Burning health question: Do I need to wash my scarves?

I’m completely obsessed with cute woolly accessories.

On winter days you’ll usually find me wearing a thick scarf, gloves and sometimes a beanie or earmuffs; then, when I get home, it’s all about ugg boots. But recently it occurred to me that I, um… never actually wash these garments, even though I wear them almost every day. Look, I do wash all my other clothes – I’ve  just never thought of doing the same with my scarves. And I know I’m not alone in this.

I consulted Shannon Lush, author of Spotless A-Z, for an expert opinion on all things winter cleanliness.

1. Do you need to wash your winter accessories?

The short answer is: yes, of course you do, you grot. Shannon actually laughed when I asked this question.

“Everything that you wear needs to be washed or laundered in some way, because otherwise you’re shedding dead skin on it all the time, and that’s rotting protein. So it has to be removed, otherwise it breeds infection,” she says.

Well, if the words ‘rotting protein’ won’t convince you to wash your favourite scarf, nothing will.

The situation is even worse in winter, as you might be sneezing, coughing and snuffling into your scarf or  other people might be sneezing around you. “Lots of people don’t think about it, though, it’s just one of those things that often gets slid to the side,” Shannon adds.

Watch: Three easy ways to wear a scarf… after you’ve washed it, of course. (Post continues after video.)

2. How often do you need to wash them?

Shannon recommends washing scarves, beanies or gloves once a week, especially if you’re wearing them a lot. As for your ugg boots, it depends on a few factors: “how often you wear them, how grotty your feet are, are you sweaty in them – all those kinds of things,” she says.


3. How do you wash them?

That depends on what they’re made of. Here are Shannon’s recommendations:

Woollen scarves, beanies and gloves

Good news – washing your woollies is super easy. “Just wash them in blood-heat water with a small amount of really cheap shampoo – the cheaper the better because it contains less fruit oil,” Shannon says. To determine if water is blood temperature, run it over your wrist – if you can’t feel the temperature of it, it’s just right. Then rinse the garments in water at the same temperature, and dry them flat in the shade, not hanging on a clothesline or in the wind.

“If you change the temperature on woollens, from wash to rinse or as it’s drying, that’s when you get shrinkage. It goes stiff,” Shannon says.

Acrylic knits

“You can just wash them in the washing machine, as long as you use a gentle cycle.” Simple.

Leather gloves

“You need to wash leather gloves at the same water temperature as you rinse them. Always put cloth inside them and dry them slowly in the shade – the slower they dry, the less likelihood there is of them going stiff,” Shannon says. “When they’re almost dry you put them on your hands, and for the last half hour you wear them and they stay soft.”

Ugg boots

You can wash ugg boots using the leather glove technique above; otherwise, they can go in the washing machine.

“Put them in a pillowcase first, and put a rubber band around it so it doesn’t come undone,” Shannon advises. “Wash them on a cycle where the rinse water is the same temperature as the wash water – it doesn’t matter if it’s cold-cold or hot-hot, it just must be the same for both. And you just use cheap shampoo instead of detergent.”

Come on, be honest – do you ever wash your woolies? 

Visit Shannon Lush’s website here. 

Featured image: Columbia Pictures