How to Keep Your Expensive Team Jackets Fresh

10 steps to make your Starter jackets less messy

Picture this: You’re proudly repping your favorite team, slumping in the stands with a hot dog and a pint of brew. The star player scores a major dunk (or home run or what have you) and the crowd goes wild. Your comrades cheer, you leap to your feet, you scream in a victorious wail and your hot dog… falls.

It cascades down your jacket, leaving a trail of ketchup and mustard. Your once prideful team emblem is now a trophy of your poor food choices (which we 100 percent condone, FYI). What are you going to do?

Put on your adulting pants, get home and google “how to keep your sh*t fresh.” The trusty folks here at ONE37pm are covering the stuff that matters, like how to get hot dog mess off your favorite team jacket. We got you.

We’ve—very scientifically—ruined a beautiful, harmless Starter jacket (we were very sad to see it dirtied) to put these cleaning tips to the true test. Below, we explain the ten ways, step by step, to keep your expensive jackets fresh and clean so you can keep root-root-rooting for the home team.

1. What is the material?

The first step in washing your jacket—or anything—is to find the internal tag that explains the fabric makeup. This particular Starter jacket is 100 percent polyester across the board: The shell, lining, filler and knit are all made of polyester. Once you know the composition of your fabric, it’s much easier to address the issue. The saucy issue.

2. What does the care tag say?

Read the care tag thoroughly to find out how the manufacturer suggests cleaning your garment. The Starter jacket’s care instructions read, “Machine wash cold with like colors on the delicate cycle. Use only non-chlorine bleach when needed. Tumble dry on low and remove promptly.”

3. Buck the rules.

Why did I just tell you to read the care instructions only to tell you to ignore them? While you should definitely heed the manufacturer’s advice, they don’t know your given circumstances. Do you send your laundry out for cleaning? Did you recently toss a blue highlighter into your washing machine, causing it to turn everything a faint shade of sky blue? If you’re in any way concerned with messing up, you should resort to…

4. Hand-washing.

Hand-washing always wins. Using your manos for cleaning clothes has loooong been the preferred method, and for good reason. You simply can’t ruin your nice things if you wash them with your hands. It’s basically impossible.

5. Find a bucket, sink or bathtub.

Determine where in your home you can feasibly submerge your dirty duds in foamy suds. Do you have a bathtub? That would be the first choice. Next would be a (clean) kitchen sink. As a last resort, you could use some kind of bucket or basin and go full prairie-man-on-the-washboard.

6. Prep the clothes.

Clear all the chunky debris from the clothes (we see you, neon green relish) and throw it in the trash. Pretreat the fabric with a spot detergent where the mess got really bad. This OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover is a great place to start.

7. Get mixing.

Combine cold water, shampoo or a special delicate detergent like this one from The Laundress and then add your single clothing item. I also like this All detergent for its lack of colorants and fragrances. Hot water can actually cook any food crumbs on your jacket, so let’s not make bread. Start stirring your laundry like you’re mixing cake batter. I like to use my entire forearm as a stick, but you could also call in a (clean) kitchen spoon for the task.

8. Let it soak.

Give it a solid episode of The Office on Netflix before returning to your precious cargo. The soap is attacking the molecules of your embarrassing spill. Give it time.

9. How to dry?

In this particular instance, it actually behooves us to dry this baby on delicate in a machine dryer versus allowing the garment to air-dry. This is because some clothing items need a little re-fluffing—think puffer coats, duvet inserts and jackets. Place it in the dryer with a clean tennis ball to zhoosh it up. And most important, don’t allow the garment to cool down in the machine. Promptly remove it while it’s still piping hot so you can snuggle into its warmth and save it from wrinkling.

10. You gotta clean your jackets.

Whether you’ve spilled sauce on yourself or not, regularly cleaning your duds is the only way to ensure they’ll stay crispy. Even if an item smells and looks OK, it is gathering dust and debris, which demands regular baths. Please clean your stuff, folks.

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