In previous posts we have given you all the tips & advice on Choosing a Waterproof Jacket and a heap of information on Waterproof Fabrics.  Today we will cover how to care for your Rain Jacket.

Why wash my jacket?

Modern Waterproof Breathable (WPB) garments are designed to provide exceptional weather protection and breathability. Routine care and maintenance will ensure the optimum performance and durability of your garment.

The build-up of dirt and other surface contaminants such as body oil, sunscreen and sweat will reduce the effectiveness of the textile’s durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, affecting performance and breathability. Dirt allows water molecules to be drawn into the face fabric, saturating or ‘wetting out’ the fabric and leading to increased levels of condensation on the inside of the garment.

Properly washing your WPB Jacket or Pants will remove the dirt and other contaminates from the garment, restoring its water repellency and breathability.

Marmot springbrook dyptich 2

An example of two very similar Gore-Tex Active Shell Jackets – On the left a brand new jacket with robust and effective DWR, on the right a jacket that’s been heavily used for several months with a face fabric that is starting to wet-out slightly. Photo: Lachlan Gardiner

How often should I wash my Jacket?

When to wash depends on how often and how hard you use your gear. For heavy activity washing after every 10 to 12 days of use, and for light activity wash every 20 to 30 days of use would be a good start. However use your best judgement; if your garment looks dirty, or you are starting to feel damp or clammy, or your garment is no longer shedding water and is wetting out, it’s time to wash and dry

How do I wash my Jacket?

Be sure to remove tissues from the pockets, zip all zippers, and close all Velcro fasteners before you wash your jacket. Washing instructions are printed inside of most garments. Following the garment instructions will help make sure that your gear has a long, interesting life.

Choose a free rinsing soap or non-detergent cleaning agent to wash your WPB garment. We recommend using a cleaning agent made specifically for WPB fabrics such as ReviveX® Synthetic Fabric Cleaner or Nikwax Tech Wash. You can wash your jacket in a regular washing machine, in cold water, on a gentle cycle. Put it through the rinse cycle twice, to be sure the detergent residue washes out. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners, dry clean, or store when wet.

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If you having trouble deciphering the hieroglyphics on the tag of your garment? Patagonia have got you covered. Their product care symbol guide will explain everything – and help you keep your gear in great shape.

My Jacket will not stay dry anymore. What can I do about it?

As mentioned all WPB garment fabrics are treated with a Durable Water Repellent finish (DWR). This finish helps the shell fabric resist wetting by causing the water to bead-up so it easily falls off before being absorbed into the fabric. As a garment is worn and used over time, accumulation of soils from external sources, your own body and abrasion (such as carnying a pack) can lower the performance of these finishes.

In order to revive the DWR, the garment needs to be thoroughly cleaned as explained above. We recommend using ReviveX Outerwear Repellent SprayNikwax TX Direct Water Repellent Spray or other technical re-proofing agent as their technologies complement the garment’s original DWR. After washing, keep all zippers closed, hang the wet garment on a hanger and spray DWR evenly onto the wet face fabric of the garment, if you know that the fabric wets out in specific areas such as the shoulders from pack abrasion some extra spray can be placed there.

DWR 2 Small

Next, place the garment in a tumble drier on a low/medium heat setting (40°C) for 40 to 50 minutes (if you don’t have a clothes dryer leave your jacket out to air dry in a well ventilated area for around 48 hours before use). We do not recommend using a wash-in DWR as it can inhibit the breathability of the fabric.

Dryer small

For those who prefer to watch and listen over reading here is an informative video from Arc’teryx on rainwear care.

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

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