For the outdoor enthusiast, Gore-Tex material is a blessing in several ways. It is waterproof, so water just rolls right off you rather than being absorbed so you stay dry. It is also practically indestructible to rips or tears since it is a layered fabric of interwoven fibers. While it certainly makes life easier in the great outdoors, the matter of how to clean Gore-Tex may seem confusing. Let’s take a closer look at how to clean Gore-Tex apparel to make sure it stays in pristine condition for years of reliable use.

Things to Know:

Don’t let the waterproofing fool you. Many people believe that because Gore-Tex apparel is waterproof that it doesn’t need to be washed like traditional garments. While it is true that water will pool on the fabric rather than penetrating it, your Gore-Tex still needs to be washed. The reason water pools on top rather than being absorbed is because of the special coating applied to the fabric. This special coating can weaken over time due to a lack of washing to remove residue buildup of sweat, sunscreen, perfumes, lotions, or other oils.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it looks clean so it must be clean. The protective coating on your Gore-Tex material can have a buildup that is invisible to you but still very much there eating away at the coating. This protective coating is the most crucial element of any Gore-Tex apparel because without it, water will be able to saturate the fabric and you won’t be able to stay dry.

Wash as needed doesn’t mean just once a season. While you don’t need to wash your Gore-Tex jacket after every use, you should wash it more than just once a season. A good way to tell when it is time to wash is to check the inside collar of the jacket which will show an accumulation of oils, dirt, and sunscreen more easily than the outer surface of the jacket.

How to Clean Gore-Tex

Use the right cleaner. To clean this type of material, you certainly can’t wash it with your regular detergent. You need a special cleaner that is made to work with the special waterproofing coating of the material without damaging it. A good choice commonly used for this purpose is called Nikwax Tech Wash. It is made to clean without being overly harsh or striping the waterproofing abilities.

Wash separately. Aside from the fact that you are using a different detergent which may not be ideal for your usual load of laundry, you should also keep in mind that your outerwear for outdoor adventures will probably be different than your everyday clothes. It is best to wash them separately.

Wash on a warm cycle of around 105 degrees for the best result. A cold wash may not be enough to remove the oils and a hot wash might strip the coating too much, so a happy medium is the best route. A good tip is to wash the garment twice to help remove any oils or a buildup of residue rather than trying to hot wash it.

Dry on tumble dry low or line dry. You can also choose to have the garment dry cleaned, but you will want to specify they use a detergent that isn’t powder or that they use a distilled solvent rinse.