Waterproof Garments

How to care for your waterproof items of clothing

This article on caring for waterproof garments is a follow up to the one we did regarding drying out wet footwear.

Although some outwear garments will be labelled waterproof or water-resistant, they perform in different ways but handle them similarly when reading care instructions. Well maintained walking and hiking outwear should last you for a long time, keeping you dry and warm whatever the weather.

A water-resistant jacket will sometimes be shower-proof and treated with a waterproof coating. In contrast, waterproof clothing is manufactured with a waterproof membrane and sealed or taped seams. Waterproofs are constructed to repel water with a coating of Durable Water Repellent (DWR) or a membrane bonded into the garment’s fabric. If your waterproof coat gets wet, the best action is to hang it up until completely dry in an airy space to prevent any creasing.

Washing Waterproof Garments

Washing your outerwear regularly will prolong the lifespan of your clothing, providing you follow certain steps, using specialist liquids or soaps to clean them and rinsing well.

If your coat or trousers get muddy, it’s best to remove the surface mud with a damp sponge or hose them down, then machine or hand wash after checking the care label for temperature needed. Never use a laundry detergent or a fabric softener, as this will cause damage to the waterproofing. You can buy a specialist waterproof detergent in outdoor wear stores. Some products incorporate an all-in-one washing and waterproofing product. I always use NikWalk.

  • Read the care label on your clothing
  • Chose a gentle washing temperature of around 30°C
  • Select your detergent carefully.
  • If any stubborn stains, apply a small amount of detergent directly onto the stain
  • Select correct settings for your machine – run as cycle recommended in clothing label
  • Empty pockets
  • Do up zips

Re-proofing the garment

You now have two options for applying this waterproof coating.

  1. Either spray the freshly laundered clothing with the re-proofing liquid by hanging the garment in a well-ventilated area and paying special attention to the arms and shoulder areas. Continue to spray all over the outside of the clothing. Or
  2. Add the DWR coating directly to the washing machine (or into the bowl if hand washing)

Go outdoors. Have an excellent article on waterproofing and DMR to help care for your waterproof garments.

Drying the garment

Once you have applied the water repellent coating, you need to dry the garment.

The most effective way is to use a tumble dryer set on medium to low heat, but only if the garment allows it. I prefer to hang my waterproof clothes up in a nice dry airy room and leave them dry naturally. You can also hang them outside on a sunny day.

Once the garment is completely dry, you should have a breathable, clean, waterproofed item, which should last for around 4 to 6 months before needing re-proofing.

Disclaimer: This article from Finchley Dog Walker is purely for advice. Please make sure you read the care label on the garment and follow the instructions.