How to Wash Rain Jacket: Keep Your Gear in Shape

If you’ve ever been caught in a downpour in the wild, then you know how worth investing in qood quality rain gear is. If your gear won’t keep you warm and dry, the cold and wetness can quickly turn into a big problem.

After a while, you may notice that you rain ajcket doesn’t work as well as it used to. Rain droplets are harder to bead and your jacket may start feeling damp and “broken” . This is called “wetting out” and is often an indicator that it’s time you wash your jacket and treat it with new waterproofing.

Taking care of your rain jacket is a pretty simple task. To help you, we put together a quick guide that will show you how to get it functioning like new again.

Rain Jacket

How Rain Jackets Actually Work

Despite the fact that many people refer to any waterproof breathable fabric as “GORE-TEX,” your breathable rain jacket could be made of a variety of materials.
WPBs, regardless of brand, are designed to perform two functions: waterproofing and allowing air to pass through to the outside.

  • Keeps the rain off you and your clothes. A protective layer prevents rain from penetrating waterproof rainwear. This is typically accomplished by using a waterproof material or a type of coating. Waterproof coats typically have a long-lasting water repellent finish to protect the fabric of the outer layer and keep rain from penetrating the membrane or coating underneath.
  • Allows sweat to escape while keeping your clothes dry and making it easier to maintain your body temperature in any condition.Waterproof jackets also keep you warm in the cold.
  • The good news is that almost all jackets (that have passed a waterproof test) are also windproof.


Waterproof jacket
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The fact that raindrops are much larger than sweat vapor allows membranes and coatings to be both waterproof and breathable. The tiny holes in the membranes or coatings of jackets allow sweat vapor to escape while repelling water droplets.

The physics of evaporation is at the root of this. Sweating causes the air inside your jacket to become warmer and more humid than the air outside your body. Because nature strives for equilibrium, warm moist air moves into the membrane and evaporates when it cools.

Why it’s Important to Take Good Care of your rain jacket

When you wear your waterproof jacket, oils from your skin and dirt from the environment cling to it, reducing the DWR coating’s water resistance. Washing your jacket with regular detergent will also harm the DWR. Dirt and residue from those detergents attract water, defeating the purpose completely.

Washing your rain jacket in a technical cleaner will revitalize the DWR. This causes water to bead off your jacket rather than soak into it.

Rain Jacket
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If you take good care of the fabric and the finish, you’ll have your rain jacket for a long time without the need to get a new one – and if you’re a passionate outdoors person, you know how important it is to stay dry out there, and how unexpected rain can be.

How Often Do I Need to clean my rain jacket

Once you realize you need to take great care of your rain jacket, you need to learn how to clean it. The first thing you must know is how often you need to do it. If you forget about it, it will get ruined, but cleaning it too often can also make a problem rather than prevent one.

Your rain jacket will accumulate dirt, dust, sweat, and anything small enough to get inside every second of the time, no matter if you use it or not. Of course, using it will make the process faster because you’ll get in contact with more unwanted particles that can cause damage.

Experts advise cleaning your jacket in accordance with how you use it. If you use your jacket pretty often and you’re in a rainy, muddy area, you should wash it after not more than two weeks. A week and a half to two weeks is best. If you don’t use it too often – and when you use it, you don’t get in touch with too much water and dirt – you can go up to a month without cleaning it.

Washing Rain Jacket
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Of course, if you just have it hanged in the closet, you don’t need to do anything for a longer time. It is best to make your own judgment. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, if there is visible dirt, if it smells funny, if the water is not evaporating well, then you can be sure it’s time to make the washing.

Safety Measures Before Washing your rain jacket

If the time for cleaning has come, treat your jacket just like all the other clothes before putting them in the washing machine. Check the pockets for some personal belongings that you might ruin or they might ruin the jacket. Unzip the zippers so the water can get to all the parts without a problem.

Also, make sure the straps are not fastened and all the trims and flaps are loosened. This way you’ll help the washing to be done better and more thoroughly, but also you’ll avoid eventual damages to the gear. Water is pretty powerful and it can make damages to the straps and the other parts. Also, some parts might need a different treatment, so have this in mind.

Rain Jacket
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Before you start washing, check your machine for some leftover detergents and cleaning products. these might hurt your jacket more than anything else. You can find some special rain jacket detergents that are best to use in these situations, so make sure you’re well prepared.

How to Wash your rain jacket?

You can’t simply dump the jacket in the washing machine, right? No, really, you can’t! There are several things you must know before you place the jacket in the machine – this way you’ll only make a greater mess, so learn what’s best for your jacket!

Clean The Surface Manually First

Before you throw the jacket in the washing machine, take it in your hands and remove all the visible things that covered the surface. Dirt, stains that you’re able to remove, everything you can see – take it off. This way you’ll help the machine wash the jacket without giving the bigger dirt a chance to disintegrate and enter inside the tiny pores during the machine-wash.

It is best to get a microfiber cloth, place it little water to get it wet so it can work better and wipe the entire surface of the jacket. This will certainly do the job. Never use abrasive materials – they might be good for harder surfaces, but can only damage your water repellent jacket. Either use special materials for these occasions, or just water if you’re not sure.

Water Cleaning Jacket
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It is important to treat visible dirt right after you use your jacket. You won’t stop in the middle of your trip to clean the jacket while the rain is falling, but when you get home, or in camp, try to clean the jacket as soon as you can because this can disintegrate into smaller particles and enter inside the pores. It will be much harder cleaning it afterward.

