Good waterproof gear is essential to an outdoor life in Britain. Without weather-protection a weekend walk can quickly turn into a drenched slog, but with the right kit 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. Without the right aftercare regime you may begin to see diminishing protection against the elements. Thankfully keeping your gear waterproof is simple once you know how, and if you don't - then that's where this guide comes in.
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.
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.
Then . . .
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 2 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.
After that . . .
You can 'reproof' your gear 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).
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.
Don't fall into the habit of washing or reproofing your gear after every wear. You only need to do this if it gets dirty (as dirt will impair the performance over time) or if you notice that moisture has stopped beading on the surface.
But, when the time does come for a clean, just check the label and follow the simple steps above to keep your gear in good nick.