Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the links to find the answers to the questions

Machine washing and cleaning

What are the signs of degrading DWR?

Condensation: during heavy activity, when relative humidity and temperature are high inside the garment, condensation will form on the inside face of the membrane. This can produce enough water inside the garment to convince the wearer that the membrane or coating is leaking.

Reduced breathability: water in the fabric next to the membrane / coating significantly reduces the rate at which body moisture is able to pass through the membrane to the outside air.

Increased garment weight: saturated outer fabrics adds weight to the garment. Condensation within the garment contributes to a noticeable weight gain, especially in garments that have wicking linings.

What should I do if I have already washed my outdoor clothes with detergent / washing powder?

Normal detergents will leave a water-attracting residue on your outdoor clothing, therefore always use the appropriate Nikwax cleaner (Tech Wash or Down Wash) to clean your outdoor wear. Nikwax cleaners gently lift dirt and contaminants without harming the manufacturer's original DWR (Durable Water Repellency).
If your clothing is very dirty, has oil marks (etc) then you can use a detergent to remove the stains but you must then remove the detergent residue on the fabric with Tech Wash and re-waterproof with the appropriate Nikwax waterproofer to add the water-repellency.

Will using Nikwax WaterBased solutions in a machine wash damage my machine?

No. Nikwax products have been tested by leading manufacturers and no harm or damage has ever been caused to washing machines or their components. Nikwax is safe for septic tanks and other non-mains drainage systems.

Durable Water Repellency (DWR)

What exactly is DWR?

Durable Water Repellency (DWR) is an invisible water-repellent finish applied to the outer fabric of most outdoor clothing and equipment. It prevents the fabric from absorbing water by making water bead up on the surface and roll off. Maintenance of the DWR with one of our cleaning products is vital to allow the fabric to breathe.

Can I machine wash my jacket?

Most waterproof breathable jackets are machine washable but always read the care label first. Nikwax supports the use of machine washing with its products to provide fast, effective and even application.

What should I do if my jacket or gear is leaking?

Many people think their jacket or gear is leaking when the problem is often caused by perspiration condensing because the jacket isn't breathing properly. This may be because the DWR finish has worn off or is masked by dirt, which can cause the fabric to 'wet out'. Nikwax recommends you clean with Tech Wash and then use the appropriate waterproofing products to replenish the water repellency to get maximum performance from your gear. With Nikwax there's no need to tumble dry to activate the water-repellency.

Breathability and Wicking

What exactly is breathability and why is it so important when outdoors?

The more you exercise, the hotter you get and the more you sweat. As the sweat evaporates it cools you down. Breathable garments allow the sweat vapour to escape, keeping you comfortable. If the sweat vapour is allowed to build up in your clothing, it becomes damp. Once you stop exercising, the damp clothing draws heat away causing your body to cool down very quickly. This can be dangerous in cold weather. It is important to maintain the breathability of your outdoor clothing.

What exactly is wicking and why is it so important when outdoors?

Wicking is about moving sweat away from the skin. Any moisture that can be made to evaporate quickly and away from the skin will keep you cool and comfortable. Technically, there are many different types of wicking fabrics to choose from.

Nikwax Products

What are the advantages to using Nikwax TX.Direct wash-in instead of TX.Direct spray-on?

By immersing a garment in a wash-in treatment you apply a complete and even coating of the active ingredients to all the fibres, zips and threads. The treatment finds its way to the back of zips and pocket flaps, behind velcro tabs – all the places that are easy to miss with spray-on treatments. You do not miss any part. Clothing that is PU coated can be coated with a Nikwax waterproofing treatment by using our TX.Direct spray-on product to the outside of the garment only. This product means you can target specific areas of the jacket that need waterproofing anytime, anywhere.

Do Nikwax treatments change the appearance of footwear?

As with all other treatments for leisure, work or sports activities, Nikwax Waterproofing treatments may slightly darken light or unusual coloured leather or fabric. However, our footwear range is specially formulated to minimise any change in colour or texture of the leather or fabric. Waterproof protection with minimal visual change is far better than the discolouring, staining and water-spotting of untreated footwear.

Do Nikwax treatments change the look and feel of clothing or sleeping bags?

