A waterproof jacket is one of the essential pieces of hiking equipment to be able to hike in any weather. Of course, we’d rather it stayed in the bag but, if needed, we’re always happy to have one! And because you don't take it out a lot and it is a significant investment, you want to enjoy it for as long as possible. We're here to give you all the tips to extend its life through proper care and a few smart repairs.
How to wash a waterproof jacket
In general, it is not recommended to wash a jacket too frequently because each wash reduces its waterproofing properties.
You only need to wash a waterproof jacket fairly infrequently because, unless you roll around in the mud during a downpour, a jacket doesn’t get very dirty at all! But let's say you've slipped and fallen into a pond, and you need to wash your jacket (and get yourself some boots with better grip):
Do you just want to clean up the outside?
- Wait until the mud is dry.
- Shake the jacket outside to get as much dried soil off as possible.
- If there are any traces left, use a sponge and clean without rubbing so as not to remove the water-repellent treatment.
Do you think your jacket smells a bit and want to put it in the washing machine?
- Before putting the jacket in the machine, close all the zippers and pockets.
- Follow the information on the jacket label carefully to select the correct temperature. Some washing machines even have a special “outdoor” program, which is very useful in this case.
- Use a little less detergent (liquid, if possible) than usual to avoid residue.
- Set the spin to minimum so as not to damage the jacket.
- To make sure all the detergent is gone, rinse a second time.
How to dry a waterproof jacket?
There are two options:
- Let the jacket air dry on a hanger or lying flat.
- Use a tumble dryer on a very gentle program, remembering to close all the zippers.
Two things you should never do when washing a waterproof jacket
1. Ironing--doing so will damage the jacket.
2. Adding fabric softener to the machine when washing: the fabric softener is designed to stay on the fabric, and this may reduce its performance.
How to reactivate the waterproofing of a waterproof jacket?
If your jacket is no longer waterproof enough or you find that you’re getting wet in it, you may try to reactivate the waterproofing. Note: it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to design a product that’s both fully waterproof AND which allows very good perspiration wicking. When doing a strenuous activity while wearing a waterproof jacket, you may feel some dampness, but this has nothing to do with a lack of waterproofness.
However, over time, the water-repellent treatment of the fabric wears off and jackets lose their effectiveness to some degree.
That’s why there are treatments to reactivate a jacket’s water-repellency:
1. The dryer: your first reflex
This is a basic option because the heat of the dryer can reactivate the water-repellent treatment in the fabric: put your jacket in the dryer and select a delicate and short program.
2. Detergent and after-wash water-repellency reactivators: precise and durable
- Washing: follow the instructions above and replace the detergent with a cleaner for waterproof products that will better prepare your jacket for the water-repellent treatment.
- Impregnation: use a water-repellency liquid reactivator in a basin of water (30°C and 15 minutes of soaking) or in a machine (softener tray, delicate cycle 30°C).
- Activation: this is done by the addition of heat. To do this, use the dryer (follow the instructions above) or lay the dry jacket flat on a clothes dryer and give it a little blow with a hair dryer on gentle heat.
3. Water-repellency reactivator spray: fast and efficient.
Be careful to follow the conditions of use of your reactivator spray, although it may set your head spinning, among other things!
How to store a waterproof jacket
This paragraph is short, but is none the less important. Waterproof jackets, as they’re often taken “just in case”, are generally compressible. That's perfect when you have it in your bag during your hike or trek. But as soon as you get home, unfold your jacket! Otherwise, the waterproof membrane will get creased, which may create fragility or even reduce its effectiveness.
You can choose to put the jacket on a hanger or coat rack. To avoid damaging the hood, we recommend that you hang it with the small inside loop at the base of the neck.
How to repair a waterproof jacket
Has your jacket got torn when walking past rocks or a rather aggressive bush? Don't even think about stitching it up or applying an iron-on patch: making a hole would create a way in for water and reduce the waterproofness.
Your best companion: repair tape!
Cut out a round-cornered rectangle one or two centimeters larger than the size of the tear and glue it to the fabric nice and flat.
Well done, your jacket is clean, waterproof and the holes are patched up! You’re good to go walking in the rain again!