Everybody has in his/her wardrobe some waterproof garments: ski jackets, walking trousers, sailing salopettes,…
These, through time, take some serious punishments: mud, salt, general everyday stains... But, you can't go on and put your dirty jacket into the washing machine like your regular cotton tee-shirt, right?
Well, not exactly. Here is the steps you need to go through to ensure a safe and thorough cleaning.
First thing first, you need to establish how dirty your jacket is. (For convenience, I will use the example of a waterproof jacket but bare in mind that this applies to any waterproof garment).
Is there any tough stains on it? These will have to be treated before washing the jacket. It is an important phase in your cleaning process. If these are not fully removed, when you come to the final stage of the cleaning (ie adding the water-repellent spray), the breathability of your jacket will be compromised.
To help you with this task, Gill has come up with a brilliant little product: Gill Intensive Spot Cleaner.
You will also need to brush off any loose dirt. On top of that, don't forget to close all the Zips and Velcro. If this is not done, the loose zipper or the harsh parts of the Velcro might rub while in the washing machine and damage the jacket.
Two options here:
- Hand wash
- Washing Machine.
Personally, on my very first time, I did it by hand as I was a bit worried about using the machine for such a delicate task. But, after some successful try outs, I now exclusively machine-wash my waterproofs.
If the hand solution is probably the safest because you know how hot the water is etc… the machine one is much more convenient and allows you to clean more than one garment in one go quickly.
However, if you decide to go with the washing machine option, you need to follow these few steps. If not followed, your jacket might end up ruined and not waterproof at all anymore.
- Make sure you clean your washing machine drawer from all your regular detergents. Ah sure, it needed a good clean anyway!
- Set up your machine to its lowest setting. On most machine it would be your wool or silk settings.
- Do not use the dryer! This will cook your beautiful jacket and turn into some kind of used chewing gum. I have seen some manufacturers saying it is possible on low heat but really, I would not do it. It won't even take that much time to dry naturally anyway.
- If you have time, run a series of spin cycles to remove the excess water.
- Use waterproof clothing cleaners. Again, Gill comes really handy here as they have a very efficient washing product. With one bottle you will be able to clean about 6 garments. The bottle will tell you otherwise but I always use less than the recommended amount successfully. You might think that these products are scams but you clearly haven’t seen the effect of our supermarket’s detergents on your waterproof clothes. Trust me, I have seen enough customers with delaminated products to vouch for the use of these specific cleaners! Really ugly thing, a 200 euros jacket good for the bin. If you feel really daring, you can use NON-BIO detergents but I have never done it as I much prefer using the waterproof clothes cleaners.
In brief, using your washing machine saves you time and effort but be careful how you do it and follow the few steps mentioned above.
Finally, there is one last thing you can do to revive your jacket to a near new condition:
Once your washing machine has finished its last spinning cycle and you finally take your jacket out, you can re-proof it.
This last step seems to be very confusing for most people.
The waterproofing products, like Gill Reproofing Spray, are not going to make your “not so waterproof anymore” jacket waterproof again. These products are a help, an after washing care.
They are not a miraculous solution!
So what are they doing then?, you ask.
When manufacturers build a waterproof garment, they coat it with a DWR: Durable Water Repellent. This is why your jacket is not absorbing water when its new. The drops of water run right off it. With time, this coating wears off.
The waterproofing spray is basically a new DWR coat. A bit like when you paint your garden fence every year because the sun wore off the protective coating. The main advantage here being that your jacket won't get heavy from the water it may absorb otherwise.
That said, you won't need to use this every time you wash your jacket. If you only just bought it, it won't be necessary as the manufacturer’s DWR won’t have had time to fade off.
The easiest way to know if you need it, is to pour water on your jacket and see if it repels the water or if it absorbs it. If absorbed, you’ll need the waterproofing spray.
Gill’s waterproofing spray is to be used as soon as the jacket comes out of the washing machine or out of your caring wet hands. Anyway, don’t let it dry, just spray it wet.
Some other waterproofers will ask you to wait till the garment is dry. I found that a bit facetious as I just want to be done with the chore in one go.
Waterproofers going straight into the machine do exists too. I tried it in the past but felt that the result was uneven and my machine was all clogged with it afterwards.
Once you’ve sprayed your jacket, you just need to wait and let it dry. I hang mine in my shower overnight.
And, that’s it! Your jacket is now ready to be used again.
So remember, cleaning your waterproof garments asks for a little bit more than your average clothes but it is easy to do, affordable and well worth it as it will extend your garments life.