How to Wash a Letterman Jacket

Letterman jackets (or varsity jackets), are traditional American college-style jackets composed of wool material with leather sleeves that are awarded to students who excel on their school varsity sports teams.

Before washing a letterman jacket, it’s essential to read its care tag as some require dry cleaning only. In this article we provide tips on how to safely and correctly launder a letterman jacket.

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The letterman jacket has long been associated with excellence in high school athletics. Crafted of wool with leather sleeves, they were first worn by Harvard athletes in 1865 as symbols of achievement. Now popular throughout popular culture – seen everywhere from high school jocks and streetwear stars to offices and celebrities.

Prior to placing your letterman jacket in the washing machine, consult its care tag for instructions on how to properly clean it. Depending on its fabric composition, some jackets may require dry cleaning; if unsure, it may be wise to visit a professional dry cleaner to avoid damage to the jacket.

If you decide to wash your jacket, ensure it is unzipped and pockets are empty before placing it in the machine. When selecting your cycle and water settings, select gentle cycle and cold temperature; this will help protect both fabric and decorations on your jacket from being damaged by excessive washing cycles. Once washed, ensure you air dry flat rather than placing in dryer as this could cause shrinkage or fabric damage.

After your jacket has dried completely, it’s advisable to iron it on a low heat setting to help maintain its appearance and remove creases or wrinkles from its fabric. A protective cloth may also help shield it from scorch marks caused by excessive heat exposure.

When caring for leather jackets, regular hand washings should be undertaken to keep it looking its best. To do so, moisten a rag with cool water and add several drops of mild soap (baby shampoo or liquid castile soap is suitable) until there are no longer any signs of dirt on it. Rub this solution over any areas containing leather where staining may have occurred until any remaining spots or dirt have vanished; you can also use a soft brush on leather sleeves.

Care tag

When washing your letterman jacket, there are a few points you must keep in mind when doing it yourself. First and foremost, always referring to its care tag will determine whether or not it can be machine washed; additionally, its heating capabilities should also be noted here; otherwise it would be best to opt for handwashing instead.

If the care label for your jacket indicates it can be machine washed, you should simply put it through on a cold cycle with cold water on a cool cycle. Make sure all pockets and buttons or zippers are empty prior to starting as this will prevent snags during cleaning process. Also consider using mild detergent so as not to overspray on fabric fibers and allow your jacket to air dry afterward before wearing again.

You can use a damp cloth to spot clean your jacket if there are any stains, but if they do not come off using soap and water alone, leather cleaner may be necessary. Before applying it to all areas of the jacket, test out on one small area first to ensure its efficacy.

Once your jacket has been cleaned and is air drying, be sure to use a padded hanger so as not to stretch out its shape. Store it away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight can fade its color and impede storage; additionally it is wise to place it inside a garment bag to protect it from moths.

As your letterman jacket will serve as a tangible reminder of school days, taking care to adhere to its care tag washing instructions, spot any stains as they arise and hang the jacket away in a dark area can ensure its long-term survival.


Letterman jackets are highly valued garments that should be treated gently when washing them. Hand washing should be performed every few weeks and dried in a cool environment, away from direct sunlight or heat sources to preserve fabric, leather and chenille patches of your jacket. When cleaning it using mild detergent it’s also wise to avoid harsh cleaners as these can damage materials over time.

Before washing your jacket, be sure to read its care tag carefully for instructions. Many letterman jackets contain multiple fabrics which each require different cleaning processes – some can be machine washed while others should be dry cleaned exclusively. If the label reads “dry clean only,” do not machine wash as doing so could permanently damage its material structure.

If your jacket is machine-washable, make sure that when using cold water and mild detergent it is washed in cold water only; hot water or harsh detergent may damage its fabric and cause its colors to fade over time. Furthermore, never use fabric softener or tumble dryers which could leave your garment lumpy and lumpy after being put through its spin cycle.

To hand wash your letterman jacket, first brush it with a sticky lint roller to remove any loose hair or lint. Then moisten a rag with cool water and add several drops of baby shampoo or liquid castile soap; apply this soapy rag directly onto the jacket body, and rub over its buttons and cuffs as well as areas with grease or oil stains gently with another cloth rag.

Next, brush the jacket again using a lint roller to remove any remaining lint or hair. Finally, apply a light coating of clear nail polish over zipper pulls, button holes, and any areas damaged by water or harsh chemicals. After it has fully dried out, iron the coat on a low setting for final polishing.

If your jacket is constructed of multiple fabrics such as cotton and wool, such as for example a blend, then it must be cleaned in the washing machine using its delicate cycle, before being thoroughly rinsed to eliminate excess detergent residues and then air dried on a padded hanger in a warm, dry area.


Maintain the quality and appearance of your letterman jacket by properly drying it after each use. Hanging it on a padded hanger in a warm area away from direct sunlight is ideal to avoid damage to fabric, while using a stiff-bristled brush can remove residue while also restoring its natural nap.

If your jacket features embellishments with embroidered letters or other decorations, be cautious when washing them. Some pieces might be composed of silk which should only be cleaned by professional dry cleaners; otherwise, please follow the care instructions listed on its label for proper care and handling.

Additionally to caring for the fabric of your letterman jacket, it’s also essential that the interior remains clean. Over time, sweat can accumulate inside, leading to unpleasant odors. If left untreated, this could even damage leather linings and leather components of the jacket itself. A mild soap solution may suffice – simply fill a sink or basin with cold water, add detergent as necessary, swish around gently in it for 10-15 minutes and rinse out afterwards with cool water before rinsing thoroughly with cool water for final rinse-off!

Letterman jackets can be an outstanding source of pride. To maintain its good condition for years, it’s vital that they’re cared for according to their care label and regularly washed and dried – this way extending their longevity!

A varsity or letterman jacket is an ideal way to look stylish and feel confident on any outing. Crafted from durable fabrics, they come in various colors and are easily washable; plus they make for great versatility in terms of occasions they can be worn to. Unfortunately, however, these garments tend to get dirty quickly; in order to prevent this, it is wise to purchase high-quality jackets featuring strong stitching and thick fabrics that resist staining and wear over time.