Posted by Dan Bailey http://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/profile.php?id=16248 on October 15, 2015
A great article from UK Hill walking on garment maintenance
by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com 14/Oct/2015
This article has been read 898 times
You should expect many years' service from a quality waterproof shell, yet over time both dirt and general wear will begin to affect the breathability of even the best performing waterproof. They may never quite be factory fresh again, but with a bit of TLC you can easily and cheaply give tired old garments a new lease of life. Here's how:
'Looking after your gear will save you money in the long-term' says Mike Vassar, Head of Marketing at Nikwax.
'Many people think that their waterproof jacket has had it once the water starts to soak in, but for under £10 you can keep it going for a lot longer. Cleaning and reproofing is really important from a sustainability point of view – the production of a jacket takes up a great deal of resources so making it last as long as possible is better for both your pocket and the planet.'
DWR, or durable water repellent treatment is a hydrophobic (waterproof) coating applied to the surface of fabrics to prevent them soaking up water. In most waterproof shells the DWR is used in combination with a waterproof breathable membrane, such as Gore-Tex or eVent. The idea is that the DWR prevents the outer layer from becoming saturated, allowing the membrane beneath to transport water vapour outwards as efficiently as possible. When your shell is functioning as designed, rain will bead on its surface rather than soaking in. However if the surface starts to soak up moisture, or wet out, then sweat vapour can no longer escape. The result is that you get wet and clammy on the inside even during moderate exercise.
A build-up of dirt, sweat and grease (sun screen for instance) on the outside of a shell will compromise both the DWR and the membrane, so washing a garment should always be your first move when its performance starts to tail off and it shows signs of wetting out. For the first few washes the following ought to be enough to revitalise water repellency:
If washing alone has not solved the problem it's likely that the manufacturer's DWR coating has begun to degrade. It can be rejuvenated, albeit temporarily, by reproofing the garment with a dedicated wash-in solution such as Nikwax TX Direct or Granger's Clothing Repel.