● Read and follow care instructions included with your garment, usually printed on a tag and stitched into a seam. Manufacturer instructions supersede any tips offered here.
● Rainwear manufacturers usually encourage people to wash their garments regularly. A clean rain jacket outperforms a dirty or smoky garment.
● Despite the expense, specialized cleaning products created specifically for WP/BR rainwear are often recommended by manufacturers. The key reason: They rinse away cleanly. Mass-market detergents include additives (optical brighteners, foaming agents and more) that leave behind surfactant residues that can impact performance. Specialized products are available from Granger's, Nikwax, ReviveX or Sport-Wash.
● If a grocery-store detergent is your only choice, select a variety labeled "free" or "clear." Typically they include fewer additives.
● Whatever cleaning product is used, always rinse thoroughly; 2 rinses cycles are usually advised to remove all soap reside.
● Hand-washing or front-loading washers are preferred; top-loaders can potentially snag a garment on its agitator.
● Close any zippers, empty pockets and fasten any rip-and-stick (aka hook-and-loop) closures to prevent possible abrasion while garments tumble. Turn garments inside-out.
● Prewash stain removers such as Shout and Spray 'n' Wash are usually acceptable. Check instructions for your particular product.
● Things to avoid (unless otherwise specified):
● Fabric softener and dryer sheets. They contain waxes, oils and fragrances that diminish WP/BR performance in fabrics.
● Chlorine bleach.
● Dry cleaning.
● Open flames or intense heat (synthetic WP/BR materials can melt).
● Rain jacket or rain pants may not last a lifetime. Some reasons why:
● Hard use can cause snags, rips and tears on the face fabric; this makes a garment vulnerable to leakage.
● Even if the face fabric does not rip, a hard fall on rock or ice can cause a shearing effect on laminate or coating, which can permit leakage.
● Basic DWR revival and reapplication advice was mentioned earlier in this article. For a more detailed explanation of durable water repellents, please refer to our companion article, Rainwear: DWR Care