How to wash a waterproof jacket

Regularly washing and caring for your waterproof gear is essential for maintaining its performance. Our Service Centre team have created this simple ten-step guide to show you how to wash and reproof your waterproof gear at home. Prefer an expert wash service? Send your waterproof Rab kit back to us, and we will return it to peak condition to prolong its working life.

Periodic washing is essential to maintain the performance of your waterproof clothing and without it, the item may go beyond restoration. Don’t miss the opportunity to extend the life of your kit!

After rigorous mountain use, you may notice that your waterproof gear is not as effective as when you first bought it. Over time the DWR (durable water repellent) coating will wear off, causing the garment to soak up moisture, affecting weight and breathability. Sweat, dirt, and residue from cosmetics can also become impregnated into the fabrics.

Because of this we would advise washing your waterproof after every tenth use, or earlier if it gets visibly dirty.

If you have better things to do than hang around washing and drying your GORE-TEX shells – there are mountains to climb and hills to explore after all. Why not make the most of our recent partnership with GORE-TEX and utilise our new GORE-TEX shell wash service operated by the experts at our Service Centre?

Washing waterproofs tips

  1. Rinse your washing machine out before use. This clears any leftover detergent and softeners that might damage the fabrics and coatings. Clean the detergent drawer and then run one or two rinse cycles.
  2. Make sure the pockets are empty.
  3. Close all zips, pockets, and Velcro fastenings.
  4. Use a non-biological liquid detergent, liquid pure soap, or a specifically formulated technical cleaner such as our newly formulated Rab Shell Wash made in conjunction with local company Storm
  5. Place the wash solution in the detergent drawer and if you are reproofing at the same time (recommended) then add our Rab Proofer in the conditioner compartment. 
  6. Machine Wash on a gentle, cool setting. Check the white care label, but 30ºC or 40ºC is usually ideal both for your jacket and the environment.
  7. After spinning at a low speed (400) hang the garment on a line to dry naturally.
  8. If the care label allows, tumble dry your garment for 20-30 minutes on a low heat setting which will activate the proofer. If a tumble dryer is not available, iron on a medium heat ensuring you use a clean tea towel (or similar) as a barrier between the iron and garment.
  9. If you are in the field, you can also hand wash your jacket if you don't have access to a washing machine. Keep the water cool, detergent as gentle as possible, rinse it well, and give it plenty of time to dry, out of strong direct sunlight.

Waterproofing your jacket / DWR coatings

Your waterproof jacket or trousers has a Durable Water Repellent coating on its outer fabric. Known as a DWR. It's what makes the water droplets bead and roll off. This is your shell's first barrier to the weather, and also helps it breathe better.

In recent years cutting fluorocarbons from DWR finishes has been a great move for the Outdoor industry. Reducing chemicals and lowering environmental impact. However, it means we all have to care more for our waterproof equipment, to maintain its performance over time. We already require our gear to withstand rugged environments, sweat, dirt, and constant abrasion from backpacks. So it is crucial to refresh the kit and revitalise that crucial waterproof performance.

When you notice water's stopped beading and rolling off it's time to revitalise the DWR. 

Reproofing your waterproof

  1. If your item is sparkling clean, but water is not beading on the outer surface you can tumble dry the garment for 20-30 minutes on a low heat setting which may re-activate the factory-applied DWR coating. If a tumble dryer is not available, iron on a medium heat ensuring you use a clean tea towel (or similar) as a barrier between the iron and garment.
  2. As an all-in-one solution, you can wash and reproof at the same time using our Rab Shell wash and Proofer. Simply follow the washing instructions above.
  3. If you are hand washing your garment you may find it easier to use a spray-on DWR re-proofer. Whilst the garment is still damp spray the outer fabric with the spray-on proofer, following the bottle's instructions.
  4. For all processes, we would recommend finishing off by tumble drying on a low heat setting for 20-30 minutes if possible.



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