How to clean a water proof jacket

Washing your waterproof jacket (or pants!) not only keeps it looking spiffy, but also helps maintain the jacket’s waterproofing and breathability.


After a big trip to the hills, a cuddle from a muddy pup or a big run, you may find that your waterproof jacket needs some love and affection.


Dogs can help get your jackets more muddy and less water proof

Dogs, like Badger here, can help get you and your jacket extra muddy, which can impact it's waterproofness, so good cleaning is essential!


It’s easy to maintain and care for your waterproof clothing following the steps on your garment’s care instructions. To make it even easier, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to washing and re-waterproofing waterproof clothing using the Nikwax range.


Why wash your jacket?

Over time, waterproof membranes can build up with dirt, oil, sunscreen and sweat, all of which effect the jacket’s waterproofing and breathability by clogging or breaking down the membrane. You’ll know if this is the case because your jacket will become saturated and wet, rather than the water beading off.


water proof jacket being used in  new zealand Lana, the author hiking up to reach the snow line for skiing, you know when it is raining, it is snowing some where!


How often should you wash your jacket?

It really depends on how often you use it! Its best to use your own judgment on this one. If your jacket is starting to look dirty or you notice patches where water is soaking in, then its time to wash your jacket.

As a general rule, for a rain jacket that gets a moderate amount of use, a wash once a year is plenty. If the jacket gets a lot of use, twice a year may be needed, and maybe more for some people.


Washing with Nikwax Tech Wash

Nikwax Tech wash is recommended for Gore-Tex, SympaTex, eVent and Nikwax Analogy fabrics.


nikwax tech wash

Nikwax Tech Wash means business when it comes to cleaning your water proof gear.


Washing Steps to clean your waterproof jacket:

  1. Firstly, pick off any mud or clumps of dirt and make sure the pockets are empty. Zip up all your zippers, velcro and clasps. You can help treat stubborn stains by using a sponge, soft brush or to gently scrub the tech wash into the fabric.
  2. Make sure all household detergent is cleaned out of your washing machine.
  3. In a top-loading machine, add three full caps (150ml) for 1-3 jackets, or five full caps (250ml) for 4-6 jackets. In a front loader, it’s best to add no more than two jackets with two capfuls (100ml) of Tech Wash.
  4. Wash according to the garments care labels, preferably on a gentle cycle and slow spin. Our Montane Gore-Tex products usually state 30-40 degrees.
  5. Air dry or tumble dry on a low setting if care labels allow.

Things to watch out for:

  • Normal household detergent can leave behind residues that break down the waterproof coating on the fabric.
  • Zip up all zips, make sure all hook and loop sections are fastened, and Velcro is stuck down-- we don’t want anything flying around!
  • Stay away from bleach, fabric softeners and dry cleaning.

Over time, the durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the surface of the fabric can wear off. There are a few tricks to getting this back in action. For Gore-Tex, you should tumble dry after washing to reactivate the DWR. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to add an extra layer: we recommend using Nikwax T.X Direct to either wash in or spray on to your waterproof clothing. Both methods are equally successful—its just a matter of personal preference.


Washing with Nikwax T.X Direct

Nikwax T.X Direct is recommended for Gore-Tex, SympaTex and eVent


Nikwax T.X Direct
Nikwax T.X Direct comes in a small sachet, multi use bottle and a spray-on version. 


How to use TX Direct Wash In:

  1. If you didn’t already do it, wash your jacket with Nikwax Tech Wash.
  2. If you have a top-loading machine, let the machine fill, then add a maximum of 3 jackets and 300ml of TX.Direct Wash-In. Run a heavy/warm cycle.
  3. Follow the care labels for drying instructions. Nikwax does not need heat to be activated so you will be fine whatever you choose.

How to use TX Direct Spray On:

  1. Lay your clean, slightly wet jacket down flat. Make sure all zips are done up.
  2. Hold spray bottle about 15cm away from fabric. Spray as evenly as possible onto the fabric.
  3. Wait 2 minutes, then wipe the excess off with a damp cloth.
  4. Double check you didn’t miss any areas!
  5. Air dry or tumble dry depending on your garments care instructions.


As easy as that, your waterproofs will be looking as good as ever! It’s a great way to put some life back into old waterproofs and get some extra use out of them. You can buy all the Nikwax range in store in Christchurch or online here.


Written by local Canterbury adventurer, and lover of keeping gear fresh, Juliana.

If you found this blog great, you should also try this one: Leather Hiking Boot Care Guide.


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