How to wash a waterproof jacket or reproof a pair of boots is one of the most common topics we get asked about at The Climbers Shop. “Should I wash my waterproof jacket?”, “Does washing waterproof jackets damage them?”, “What do I wash waterproof clothing in?”, “How do you re-waterproof a jacket to bring back the water repellency?”, all these questions and more have been posed to us.
What we will try to do here is to clear up some of the confusion over washing and waterproofing your gore-tex jackets and other outdoor clothing, as well as how to clean and care for your boots. If you do it right, you will get the best out of them and hopefully prolong the life of them (thus saving you money!).
Should I wash my waterproof jacket?
Yes, yes, and yes again. Just because it is a waterproof jacket, or a softshell etc, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need washing. When you wash an item of clothing normally, you are not only removing any stains, you are also extracting and oils and dirt that can build up in the fibres. These natural oils are what the smell producing bacteria set to work on and is why a t-shirt can start to smell once you’ve worn it for a few days (quicker for some!). This is exactly the same with your waterproof clothing and other outdoor gear as well.
With waterproof clothing, the removal of those oils and dirts has an even more important function, the improvement of the garments breathability and waterproofing. If you keep them clean then both of these functions will work a lot better – we’ll go into more detail later.
For footwear the answer is the same – make sure you wash them. If you have got your boots dirty then make sure you give them a good wash with warm water. If you leave the dirt to get ingrained in the boot upper then it will deteriorate a lot quicker. What surprises people is that you should also clean the inside of the boot as well, especially if they have a Gore-tex or eVent membrane. Again, we’ll go into more detail later.