No. Nikwax treatments do not change the colour, texture or feel of garments or sleeping bags. Even on leather clothing it is safe to use Nikwax treatments to enhance the waterproof performance of leathers without impairing breathability as they do not contain harsh solvents that can harm the tannery-applied waterproofing.

The product seems to have set. Is it OK to use it?

Yes. Sometimes in delivery and also changes in temperature, will encourage the solution to set particularly if the product hasn't been used for any length of time. Just shake vigorously to re-disperse the solution and apply.

Does "hard" water affect the application of Nikwax cleaners and waterproofing products?

Rarely. If you have extremely hard water, using an additional capful of Nikwax cleaners will prevent formation of white residue from the calcium in your hard water.

Is it okay to use Nikwax WaterBased products that have frozen?

We recommend that you do not allow your Nikwax products to freeze. Store under the kitchen sink or in a cool, dry place, rather than outside. Should you allow your product to freeze we would advise that you do not use it and that the product is disposed of.

How much weight will the fabric gain on using Nikwax products?

Although there is water in Nikwax products, this evaporates to leave the water-repellency behind. An application of UV Proof, for example, results in a gain of 1 to 4% dependant upon type of fabric, condition of the fabric & how water-repellent it was already. As an example - Pertex gains less than 2% in weight. This is of course substantially less than the amount of water the fabric would soak up if it weren't water-repellent.

Fact finding

How often do I need to treat a garment or item of gear with a Nikwax proofing product?

Nikwax treatments are highly effective and long lasting. Items that are properly treated (pre-washed with Nikwax Tech Wash, then treated with an appropriate Nikwax proofer such as Nikwax TX.Direct) will withstand 4 to 6 washes using Tech Wash. For an average use of outdoor clothing we recommend that you wash and re-proof your gear at least once a year.

Is pre-washing really necessary?

Yes. We strongly recommend using Nikwax Tech Wash or one of our other cleaners as a pre-wash to remove dirt and any detergent residues that can prevent the waterproofing polymers from securely bonding to the fabric fibres. This helps maximise the performance and durability of waterproofing treatments. The last thing you want to do is waterproof over dirt!

What should I do if taped seams are showing wear or coming apart?

It is advisable to inspect the seam tape if it is accessible. If you notice loose tape seams we would recommend that it be professionally re-taped, cleaned and reproofed by the garment's manufacturer. Or you can glue them carefully with a clear glue such as Bostick and then clean in a gentle hand wash using Nikwax Tech Wash followed by a hand wash application of TX.Direct wash-in or spray-on. Air drying will revitalise the garment.

What happens if I press hard with a Nikwax sponge applicator product to dry footwear?

Sponge applicators are used in our footwear range. For all of our footwear, particularly nubuck and suede leather, it is essential you wet the footwear first under running water, apply Footwear Cleaning Gel if dirty and then rinse. If proofing is required use the appropriate Nikwax product. Always apply gently - there is no need to press hard onto the footwear. Alternatively try our spray applications for nubuck, suede and also fabric and leather combination footwear.

How does BaseWash stop the stink in synthetic base layers?

By preventing the build up of body odour and growth of microbes in the fabric.

Tumble drying

Does heat help to activate waterproofing?

We have created products that do not need heat to establish the bond between the waterproofing polymer and fabric. Yes, it's true. Using Nikwax products will achieve the same, if not better standard of water-repellency than competitor products without using heat. Unlike fluorocarbon treatments, Nikwax can simply be air dried which saves on having to go through an extra step of applying heat to make your gear water-repellent!

Is tumble drying mandatory?

No. The performance of all Nikwax treatments is excellent with air drying.

Environmental

What is Nikwax's environmental statement?

On the side of all Nikwax WaterBased products is a statement that says "No propellant gases, non-persistent, environmentally safe. Not tested on animals. Contains no fluorocarbons".
Nikwax firmly believes in producing safe products and wherever possible, will not use components that have health or environmental concerns.

What does WaterBased mean?

