How to Take Care of your Gore-tex Jacket

Gore-tex waterproof and windproof jackets will protect you from the elements, but you need to take care of your garment so it continues to keep you warm and dry. These jackets are made for the outdoors, and there is no way you can keep them pristine when you're racing through muddy trails or city streets, so it's good to know you can clean them instead of wearing a lifetime of body odour and dirt on your back. Be careful when cleaning, and do take into account the water-repellent treatment only lasts so long.

Before cleaning your jacket do check the manufacturer's instructions on the tag inside, as various fabrics may have slightly different needs.

How to wash and dry your Gore-tex jacket

  • Zip up all pockets and the main jacket zip. Make sure all straps and tags are fastened securely.
  • Warm machine wash up to 40º C. Rinse twice and use low spin cycle to decrease creasing.
  • Dry on the line or use a tumble dryer set to a warm temperature.
  • Once dry, tumble dry for 20 minutes to reactivate the durable water-repellent treatment.
  • If you don't have a tumble dryer, ironing on a warm setting with no steam will also help reactivate the water repellent treatment. Ensure you place a towel or cloth between the garment and iron. Placing the jacket over a radiator can also help reactivate the treatment.
  • Water should bead when poured onto the garment. If it doesn't, it's time to reapply a waterproof treatment which can be purchased at outdoor clothes stores.

You need to reactivate the water-repellent treatment to ensure water doesn't seep through, making you wet and cold. You will also need to apply a new water-repellent treatment at some point, as the treatment applied at the factory can become less effective from general wear and tear, insect repellents, dirt and detergents over time.

How Gore-tex works

The jacket's ability to keep you warm and dry when it's blowing a gale and bucketing down is due to a membrane layer, which was developed by Gore. The extremely thin membrane layer is laminated to the fabric making the jacket windproof, waterproof and very breathable. The membrane prevents wind from passing through, but on the other hand it allows perspiration to escape, as the pores are 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule, according to Gore. The size of the pores on the membrane are also key to the jacket's ability to keep you dry, as water is not able to seep through the microscopic pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. Every seam and stitch is also sealed with special tape to prevent water seepage.

The membrane is trademarked by Gore so when you see the Windstopper or Gore-tex logo on other brands, it means the company has bought the rights to use the membrane technology. Like Gore's own products, these garments are put through rigorous testing to ensure they will keep you warm and dry.

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  • Jay NorthJanuary 11, 2014 at 1:29pm
    Does it make any difference what detergent I use? I have heard that I shouldn't use enzyme ("bio") detergents. What is your view? Is it OK to use liquid detergents, such as travel wash or wool wash.
    I assume I should not use water softener or fabric conditioner, is that correct? Reply
    • Bronwyn TorrieJanuary 11, 2014 at 8:58pm
      Hi there, it's best to use a small amount of non-bio liquid detergent and rinse twice. Do not use powder detergents or products containing fabric softeners, conditioners, stain removers or bleach. A travel wash will be the same as an everyday detergent but a wool wash will be not be as harsh, however you should check the ingredients on the packaging to be sure. There are specific detergents for waterproof garments which are sold at outdoor stores, such as Nixwax Tech Wash. Reply
    • Liz EnglandFebruary 15, 2014 at 9:33pm
      For washing it's best to use Nikwax Tech Wash or pure soap (available from supermarkets as liquid or flakes). The DWR coating which causes water to shed off the garment is oil based and detergents are designed to remove oils. It's worth maintaining the DWR for two reasons. Firstly, if the garment soaks up moisture it becomes heavier. Secondly, for the membrane (Gore-tex or whatever) to breath it needs there to be less moisture/humidity on the outside than you've created by sweating on the inside. If the face fabric of the garment is soaked you have 100% humidity on the outside, the garment can't breathe and you might as well be wearing a plastic bag.
      It is important to wash your jacket as the membrane itself gets clogged with sweat, body oils, dirt etc which also inhibit breathability. If you stick to the non-detergent stuff you'll be able to wash your garments a few times between reproofs - cheaper because the reproofer is more expensive than the wash stuff! Wash with detergent and you'll need to reproof every time. Reply
      • Shyamala StottFebruary 24, 2014 at 6:25pm
        Thanks for the comment Liz :) that's excellent wisdom and advice! We couldn't agree with you more, and runners if you follow this advice you'll enjoy your top end running jacket that you've invested in SO much more!! It's often under-estimated (or sadly not even known) how crucial the washing and drying of Gore-tex or Windstopper fabrics are if you want them to perform to their full potential of protection and durability. You can certainly extend the effectiveness and your enjoyment of running in them if you take the care to wash and dry them 'properly'. When they generally cost a 3 figure sum it's worth doing! Reply
  • David McMullonFebruary 5, 2017 at 10:50pm
    Can Gortex laminate jackets be washed using the Nik Wax? Reply
    • Arpita StottFebruary 10, 2017 at 10:35am

      Hello David,

      Yes, you can wash your Goretex jacket with Nik Wax tech wash. I have a Goretex jacket and have washed it quite a few times using a technical wash product such as Nik Wax and find the jacket still retains its waterproof qualities, whilst being incredibly breathable. From our experience its best to wash a Goretex jacket frequently and tumble dry low as the heat reseals the goretex. You should wash it frequently so that dirt doesn't accumulate on the fabric which can inhibit the water repellency of the jacket.

      I hope you find this information helpful to you.


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