It’s all very well spending your hard-earned money on an expensive waterproof jacket with a breathable membrane like Gore-Tex or Neoshell. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that, over time, the outer fabric of the jacket will lose its water repellency, begin to soak up water, and render the membrane useless in an effect called ‘wetting out’.
A membrane relies on its outer surface being clear of water droplets in order to let vapour pass through. So most waterproof jackets rely on a 2-stage waterproofing; the inner membrane, and something called a DWR (Durable water repellent) which stops the outer layer soaking up water. It’s this latter treatment which makes rain bead on your shoulders… and this wears off over time.
Help is at hand from re-waterproofing specialists Nikwax, and in particular from their TX.Direct 11.1 (so called because that was the batch that worked best in the laboratory) wash-in waterproofer.
It comes in either a sachet or a bottle form, and it’s a very simple process to use at home.
Nikwax suggest that you first wash your jacket using their own Tech Wash. This is quite important because it’s inevitable that over time dirt and grime will have got in and blocked up some of the expensive membrane. Importantly, you shouldn’t just pop your jacket in the washing machine with normal detergents – that’ll knacker it because the detergents block up the membrane and render your expensive jacket no more than a cheap cagoule. You should therefore make sure that all trace of detergent is cleaned off your washing machine before using Tech Wash. I usually just hand-wash in a sink… much easier.
You can also use Soap Crystals, which are available at most supermarkets.
You don’t have to wait until the jacket is dry to use TX.Direct. You can simply add it to the washing machine (or hand wash) and run your jacket through a cool, slow wash. That’s it – easy.
I’ve used TX.Direct to re-proof an old jacket before now and it works superbly. The 11.1 version lasts 5x longer than their original version, which according to Nikwax is 6-7 wash cycles. In practice, for a very heavily used garment, you might need to re-proof areas where straps rub once a year.
100ml of TX.Direct is enough to treat one jacket.
SUMMARY: Breathe life back in to your ailing breathable waterproof clothing by treating the outer layer to a new water repellency, and allowing the membrane to do its job properly. It’s cheaper than a new jacket, non-toxic, non-polluting and makes you smell a bit like a candle for a day or so. What’s not to like?
Price: £3 upwards, depending on size of container
We wrote a full guide on how to re-waterproof a jacket here