Can You Wash Waterproof Jackets and Clothing? (Explained)

You should never wash a waterproof jacket with regular detergent or fabric softeners. A regular detergent is formulated to break down oils and grease, which is almost similar to the water-repellent coating on waterproof jackets.

After every wash, detergent chemicals can break down the fiber composition, thereby causing the fabric to lose its waterproof properties.

So as long as you are not using a standard detergent to wash a waterproof jacket, you can wash them the way you want, i.e., in the washing machine or by hand.

Key Takeaways

  • Waterproof jackets and clothing should never be washed using regular detergent or fabric softeners.
  • Use a suitable cleaning solution like “Nikwax Tech Wash” and “Nikwash TX. Direct Wash In”.
  • Regular detergents contain chemical compounds specifically formulated to eliminate oils and grease. This, therefore, takes away the waterproofing capabilities of the waterproof fabrics.
  • You can machine wash or hand wash your waterproof jackets and clothing as long as the care label recommends this method.

What happens if you wash waterproof clothes and jackets?

By using a suitable cleaning solution such as Nikwax Tech Wash, you can give your waterproof jackets and clothing a cleaner appearance without disrupting or destroying their waterproofing capabilities.

However, using a regular detergent and fabric softener will do just the opposite.

So, always wash your waterproof jacket either without using any detergent or using ones that are specifically formulated to wash waterproof fabrics.

By following the right washing method prescribed in the care label and by using the right detergent, you can expect a cleaner fabric without any disruption in its waterproofing capabilities.

How often to wash a waterproof jacket?

There is no specific rule or frequency defined to wash your waterproof jacket. However, In general, washing your waterproof jacket once a month should suffice if you wear them less frequently.

You may need to increase the washing frequency if you wear them regularly.

If you wear your jacket frequently, there is a greater possibility that it may become dirty and stained.

Heavy use requires frequent cleaning, so plan on washing the jacket every 10 to 12 days after heavy use or if you wear them daily.

How to wash a waterproof jacket in the washing machine?

Even though Waterproof jackets are delicate you can still wash them in the washer. 

Machine washing is convenient, and it is safe as long as you follow the instructions on the care label and don’t use standard detergent, bleach, or fabric softeners.

Here’s how to machine wash a waterproof jacket safely and effectively.

Step 1: Read the Care Label

Not all waterproof jackets are machine washable, some manufacturers will explicitly mention not to machine wash or even hand wash the jackets.

Therefore, it’s important you read the care label carefully before deciding on the washing approach.

The care label on almost all the jackets will have clear caring instructions.

Once you have confirmed that machine-washing is safe, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Check the pocket and Zip the Jacket

Just check the pocket for any coins or other belongings, as ignoring this may damage your washer as well as the jacket.

Once you have checked the pockets, simply zip them up so that you can start the cleaning process.

Step 3: Wipe the dirt and stains

Before putting the waterproof jackets or clothing into the washer, it’s important to wipe off the loose dirt, debris, and stains from the jacket using a soft microfiber cloth or soft brush.

Be gentle and don’t try hard to remove the stains with the cloth, or else you may ruin the water-repellant coating.

Step 4: Pour waterproof friendly detergent into the detergent tray

Wipe off the detergent tray so that you can get rid of the regular detergent residues and then pour two caps of waterproof friendly detergent into the detergent tray.

A good example of a waterproof-friendly detergent would be “Nikwax Tech Wash.”

Step 5: Put the waterproof fabric in the washer

Now put the waterproof jacket or clothing inside the washer.

It’s best to wash them alone, so don’t mix them with any other fabric.

Step 6: Set the right wash cycle

Setting the right wash cycle is crucial to getting the right results, especially for waterproof fabrics.

These are the ideal wash cycle settings for waterproof fabrics.

  • Wash Type: Gentle/Delicate/Hand Wash
  • Soil Level: Normal
  • Spin Speed: Low
  • Water Temperature: Cold or you can set it to a medium temperature of up to 30 degrees Celsius.
  • Detergent: Specially formulated for waterproof clothing
  • Pre-wash: not required

Step 7: Run the wash cycle

Once you have set the right cycle, run the wash cycle and let the washer complete the wash cycle.

Step 8: Air dry your waterproof fabric naturally

Once the wash cycle is completed, run the low spin dry cycle in the washer and then remove the waterproof jacket from the washer.

Next, hang them to air dry naturally.

Step 9: Apply Waterproofing spray (Reproofing)

Once your jacket is dry, the final step is to apply some waterproofing spray to it.

Tip: You should reproof your waterproof jacket every five to six months just to maintain it. Reproofing can be an excellent method to get the waterproofing capabilities back.

How to hand wash a waterproof jacket?

Even though hand washing is easy, sometimes it can be tedious if the size of the fabric is large.

So, if you are washing just one jacket, it should not be a concern as the process is fairly simple.

Instructions to Hand Wash Waterproof Jackets

Step 1: Prepare the cleaning solution

Mix a suitable detergent in a sink or tub filled with warm water.

Step 2: Dip the fabric in the solution

The next step is to dip the fabric in the solution and let it soak for a while.

Step 3: Work on the fabrics using a sponge

Now, take a sponge and dip the sponge in the solution and wring it.

Then, work on the fabric gently without applying excess pressure to it.

Make sure to reach each and every corner for a thorough wash.

Step 4: Rinse under clean water

Next, rinse the jacket under clean water to get rid of detergent residue.

Step 5: Hang the waterproof jacket to air dry

Once you are done washing the jacket, simply hang it to air dry naturally.

Step 6: Reproof the jacket

The last step is to reproof the jacket using a waterproofing spray.

How to remove stains from waterproof material?

If you want to keep your jacket’s waterproofing properties in good condition, avoid using regular powdered detergents, fabric softeners, stain removers, and chlorine bleach.

Instead, use a natural cleaner like distilled white vinegar to treat stains.

Quick stain removal technique without washing

Step 1: Mix 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar with a bowl of water.

Step 2: Dip the sponge into the solution and gently rub the affected areas.

Step 3: Wipe the affected areas with a soft microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Apply the waterproofing spray to the areas that you cleaned.

Can you tumble dry waterproof jackets?

It’s not recommended to tumble dry waterproof jackets as the high heat from the dryer can damage the fabric and take away the waterproofing capabilities in the long run. Waterproof fabrics should be dried fully by hanging them up in a cool and dry place.

Final Thoughts

Waterproof clothing or fabric contains a delicate layer known as durable water repellent (DWR).

This coating is sensitive to regular detergents, so washing your expensive waterproof jackets just like regular clothing can be a risky proposition.

It’s therefore advisable to read the care label before washing your waterproof fabrics or any clothes for that matter.

Lastly, avoid tumble drying on high heat as it will ruin the fabric and may destroy the waterproof layer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to wash joules waterproof coat?

In order to wash your waterproof coat, simply pour 2 caps of Nikwax Tech Wash into the detergent tray and put your jacket into the washing machine. Next, select a warm cycle, preferably set to 30 degrees Celsius, and let the wash cycle complete. The last step is to air dry the jacket naturally.

Can you wash a rain jacket in the washing machine?

You can certainly machine wash your rain jacket with a suitable detergent like Nikwax Tech Wash. With that said, using a regular detergent may ruin the jacket’s outer layer. The outer layer of the jacket has a durable water repellant coating which a regular detergent may destroy. Lastly, avoid using any bleach-based detergents.

Can I use fabric softeners on waterproof jackets and clothing?

Your jacket’s waterproof treatment can be damaged by fabric softener. Therefore, avoid using any fabric softener on your jacket.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)