How to wash and care for a waterproof jacket

How to wash a waterproof jacket

Waterproof jackets are great for keeping the moisture out, but they’re not quite as efficient when it comes to keeping dirt and marks away or less than fresh odours.

So if you’re feeling like your coat could really do with a wash, and if, like us, you’re wondering how to wash a coat that’s designed to resist water, then we’ll talk you through some quick and easy steps on how you can clean your waterproof jacket without damaging its main function.

And if you’re in need of one while this jacket is in the wash, then check out our round-up of the best waterproof jackets.

When it comes to waterproof jackets, the wash care process is so important because waterproof jackets are coated in a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment that can be broken down if cleaned with ordinary detergent in the washing machine. And so, knowing how to specifically take care of your coat will ensure it continues to be effective in protecting you from moisture.

So let’s go through it step by step:

Step 1:

As mentioned, you can’t just use normal detergent; you need a specialised cleaning product that’s designed for taking care of waterproof garments. So the first step is to purchase a good cleaner such as Nikwax Tech Wash or Mountainwear Wash’n’Proof.

Step 2:

Before you’re going to put the jacket into the wash, it’s a good idea to loosen the dirt within the material by using a very soft-bristle brush or a micro-fibre cloth. Once the dirt has come up from the threads, wipe it down and then check your pockets; shake out your hood for any loose twigs or leaves. Once it’s been wiped of excess dirt, close all zips and flaps on the garment to avoid them getting damaged in the wash.

Step 3:

Put the jacket in the washer drum and make sure the draws are clean of any detergent or fabric softener. Next, fill the draw with the specialised cleaner. Make sure to check the garment label for the temperature that you should wash it at, but if you’re unsure, stick to 30 degrees. This can vary from product to product, so it’s always best to check.

Step 4:

Once the cycle has finished, it’s best to leave the waterproof jacket to air dry. You can tumble dry it, but it should be on a very low heat. If you can, we would recommend air drying it.

Treating and Reproofing your jacket

Over time and over multiple washes, your waterproof garments can lose their effectiveness. You can see if the DWR coating is failing because rather than the water beading up and rolling off the jacket; it will instead begin to soak through the top layer.

When this occurs, it’s a good idea to reproof your jacket to keep it at optimum performance. While we don’t recommend reproofing your jacket after every wash, we do suggest washing your waterproof jacket before you reproof it.

You can do this two ways depending on the reproofing product that you buy:

  1. If the reproof product requires a wash cycle, then just carry out the same process as above but swap the cleaner out for the reproof product.
  2. If it’s a spray,  hang the jacket up and spray the reproofing product evenly on the outside of the coat from approximately 15-20 cm away. Check that all the areas have been covered and wipe off excess product. Leave it to dry naturally and once it’s dried, apply a second coat to the areas that suffer from the most impact, i.e. shoulders and the hood.

Once again, leave the jacket to dry naturally.


Hopefully, your waterproof jacket is back to being as good as new so you can set off on your outdoors adventure again… or just walking the dog… whichever you prefer. And if you’re in need of two, check out our round-up of the best waterproof jackets.


How to wash and care for a waterproof Jacket