How to Machine-Wash it

Most clothing labels that are selling water-repellent jackets will suggest you wash your jacket at 100 F degrees. However, the best temperature is 80 F degrees. This way you’ll be sure that your jacket won’t get damaged by the temperature, plus, you’ll know you’re taking care of the planet with this little act. Seriously, you don’t need to wash it on 100, so why do it anyway?

Our advice is not to use your regular washing product. Instead, look on the internet or at specialized stores for some detergent that is made for rain jackets. Regular detergents can hurt the surface and make more damage than good to your clothes that are water repellent, so try to find a product that is made for clothes like this.

Rain Jacket Detergent
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If there is an option on your washing machine for slower spins, make sure you use that setting. With it, you’ll have less risk of damaging your jacket by the spinning of the machine. When the cycle is over, you can let the machine make a dry cycle to take the excess water out of the surface.

Be Careful when Drying!

Don’t use the dryer to dry the water-repellent jacket. The driers use heat to dry your clothes which in this case is only bad for you. The heat can damage the pores and make your jacket useless. Instead, give it a dry cycle and then take the jacket out of the machine.

At the end, hang your jacket in a dry place, preferably with at least little wind or air flow and wait for it to get completely dry. This way, the so important tiny pores will dry out the best leaving nothing behind and get them in perfect condition – just like after you first bought your jacket.

Top Products for Cleaning Rain Jackets

The market is swarmed with products for cleaning rain jackets. There are lots of detergents, cleaners, sprays, waxes, creams, and other products to keep your clothes in perfect shape. If you love your outdoor adventures, you’ll need to get more products that are used on different occasions.

Washing Rain Jacket in Machine
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Washing the jacket in a washing machine can’t be done with your regular detergent, so you’ll need to get it washed with a special cleaning product. After the washing, it is best to keep the finishing of the jacket in shape with a wax or a spray. Some harder surfaces can also be polished with special water-repellent creams and then be used as waterproof.

Products for such cloth care are not expensive. They range from as little as $5 to something like $20. You can find them in specialized stores for such products, stores that sell water repellent clothes or, of course, on the internet. The online stores, especially those most popular have a bunch of products for these occasions.

What if The Rain Jacket Won’t Stay Dry Anymore

After a longer use, especially in heavy conditions, your jacket might completely lose its efficiency. You’ll see how the jacket is completely wet from the outside, but you’ll have a feeling like you’re constantly walking in a steamy room. The jacket won’t be wet from both sides, but you won’t be able to feel completely dry and comfortable inside the jacket.

That means you’ll need to make a thorough clean and renew the surface of the jacket. As mentioned above, you can find some excellent sprays and waxes on the market that keeps the finishing of the water repellent jackets up to date. Everything needs constant maintenance, and these jackets are nothing different.

Nikwax waterproofing spray
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When your jacket stops repelling the water, it means it’s time to freshen it up. Get some of the products that are used to refresh the DWR – Durable Water Repellent – finish and use it on the surface of the jacket. It usually comes as a spray or a wax, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s a good product that is proven to work.

After you finished everything mentioned above, after you got your jacket out of the machine and it is probably half-dry, then add the water repellent material. Cover every spot of the jacket and if some spots look like they need extra care, feel free to place some more wax or spray there. Then hang it just like mentioned above – in a room that is dry and preferable where air flows.

How Many Times Can I Wash my Rain Jacket

Well, basically forever. There is no wash limit on a cloth so the right answer is – until the fabric can take the pressure of time. Clothes from different companies are stronger and more durable so it is probably a good idea to spend a little more on products that are proven to last more than others.

Ways to proof a jacket
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Different jackets will hold a different amount of washing. Some will hold more rain too and harder usage. The washing itself, and the maintenance after it are things that can only give more life to your jacket, but if you do it too often, it will be unproductive.

Did you Wash Your Jacket the Wrong Way?

It’s not a tragedy, don’t worry. You won’t need to throw it away, but you’ll need to make an extra effort to get in the previous condition. Yes, some products might completely damage your jacket, but that doesn’t happen too often.

What you’ll need to do is make the steps mentioned before. You’ll have to treat your jacket like it went under a heavy storm and wash it the right way again from the beginning. If you have made quite a lot of mess, you’ll probably need to make all the steps twice, or three times until you get the jacket in the condition you like it.

Some Last Thoughts Before You Get to Work

It’s all fun and games when you’re in nature, the rain is falling and you’re completely dry, right? Sure, but those days might soon be over if you don’t clean your rain jacket right. That’s why you need to take the cleaning commitment pretty seriously.

Checking the Rain Jacket
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Your rain jacket is not one of your usual clothes so you can simply throw them in the washing machine and forget about them until you need them again. A rain jacket can’t be washed the same way, you can’t use the same detergent as for everything else, and you can’t even tumble dry them. At the end of the day, however, with the right treatment, you’ll know you have a quality jacket that won’t fail you.

The most important thing you should remember is that there is no exact time to wash your jacket. Take care of your jacket after every use, and give it a little more attention after some time. Just like your Smartphone or computer, it needs to be rebooted from time to time – only, in this case, you need to use a cloth and a spray instead of a mouse.

Do you have any extra tips when it comes to washing your rain jacket? Drop us a line and let us know!

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