Reactivate Your Waterproofing Cheaply

You may be able to give your tired waterproof a new lease of life without using expensive reproofing products.

Posted: 20 September 2010
by Jon

With a healthy DWR, water should bead and run off like this. If it doesn't, the breathability of the jacket will be compromised.

This week's kit tip is a rapid response waterproof care one that could save you some time and money.

When waterproof and many windproof and soft shell garments are new, they come treated with something called a Durable Water Repellent treatment – DWR – which is what makes water bead and run off the surface of the garment and prevent it from soaking into the face fabric and reducing breathability.

Keep an eye on your waterproof and, if you find it starting to soak up water so the outer gets soggy easily, there may be a quick and easy solution. First, wash the garment in either pure soap – there's even a liquid pure soap option out there now – before rinsing or double rinsing it.

Next, dry the garment. You may actually find that this enough to allow the DWR to work again – it may have simply been masked by dirt on the suface of the fabric. But if it isn't, rather than immediately reproofing – see our cleaning and proofing tips – it may simply be enough to heat treat the garment and, in the process, reactivate the original factory DWR.

To do this, follow the instructions on the care label. You may be able to tumble dry at a low temperature or iron gently. Tumble drying is simple, but beware, first it abrades the surface of the fabric – where do you think the fluff in a tumbler's filter comes from – and next, a faulty thermostat could mean the tumbler is hotter than you think and could cause permanent damage to your jacket before you realise.

At least with an iron, you can see what's going on. If you do iron, avoid ironing directly onto reflective trim or you may stop it working.

The application of heat may be enough to mobilise the polymers of the treatment so they re-coat the fabric, so after heat-treating, splash some water onto the garment and see if it beads and runs off. If it does, you can hold back on reproofing the jacket until another time and save some money in the proess.

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Tips, DWR, garment care, reproofing

Discuss this story

1. Don't forget to clean your soap 'box' on your washing machine first to remove any residual detergent.

2. Tech Wash is a superb product. The instructions clearly state 100 - 150ml for two garments (depending on hardness of water)... If you use more than this, be prepared to mop up the suds flowing from your washing machine :-( As I did.

3. I don't have a tumble dryer. I find a wahing line and clothes horse cope with my needs very well. I have always found spinning then hanging to dry is just as effective.

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 07:29

what about ironing the item afterwards Bluff?

I always get confused as the instructions seem to change from item to item. What do you recommend?

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 09:09

Bluff recommends getting your maid to iron the item afterwards

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 10:54

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