This time of year, its essential to make sure that your waterproof jackets and leggings are fully waterproof and ready for the autumn and winter conditions. This guide outlines how you waterproof the more typical Gore-tex and it’s many varieties which cover most waterproof jackets sold, and the Paramo Analogy system which is another popular form of waterproof jacket fabric.
How Do I know I need to Reproof My Waterproofs?
Simple. If they’re no longer waterproof, they need proofing. You can test this without risking a mountaintop drenching by splashing some water on the fabric and if it doesn’t bead then you need to re-proof your waterproofs. We take the line that even if your jacket is wetting out slightly – they need proofing.
This is also the same process we follow for restoring the DWR on our windproofs, and often throw in a thin wind-proof jacket or two in with our waterproofs.
We also think that it’s worth cleaning and proofing your jackets regularly. We find that we can get away with washing the gear in a technical cleaner twice before we need to reproof it. Get into the habit of regularly washing your waterproofs as it does start to stink and you’ll no longer be intimidated by throwing that expensive shell into the washing machine.
Cleaning Gore-tex and Paramo waterproof jackets and leggings simple – so long as you’ve got the proper materials!
What do i need to re-proof or clean my waterproof gore-tex jacekt?
You will need:
- Tech Wash (or a similar technical wash) and then TX Direct Wash
- or Grangers Wash and Repel which means you can wash and proof in one wash (much more environmentally friendly). This is a great way of restoring the waterproofness of your jackets during every wash.
- Some manky waterproof jackets or leggings in need of a wash and proof.
- Your choice of sink or Washing Machine. Beware using the proofer in the bath or spilling any on the floor as it makes surfaces very slippery.
Note – you can get proofing and washing products from other companies, but we chose to go with the Nikwax products for the primary reason that you proof and dry as opposed to proof and then apply heat to activate the proofer. I neither own or desire a tumble drier. We may however, run a test to compare different types in the near future to see whether the extra step is worth it.
1 – Ensure your washing machine is clean of detergent residue. You should clean the drawer out fully and I find it useful to run the machine through a high temperature cycle without detergent in order to get rid of as much residue as possible. Detergent is your waterproof’s enemy, with conditioner being it’s second in command! We find that running a load of tea towels or similar through at high temps with soap flakes does the job.
You may do the next step using soap flakes, which can be difficult to find. We found that it does a reasonably good job, but after many washes it left a residue and didn’t clean very effectively. Tech Wash does a better job, and maybe a balance of both could be the best way if you’re washing them out every weekend, perhaps a weekly wash in soap flakes and a tech wash and proofing every 4 weeks.
We used tech wash – and it’s simply a matter of putting the 2 or 3 items in the machine and adding the stated amount depending on your water type. You can get away with 3 items if they’re the lightweight variety, as I often do, but be careful not to overload the machine or it won’t be as effective. It’s usually a coat, trews and baselayer. We’re lucky in having very soft water, so it goes further! We use a delicate synthetic cycle to be safe. We’re not sure if they’re delicate but they’re certainly one of the most expensive items you’ll ever put in a washing machine (excepting that time your mobile found its way in).
2 – Proof ‘em! You now put on another cycle, adding the stated amount of TX – Direct into the drawer (100ml for soft water and 2 items). Now there is a use but date on the bottle. I ignored this on my 5 litre bottle, thinking that this is just marketing. I’ll vouch for Nikwax that it’s wise to heed their advice after my waterproofs gradually ceased to live up to their name. It seems like the proofer separates out and I was finding sticky little balls, similar to wood glue on my newly proofed items. Using new proofer, my waterproofs are back to as new and bead wonderfully. SKIP THIS if using all in one wash/proofer.
3 – Dry them on the line and that is it! You don’t need to tumble dry and line drying in the sun can be good for killing off bacteria in the fabric, and reduce smell. Not to mention being cheaper and more environmentally responsible. You can tumble dry as well if you wish – as some brands recommend this. Read the label and ensure you tumble dry if needed.
Washing waterproofs for the first time can be daunting, but as you can it’s a very simple matter for both Gore-tex and similar and Paramo. Next time you wash them, you probably won’t need to proof as well, and you’ll probably be fine to proof every few washes, but you’ll need to work that one out yourselves as it depends on how grimy the gear is before you wash it, the water and other factors. We’re based in a very soft water area (our water is straight off the Nantlle Ridge!) so if you’ve got hard water you may find you need to use more cleaner. Let us know in the comments and we might add your insight to the article.
If you find that your gear is really in need of some TLC, then Paramo recommend dry cleaning the item first before following the steps above. I did this, but found that it didn’t really get the jacket any cleaner than it was and there was still some soap residue. I reckon only a bit of manual scrubbing with a soft brush will get rid of this.