How to wash and impregnate technical clothing
Choosing and buying good equipment is one thing, but to maintain the parameters of the product for a long time, it is necessary to take proper and careful care of it. Unfortunately, outdoor, technical, thermo-active clothing, etc. is a bit more technologically advanced than everyday cotton clothes and requires more attention during washing. Moreover, in order to maintain the waterproof properties of some clothes, they must also be properly impregnated. In this guide we will tell you how and what you can take care of your equipment.
The key rule - read the labels. This seems obvious to most of you, but it is worth remembering that even seemingly similar products may have different cleaning guidelines. Most outdoor clothing is made of synthetic materials, wool or their blends, so aspects such as water temperature, turnover and whether they can be washed in the washing machine at all will be extremely important.
The care of technical garments should also be balanced - too frequent washing may shorten the life of the garment a bit, while too rare, apart from the dirt of course, will start to show a deterioration of wood-resistant and vapour-permeable properties. Therefore, they should be washed only when it is necessary, but do not overdo it with stalling until the next wash.
Besides, we can introduce some prophylaxis, which will also come in handy if we don't know the required parameters, for example by a broken or illegible tag:
- First of all, do not use detergents - they are intended to reduce the surface tension of the water during washing and thus improve the wetting. Unfortunately, when left on clothing after washing, they work the same way, making it easier for water to soak into the fabric.
- Let's wash at low temperature - Even if the manufacturer declares the possibility of washing at 40 degrees, let's leave this temperature for more serious stains and dirt. In case you just want to get rid of unpleasant smells from clothes 30 degrees is enough and will limit the potential shortening of the life span.
- Do not exaggerate with the number of revolutions per minute - manual washing is in most cases an exaggeration, but it is possible to reduce mechanical wear of clothes by lowering the revolutions (e.g. from maximum 1200 to 600-800) and giving up spinning. Synthetic fabrics dry much faster than cotton, so manual wringing should be enough to dry the garment in normal time.
However, more precise treatments can definitely improve the parameters of our clothes. Therefore, it is worth to use both dedicated to outdoor clothing cleaning agents and impregnants. In addition to improving the quality of technical clothing we will also be sure that the preparation will not harm our clothing.
It is quite simple with washing - practically every type of technical clothing requires similar cleaning preparations. Regardless of whether we are going to wash fleece, softshell or a jacket with a membrane, the most important thing is to choose the preparation, as we mentioned earlier, had no detergents and was gentle on the fabrics, while maintaining high efficiency. A popular choice is Nikwax Tech Wash - a versatile and very good preparation for further waterproofing treatments.
How to wash thermo-active underwear?
Let's start with the layer closest to the body. Technical or thermoactive underwear is the first wall that maintains our temperature while draining moisture. It is therefore worth taking care that it works properly. As we mentioned earlier, universal preparations can be used to wash it, but it is worth mentioning that there are also dedicated solutions. They are useful in cases where our skin is sensitive to washing preparations or when we cannot get rid of the stubborn smell. In case we start to notice that after long-term use our bottom layer does not wick away the moisture as it was after the purchase, it is also worth thinking about its regular impregnation.
The purpose of impregnating polishing sweatshirts?.
The first thought that comes to mind at this paragraph - why impregnate fleece? After all, it is an insulation layer, which we only wear outside when it does not rain. In fact, impregnated fleece is unlikely to protect us even from light rain. The purpose of impregnation is to better drain the water secreted by our body. It will improve thermal comfort and reduce water binding in the structure of the material. The impregnation layer will also make it easier to get rid of dirt during the next wash.
Outermost layers - how to wash and impregnate softshell?
Regardless of the softshell type - traditional or equipped with a windproof membrane, the most important element of the softshell jacket's protection against soaking will be the refreshment of the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. After washing in the agent for cleaning technical fabrics, a preparation forming the coating should be applied. A very convenient solution is the preparation for wet impregnation - they do not require drying of the jacket after washing, and do not require careful, even application as in the case of spray. However, it is necessary to dry the garment thoroughly after such impregnation - it is during drying that the preparation activates, creating a hydrophobic coating.
We will treat hardshells similarly. The washing preparation is very important here, because the membrane pores refreshment depends on it. Similarly to softshell, we have two methods of applying impregnants - easier to use indirect, rinsing and direct spray, which requires a little more attention. The drying process is also crucial here, so it is worthwhile to read the instructions on both the garment and the preparation (in total it is worthwhile in each case).
Cotton jacket impregnation
Nevertheless, among field clothing we can also find cotton or cotton-containing clothes. Military pants made of NYCO fabrics or jackets made of Duracanvas from Helikon-Tex are characterized by extraordinary durability, thanks to the cotton content. However, it also means that we must pay special attention to their impregnation, using appropriate preparations. Otherwise, it will absorb moisture from both the outside and inside, causing thermal discomfort, and what is characteristic of this material, significantly increasing its weight. Well impregnated cotton, however, will show high hydrophobicity, while maintaining the beneficial qualities of this material.
How to care for ponchos and tarps
And such an additional accent - poncho (agents also works well for tarps and tents). Generally speaking, the poncho and the rest of the listed accessories are not made of breathable materials, as there is simply no need for this. Thanks to this, manufacturers can apply waterproofing solutions there - apart from the stitched seams, this is usually guaranteed by coatings - most often we find PVC or polyurethane here. They rather do not require refreshing the coating, but it is a good practice to protect them from the sun - unfortunately, the polymers undergo photolysis, i.e. they decompose under the influence of sunlight. The use of an appropriate preparation will allow us to significantly extend the durability of our shelter.