You can’t just throw a waterproof or ski jacket in the wash. A normal wash cycle combined with washing detergent will damage or remove the waterproof coating. For that reason, many people put up with very dirty jackets or pay high prices for professional cleaning. First of all lots of dirt can reduce the waterproofing on your jacket so just not washing it is not a good option. Secondly, you can wash these jackets yourself saving you time and money – but you need to do it the right way.
Read The Label
First of all, read the washing instructions on the label to your jacket. Not all materials and waterproofing treatments are the same and as a result, neither are the washing instructions. Some jackets might simply say wash at 40C others might insist on professional cleaning and others might have restrictions like a 30C or 20C cycle and may specify that you can’t use detergents. Others might need re-waterproofing after washing.
Detergents and Softeners
Most waterproof jackets cannot be washed with normal detergents or fabric softeners. You can decide to use no detergent at all however it is better to use a specialist product as these will not only aid cleaning but they will add back some of the waterproofing properties to your jacket. Search for products for “waterproof outerwear” – Nikwax and Grainger’s both make suitable products.
If your label says to use an alkaline free detergent then a pH neutral one will do – detergents for silk and wool are pH neutral so these will be fine.
Check the label, but Gore-Tex can usually be cleaned with normal LIQUID (not powder) detergent.
NEVER EVER USE FABRIC SOFTENER OR BLEACH.
Loading the Machine
Make sure there is no detergent build up in your detergent drawer or around the door seal. If your jacket was very expensive it is a good idea to put your machine on an empty hot cycle with no detergent first to give it a thorough clean.
Make sure every single pocket of your jacket is empty. Fasten all zips and seal all the velcro. This will reduce the likelihood of your jacket being damaged in the wash cycle. Also, do not overload your machine – only one or two jackets should be washed at the same time.
Some jackets might say this is an essential step but it is a good idea for all waterproof or ski jackets. Once your wash cycle has finished you simply put it on a cold wash (20C) with a specialist re-waterproofing product. Again check the jacket label and product instructions before you buy to make sure it is suitable for your jacket.
Some specialist cleaners might wash and re-waterproof in one go so this extra cycle may not be necessary. Check your cleaning product to see if this is the case.
Again check your jackets label as drying instructions vary. Some jackets can be tumble dried on low others should only be air dried.
It sounds complicated but it isn’t really. All you need to do is check the label and you might need to buy a specialist cleaner. You can get them easily online or from outdoor clothing shops.