jackets on hangers - how to wash water-proof clothing

How to Wash Water-Proof Clothing

Outdoor fabric technology has gotten highly sophisticated over the past couple of decades. Today, equipment manufacturers make waterproof clothing for just about any outdoor activity. From heavy snow gear for skiing to lightweight materials for running, waterproof fabric technology is extremely diverse. 

Looking at all the waterproof clothing options on the market today, it can be overwhelming to learn proper fabric care directions. That being said, washing many different waterproof clothes in a day would likely be an exhausting process with near-endless steps. 

Charlie’s Soap put together this brief exploration to help explain how to wash water-proof clothing. 


What is Waterproof Clothing? 

“Waterproof” is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of fabrics that offer different levels of protection from elements in the outdoors. That being said, while all waterproof fabrics provide some protection from the weather, there is far more to these materials than simply shedding water. 

The key to waterproof fabric design is coming up with a material that can keep water away from your core and allow air to escape from your body. While plastic rain ponchos are waterproof in the most basic sense of the term, they don’t offer the breathability of more expensive, high-performance materials. 

Different levels of waterproof clothing include: 

  • Waterproof/breathable: sheds water from your core while also allowing vapor to escape.
  • Water-resistant: keeps light rain off your body for a short time and allows vapor to escape.
  • Waterproof/non-breathable: sheds water from your core but does not allow any vapor to escape.

Today’s waterproof activewear is typically made of a combination of a breathable layer and a coating of a durable water repellant (DWR). Importantly, when it comes time to clean your waterproof gear, you must consider both layers of materials. 


How to Clean GORE-TEX  

GORE-TEX is easily the most popular waterproof fabric on the market. Due to this fact, Charlie’s Soap thought it best to give a quick overview on washing GORE-TEX. If your waterproof clothing isn’t made from GORE-TEX, odds are it should still be cleaned in a similar fashion.

A great starting point for washing GORE-TEX (or any performance fabric) is reading the care label’s directions. It will likely direct you to wash the material with warm water using a small amount of quality liquid detergent. After that, rinse the GORE-TEX twice. 

If possible, it’s best to air-dry GORE-TEX clothing. If this isn’t an option, dry your GORE-TEX at a low temperature in the dryer. After the clothes are dry, run them through the dryer at a warm temperature to restore the DWR coating. 

Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent 

Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent is the perfect option for cleaning GORE-TEX. Importantly, powdered detergents mixed with fabric softeners and bleach can damage GORE-TEX. 

Not only does Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent work well in cold water, but it does a great job cleaning high-performance fabrics – while also ensuring their longevity. 


Applying new Durable Water Repellant (DWR)

Once you have owned a piece of waterproof clothing for a while and washed it multiple times, you will likely need to reapply DWR. A good indicator that your clothing needs a new application of DWR is the fabric is beginning to absorb water. 

There are many types of DWR products on the market today. However, we recommend you purchase a DWR brand in conjunction with a specific kind of wash. Outdoor equipment stores like REI have tons of DWR products to choose from. 

After you have washed your waterproof clothing, apply the DWR treatment with a spray bottle. Next, run the clothing through the dryer on medium heat to reactive the DWR. 


Note for Charlie’s Soap Customers 

If you wash your waterproof clothing with Charlie’s Soap, you can skip the added step of applying new DWR altogether! A major contributor to the loss of water-shedding capabilities in clothes is dirt and grime on the surface of the material. While other detergents gum up the fibers in waterproof clothing, Charlie’s Soaps actually gets them clean. After the fibers are properly cleaned, the waterproofing comes right back! 



Charlie’s Soap is the only thing that will actually clean GoreTex down to its fiber to allow the weave to do its job, and it’s that particular weave of fabric (and of course the fiber used) that creates the waterproofing, not some coating.  It’s not that other detergents wash off or destroy the coating. They gum up the fibers and that ruins the delicate wicking response. Detergent residues act like flux and just let the water pass right through. Charlie’s Soap cleans the garment so well that the gunk is gone and the waterproofing comes right back…at least in the case of Goretex and other similar fabrics. In conclusion, if you got the cheap stuff, it might be a coating that came off, but the real hi-tech stuff works inherently, and Charlie’s Soap keeps it working. 


Talk to Charlie’s Soap About Washing Waterproof Clothes 

At Charlie’s Soap, we know that excellent waterproof clothing is expensive. That being said, you should take good care of this high-performance gear, so it lasts as long as possible. 

Please Contact Us at any point with questions. 

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