How to look after your waterproof kit
Our step-by-step guide to washing and reproofing your kit to keep it waterproof
Stay dry on even the wettest day by taking care of your waterproofs
Even the trustiest waterproof kit needs regular care and attention to help keep you dry throughout the year. If you’re noticing your waterproofs are becoming a bit soggy, it might be time to reproof them.
Follow our simple guide to keeping your waterproof kit in good condition so you can keep on rambling, no matter the weather.
Water-resistant vs. waterproof vs. water-repellent
You may have seen these three seemingly interchangeable terms when looking for new walking gear, but there are some key differences to understand. Without getting too deep into the nitty-gritty, water resistant and waterproof refer to the fabric’s ability to keep the rain from getting through. Water repellent on the other hand, refers to an extra coating that further improves a waterproof jacket’s performance.
If you’re buying a new waterproof item, it’s worth checking that it is also breathable. After all, a plastic bag is waterproof, but not exactly the type of clothing you’d be comfortable hiking in!
You can reproof your gear to keep it waterproof
If you’re noticing your jacket isn’t keeping you as dry as it used to, don’t worry. You don’t need to splash out on a new jacket; it likely just needs a wash and a reproof.
Even the best waterproofs need to be retreated regularly with a water-repellent product to maintain performance. New waterproof clothing has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish applied to it. This is what causes the water to bead up and roll off the material. But over time, friction and general wear causes this coating to degrade until raindrops start absorbing into the top layer.
Will washing my waterproof jacket ruin it?
No! A good clean and reproof with a technical detergent and reproofing liquid or spray is key to long-lasting kit. Dirt, sweat, and other things like insect repellents can contaminate the DWR treatment and stop it from working effectively.
We advise avoiding regular detergent and fabric softener as it works against the DWR and reduces the breathability of the item.
How often do I need to reproof my waterproof?
You’ll know it’s time to reproof your kit when you notice your jacket is starting to absorb water. How often you will need to reproof it totally depends on the amount of use. If you’re regularly rambling in all conditions, you may want to repeat the process every 3-4 months. But if you’re rarely out in the rain, you’ll find the DWR effect lasts longer.
How to wash your waterproofs
Follow this step-by-step guide to washing and reproofing your kit and you’ll be back out enjoying the wet and windy British trails in no time.
1. Only use technical detergents
Buy a detergent specifically designed for technical clothing. You can find one at your local outdoors store, or online. Avoid regular detergent and fabric softener.
2. Rinse and remove
Check the machine tray is clean and run a hot (empty) cycle to get rid of any leftover detergent which works against your garment's DWR. Gently hand rinse any thick dirt off the item. For stubborn stains, apply the technical detergent directly to the area. Fasten all zips and Velcro and place item in the machine.
3. Carefully read the labels
Select the correct settings on your machine and run the cycle as instructed on the clothing’s care label. Follow the advice on the label over and above the more general guidance on the detergent. Generally, most technical detergents tend to work at around a gentle 30°C. Don’t worry if areas around the zips and seams appear to be darker after washing, they simply need to dry.
How to reproof your waterproofs
To restore the waterproof kit, it’s time to apply the DWR coating. There are two main ways of doing this:
1. Apply reproofing solution to the washing machine
Depending on the material, you can either directly spray the freshly washed garment with the reproofing solution, or you can add the solution to the washing machine. You can also hand wash the item. If using the washing machine, repeat the same washing process as above (with your freshly washed item), only this time you are using the reproofing liquid rather than a detergent. As always, check the instructions on the solution.
2. Using a reproofing spray
Alternatively, if you wish to spray the garment, hang your washed item in a well-ventilated place and evenly spray the outside only. Pay particular attention to the high friction areas like the shoulders and arms.
How to dry your waterproofs
Once the solution is applied, air-dry your kit naturally or tumble dry if the care label permits. If tumble-drying, always follow the label instructions and take time to every now and again check for hot-spots, especially around metal zips. Once fully dry you should have a nice, clean, breathable waterproof, ready for a walk! If you feel that your waterproof needs to be replaced, you can get some valuable advice from our waterproof jacket buyer's guide.
Save money and be more sustainable by following our guide to keeping your walking boots waterproof, clean and comfortable.