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Should I wash my rain jacket?

Old 11-06-22, 03:00 AM
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fofinet855
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Should I wash my rain jacket?

I have a light waterproof jacket which works like a charm. Hi-vis day and night, and very good protection against wind and rain. Costs €70. After about 1,000 km it's starting to get quite dirty, but I'm pretty sure that by washing it, it'll loose part of its impermeability. I could keep using it until it becomes truly embarrassing (I have a very high threshold in that regard). What do you people usually do?
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Old 11-06-22, 04:39 AM
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I had a stain on a Goretex jacket, I used a little bit of soap to hand clean the stain on the outside of the jacket. It did not harm the waterproofness of that area but that area lost some of the hydrophobic coating.

My point is that rain jackets have a couple characteristics, one is a waterproof layer (that may or may not be breathable) but the better jackets usually also have a coating that will make the water bead up on the surface, a hydrophobic coating or treatment. In my case, that small spot that I cleaned no longer had the water bead up on it.

There are some cleaners like Nikwax Tech Wash that are theoretically do a good job but I have not used it so I can't say how well it works.
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Old 11-06-22, 05:53 AM
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Yes, mine has hydrophobic surface as well. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 11-06-22, 05:53 AM
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The answer probably depends to some degree on what kind of fabric the jacket is made of. The breathable fabrics typically reply on at least two layers with different properties. One layer allows vapor to pass through, but for it to work it need the top hydrophobic layer to bead up and shed water. That hydrophobic needs to be cleaned periodically to work properly.

Non breathable fabrics also can benefit from having a hydrophobic top layer and some do. They will benefit from cleaning. A deteriorating hydrophobic layer can in many cases benefit from an application of a DWR treatment, but use caution with expensive breathable garments and follow manufacturer's advice. Nikwax is reccommended by many and I have had good luck with it.

Some garments are just coated nylon and not breathable cleaning may be good or bad for them. On one hand it is hard on the coating. On the other it helps get rid of body oils, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Trying to keep those off of them as much as possible and using Nikwax as seldom as possible is my solution.

DWR garments that are water repellant and not waterproof are also common. The repellency is reviveable with treatment. I have often used these in moderate weather. I got by in wet and pretty cold weather with insulation layers designed for kayaking.

I am not a fan of goretex et al. I don't find they keep me dry I find that I sweat enough to exceed their ability to pass vapor. If I need more than a water repellant wind shirt, I go coated nylon. Some people love goretex or other breathable fabrics so YMMV.

Oh, btw for goretex care info:
https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog...-wash-gore-tex
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Old 11-06-22, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Thanks for posting. That blog post provided a lot of good detail on the topic.
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Old 11-06-22, 10:39 AM
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Good link there. 👍 I've been a big fan of Gore-Tex, and still have some old North Face snow pants, but for a raincoat, I like my Lowe-Alpine parka, with Triple Point Ceramic. I'm not even sure exactly what that means, lol, but it's warmer and dryer than Gore-Tex.

But it's hard to find, and usually quite spendy. Unless you're lucky in thrift stores.😋😎😉
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Old 11-06-22, 10:44 AM
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Yes you should, I recently washed my rain gear and I am glad I did it seems to be performing much better though I really should get some Nikwax or similar product.
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Old 11-06-22, 11:01 AM
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Yeah, I am starting to think that a couple of my jackets and maybe some rain pants needs some renewal.
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Old 11-06-22, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by fofinet855 View Post
Yes, mine has hydrophobic surface as well. Thanks for the suggestion.
Nikwax is the ticket for that. If it gets too bad at beading up surface water with age, abuse, or wear, retreating with a DWR product is possible, but check with the fabric manufacturer. I might use one against their recommendation as a last resort if the garment was shot otherwise.
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Old 11-06-22, 03:51 PM
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I follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.
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Old 11-06-22, 06:05 PM
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I posted this several months ago:

Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I have good results keeping my outer layer breathable and water proof. I live in western Oregon, and have worked mostly outdoors. I've used breathable fabrics since they were introduced. They have been used primarily for mountaineering, skiing, backpacking, cycling, work and for casual wear. It rains a lot in western Oregon.

I've found that if the garments are kept clean and treated correctly they will do their job.

This is the 15+ year old jacket in the picture I posted above. It is used mostly around town now, but it still sheds the rain. If the water beads up on clean outer fabric, the tech fabric has a much better chance of functioning as advertised. When the outer fabric is saturated with water, the breathable layer can't function properly. Body oils, especially around the neck area are hard on the breathable layer, even promoting delamination.


Gentle washing using mild soap (Nikwax Tech-Wash), a gentle spin or no spin, spraying a water repellent treatment (ReviveX) on the hanging garment while it still wet, and drying with a medium or low temperature will usually do the job.

I've had good results with these products.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-06-22 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 11-07-22, 04:36 AM
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Thanks everyone for the answers. Will keep that in mind
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Old 11-07-22, 08:45 AM
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Read the label for care instructions. If it can be washed, that will reduce the aroma of putting it on or taking it off.
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Old 11-07-22, 09:11 AM
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Read the care instructions. A lot of these fabrics lose both water resistance and breathability when they get dirty. Some want to be run through the dryer as well to reactivate the waterproofing as well.
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Old 11-07-22, 12:19 PM
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I wear my jackets into the shower and wash them with a bar of soap.
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Old 11-07-22, 12:26 PM
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Most technical fabrics REQUIRE that you refresh the DWR treatment to maintain the performance. OR's page mentioned above. Also see: Arcteryx Product Care
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Old 11-10-22, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
Heavy use (e.g. running, ski-touring) – wash every 10 to 12 days of use

That's insane. Those jackets cost like €600, no way I'm washing them that often.

SLIGHTLY OT: In fact I barely ever wash skimo outer layers, which don't really ever get dirty. Biking clothes are different though, because they are cheaper and it's much easier to soil them
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Old 11-10-22, 11:31 AM
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Yeah, that frequency surprised me, too, but essentially it says that frequent washing is part of the design.
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