How To Reproof Waterproof Clothing

By Mark Roberts

Reproofing your waterproof jacket and trousers is dead easy. Here's how to get your waterproof clothing working like new in just a few simple steps...

  1. Why do I need to reproof my waterproofs?
  2. When should I reproof my waterproofs?
  3. How do I tell when it's time to reproof my waterproofs?
  4. How do I reproof my waterproof clothing?

Why Do I Need To Reproof My Waterproof Clothing?

Your waterproof jacket and trousers are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) that causes water to 'bead' on the surface rather than soaking in. But this DWR treatment slowly wears out over time. When it does, your waterproof clothing starts absorbing water and loses its breathability. This traps perspiration inside, quickly making you cold. Reproofing tops up the DWR treatment your clothing comes with so that water continues to bead on the surface.


A wetted out waterpoof jacket that's no longer beading and needs reproofing
wetted out waterpoof jacket that's no longer beading and needs reproofing

When Should I Reproof My Waterproof Clothing?

You should reproof your waterproof clothing around every 6-12 months, depending on how much you use it. You may find you need to reproof your clothing more frequently for heavier usage, or if you use your waterproofs for intense exercise like hiking, running, biking and climbing.

How Do I Tell When It’s Time To Reproof My Waterproofs?

First, wash your clothing in pure soap or a technical wash (like Nikwax Tech Wash or Grangers Performance Wash) and then do this simple check:

Pour some water onto the high-wear points of your jacket. These are usually the shoulders (where the straps of your backpack rub) and your cuffs. If the water soaks into the top layer of the fabric and ‘wets out’, it’s time to reproof.


Waterproof Washing Myths

Washing your waterproof clothing doesn't damage it; washing is actually essential to keep it working properly! When your jacket stops beading, it may not need reproofing right away – it might just need a good clean.

Things like mud, sweat, body oils, insect repellents and detergents/conditioners can contaminate your clothing's DWR treatment, stopping it from working effectively. There's more information on this in our Why Do I Need To Reproof My Waterproof article.


Alpkit Hero trying to work out how to reproof his waterproof jacket
How not to reproof your waterproof jacket!

How Do I Reproof My Waterproof Jacket And Trousers?

1. Run your washing machine on a hot cycle with nothing in it and check that the tray is clean. This gets rid of any detergent left from previous washes, which work against your DWR.

2. Do up any zips and velcro on your waterproofs and wash them with Nikwax Tech Wash, Grangers Performance Wash or pure soap. Follow the washing instructions on your clothing or wash at 30°C on a gentle cycle if there aren't any.

3. Wash again straight away with Nikwax TX Direct, Grangers Clothing Repel or use a spray-on reproofer. There's no need to dry the jacket between these steps. Again, follow the instructions on your jacket or use a gentle wash cycle.

4. Dry in a warm place or tumble dry on low. You can also iron on a low setting afterwards as heat helps the DWR to bond with the fabric.

5. That's it! Now get outside and stop whingeing about the weather!

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