29th May 2013…….
Around this time of year, earlier if the onset of summer comes sooner, I like to give all my wet weather clothing a good clean and re-proofing, before packing it away til Autumn. Unfortunately it looks like I’m gonna be using it for a little longer this year, while this rainy weather persists, but dirt & wear and tear has caused them all to become a little leaky, so its gotta be done. My weapons of choice for the job are Tech Wash and TX Direct Wash-In, both made by Nikwax.
Breathable waterproof fabrics, such as Goretex, do their job best when clean, but one doesn’t just throw them in the washing machine with a slug of Daz – No, no – detergents will strip the surface of the fabric of it’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, and hinder the adhesion of any further coatings that are applied. So Tech Wash is the stuff for the job. Soap flakes can be used, but Tech Wash is cheap, and real easy to use as it comes in liquid form.
Once the garments are nice and clean they need the DWR coating to be replenished. This coating causes water to form into droplets, which roll off the fabric. Once the coating wears away, through wear and tear, and abrasion, water starts to soak into the fabric (known as “Wetting Out”), causing it to lose up to 70% of its breathability. Not good – once a waterproof fabric stops breathing it becomes nothing better than a polythene bin-bag. The wearer will quickly become wet & clammy, due to moisture (sweat) not being able to pass through the Goretex membrane to the outside of the fabric. Many Goretex wearers mistakenly think their garments have developed a fault, so wet can they get on the inside, especially on warm, rainy days.
TX Direct Wash-In, which is also in liquid form, is applied to the freshly cleaned garments in the washing machine, which is put on a gentle, cool wash cycle, followed by a low temperature tumble dry, which activates the DWR. If no tumble dryer is available a cool iron, applied to the outer face of the fabric, will suffice.
Newly washed & proofed waterproof garments perform excellently in wet weather – so efficient is the DWR at ridding the surface of the fabric of water that the garments can feel dry to the touch, even in heavy rain.
- Re-proofing Your Waterproof Clothing (machinemakers.typepad.com)