Wet Weather Clothing Maintenance

Caring for Your Foul Weather Gear

Technical boating clothing—your foul weather gear and the layers of specialized clothing you wear underneath—are wonderfully efficient, purpose-built garments. They’re somewhat expensive—but great technical clothing really is worth the cost just when the conditions are nastiest. How can you keep your foulies and mid-layer garments doing their jobs for as long as possible? It’s easy. Just follow the label instructions on the inside of the garment and the instructions below, and you will improve the longevity of your gear.

Cleaning Do’s

  • Outer wear garments: rinse fabric thoroughly and completely in fresh water after use.
  • Open and close all pop studs, zippers and snaps to remove any salt residue. Remember that salt is a desiccant—it will attract moisture—so a good rinse is especially important if you use your gear in salt water.
  • Hand wash separately with soap flakes, or machine wash on warm with a small quantity of mild powder detergent, using the delicate setting.
  • Drip dry naturally, away from direct heat.
  • Base layers and technical apparel: machine wash at warm temperature. Do not use fabric softeners, because they can reduce the garment’s wicking performance.
  • Since these are quick drying, just hang them up to dry, instead of tumble-drying.

Stain Removal

  • Adhesive tape: rub with ice, scrape with a dull knife, sponge with powdered detergent, wash.
  • Fish blood: soak in cool water, rub with powdered detergent, rinse, wash.
  • Chewing gum: harden with ice, scrape with a dull knife (it can also be softened with egg white), sponge off with detergent, wash.
  • Coffee, tea: soak with warm water, rub with powdered detergent, clean area with warm to hot water.
  • Deodorants: scrub with white vinegar, rinse, rub with powdered detergent, clean area with warm to hot water.
  • Fruits and juices: soak with powdered detergent, wash. If stain remains try white vinegar andclean area with warm to hot water.
  • Grease: scrape off all excess with dull knife or apply absorbent powder (talcum or cornstarch) and brush off. Treat with powdered detergent and clean area with warm to hot water.
  • Mildew: rub with warm lemon juice, dry in the sun, rub with powdered detergent, clean area with warm to hot water.
  • Mud: soak with powdered detergent and wash with warm water.

Cleaning Dont’s

  • Do not dry clean: chemicals in dry cleaning solutions destroy fabric coatings and laminates.
  • Do not use bleach: use powdered detergent sparingly.
  • Do not wring: wringing out fabric can break down the composition of the fabric’s layers and damage your gear’s ability of function.
  • Do not store wet. Leaving your gear salty or damp causes mildew to form. Store dried garments hung up or folded loosely.
  • Do not iron.

Restoring the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Coating

When your foul weather gear’s active DWR fluoro polymer layer fails, you may notice that the fabric leaks or is no longer breathable. If the fabric wets out you will feel clammy and damp because of convective and evaporative heat loss from the body to the garment. Condensation may form on the inside of the garment, causing you to get wet. Below is a list of simple steps to follow when water no longer beads up:

  • Wash the garment on gentle cycle with warm water and without detergent. Do not use fabric softeners, as they can further damage the DWR. Whenever possible use a front-loading, instead of a top-loading washing machine.
  • Tumble dry on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes (unless the instructions on the garment’s label call for line drying only).

Washing Heavily Soiled Garments:

  • Spot clean heavily soiled areas. Wash the garment on gentle cycle with warm water (and a non-detergent soap, if available).
  • Do not use a liquid detergent, as they contain emulsifiers that will further damage the DWR. Do not use fabric softeners.
  • Tumble dry on low to medium heat for about 45 minutes (unless the care label calls for line-drying only)

In most cases washing will be enough to remedy a temporary failure of the DWR. However, after extended use in extreme conditions you may experience permanent failure of the DWR. Follow these simple steps when permanent failure happens.

  • Wash the garment following the above instructions.
  • Treat with a product designed to restore the DWR. (Grangers XT).