You might feel a bit uncertain about washing your exercise and outdoor clothing, with the fear of ruining them in the process. Most outdoor clothes can and should be washed and maintained – just as long as you do it the right way, by following the instructions.
Layered outdoor clothing usually consists of three different membranes, the outer material, the special membrane and the inner lining. Waterproof fabrics have tiny pores that enable the material to repel water while letting moisture out from inside, making the fabric breathe. This is why it is important to keep the fabric clean, so that the pores stay open, maintaining the essential function of the microporous fabric. The inner lining protects the membrane from the inside and adds user comfort, it is also the part of the garment that is most exposed to sweat and smells.
Tips for washing fabrics with membranes:
- Don’t let the fabric get excessively dirty
- Remember to follow instructions on the care label
- Wash separately from other laundry, though in a machine that is half full
- Choose a suitable detergent for the purpose
- Wash inside out, zipper closed, hoop and loop fastener bands fastened
- Don’t use bleach or fabric softeners
- Avoid centrifugation
- Air dry the clothing, alternatively use a tumble dryer (if allowed by the care label!)
The fabric benefits from a proofing or coating agent after the wash. Certain cotton blends might be coated with a waterproof substance, so pay attention to the care labels even with this type of fabric.
According to our customers, the best way to render the used, musty clothing that you may have forgotten in your bag fresh and free of smells, is as follows: Fill a water container or a sink with water, 30-40 degrees Celsius, and mix 1-2 tbsp of
Allegro Plus or Allegro Eko laundry detergent. Soak your clothing in the container for 10 minutes, then pour the water away, rinse the clothes and wash normally following the instructions on the care labels with the Allegro detergent of your choice, by hand or in the washing machine. We guarantee that the smell of sweat will be gone and your clothes intact. NB! If the care label forbids soaking, just briefly soak the garment, clenching the garment so that the smell is dissolved in the water. Even customers that have used vinegar stated that this was a more effective treatment for removing smells.
NB! Remember to specifically check the care labels of clothing with special membrane fabrics such as Gore-Tex, DrymaxX, Reimatec, HyVent and Windstopper if soaking is allowed. Especially the frail membranes of an old trekking jacket might loosen and crumble as it’s worn out, in which case extensive soaking of the garment might weaken the glued seams and make the garment even more fragile.
When the membrane of a Gore-Tex trekking jacket or pants gradually becomes decrepit and starts crumbling, do not wash it in a washing machine, since the crumbled membrane that comes off will latch itself onto the inner walls of the washing machine and the thermistor. Worst case scenario it might break your washing machine. Furthermore, you will also start finding pieces of detached special fabric on clothes that weren’t supposed to have any, even long after you washed the old garment. For this reason, you should regularly clean the washing machine for example with the Allegro machine cleaner. The waterproof fabric will not be dissolved, but it will come off the walls and the resistor easier in a high temperature, along with other impurities. If there is still residue after using the machine cleaner, repeat the procedure, following the machine cleaner instructions.
Proofing the fabric
Membrane and Softshell clothing require proofing to maintain or restore their waterproofness and prolong their working life. A well kept fabric repels water, breathes and also lasts longer. When you notice that the fabric absorbs water instead of repelling it, it is time to re-proof the surface of the fabric. Depending on the type of proofer, the garment can be proofed with wash in or spray on proofer. The proofer might also require a heat treatment to activate the substance or make it merge better in the fabric. This can be done for example in a drying cabinet or in the after heat of a cooling sauna (applies especially in Finland). There are also tumble dryers in the markets, which can handle this process. You can also activate an old proofer that’s already on the jacket. Read the proofing manual meticulously and act accordingly, choosing also the right proofer for the task.
While maintaining your outdoor garments one might forget the outdoor shoes – although they are often quite valuable accessories. Many people don’t even necessarily bother maintaining their heavily used sneakers, besides occasionally brushing off extraneous dirt.
When cleaning your outdoor shoes you should remember to clean them both from the inside and the outside. This means that you should firstly clean the surfaces with a soft brush, airing the insole and the shoe, and if needed, wiping the surface with a mild detergent. Dissolve a small amount of Allegro detergent in warm water, and use a micro cloth to wipe the surfaces. Then you want to add some water repelling proofer on the surface of the shoe. It is sprayed from a distance of 30 cm and helps keep your feet dry even in poor weather conditions. If leather is one of the materials used in your shoes, you want to care for them regularly to avoid drying and flaking of the leather. Follow the procedures above, finishing the treatment by coating the shoes with e.g. bee wax or a water-based wax. Then let the shoes dry, storing them in a well ventilated, dry place, preferably with shoe trees inside. The waxing process should be repeated before using the shoes again, because it is likely that the leather has had time to dry up since the last wax.
By maintaining your valuable gear it will last longer, giving you better value for money. Thus they will also work as intended – your waterproof jacket alongside your shoes will stay waterproof, won’t have an unpleasant smell, and will last many, many years more!
With sunny regards,
Anu Irene Kiiski