By logic you might think if its purpose is to regularly get wet it shouldn't need to be washed, but that couldn't be further from the truth! Rainwear is one of the most commonly overlooked forms of apparel when it comes to regular cleaning, but it needs to be cared for just as much, if not more, to keep it working as intended. What steps should you take to keep your raincoat clean and effective? We have the answers!
First, as with all fabrics, check the label on your beloved raincoat. Depending on the quality and materials used to make your jacket, care may vary. Your jacket may be sealing out the rain with a coating of DWR, which can wear away over time leaving you vulnerable to the dreaded rainy seasons. This coating isn’t completely necessary for the efficacy of your apparel to remain, but it sure does help, and preserving it should be a key priority in your rainwear washing routine!
Depending on the durability of your coat, you can either throw it in a wash cycle of its own, or go the hand washing route. If your coat has collected an odor, be it from sweat or moisture that somehow seeped into the coat, using a washing machine might be the best route to take. Sweat and debris are a main contributor to the “wetting out” or inefficacy of a raincoat. Always wash on delicate and be sure all zippers and pockets have been closed. Use a gentle detergent that won’t eat away at your DWR coating so as to preserve it for as long as possible, and when finished, do not place in your dryer. Hang your coat to allow it to air dry without the heat and rough tumbling it would face in a machine. You can put it through an extra spin cycle to get the excess moisture out and complete the drying process a little quicker.
If your jacket is looking dingy, but smells neutral or has no noticeable unpleasant odors, a cosmetic cleaning should do the trick. Dissolve a gentle cleaning pod, vinegar, or your favorite detergent into a bucket of water and with a sponge, gently wipe down the exterior until the grime and debris are no longer. Again, avoid the dryer, but hang to air dry. Air drying can eliminate any minor odors you may have deemed unworthy of a full blown wash, but were still ever so slightly noticeable, and avoiding the dryer will again preserve your jacket and its waterproof coating for as long as possible.
If your coat is still wetting out, don’t be a part of the throwaway culture - look into re-coating it in DWR or whichever waterproof coating your jacket may have. This will allow you to continue using your favorite coat over and over, and prevent it’s unnecessary demise in a heap of your neighbor’s trash. It’s seen you through so many downpours, time to return the favor!