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Reproofing and Waterproofing your Jacket

When it comes to waterproofing and cleaning waterproof jackets I’ve never known men discuss ironing so much down the local on a Friday night, here’s what I heard last week:

‘After I’ve reproofed, I always iron my waterproofs, it’s basic physics isn’t it?’
‘Two pints of Cumberland Ale, please?’
‘Adding heat to a chemical reaction increases the energy of that reaction.’
‘Do you want some pork scratchings?’
‘Yes please. You see, heat helps the fluorocarbons in the proofer bond with the molecules in the original fabric.’
‘Bloody ‘ell, it’s gone up in here since I was last in’
‘You see, ironing provides the heat so when you’re finished, your DWR coating will be as good as new’
‘Shall we sit over there?’
‘But make sure the iron is not too hot though, just a steam setting of warm will be more than enough…’
‘Really,’ followed by long sigh.
‘…and make sure you have distilled water in the water reservoir…’
‘Look, shut up or I’m going home…’

There is a lot of different theories about this, so I went to the manufacturers to get to the bottom it. But first a little reminder about DWR.

Durable Water-Repellent Coatings
Gore-Tex, eVENT, Omni-Tech and just about all jackets with breathable membranes have a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating on the nylon outside of their jackets. DWR is what causes the water to bead on the outer surface and roll off. Keeping the surface of the jackets free of water and dirt does not effect the waterproofing of the jacket but it does affect its breathability and its weight.

Over time the DWR coating wears off, which makes you think maybe they should drop the ‘durable’ and just call it WR coating. When the coating wears off water no longer beads on the surface and it soaks in. Don’t worry, like I said, the membrane underneath will still keep you dry. The main problems then are condensation and breathability.

If water has soaked into the jacket it lowers the overall temperature of the fabric, this can cause warm air on the inside to condense on the inner surface of the jacket. You don’t want that, because then it feels like the jacket is leaking.

So, the DWR coating is an important part of the jacket therefore it’s worthwhile reproofing regularly.

If the jacket is clogged up with dirt it will also not be as breathable.

Some manufacturers have been putting the ‘Wash me often’ label in with their garments just has a bit of a reminder. I’ve tied one of these labels to my 5 year old daughter’s hair.

Nikwax or Grangers
There are two main companies who supply the UK with outdoor clothing cleaning and waterproofing products. Here’s a brief explanation of the differences.

Nikwax
Nikwax treatments coat the fabric with a network of elastic TX.10i water-repellent molecules. They bond to anything that is not water-repellent, but leave the spaces between fibres open and breathable. Nikwax treatments can flex and move with the fabric. Unlike fluorocarbon products, you do not need to heat garment to activate the waterproofing treatment.

Grangers
Granger’s products, specifically their proofing technologies, replicate the water-repellency applied by fabric manufacturers. This is a fluorocarbon-based process that positions molecules on the surface in a way that allows the fabric to actively repel water. All waterproofs should be tumble dried after washing to maximise water repellency.

So, back to the pub.

Instead of saying: ‘Look, shut up or I’m going home…’ what you need to add is this:

‘Actually, very tedious friend, adding heat after you’ve reproofed depends on the waterproofing products that you are using.

Just a second. Those pork scratchings don’t ‘alf get stuck in your teeth.

Okay, Granger’s 30 degree Cleaner or XT Proofer admittedly does require the application of heat but the non-compulsory guidelines are to tumble dry as opposed to ironing.’

‘But… ‘ Put the palm of your hand directly in front of his face.

‘HOWEVER, if you use Nikwax products, the elastic nature of the chemical bonds created during the binding process does not require the application of heat of any description. In this case, air drying is adequate… so shut up or I’m going home’

You may take a sip.

If he doesn’t immediately start talking about how brilliant Liverpool were last night or any other random subject to do with sport, inform him that you will not be gracing him with your incredible company ever again.

Thanks for reading.

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