October 06, 2020
How to wash Gore-Tex clothing and restore Durable Water Repellency (DWR)
Whether it’s a technical jacket or a pair of ski pants, when you wash waterproof clothing with a Gore-Tex type membrane you need to be careful not to damage it. By following these instructions, you will be able to wash your garment worry free and reactivate the waterproofing at the same time.
Washing clothing with a Gore-Tex type membrane
When washing a jacket or pants with a waterproof membrane, use a washing machine:
- Empty the pockets.
- Close all the zippers, snaps and Velcro closures to protect them and to keep them from damaging your garment.
- Do not turn the jacket or pants inside out to protect the membrane. It is on the inside of your garment.
- Put your clothes into the washing machine. You can wash several pieces of clothing at the same time but don’t pack them in. Make sure to leave a bit of space.
- Use a normal liquid detergent (not powder) or a product that’s specially made to clean membranes. Add the normal amount. Do not add fabric softener.
- Select a “synthetic” wash cycle at a low temperature setting of 30˚C (86˚F) with the spin cycle set at 600 rpm maximum.
- When the first cycle has finished, run the rinse and spin cycles again to make sure all the soap has been rinsed away.
If you don’t have a dryer, simply dry your clothes on a hanger either outdoors in a place that’s shielded from direct sunlight or indoors in a well-ventilated room.
- If you have a dryer, put your Gore-Tex in a machine on the “synthetic” cycle and set to a low temperature like 60˚C (140˚F) maximum. A single drying cycle of 40 to 50 minutes should be plenty.
Restore the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) of the outer fabric
Whether your clothing has a waterproof membrane or not, the outer fabric is commonly impregnated with a water-repellent treatment (also called DWR) that prevents water and snow from penetrating.
- If you dry your jacket or pants in a dryer, the heat will reactivate the water repellency.
- On the other hand, after drying on a hanger, put a towel over the outside fabric of your garment and pass an iron that’s not too hot (synthetic setting or 110˚c (230˚F) max) over it a few times. The towel helps distribute the heat evenly and prevents the risk of damaging the fabric. By doing this, the heat from the iron will reactivate the water repellency without the need of any other products.
You can also find products that will revitalize the durable water repellency in the form of a liquid detergent or spray (from Nikwax or NST, for example). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you decide to use them.
Washing your Gore-Tex jacket and pants is an important part of maintaining them, restoring their breathability and extending their lifespan. The degradation of the membrane over time is inevitable and it’s not possible to restore a worn-out membrane’s waterproofing. However, restoring the durable water repellency of the outer fabric is very simple and effective. There’s no reason not to, really.