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How to Wash Gore-tex Clothing

On my way out to work yesterday, my wife wrinkled her nose at me and told me that my Gore-tex shell, a 9 oz. Outdoor Research Celestial Jacket, was really smelling bad. I wear this coat all year round as a multipurpose wind shirt, rain jacket, and vapor barrier for winter hiking. It seems that my coat was overdue for a wash.

How to Wash Goretex Clothing

When I wash Gore-tex garments, I never use soap because I don't want to clog up the breathable pores that let water vapor pass through the Gore-tex membrane. I also don't want the garment to smell like detergent which a bear might interpret as a food item. My goal in life is not to become a satay stick.

If the outside of the garment is dirty, I wash off the dirt using a wet cloth or sponge. Next, I soak the garment in cold water and agitate it gently to dissolve the accumulated sweat and any remaining dirt. You can also do this in a washing machine on a gentle knit cycle. Front loading washing machines like you see in laundromats are the best for this because they don't have an agitator.

Before I wash the garment, I unzip all of the zippers and turn it inside out because this is where the smells accumulate. When washing manually or in a washing machine, I rinse the garment repeatedly, and then simply hang it up on a hanger and let it dry. Don't stick it in a dryer to expedite the process: you could melt the seam taping that makes the garment waterproof.

Once the garment dries, I lubricate all of the zippers with McNett Aquaseal Zip Tech to make them easy to open and close. After applying the lubricant, I run the zippers up and down a few times and wipe off any excess. 

I don't apply any additional waterproofing to the garmet after I wash it: it just seems pointless to me. Gore-tex doesn't let water pass from the outside of your jacket to the inside, so why bother. I have heard that you can bring the original DWR on your jacket back to life by drying it in a dryer set to a very low temperature, but air drying works fine for me.

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  1. Great article.

    What do you think of Tech Wash by Nikwax?


  2. I've never used it. Can't say.

  3. What product do you use to wash your wp/b fabrics?

    I use Nikwax products: Tech Wash, Softshell Proof and TX Direct. I find the Tech Wash is very good for cleaning hardshell and softshell clothing.

    I have not used TX Direct on a non-compromised piece of wp/b clothing, however. I did use it late in the life of my Marmot Precip in an effort to revive it. It was dead, however, because before I knew about Nikwax and the detriments of using normal detergents on wp/b clothing, I allowed my mother to wash the Precip in her washer.

    After my failed winter this this past January, I washed my softshell clothing with Tech Wash and Softshell Proof by hand. I find that they are effective for getting the funk out and refurbishing the DWR on softshell fabrics. It did leave a slightly waxy feeling on my PowerShield jacket, though.

  4. Thanks crazyrunnerguy. That's helpful info.

  5. Mate,

    Just check out the Gore web site. We have been following these instructions for years and it works REALLY well. Our coats are like new.

    This includes using detergents AND drying the coat in the clothes dryer.

    We do this after every big trip and it works like magic. Coats look like new AND are waterproof.

  6. A timely post, thank you – I've been putting off cleaning my Gore-tex for too long now. I'll be very happy if that low-heat dryer tip works.

  7. Accident with gasoline hose spilled gas onto my girls Gore-tex coat. Does anybody know how it can be safely washed?

  8. I suggest gentle soap to protect the DWR and water. Then tumble dry on low to reactivate the DWR. Check the manufacturer's instructions for a regular wash, as well.

  9. Any suggestions on how to do an emergency repair on waterproof breathable coating? I came back from a thrip last weekend and noticed significant peeling on the back of the knees on my rain/snow pants (Mountain Hardwear Cohesion). I talked with the manufacturer, who, by the way, said wash after every big trip, especially in the summer as the oils in your skin degrade the membrane and tiny dirt particles add to the abrasion. Anyway, I’ve ordered a new pair, but need something for my trip to the Bonds next weekend, which promises to be wet! What about using brush-on tent seam sealer? It won’t be breathable, but it’s not a huge area and I always vent anyway. What do you think? Any other ideas?

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