How to reproof your waterproof

By Hati Whiteley

Your jacket has a DWR coating that makes it breathable so that your perspiration can escape. This coating becomes less effective over time and is impeded by dirt and abrasion, so you should keep your waterproof clean and reproof it periodically to avoid feeling all damp and sticky inside your waterproof.

If you want to know more about why reproofing is necessary for waterproof jackets, read garment designer Ronnie's spotlight post. Otherwise let's get going!

When to clean your waterproof jacket

Clean and heat treat your waterproof when it’s dirty (at least every 6 months). If cleaning doesn’t restore the DWR, it’s time to reproof it.

How to tell if it’s time to reproof

The best way to test your DWR is to pour some water on it. If the DWR is working effectively, the water will ‘bead up’ into droplets. If the DWR has degraded, the water will soak into the top layer of the fabric and ‘wet out’, making the fabric look darker. If this happens, it’s time to reproof.

For light usage, you should expect to reproof your garment 2 – 3 times per year. If you use your waterproof for intense exercise (hiking, biking, running or climbing) you should expect to reproof more frequently.

First of all, cleanse your washing machine

Cleansing your washing machine gets rid of any trace of detergents, which work against your DWR.

  • Clean out the detergent tray.

  • Run your machine on its hottest setting with a towel in and 500 ml white vinegar inside.

How to wash and heat treat your waterproof

You’ll need: a technical washing solution (Nikwax Tech Wash or Granger’s Performance) or, failing that pure soap.

  1. Brush away any mud/sand/chocolate digestive crumbs.

  2. Do up all zips and Velcro, loosen any drawcords.

  3. Treat the stubborn stains with neat Tech Wash and a damp cloth.

  4. Place your garment in your freshly cleansed washing machine (no more than 2 garments).

  5. Get your technical wash or pure soap and read the instructions - the water hardness in your area will affect how you use it, so this is important!

  6. Run a delicate wash at 30°C OR hand wash your garment in warm water.

  7. Run a gentle rinse cycle to make sure you’ve got all the cleaning solution off.

If you’re not planning to reproof your garment:

  • Tumble dry (on low setting) or leave to air dry.
  • Heat treat your jacket in the tumble drier on low heat or by running an iron over it on low heat. You can put a tea towel between the jacket and the iron if you’re worries about the fabric.

Reproofing with spray-on reproofer

(This is the best option for waterproof jackets)

You’ll need: Nikwax TX Direct, Granger’s performance repel, or another spray-on reproofer.

  1. Your garment should be clean but still wet.

  2. Protect your work surface and lay your garment flat.

  3. Spray the reproofer evenly to the outside of the garment from a distance of 15 cm.

  4. Wait for 2 minutes, remove any excess reproofer with a damp cloth and ensure that no areas have been missed.

  5. Wait several minutes, then repeat stages 3 and 4.

  6. Repeat the whole procedure on the other side of the garment.

  7. Dry your garment in a warm location – preferably a tumble drier on low heat, but otherwise in full sunshine in a warm room (this helps the proofer bond to the material so that it’s more effective).

Reproofing with wash-in reproofer

(This is the best option for insulated and down jackets)

  1. Your garment should be clean but it doesn’t need to be dry. Put it back in the machine.

  2. Use a reproofing agent such as Nikwax TX Direct or Granger’s repel, follow the instructions on the bottle.

  3. Run a gentle cycle at 30°C in your washing machine.

  4. Dry your garment in a warm location – preferably a tumble drier on low heat, but otherwise in full sunshine in a warm room (this helps the proofer bond to the material so that it’s more effective).

Further reading

Why reproof your waterproof

Designer Ronnie explains the benefits of regularly cleaning and reproofing your waterproof

How to choose a waterproof to buy

Time to retire your old waterproof and invest in a new one? This guide should help you navigate the plethora of waterproofs on the market

How does my waterproof jacket work?

Find the answers to all your burning questions about waterproof technology with our waterproof jacket spec guide.

Help, I think my waterproof jacket is leaking!

Our waterproof jackets deal with water coming from the outside and the inside. Read this guide for tips on making the most of your waterproof's breathability.

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