Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Wash and Care for Your Gear: Outer Layers, Softshells, Waterproof Jackets, and Down

Waterproof jackets such as hardshells, softshells, and other gear with waterproofing can really take a beating without proper washing. Sweat and oil from your body can interfere with the membranes ability to breath as well as repel water. Washing and Caring for your technical gear will improve function and longevity.

(NOTE-- Carefully read your clothing and gears labels and follow them carefully. If you have questions or are unsure of how to appropriately care for an item contact the manufacturer/retail store directly.)

For Outer Layers (softshells, hardshells, waterproof jackets)

How often should you wash your waterproof jacket and gear? Of course it's dependent on usage and the maker's recommendations. I wash my softshells and waterproof jackets every other month if they've seen a lot of usage. A tell tale sign that you are due for a wash is finding that your waterproof jacket "isn't so waterproof anymore." While it probably needed to be washed months, or in some cases, years ago- I have seen jackets come back to life with a good wash in TechWash (NikWax).

  • Wash on gentle cycle or reduce agitation on the normal cycle
  • Wash in cold water (check your label-- I happen to prefer washing everything in cold water)
  • Wash with like things- be careful of velcro, snaps, clips or anything else that can snag. 
  • I like to zip up pockets so they won't snag on anything.
  • Unroll hood if it's rolled up
  • You can use a very gentle detergent, but I prefer using TechWash by NikWax. I've used it for years and it really has done a nice job time and time again.
  • One time I had a jacket that I neglected far too long and I washed it twice with TechWash. This did the trick and it was much more waterproof.
  • Hang dry on a rack or chair
  • I've used TX.Direct Spray On in the past and found it to be fabulous. I only used it on waterproof hardshells and I actually tried it on my tent. It had a nasty smell (this was years ago that I used it so I am not sure if this is still the case), but it really helped with waterproofing. After the product dried it no longer smelled. I haven't tried their softshell similar product yet.
  • Fix or repair any holes, rips, or tears (see your local outdoor retailer for products- depends on the material of the item in repair)
  • Always thoroughly dry out your gear when returning from a trip. Even if it doesn't feel wet it still may be damp and need to be dried over a chair or rack.

Also in this series:

Disclaimer: Product Reviews and How to's are based on opinion only and are not intended to condone, encourage, or promote a product. Some products are sent to me by the manufacturer or affiliates and are mine to keep. I mention this specifically on products sent to me. Compensation and/or product and/or services never interfere with the review of the product. Otherwise, products and services are purchased by me for personal use. I have purchased way too many bottles of Techwash and TX.Direct Spray On than I care to recall. 

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