WATERPROOF JACKET: MAINTENANCE GUIDE
Inspired by the harsh and unpredictable Yorkshire weather, our weather resistant clothing is built to withstand the toughest conditions. From light showers and mist to full on downpours, sleet, and snow, our waterproof jackets, gilets, parkas, and trousers are tough enough to stand just about anything Mother Nature throws your way.
But no matter how durable the jacket or how waterproof your kit is, without the right care (particularly when it comes to washing), your kit will eventually degrade, rendering it far less useful and protective than it could (and should) be in the long run.
To support you with caring for your kit and to encourage sustainable practices, we’ve created a no-nonsense guide explaining how to wash a waterproof jacket. For those who have already taken a wrong step or two in the cleaning process, we’ve also included advice on how to re-waterproof a jacket.
How to wash a waterproof jacket
When our clothing gets a little dirty or musty, the usual step is to simply pop it in the washing machine. But when it comes to outdoor clothing - and waterproof clothing in particular - a few extra steps are required to ensure your waterproofs not only perform the way they should, but that they stand the test of time as well.
To understand how to wash a waterproof jacket, it’s important to know why you can’t just throw it in the wash as normal. Clothing that is truly water and weather resistant will be constructed using specialist materials and coatings that are specifically designed to repel moisture and stop it from infiltrating the materials and layers.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Specialist DWR or a wax coating on the outside, to encourage moisture to bead up and roll off
- Inner taped seams, reinforcing the bond at the seams while preventing water penetrating at the ‘weaker’ points of the jacket
- Specially treated membranes, zippers, and storm flaps with added waterproof protection
- Fabrics specifically designed to remain coated at all times
With this in mind, it’s important to always read the individual instructions that come with your jacket or coat, as these will be tailored to the unique waterproof aspects of your item. However, in the case that you don’t have access to the care instructions (or you’re still not sure), here are some general rules to go by when understanding how to wash a waterproof jacket:
- Never wash your jacket with normal household chemicals or detergents
- Brush off excess dirt with a soft brush or spot clean with water before attempting to machine wash
- Do not set the washing machine in excess of 30 degrees
- Always opt for a gentle wash with a light spin cycle
- Avoid tumble drying on a high temperature or for too long
- Wash your jacket on its own
Many waterproof jackets may also need to be washed using a specialist waterproof-specific detergent to ensure the coatings remain and your coat keeps you dry for longer.
How to re-waterproof a jacket
As touched on above, washing a waterproof coat is a process that requires a bit of thinking ahead. When purchasing your waterproof jacket, trousers, or any other piece of water repellent kit, always read the recommended care instructions online, or ask in-store before taking your item home.
Most often, retailers will have a designated product or recommended brand for keeping your waterproofs in tip-top condition. For example, some jackets may require regular waxing to retain the coat’s colour and water repellency, while others may need to be washed using a specific re-coating detergent such as Grangers Wash and Repel.
If you’ve already washed your waterproof jacket and compromised the coating, all hope is not lost. Once you have assessed the damage and grasped the specific care instructions, you should have a better idea of where you went wrong. However, if in doubt, here are a few tips on how to re-waterproof a jacket:
For jackets with a DWR coating:
- Purchase a durable repellency detergent made specifically for restoring waterproof clothing
- Make a note of both the product’s instructions and the jacket’s care instructions as these will vary from item to item
- Wash your waterproof jacket on its own to ensure maximum coverage of the repellency product
- If the item allows, tumble dry on a low setting only, or air dry in a well-ventilated area
For wax jackets:
- Never machine wash - always spot clean with a soft brush or cloth and water
- Avoid all detergents whether natural or chemical based
- Buy your wax from a trusted brand or directly from the retailer
- Read the step by step instructions in advance or watch tutorials online - re-waxing can be a little tricky
Whether you’ve got yourself a dirty waterproof jacket that needs a good wash or you’re trying to breathe new life into your existing waterproof kit, with the right care your waterproofs will last far longer.
Taking care of your jacket will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also keep you drier and more comfortable when the weather takes a turn. Ensuring your clothing lasts as long as possible is also far more sustainable than regularly replacing your kit.
Ultimately, knowing how to wash a waterproof jacket and how to re-waterproof a jacket are handy skills to have for anyone passionate about the outdoors and sustainability. By following this guide, you’ll be wearing your waterproof kit for years to come.