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How to wash waterproof clothing4 min read

Your faithful waterproof clothing: rain pants, your daily raincoat, your dear 3-layer trekking coat and your skiing gear have two things in common: they are waterproof and they suffer from intensive use. If they are dirty or don’t smell very clean these pieces of clothing have to be washed. “Washing? Waterproof clothing can’t be washed?” “Yes, it can, and yes, you should!”

WASHING PRODUCTS

Before you start, STOP, and read this blog post to the end. Don’t just throw your jacket in the washer, put detergent in and add softener, just don’t. Waterproof and technical clothing need  a separate treatment and products. You should never ever use your daily detergent, and certainly no fabric softener.

Technical clothing, like a waterproof jacket, skiing gear, rain pants, but also a cycling outfit and thermal underwear should be washed with great care. This means you should use a product that is specifically made for washing technical clothing. These kind of products will not harm the technical and waterproof properties of your garments.

In outdoor stores, and even on amazon you can find these special products. Two examples of these washing producs are Nikwax Tech Wash and Grangers Performance Wash. You could also use a soft, fluid (!!) washing product you might also use for wool and delicates. These products don’t contain corrosive or bleaching ingredients that will harm the technical properties of your clothing. Down jackets should be treated separate and require special detergents.

WHAT ABOUT STAINS?

Laundry detergents that are suited to wash technical and waterproof clothing will clean your garments of (invisible) dirt. Usually they’re not strong enough to remove actual stains from your garments. If you think you’re dealing with a persistent stain, you should treat that spot with stain remover before actually washing it. A natural stain remover like ox-gall soap, won’t harm the technical properties of your waterproof clothing.

Example washing instructions clothing tag

WASHING WATERPROOF CLOTHING

  1. Before you throw your clothes in the washer, make sure there’s no clumps of dirt sticking on it. Up all the zippers and close all pockets. And carefully read the clothing tag with washing prescriptions.
  2. Make sure there’s no leftover detergent or fabric softener in the dispenser of the washing machine. As mentioned above, those products are harmful for the technical properties of your waterproof clothing. If you are not sure whether your washer is clean of products, let it wash a hot cycle once more. This will clean your dispenser and washer.
  3. Pour the recommended amount of product in your washer – if you’re using a special product for technical fabrics, there will be a user manual on the back of the bottle.
  4. Put your clothing (preferably 1, maximum 2 pieces) in the washer. Don’t wash your waterproof clothing with other ‘normal’ clothes.
  5. Let your washer go through the entire cycle. The cycle you choose depends on the washing instructions on the tag in your clothes, but washing it on 30°C and low tumbling are standard instructions that shouldn’t harm your clothes.

After washing your waterproof clothing you’ve got three options
1. Hang your clothing on a hanger (in the shower) to let it leak and dry.
2. Put your clothes in the dryer on low temperature (if the washing instructions on your clothing tag allow it).
3. Impregnate your clothing to make it fully waterproof again.

WHAT IF I HAVE WASHED MY PRODUCT INCORRECTLY, I.E USING WASHING POWDER?

Washing your clothing with washing powder or biological detergent can damage the fabric’s breathability and water resistance. This doesn’t necessarily mean you ruined your item, but you might have to work hard to restore it. You might have to re-treat the item several times to regain its performance. Damage can be more severe if washed several times in wrong detergent.

IMPREGNATION

If your waterproof jacket is relatively new, washing will do to restore the technical properties. For the somewhat older pieces, that have been washed a couple of times, it might be necessary to restore the waterproof properties. You’ll notice it’s time to do so if the outer layer of your coat absorbs more water than it repels. This means it’s time to impregnate. What, how and why you’ll read in this article (clickity click).

water repels

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WASH MY WATERPROOF CLOTHING?

How often you should wash your waterproof clothing depends on various factors. Skiing gear could use a washing after a week of intensive use on holiday, before you put it in storage for another year. A waterproof winter coat could use a rinse before you put it away in spring. If your beloved canine jumped up with muddy paws, it’s a good idea not to wait too long to get the stains out.

Almost all technical clothing has properties of breathability. A typical indicator for a much needed washing is when you, more than before, break a sweat while wearing your jacket. This means the pores of your coat are clogged. A washing will free those pores of invisible dirt like sweat, air pollution a.o.

Hopefully this article gave you some clear instructions on how to take care of your waterproof clothing. If you have any extra questions, don’t hesitate to comment below or send us an e-mail!

 

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