How to wash waterproof jackets or pants?

Waterproof jackets and pants are essential for staying dry and comfortable in wet conditions. Proper care and maintenance are crucial to preserve their water-repellent properties and extend their lifespan. Washing these garments correctly is a key part of their upkeep. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to wash your waterproof jackets and pants to maintain their functionality and durability.

water proof jacket b2b

General Considerations

Before washing your waterproof gear, consider the following:

  1. (Check the Care Label) Always refer to the manufacturer’s care label for specific instructions regarding washing and drying.
  2. (Use Mild Detergents) Harsh detergents can damage the water-repellent finish. Use a detergent designed for technical or waterproof gear.
  3. (Avoid Fabric Softeners) Fabric softeners can impair the garment’s breathability and water-repellent coating.
  4. (Close All Zippers and Fasteners) Ensure all zippers, Velcro, and snaps are closed to prevent damage during washing.
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Step-by-Step Washing Instructions

1. Pre-Treat Stains

If your waterproof jacket or pants have any visible stains, pre-treat them with a mild soap or a stain remover specifically designed for technical fabrics. Gently rub the soap into the stain with a soft brush or cloth.

2. Prepare the Washing Machine

Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold or warm water (not hot). Use a front-loading washing machine if possible, as top-loading machines with agitators can be harsh on delicate fabrics.

3. Add Detergent

Use a small amount of mild, non-detergent soap or a specialized cleaner for waterproof garments, such as Nikwax Tech Wash or Grangers Performance Wash. These products are designed to clean without damaging the waterproof coating.

4. Wash the Garment

Place your waterproof jacket or pants in the washing machine and run the cycle. Avoid washing too many items at once to prevent overloading the machine.

5. Rinse Thoroughly

After the wash cycle is complete, run an additional rinse cycle to ensure all detergent residue is removed. Detergent residue can affect the garment’s water-repellent properties.

6. Dry the Garment

(Air Drying) Hang the garment to air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and heat sources. This is the safest method for preserving the garment’s integrity.

(Tumble Drying) If the care label allows, you can tumble dry the garment on a low heat setting. Adding clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer can help restore the garment’s loft and maintain its shape. Tumble drying can also help re-activate the DWR (durable water-repellent) coating.

Reapplying the DWR Coating

Over time, the DWR coating on waterproof garments can wear off, reducing their water-repellency. After washing and drying, it’s a good idea to reapply a DWR treatment to restore the garment’s water-repellent properties.

dwr coating

1. Choose a DWR Treatment

Select a spray-on or wash-in DWR treatment from a reputable brand, such as Nikwax TX. Direct or Grangers Repel. Follow the product’s instructions for application.

2. Apply the Treatment

(Spray-On Treatment) Hang the clean, dry garment and spray the DWR treatment evenly over the exterior surface, ensuring full coverage. Allow the garment to dry completely before use.

(Wash-In Treatment) Add the DWR treatment to the washing machine according to the product’s instructions. Run a gentle cycle with cold water to apply the treatment evenly.

3. Heat Activation (Optional)

For some DWR treatments, heat activation can enhance performance. If the care label allows, tumble dry the garment on low heat after applying the treatment to help bond the DWR coating to the fabric.


Properly washing and maintaining your waterproof jackets and pants is essential for preserving their functionality and extending their lifespan. By following these steps and using appropriate cleaning products, you can ensure your gear remains effective at keeping you dry and comfortable in wet conditions. Regular care, including reapplying the DWR coating as needed, will help maintain the water-repellent properties of your waterproof garments for years to come.


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