By Paul Norman
We need our waterproof cycling jackets and clothing to repel the rain - but after a lot of use, its ability to do so fades. So what treatments do we need to re-waterproof our garments?
It's a fact you don't want to hear, but technical waterproof layers will begin to work less effectively over time. That’s largely down to surface dirt or abrasion stopping the durable water resistant (DWR) layer on the outer surface working as intended, and to sweat and oils clogging the pores of an internal membrane barrier.
To restore a lot of the effectiveness, it's best to wash the waterproof item of clothing with a technical cleaner. Standard laundry detergents won’t cut it because they leave residues on your jacket, causing the DWR layer to wet out. They might strip it off altogether.
Re-waterproofing your technical cycling kit should usually a two-stage process and we explain how best to keep your kit in tip-top condition, and what the best waterproof treatments are.
First wash, then re-proof
If washing doesn’t restore your garment’s waterproofing or the outer surface continues to wet out in the rain, you might need to go to stage two and re-treat its waterproofing. That calls for a different set of products, which apply a new DWR coating to your jacket, either by washing in or by spraying on the outer surface.
What brands should you look for?
In the UK, the market for waterproof treatments is dominated by Grangers and Nikwax. The two brands make a comparable range of products, including the basic washes and re-proofers described above. Other brands to look out for include Fibertec from Germany and Decathlon’s Forclaz, while some clothing brands like Endura and Assos sell their own care products.
Grangers and Nikwax also make specialist washes and re-proofing products for items like down-filled jackets and tents. Nikwax extends that further with products to treat softshells, fleeces and even horse rugs.
Best waterproof treatments and cleaners: our picks
Here's our pick of the best waterproof treatments and cleaners. With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Nikwax Tech Wash
Nikwax’s Tech Wash is designed to wash all your cycling kit. Applied to waterproof kit, it might be enough to get the DWR coating working again without needing to apply a new surface treatment. Evans Cycles sells the 300ml size or the larger one litre bottle.
Forclaz Fabric Waterproofing Liquid
Decathlon’s wash-in liquid requires 60ml to treat a jacket, so a bottle should be enough for four re-treatments. Following washing, it says that the garment should be tumble dried for 15 minutes to activate the coating. That’s something that most kit should handle, although watch out for some jackets that might not allow this.
Grangers Active Wash
Grangers Active Wash is designed to clean all your active wear, not just your waterproof kit, bringing its technical features back to full strength. 30ml will treat a full load of cycle clothing. Let it air dry and it’s ready to use, and Active Wash will eliminate odours too.
Fibertec Pro Wash Eco
Designed to wash and restore breathability and water repellence to technical layers, including jackets, softshell and fleece, the concentrated formula only needs 25ml per wash, so you get up to ten washes from the 250ml size bottle.
Endura Apparel Cleaner And Re-proofer
Like Grangers’ 2 in 1, this product from Endura cleans your jacket and re-proofs it in one step, saving time and electricity. Once it’s been washed, you’ll need to tumble dry it or iron it to activate the waterproofing. Even a once-over with a hairdryer will get your jacket’s proofing back in action.
Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On
TX Direct repairs the DWR layer on your waterproof kit. It’s just sprayed on and left to dry to re-coat your jacket, eliminating the need for tumble drying, so it’s good for older waterproofs that might not handle heat activation.
Nikwax TX Direct Wash In Waterproofer
If you prefer to apply your re-proofer using a washing machine, Nikwax’s TX Direct is also available in this format. Amazon sells this massive 5 litre bottle, which it says will handle up to 50 garments, although you can go smaller, down to 100ml, if your waterproof clothing collection isn’t as extensive.
Nikwax Tech Wash/SoftShell Proof
This twin pack from Nikwax gives you all you need to clean and re-proof a technical softshell cycling jacket. It’s usable either in a washing machine or by hand washing. Nikwax says that it coats individual fibres of the garment, leaving them waterproof but still breathable and also makes sure that seams and tapes are effectively treated.
Grangers Clothing Care Kit
Three products in one package, this kit from Grangers gives you the brand’s Performance Wash to clean your jacket, Performance Repel Plus spray-on DWR coating and a free sample of Active Wash to treat your jerseys, shorts and baselayers.
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