How To Look After Your Outdoor Clothing

Caring for your outdoor gear is something that most people probably don’t spend much time or money on – after all when you’re not out using it the last thing you want to be doing is extra washing. However, look after your kit, and your kit will look after you.

The most commonly used phrase in this article is check the manufacturers instructions, and with good reason. Nearly all the manufacturers have a product care page on their website which is a great source of information.


Cleaning your waterpoofs is something that a lot of people put off, but of all your outdoor kit its the layer that will give you the best performance payback from the time you put into cleaning. It’s also actually pretty simple.

The various membranes may differ in the exact treatments to restore waterproofing, however the process is largely the same. When it comes to cleaning and proofing it is essential to follow the manufacturers instructions, though these may not tell you which cleaning and proofing products to use. Before you actually start to clean the garment ensure your washing machine is free from any detergent and fabric softener residue. The main area to clean is the detergent draw, just take it right out and wash it off under a running tap. It may be worth setting the machine off on an empty cycle to flush any resides from the insides.

Storm Apparel Wash

Gentle cleaner for outdoor clothing and waterproofs. pH neutral.

Most brands recommend either Nikwax, Storm or Grangers products for washing and reproofing. Both these brands offer a some different products and methods to get your waterproof garments back up to scratch…

  • Tech Wash tends to be very good but they are expensive and time consuming as you also have to buy a separate reproofer to apply once the garment has been washed.
  • There 2 kinds of reproofers. Wash in reproofers apply the DWR coating very easily and it tends to last for a decent length of time. However as the DWR finish is also applied to the inside of the garment breathability is significantly reduced. Some also require activation by tumble drying.
  • Spray on reproofers are the other option. They are quite time consuming and you do have to be thorough to make sure it is applied evenly all over the garment. The advantage with them is that the DWR is only applied to the outside, so maximum breathability is retained.
  • There are also 2 in 1 treatments which will wash the garment and apply a new DWR coating. These work fine, but the DWR finish is also applied to the inside of the garment, which reduces breathability significantly. The advantage of this however is that it’s more cost effective and quicker, although the garment usually has to be tumble dried for the DWR to be activated.

Nikwax TX Direct Spray

Spray on DWR to get your waterproofs beading again.


Can I just bung it in the washing machine? It’s best not to. Essentially these garments are treated in the same way as a hard shell jacket, they should be washed at a low temperature using a specialist washing product in the washing machine and then apply the DWR finish.

Nikwax and Storm are both reputable brands who make specialist washes and reproofers for softshells. Tumble drying some garments may improve the DWR, but check the label first and make sure it’s not done for too long or on too high a heat setting.

The other more economic option is the use a 2 in 1 wash/proofer. This makes the whole process a lot easier, quicker and cost effective, however the DWR coating is applied to both sides of the fabric which will result in impaired breathability.

Down Jackets

Should I wash my down jacket/sleeping bag? If it’s really dirty, yes. Washing down filled garments or sleeping bags needs care – the insulating properties of down can be seriously reduced by washing at the wrong temperatures or with the wrong chemicals and even by not drying it properly. Most people tend to avoid washing down products however, like any other garment they are going to get dirty and cleaning them becomes unavoidable. When done correctly it will also restore performance which may have been lost over time.

Storm Down Wash

Eco-friendly wash to restore down filled clothing performance.

There are specific cleaning products available which have been formulated to clean down filled items and refresh any DWR coating on the outer fabric. Before you wash any down products please take the time to read the manufacturers care instruction. It is essential that you take the time to ensure that there is no residue from detergents or fabric softener in the washing machine, ensure that the detergent draw has been thoroughly cleaned out.

Nikwax Down Wash Direct

Cleaner for down clothing. Improves performance and water repellency.

After washing any down garment it is critical to tumble dry on a medium setting in order to rejuvenate the down, this also restores the DWR finish. During tumble drying the garment should be removed every ten minutes and shaken to separate and loosen the down. Most persistent nodules may have to be broken up by hand but be as gentle as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *