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Waterproof Jacket Maintenance Guide

Washing and Reproofing Waterproof Jackets and Trousers

No matter how good your waterproof jacket may be, there will come a time when you are out in the rain, and you notice that the water is not beading off the surface of the fabric like it did when it was new. Although this does not mean that your jacket will be letting water through, it does mean that it might not be working at its optimum level, so it is worth while showing your jacket a bit of TLC.


Every once in a while, you will need to clean your jacket. How often you do this will obviously depend on how much you wear your jacket.

A word of warning to start; traditional washing detergents can damage the waterproof qualities of your jacket, and should be avoided if at all possible. The de-greasing agents in washing detergents will strip out most of the waterproof coating on a jacket. That said, if a jacket is heavily stained with something like oil or paint, it may be necessary to use the stronger cleaning power of a detergent. If you have washed it in detergent, it is worthwhile rinsing it through a couple of times, then re-proofing it.

In every other scenario, the best thing to use to wash your jacket is a non-detergent soap such as Nikwax Tech Wash. This will clean the jackets fabric whilst leaving the waterproof qualities intact. Indeed by cleaning the impurities from the fabric, water will bead off the surface fabric more easily and the breathability of the jacket will be improved. Washing a jacket is pretty simple, and can be done either by hand in a basin, or in the washing machine. If you are washing it in the machine, for best results use a wash ball in the drum.

reproofing waterproof jacket with Nikwax Tech Wash

If you are using a washing machine, we have a couple of tips for you:

  1. Clean any excess washing powder out of the machine’s draw before you start.
  2. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for washing. Some garments may not be machine washable.


If you have tried cleaning the jacket and it is still not beading water very well, it is time to re-proof the jacket.

In most cases, you are able to use a wash in waterproofer in the same way you clean your jacket, this time using Nikwax TX Direct. Once again, you can use this either in the machine or by hand. This will coat the fibres of the jacket and improve its ability to repel water.

If your jacket has a wicking under layer such as a ‘Pile Pertex’ set up, it is recommended you use a spray proofing for the outer rather than a wash in one. At Complete Outdoors we usually recommend Nikwax TX Direct in spray form.

reproofing waterproof jacket with Nikwax TX Direct Washin In reproofing waterproof jacket with Nikwax TX Direct Spray

There are a number of ways in which different jackets keep you dry, some of which take to being re-proofed better than others. If your jacket keeps you dry by using a membrane such as Gore-Tex or a PU coating, re-proofing the jacket will have a beneficial effect on both how waterproof it is and how breathable it is. What it will not do is re-build that membrane or coating if it has become damaged. If you have a jacket using Nikwax’s Analogy system such as Paramo, re-proofing will help make the fabric perform as good as new.


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