Even though some products may be suitable for this treatment, it can reduce the garment’s durability and water protection effectiveness.

How to shrink a windbreaker?

We would not recommend shrinking a windbreaker as it comes with a risk of irreversible damage. The fabric can easily lose its shape, over-shrink, or even tear. However, if you have nothing to lose, you can try washing the jacket in hot water, dry it on high heat, or try to stretch the material.

How to wash Nike, Champion, or North Face windbreaker?

All of those can be washed using the methods described above. For more information, we highly recommend checking the care label and acting accordingly. Some manufacturers also provide a more detailed description on the official website.


In summary, to wash a windbreaker, firstly check care label instructions and spot treat the most stubborn stains. Remember to use a gentle non-chlorinated detergent mixed with water, and to stray away from using too much force. Put your windbreaker jacket inside a lingerie bag, throw it into the washing machine, and set a gentle cycle with cold water. After you are finished, air dries the windbreaker and store it only after it has completely dried.

Important side note: do not use a fabric softener, or bleach as it can damage the material of your jacket. Try to regularly wipe down the material with a clean cloth to avoid deep cleaning too often.

If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to check out our other article on this topic – “Can you steam clean leather jacket?”.