How To Wash A Waterproof Jacket

A good waterproof jacket is essential to an outdoor life in Britain. Without rain protection, a weekend walk can quickly turn into a drenched slog, but with the right waterproof jacket and trousers you can sing in the rain! Buying good waterproof gear is only half the solution, though. The secret is keeping it in good working order.

Whether it's a men's waterproof jacket, a pair of women's waterproof trousers or even a kids waterproof coat that you've bought, at some point it will need a clean. That's why you need to know how to wash a waterproof jacket and how to wash waterproof trousers.

Without the right aftercare regime, you may begin to see diminishing protection against the elements, which is why you need to know how to reproof a waterproof jacket and trousers too. Thankfully, keeping your gear waterproof is simple once you know how, and if you don't - then that's where this guide comes in.

Berghaus blue and orange waterproof jacket

Before we start . . . an important note!

You should never wash waterproof gear with standard detergent or fabric softeners. They contain chemicals that will clog the tiny pores in the waterproof membrane. This will stop air vapour escaping from the jacket (AKA breathing) and you'll get hot and sweaty. There are plenty of technical fabric cleaners that are designed specifically for the job. We recommend Nikwax or Grangers.

It is also important to make sure your machine is free of detergent from the last wash. Check the drawer and, if in doubt, run a short hot empty wash to clear the system.

Ok? good to go.


How To Wash Waterproof Jacket / Trousers


First . . .

Prepare your jacket or trousers for the wash. Use a soft-bristle brush to wipe off any loose or superficial dirt. Check your pockets, shake out your hood, and close all zips and flaps on the garment.


Next . . .

Add cleaner into the detergent compartment following the instruction on the cleaner label. For cleaning waterproofs we recommend Nikwax Tech Wash®. Place your garment into the drum - ideally wash no more than two pieces of clothing at a time. 

Consult the wash-label in your jacket. Some waterproof gear can take 40-degrees, but the standard is a 30-degree wash, with a gentle spin.


Our Tip

Don't fall into the habit of washing your waterproof jacket or trousers after every wear. You only need to do this if they get dirty (as dirt will impair the performance over time) or if you notice that water is saturating into the fabric and has stopped beading on the surface. If you've had your waterproofs for a lifetime, then it may be worth revamping your wardrobe and buying some new ones...Shop Waterproof Gear


After that . . .

You can 'reproof' your waterproof jacket or waterproof trousers by reapplying a water-repellent coating. If this is needed then see below. 

Otherwise it is time you dry your jacket. You can do this by hanging it up to air dry or on a gentle tumble-dryer spin cycle (check the label if in doubt).

Nikwax Tech Wash

How To Reproof A Waterproof Jacket / Trousers

Reproofing waterproof clothing is also straight forward. Most waterproof gear is treated with Durable Water Repellency (DWR). This is a chemical coating that stops water settling on the surface and seeping into the fabric. New jackets will keep this DWR for several washes, but if you've had it a while it may be time to reapply (or reproof) the water-repellency.

It's simple - repeat the same process as when washing the garment, but this time use a reproofing chemical, such as Nikwax TX Direct. You will need approximately 150ml per item. Again, consult your garment's care label, but the general advice is a synethic wash at 30-degrees on a slow spin.

Following this, air dry or tumbledry your gear and it should be back to top performance.

Nikwax TX Direct Wash In

When the time does come for washing waterproofs or reproofing waterproofs, just check the label and follow the simple steps above to keep your waterproof clothing in good nick.

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Neil used to be a bookworm, an "indoor" type if ever there was one. After finishing a PhD he writes short stories about spooky places and odd people. Living in Switzerland, the Canadian Rockies and the north east region of the USA convinced him that there was something to be said for this whole outdoor thing. Now he runs everywhere he can, competing in races most weekends and endlessly planning the next great adventure to some far flung part of the world. Recent trips include Costa Rica, where he tried and failed to surf; Vietnam, where he almost got stuck in an underground tunnel; and back to Canada, where he came face-to-face with a bear. Watch this space for further updates on Neil's global bumblings and the occasional athletic success.

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