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Cleaning & Maintaining Outdoor Gear | How to Guide

By Anna Woodall

Whether you work outside, or are a keen recreational outdoors enthusiast - keeping your kit and apparel clean and maintained is a must. Doing so will extend the life, and enhance the performance of all your kit. There are a myriad of different products available, which can become a little confusing and throw up all kinds of questions. Our short guide below aims to answer the most common FAQs and point you in the right direction to purchase the right product for the job.

Cleaning:

Put simply, cleaners are designed to revitalise the materials they are used on. Any items of clothing that are breathable and waterproof will come pre treated with a DWR coating. This cannot be cleaned with an ordinary laundry detergent, as it will leave a residue which leads to fabric ‘wetting out’ in damp conditions. The same applies to any dirt on your gear - it will attract water so won’t allow the DWR to work fully. If your waterproof layers are fairly new and they’ve just started letting in water in small areas - chances are a quick wash with a product like Nikwax Tech Wash will do the trick.


Base layers are designed to be worn next to the skin, and are a wicking fabric to maintain body temperature and control moisture. Fast drying and breathable, it is essential they are properly maintained to keep the fabrics at their best. Point to note - make sure to split your synthetic and woollen base layers apart, as they need different care products.

Product Use

Nikwax Basewash

Deodorises and conditions technical underwear and synthetic base layers worn next to the skin.

Nikwax Down Wash Direct

Designed to clean both hydrophobic and regular down, restoring water repellency and maintaining insulation.

Nikwax Tech Wash

Cleans and revives breathability and water repellency of all wet weather clothing.

Nikwax Wool Wash

Cleans and refreshes woollen base layers.


Waterproofing:

How do you know if you need to reproof your waterproofs? Answer - if water is no longer beading up on the surface, and you’ve already treated it with a cleaner to no avail. Waterproofing products can also be used on other fabrics like fleece, and cotton to help provide a slight barrier to the elements. Footwear is subject to a lot of wear, so consider cleaning and reproofing your boots more often than you would your jacket or trousers.

Product Use

Nikwax Down Proof

Aids water repellency, which in turn will maintain the insulation properties of any down filled items

Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof 

Waterproofs and maintains the breathability of all leather and fabric footwear.

Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Proof

Waterproofs and maintains the breathability of all nubuck and suede footwear.

Nikwax TX Direct (Wash in / Spray)

Adds durable water repellency and revives breathability to waterproof garments.


Gear:

Looking after your gear is just as important as your clothing or footwear - no one likes to find out their tent has a leak in the middle of the night! Exposure to UV light damages water repellency and can lead to a reduction in fabric strength, so even if your tent has never seen a rain shower it's a good idea to treat it every so often.

Top tip - try washing or spraying on some waterproofer to your rucksack to aid water repellency and do away with those pesky waterproof rain covers! 


Product

Use

Nikwax Rope Proof

Adds water repellency and prolongs life and performance of synthetic ropes.

Nikwax Tech Wash  Good for washing climbing ropes, and other textile equipment.

Nikwax Tent+Gear Solarproof Spray

Adds DWR, increases fabric strength and protects against UV deterioration.


How to Use:

All products will come with full instructions on how to use them, be it a hand application, spray on or wash-in with your domestic washing machine. Nikwax products have been tested by leading washing machine manufacturers, and have not caused any damage to machines or their components.

Most wash-in products can also be used for hand washing, however it's good to bear in mind that hand washing may not provide as comprehensive coverage as when using a machine. Spray on products are ideal for items like boots, tents or rucksacks - or areas of heavy wear or abrasion like the back of your jacket where your rucksack sits. 

One Final Point…

If by chance you have already tried to wash your gear with normal detergent… fear not! If you wash it thoroughly with a cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash and then re-proof with an appropriate waterproofer your kit should still keep you dry on those grey days.