Maintaining Your Waterproof Gear

Waterproof jackets are certainly a necessity in Ireland, for any of us who love the great outdoors and wearing outdoor clothing! Waterproof wear is fantastic for keeping you dry, making the outdoors cosier, safer, and more fun. Knowing how to clean and care for waterproof wear to maintain its waterproofing is key to its longevity. This means regularly washing your waterproof jacket with the correct cleaning products. 

To ensure the quality of the waterproof coating lasts, we have compiled some tips and recommendations explaining exactly how to clean and care for your waterproof jacket or rainwear, to keep you dry for years to come!

Did you know that it is not recommended to wash waterproof jackets using ordinary detergent or fabric softener?

This is because the chemicals in detergent can break down the composition of the fibers with each wash and eventually strip the fabric of its waterproof coating.

After regular use, whether it be while you are out and about on walking trails, out for a hike, or just touring all of the spectacular places to visit in Ireland, your waterproof jacket or waterproof trousers will eventually stop repelling water. This is because dirt and debris which comes into contact with and settles on your garment can damage the waterproof coating.

When this happens, moisture starts seeping into the fabric. If you notice that the fabric of your jacket or trousers is absorbing rather than repelling water, then there are ways to ‘reproof’ your garment.


We all know the first thing we do with dirty or mucky clothes is to throw them into the washing machine, but please refrain from this temptation! At least before reading the steps below on how to best care for your waterproof garments. 


What makes a garment ‘waterproof’ or ‘water repellent’ ?

Waterproof wear, like waterproof rain jackets or trousers from Portwest Irelands outdoor shop are pieces of clothing that are coated in durable water-repellant (DWR) finish. This hydrophobic glaze that allows the coats to be breathable, yet waterproof. 

Essentially, this means that it lets water vapor—like sweat—out, but keeps rain from getting in. Without a DWR, the raincoat is just a coat. So, if you find your jacket If you notice that the fabric of your jacket or trousers is absorbing rather than repelling water, then there are ways to ‘reproof’ your garment. 

Reproofing your garment is when the DWR wears away after use and products like Nikwax Waterproofers are needed to replenish DWR.


How do I clean waterproof garments without ruining the DWR? 

First, you can try cleaning your water repellent clothes with a suitable product like the Nikwax Cleaner, and if it is fairly new, or recently re-waterproofed, the DWR will be revitalised just from cleaning. 

But, once the item has been thoroughly used, you will need to add DWR, using a suitable Nikwax Waterproofer, after cleaning.


Introducing the NikWax Range! 

At Portwest, we highly recommend the use of Nikwax products to help prolong the life of waterproof clothing, footwear & equipment. These are also great for enhancing the performance of your gear, so whether you work outdoors or spend your leisure time outside, Nikwax will help keep you dry. 

Reproofing products are easy to use and they go exactly where needed, so less product is wasted, saving you money!


Nikwax Waterproofers are not only great for use on waterproof clothing and footwear, but also for enhancing the performance of tents, rucksacks, down, and even maps!

The Nikwax range is useful for anyone and everyone, but is a firm favourite with mountaineers, walkers, cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, and anyone who works outdoors.


Nikwax Waterproofers can be applied to wet or dry materials. Whether you have a high mountain tent, waterproof boots, or a breathable waterproof jacket, using the right cleaning product is as important as using the right waterproofing product. Footwear is subject to high levels of abrasion, so waterproofing products should be applied quite frequently. Apply after you have washed away the dirt and mud, before leaving your footwear to dry. 


Nikwax Waterproofers are specifically designed and optimised to leave a flexible water repellent treatment on individual fibres, preventing materials from ‘wetting out’ and allowing moisture vapour to pass through, maintaining breathability.


Nikwax Waterproofers are quick and easy to apply and their highly Durable Water Repellency (DWR) develops on air drying, so heat activation is not required.


Nikwax Waterproofers are WaterBased, non-aerosol, non-flammable, non-hazardous and environmentally friendly. They contain no harmful solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are completely free of fluorocarbons (which have been shown to be persistent in the environment and have been associated with serious health issues).



Washing Waterproof Clothing Steps:

Before washing, remember to brush off any loose dirt, debris or mud, and close any zips and flaps on jackets and waterproof trousers.

  1. Check that the detergent compartment of your washing machine is clear of any detergent. As an extra precaution, you could also run your washing machine on a hot wash with nothing in it to clear any residues from detergent or softeners.
  2. Add Nikwax Tech Wash. In a top-loading machine, add three full caps (150ml) for 1-3 jackets, or five full caps (250ml) for 4-6 jackets. In a front loader, it’s best to add no more than two jackets with two capfuls (100ml) of Tech Wash. Special note: If you live in an area with hard water, toss in an extra capful of Tech Wash. If you have an HE machine, use about half the recommended amount so you don’t suds up the place.
  3. Place your waterproof garments in the drum. Do not wash your waterproof jacket or outdoor clothing with other items or more than two garments at a time.
  4. Sit back with a good book and a glass of wine/beer/hot cocoa as the machine runs its course.
  5. Run through the complete wash and rinse cycle at 30 degrees. Remember to always check the label of your garment for exact care details.
  6. Garments can be left to air dry or be tumble-dried. Garments should only be tumble-dried on low or medium heat if care instructions allow.
  7. More often than not, this single cycle will be enough to have revitalized your waterproof jacket.


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