How to wash a waterproof jacket
Washing waterproof jackets or clothing and treating them to re-waterproof the fabric can be a daunting challenge to take on. At Berghaus we often get asked ‘Can you wash waterproof clothing?’ or ‘How do you wash a waterproof jacket?’. The answer to those questions are ‘of course you can!’ and ‘It’s very easy!’
So long as you stick to a few basic rules washing and re-treating waterproof garments including Gore-tex is a relatively simple and safe thing to do. So to help you out we’ve put together a nice simple step by step at the bottom of this page showing you how to clean and re-waterproof your jacket. But first up, let’s get a few of those scary questions out of the way…..
FAQ: Washing Waterproof Jackets
CAN I WASH BERGHAUS WATERPROOF PRODUCTS?
Yes of course so long as it’s dirty, in fact we recommend it, see the bottom of the page for step by step instructions.
IS IT SAFE TO WASH AND TUMBLE-DRY GORE-TEX?
Yes that’s absolutely fine, just make sure to read the product labels and wash within the guidelines.
IS IT DANGEROUS?
No not at all, so long as you don’t over wash/treat the product. If you stick to the procedures and wash and dry the item correctly within reason this will actually improve a dirty jackets performance not hamper it.
CAN I WASH A PRODUCT MORE THAN ONCE?
Yes you can, although unfortunately nothing lasts for ever. The more you wash a garment the more it will affect the performance so wash it when you need to, don’t wash it every time you wear it.
WHICH PRODUCTS SHOULD I USE TO CLEAN AND RE-PROOF MY GARMENTS?
Do not under any circumstances use Biological soap. You can however safely use Non-Bio soap, or for extra benefits we would recommend using specially designed washing liquid for waterproof jackets such as Nikwax Tech Wash. To treat the product we would recommend a specialist re-waterproofer such as Nikwax TX Direct. If using other brand make sure it is safe to use with Gore-tex products.
WHAT IF I HAVE WASHED MY PRODUCT INCORRECTLY, I.E USING BIOLOGICAL SOAP?
Washing a garment in a biological detergent can damage the performance, effecting the fabric’s breathability and water resistance. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have ruined the item but it does mean you’ll have to work quite hard to revive it. You may need to wash and retreat the item a few times to regain its performance. Damage can be more severe if washed several times in the wrong detergent
SHOULD I IRON MY PRODUCTS?
This is not something that we would ever recommend, the heat from an iron could damage the outer fabric, therefore destroying it’s performance.
CAN I OR SHOULD I TUMBLE DRY A PRODUCT?
You don’t have to tumble dry a product after every wash, but we do recommend it every so often.
WHEN DO I NEED TO RETREAT MY PRODUCT?
This is something that many people get wrong! which can make caring for jacket very expensive. You shouldn’t retreat a garment after every wash. Only do this when necessary, when the DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellency) begins to fail. In rain a good DWR will allow water to bead up and fall off the jacket. If the DWR is failing the jacket will wet out after a short period of time and water will absorb into the outer fabric which effects Breathability. (see image)
Before washing your product brush off any loose mud or dirt, do up any zips or Velcro and close any flaps.
It is best to wash your down jacket with a cleaner specifically designed for down or technical outerwear, we would recommend something like Nixwax’s Tech Wash for the cleaning process and or TX Direct for re-proofing.
For best results wash your Berghaus products via a washing machine to allow for a confident hassle free process. However this is not the only way to do so, hand-washing is often a preferred option. If you would like more information on hand washing your products then see here. But for now here’s a step by step for washing and retreating our down product via a machine cycle:
STEP 1 CLEANING
Remove all detergent build up from the detergent dispenser of your machine.
Place item in washing machine (ideally 1 item per wash) and use a standard non biological soap or, for extra benefits, we recommend using ‘Nikwax Tech Wash‘ – 150ml in medium/hard water areas and 100ml in soft water areas (depending on location).
Wash according to care label, preferably on a gentle cycle and slow spin- around 30 degrees is optimal.
After the washing cycle has finished run multiple spin cycles, each time incrementally increasing the spin speed, to remove excess water. At this point if you need to retreat your jacket then jump to STEP 2. If not then it’s time to dry your product.
If drying outside of a tumble dryer allow to dry naturally on a washing line, if possible you can also use a tumble dryer on a low heat.
STEP 2 RE-PROOFING
For most people especially with a new-ish garment step 1 will probably be sufficient to revive the performance of your product. However for those of you with older products that are struggling with the outer fabric absorbing water it maybe time for you to improve the DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellency)
Just about every outdoor jacket comes with a coating of DWR, and over time mainly due to contamination the coating will lose its effectiveness. The Job of the DWR is to allow water to bead up on a fabric and roll off as opposed to soaking in.
If you find that water doesn’t bead of your product at all then its time to retreat it in order for it to perform at its best. To do this we would recommend using Nikwax Down Proof™ and here’s a quick lesson on how to do it:
Wash item first following step 1.
Remove all detergent build up from the detergent dispenser and place clean item in washing machine (maximum 1 item).
Use 150ml for 1 item Nikwax TX Direct™. Run 30°C synthetic cycle and slow spin (be sure to read the garment care label).
After the washing cycle has finished run multiple spin cycles, each time incrementally increasing the spin speed, to remove excess water.
Fully Dry the garment on a low temperature in a tumble dryer. For this step it is important to use a tumble dryer to activate the DWR (in short, the heat from the tumble dryer will allow the DWR coating micro fibres to stand up on end, allowing water to repel better).
Hopefully this article on washing waterproof jackets will have cleared up a few thing for you and gave you the confidence and knowledge to look after your products. For most people this is a complicated process so if you have any further questions or would like any further advice then please add your comments at the bottom of the page.