How To Wash Your Waterproof Jacket

Can you 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.

Why should you wash a waterproof jacket?

Excellent question. For some people, the idea of washing a waterproof jacket is simply unheard of; washing something which is waterproof – surely not?

FAQ: Washing Waterproof Jackets

Yes, of course, so long as it’s dirty - in fact we recommend it. We also have step by step instructions.
Yes that’s absolutely fine, just make sure to read the product labels and wash within the guidelines.
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 performance not hamper it.
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.
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-waterproofing treatment such as Nikwax TX Direct. If you’re using another brand, make sure it is safe to use with Gore-tex products.
Washing a garment in a biological detergent can damage the performance, affecting 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 re-treat the item a few times to regain its performance. Damage can be more severe if washed several times in the wrong detergent.
This is not something that we would ever recommend; the heat from an iron could damage the outer fabric, therefore destroying it.
You don’t have to tumble dry a product after every wash, but we do recommend it every so often. Nikwax TX Direct treated clothing needs no heat to develop Durable Water Repellency (DWR).
This is something that many people get wrong which can make caring for jacket very expensive. You shouldn’t re-treat a garment after every wash. Only do this when necessary, when the DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellency) begins to fail.

See our Nikwax aftercare guide for more information.

An effective 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 affects breathability (see image).

Care Procedure

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 you jacket with a cleaner specifically designed for down or technical outerwear; we would
recommend something like Nikwax tech wash for the cleaning process and or Nikwax TX direct for re-proofing.

For best results wash your Berghaus products in a washing machine to allow for a confident hassle free process.

Below a step by step for washing and re-treating a waterproof jacket with a washing machine.

A really important first step is to start with a clean machine so take care to remove
all detergent build up from the detergent dispenser.

Place item in washing machine (ideally 1 item per wash).

You can use a standard non biological soap as pictured but 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. Our products tend to state 30 degrees Celsius.

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 re-treat your jacket then jump to STEP 2. If not then it’s time to dry your product.

You can either allow the waterproof jacket to dry naturally on a washing line or you can also use
a tumble dryer on a low heat.
For most people - especially with new-ish garments - STEP 1 will probably be sufficient to revive the performance of the product. However, for those of you with older products that are struggling with the outer fabric absorbing water, it may be 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 up on your product at all then it’s time to re-treat and re-proof the jacket. To do this we would recommend using Nikwax TX Direct 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.
  • Place clean item in washing machine (maximum 1 item).
  • Use 150ml of Nikwax TX Direct for 1 item.
  • Run 30°C synthetic cycle and slow spin (be sure to read the garment care label).
  • The treatment will develop upon drying. Hang up to air dry or tumble dry on a low heat (if the care label allows)

Hopefully this article on washing waterproof jackets will have cleared up a few things for you and has given 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 contact us.

Similarly, if you would like to find out more about Nikwax aftercare products, have a look at our Nikwax aftercare guide.