How to Wash & Revitalize Waterproof Clothing

A Hiking Lady Experiment: Do Nikwax Wash products work?
A Hiking Lady Experiment: Do Nikwax Wash products work?

How do you clean your waterproof jackets and pants? Mine sure get a lot of abuse on the trail!

If you wear waterproof breathable shells, regular detergent just doesn’t cut it. In order to maintain and enhance the waterproofness of you Gore-Tex, eVent, and other waterproof apparel, you need to use a Nikwax wash product, such as the Nikwax Tech Wash, paired with Nikwax TX Direct to revive water repellency and breathability.

The Hiking Lady Nikwax Wash Experiment

Nixwax Tech Wash
Step 1: Use Nixwax Tech Wash

Nikwax makes it really easy to figure out which of their products to use for specific gear. For waterproof breathable jackets and pants, such as my North Face ski jacket and an old pair of rain pants, I used the Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax TX Direct.

Nikwax has a fun mnemonic to help people like me not get confused: “Green For Clean.” “Purple for Proofing.”

    • Step 1: I machine washed my clothing using the Nikwax wash product, Nikwax Tech Wash. I put mine on the delicate cycle using warm water. You can also hand wash your apparel if the care instructions don’t allow for machine washing.
NikWax TX Direct
Step 2: Use Nikwax TX Direct
  • Step 2: Run it through a proofing cycle. I grabbed Nikwax TX Direct and machine washed my jackets and pants again. (Nikwax also makes a spray on version if you apparel cannot be machine washed.

How well did it work? Check out my video to find out!

Nikwax has several categories of washing and proofing solutions. Here’s an easy way to figure out which one to use:

This is a great way to save money and have your gear last a lot longer! Happy trails!


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Great question. Nikwax prodcuts can be air dried. They don’t require heat to achieve water repellency. If you’re like me and prefer to use a dryer, then go ahead and put it in there afterwards. It won’t hurt or help…you will just avoid waiting for it to air dry. Happy trails!

  2. Ashley` says:

    Nikwax products have always worked for all of my dogsledding gear, but I can never decide if I can put my garment in the dryer afterwards. Does anyone have any experience with this?

  3. DavidC says:

    I recently used TX Direct on an old North Face Mountain Light (Gore-Tex) jacket as well as a set of REI coated nylon light pants and jacket. They all look great but I’ll have to wait to report on performance.

    I used a paper waterproofing product on a paper USGS topo map several years ago, I *think* it was a Nikwax product. It made the paper feel very stiff and crinkly, but the water-proofing worked well. But generally I’d much rather print my own maps onto Natl. Geographic’s “Adventure Paper” which is what I’ve done for several years now.

  4. Hiking Lady says:

    Thanks for the comment, Marc! For washing, the Tech Wash is specifically for breathable clothing. I read about all of their other ones of their website. Nikwax makes a “Base Wash” for synthetic clothes (like baselayers), “Down Wash” for down, “Wool Wash” for regular and merino wool, and this “Tech Wash” for Gore-Tex, eVent, etc.

    For proofing, they also have a range of products, and the TX Direct is for the breathable fabrics. One of the proofers I really want to try is the Nikwax “Map Proof” – apparently you can sponge it on to a map and it will make it waterproof.

    Hope that helps! Also remember that the Nikwax Wash products have an expiration date on them. I think they last about 4 years, so you may want to check that if yours has been on the shelf for awhile.

  5. I have a bottle of the proofer, but have yet to try it. Now I’ll feel better giving it a go.

    One question, is that specifically for breathable clothing, or does it work on solely-coated clothes as well?

    Thanks for the post, good idea!


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