Keep your waterproofs rocking for longer by looking after your washing machine, really!
This week's tip is a care one and all about keeping your washing machine clean with a regular service wash. It might not seem particularly outdoorsy, but actually it's a big help when it comes to maintaining the performance of your shell clothing.
In short, every month or so, you should give your washing machine a 'service wash'. Simply use a biological detergent or some soda crystals and, with the machine empty, run a full wash cycle on the hottest temperature.
Why? Low temperature washing cycles allow a build up of greasy residue and old detergent. This isn't a good thing in general terms anyway and can allow a build up of mould and bad smells as bacteria break down the deposits, but it's particularly important for outdoors people.
Normal washing powders, gels and liquids contain additives which reduce the effectiveness of aftermarket DWRs and reproofing agents. That's why the instructions for outdoors cleaners and reproofers tell you to rinse out the detergent tray of your machine before use and maybe to run a clean rinse through the machine.
That's a start, but unless you service wash regularly, once a month is a good guide, the inside of the washing machine drum and various pipes will also hold residues which, when you wash or reproof your technical shell clothing, could significantly reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.
That's one reason why aftermarket DWRs don't always seem to work as well as you'd expect. To underline that, when we visited the Grangers lab a few years ago, we were shown a machine which was only ever run with Grangers products in it.
If you want some more proof, run an empty washing machine through a cycle and watch the frothing detergent in the drum. Or dismantle your machine and check out the gunk that's likely to have accumulated in the outer casing of the machine's drum. Or more simply, check out the rubber seal between door and drum for evidence of slime.
We're not suggesting that you should buy a new washing machine solely to maintain your technical clothing, but a regular service wash will help those expensive aftermarket cleaners and proofers to do the job they're designed for.