When you buy a nice, new 'shiny' waterproof jacket or trousers, you have that reassuring beading up of the water droplets on the fabric surface which roll off easily and the satisfaction of knowing that the weather can throw anything at you and you will stay cosy and dry in it. However over time, dirt, body oils and sweat start to impact on the Durable Water Repellent finish (known as DWR) applied to the outer fabric of waterproof garments, until areas of the garments start to 'wet out' where rain droplets don't bead up and run off the fabric surface like they used to.
'Does that mean that your favourite jacket or trousers have had their day'? No, this can be reversed by cleaning and if necessary re-proofing.
'So I just simply use my normal laundry detergent and it's good to go'? Again no, laundry detergents can damage the surface waterproofing previously applied by the manufacturer. Laundry detergents are more aggressive than those specially designed for waterproof gear. You need to use specially formulated products for the job.
Washing and re-proofing products for outdoor gear
There are a number of well eastablished brands out there, which I have used over many years that do a good job of cleaning and also special products for re-proofing. In this blog post in which I will take you through the step by step process of cleaning and re-proofing your garment(s), I concentrate on a lesser known brand - Storm Care as the cleaning and re-proofing product in my guide. Storm Care products can be found here.
As anyone who has purchased from Valley and Peak or who has visited our website, will know, we are constantly looking for innovative brands that offer real benefits for our customers.
So what makes Storm Care stand out from other brands? Well, Storm is the only brand to offer a Clothing Wash and a Proofer which can be used in the same wash cycle, no other brand does. So you can save time and water and use less energy by only running your washing machine once. Some sound environmentally benefits. It doesn't stop there, you don't need to add additional quantities of product if you live in a hard water area of the UK (does your kettle fur up easily? - then you are in a hard water area). The Eco range products also come in aluminum bottles, which are 8 times more recycled than plastic bottles according to Storm. These sort of credentials attracted us to their range.
Step by Step Guide
This can be used for any product in the market place, but if not using Storm Care products, you will need to carry out an additional step if you are reproofing the garment as well. I will point this out at the appropriate time.
Step 1 - Preparation
First thing to do is to throughly clean the detergent and fabric conditioner trays in your washing machine and then run a quick wash cycle with just water, to make sure all detergent and fabric conditioner is out of the washing machine. I set mine to Express cycle, which takes 30 minutes.
While this wash cycle is going on, read the garment's care label for each item to be washed, this may include special instructions and will certainly give the temperature recommended to wash at, generally this is 30-40C.
Secondly, fully close zips, fasten cuffs etc, so that no parts will rub on the fabric when washing. Thirdly, with any particularly dirty areas, (often cuffs and near the main zip area), rub on some neat cleaner, prior to placing in the washing machine.
Step 2 - Cleaning and Proofing
Once this short or Express cycle has finished, add the Clothing Wash in the detergent tray and if using Storm Care products and you need to re-proof your garment, add the Proofer in the fabric conditioner tray at the same time. For other products, you will have to run the wash cycle first, and then add the Proofer, then run the Wash cycle again and wait an extra hour or so, to complete the process - here are some of the benefits of Storm Care! Do not add the proofer at this stage if using anything other than Storm.
Quantity: For Storm, its 75mls per garment for Clothing Wash and 75mls for Proofer added to the correct trays in your make of washing machine. Check product label for other products, If you have hard water, make sure you add more, as directed by the product label (not needed for Storm).
Select the correct temperature setting for your garment, and I usually reduce the spin speed down to 1000 rpm to stop excessive creasing of the garment.
Once the wash cycle has completed, hang the garment up for say 20 minutes to get rid of excess water, so that you have more efficient use of the tumble dryer if you using one.
If you are using products other than Storm, and they need re-proofing, keep the garments in the washing machine, add the proofer and run the same wash cycle again.
How do I know whether I need to add Proofer?
If water droplets are still beading up on your clothing and there are no areas of 'wetting out' and the garment is dirty, you probably just need to clean it. This will take away the dirt, oils etc and in the process unblock the fabric pores, increasing breathability. If its 'wetting out' in a number of places, like the photo of my Paramo jacket above, then you should re-proof the garment to restore's it's DWR.
Step 3 - Place the garment(s) in the tumble dryer
Not only does the tumble dryer, dry your outdoor clothing, but the heat will re-activate the DWR treatment. Before starting the tumble dryer, check the care label for settings. We have on our tumble dryer, an Active Wear setting and this is one we use for outdoor clothing. As a general rule, a medium-low heat is OK for most items. Half an hour or so is usually OK on this Active Wear setting, but it may take longer depending on your dryer.
Now the most important step - get out and enjoy the great outdoors with your revitalised clothing!
Notes for Guidance
No washing machine - many products will work well when hand washing. For Storm Care products, use a bath and the suggested label dose in a maximum 50 litres of tepid water (just enough to cover garments). Agitate for a few minutes and rinse several times with clean water, followed by a Proofer if required.
No Tumble Dryer - Many products need heat curing to re-activate the DWR. You can use a iron, placing a tea towel between the iron and the fabric, make sure you do this if you want to avoid melting the fabric of the garment. Check care label or manufacturers website for any guidance.
Do's and Don'ts
❌ Don’t use ordinary laundry detergent
❌ Don’t use fabric conditioner
❌ Don't dry clean
❌ Don’t use solvents or bleach
✅ Do use specially formulated cleaning and proofing products such as Storm
We have set out the above guidance on the basis of what we have read on product labels, manufacturer's websites and general guidance on the internet. Please check your garment care labels, manufacturer's product labels and your appliance instructions to get the best results, this may differ from the guidance given by this blog post. We do not accept any responsibilty for any damage to your outdoor clothing.