Quick Tip: Use the Dryer to Keep Waterproof Materials From Leaking

November 27, 2012 By: timromano

Most people think that once a rain jacket “wets out” or seems to loose its water-proofness that it’s either time to get a new jacket or to apply some type of DWR (durable water repellent) like Nikwax, ReviveX, or Sport-Wash. While these products typically work as advertised, there’s one much cheaper and better working alternative—the dryer.

While it may sound counter-intuitive to throw your multi-hundred dollar rain jacket in the dryer, experts in the field have assured me this is the easiest way to bring your rain gear back from the dead. Randy Verniers, a technology specialist at Marmot explains it this way: “As long as the DWR has not been worn off of the fabric, heat can revive the DWR.”  Think of the DWR as a series of soldiers standing at attention with their helmets on. When they are standing up, the helmets are close enough to create the surface tension needed for water droplets to roll off.  “When the soldiers get ‘tired,’ as from abrasion, the soldiers fall over and their helmets no longer provide the surface tension,” he says. “Heat makes the soldiers stand up again. The DWR chemical is drawn toward the heat and the molecular chain is also ‘straightened out’ again.”

The process is simple. #1 Clean it. Simply toss your jacket in the wash according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Make sure to zip up the garment and use powdered detergent if possible. #2 Dry it. Place jacket in the dryer by itself for about 10 minutes, periodically checking to make sure it’s not overheating. Placing it in with other wet clothes will cause overheating, as the dryer works to combat all that extra moisture.