When you buy a brand new piece of waterproof clothing the manufacturer will have applied what’s called a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. This is what causes the water to bead up and roll off the material. Over time however, friction and general wear will cause the DWR coating to degrade until eventually, rather than beading up and rolling off, raindrops absorb into the top layer.
This does not mean that the garment is no longer waterproof, but it does mean that in order to restore and improve its performance, you do need to wash and reproof the item.
But don’t worry, it can be a very straight forward process and to help you do this, we have made an easy, step by step guide.
1. The first thing you need to do is to read the item of clothing’s care label. This will give you the washing instructions, including any guidance on temperature. Generally speaking however, most detergents for technical garments work at around a gentle 30°C.
2. The next thing you need to do is select a detergent specifically designed for technical clothing. These strip the garment of all the dirt and oils, without depositing any perfumes or softeners, which can actually reduce the breathability of a waterproof garment.
3. If there are any particularly stubborn stains you may want to apply some detergent directly to the area, just as with a regular washing liquid. Otherwise, select the correct settings on your machine, and run the cycle as instructed on the garment label and detergent packaging.
4. Allow the cycle to complete. You should now have a freshly washed piece of waterproof clothing. Do not be alarmed if areas around the zips and seams appear to be darker than when you put it in, they simply need to dry.
However, to truly restore the garment, you need to apply the DWR coating. There are two main ways of doing this.
1. Depending on the material, you can either directly spray the freshly washed garment with the reproofing liquid, or you can add the solution to a washing machine. For ease and efficiently, many choose to wash it in a washing machine, but it is possible to hand wash the item too.
2. If using the washing machine, repeat the same process as above, only this time you are applying the reproofing liquid. As always, be sure to check the manufactures instructions as well as the instructions on the solution. Alternatively if you wish to spray the garment, hang it in a well ventilated place and evenly spray the outside only; paying particular attention to the high friction areas like the shoulders and arms.
3. Once the solution is applied, you need to dry the garment. The most effective means of doing this is in a tumble dryer as applying heat increases the effectiveness of the DWR. As always follow the garment’s care instructions, but a medium-low heat is usually OK for the majority of items. Just take time to every now and again check for hot-spots, especially around metal zips. You can of course use a radiator or even a hair dryer to the same effect. But with these techniques you have to be particularly careful you do not apply excessive heat.
Once fully dry you should have a nice, clean, breathable waterproof. The length of time this effect will last totally depends on the amount of use. If however you feel that your waterproof needs to be replaced, you can get some valuable advice on this waterproof buying guide.