It means we use water to "carry" the waterproofing ingredients in the product. Anywhere that water can get into your footwear or clothing then so can the waterproofing, ie. it targets leaks. This allows the TX.10i waterproofing agent to envelope individual fibres in the material, resulting in a water repellent finish. Using water also means we are not using harmful chemical solvents. Our products are completely safe for the user and the environment. WaterBased products are much more concentrated than others, therefore you get more waterproofing for your money. WaterBased products are EASIER to use, they are SAFER to use and keep you DRIER.

Why doesn't Nikwax use Fluorocarbons in its products? Surely you get a better result?

Nikwax first started looking at Fluorocarbons many years ago. We have continued to test Fluoropolymers in the laboratory because they do have desirable qualities such as oil repellency. However, competitors' fluoropolymer care products have shown to be vulnerable to abrasion and pressure.
In the past 4 years evidence has come out that components and the potential breakdown products from fluoropolymers are highly persistant in the environment and in human tissue. Those chemicals have also proven to produce cancers in rats at extremely low concentrations. Nikwax considers that the use of such products in the domestic environment is an unacceptable risk and that there are safer routes to achieving durable water-repellency. Please refer to this link for more information: http://www.ewg.org/reports/pfcworld

Is it true some manufacturers of aerosols claim their products are environmentally friendly?

Even though some manufacturers claim their products are environmentally friendly, the propellants used are still powerful greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. The solvents used are highly flammable and will contribute to greenhouse gases. Over 90 % of what the user buys inside the aerosol can, evaporates into the atmosphere and has no positive effects towards increasing water repellency. In contrast Nikwax WaterBased products contain much higher concentrations of waterproofing agents (up to 35 %), meaning less frequent applications, less waste and substantially less harm to the environment. We also seek to improve the recyclability of our packing to reduce waste.

What is a nanoparticle?

There is no standard definition for a nanoparticle. However, one generally accepted measure is as follows:

"A particle having one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nanometres or less". A nanometre is one billionth of a metre.

Where do nanoparticles occur in nature?

Nanoparticles are everywhere. When you smell ocean spray, you are breathing in nanoparticles. Clay is made up of nanoparticles. A cup of coffee contains nanoparticles.

What is the fuss about nanoparticles?

The worry is about 'novel' nanoparticles. These are materials that have been synthesised or manufactured that previously did not occur in nature. An example would be carbon nano tubes. An especial worry would be the distribution of these kinds of particles in air or water, which might allow them to be ingested into the human body, with unpredictable results.

Where might we find dispersed novel nanoparticles in the Outdoor Industry?

Propellant driven solvent based sprays can produce airborne nano particles, because an extremely fine mist is produced. On evaporation of solvent in the air, the mist particles become even smaller. The active ingredients delivered by solvent based sprays can be dispersed as nano particles small enough to pass through airways into the lungs.

Liquid polymer dispersions that are translucent, that is, see-through, also contain nanoparticles. So the active ingredients within translucent water-based fluorocarbon liquids are primarily present as nanoparticles.

Do Nikwax products contain novel nanoparticles?

Nikwax water-based consumer products are white opaque liquids with an average particle size usually between 1 and 2 microns. That is ten times bigger than the largest nanoparticle. However, a small proportion of the emulsion will be in the nano range. As soon as Nikwax is diluted with water, or the water evaporates from it, the emulsion particles aggregate, that is, join together and get bigger.. Therefore there is an extremely low risk with Nikwax products that novel nano particles will be dispersed into water or air through their use.

Nikwax water-based spray products are delivered from a trigger spray and are not gas driven. Therefore the particle size that is dispersed into the air is relatively very large compared to a gas propellant driven aerosol, and is not nanoparticle size. Nikwax trigger driven sprays therefore present low risk in terms of inhalation and the possibility of materials entering through the airways and into the lungs. Care should, however always we taken to avoid inhalation of any spray material, including Nikwax.

Why has Nikwax chosen not to seek Blue Sign certification?

As the global leader in environmentally responsible outdoor aftercare, Nikwax prefers to promote its proven excellent environmental credentials and its technical high performance.

Nikwax remains the only outdoor gear care company whose range of waterproofing products is entirely water-based, non-flammable and fluorocarbon free. Nikwax has never produced aerosols, and has never sold fluorocarbons.

The value of Blue Sign certification for aftercare is uncertain; care products promoted as Blue Sign may either contain fluorocarbons, or solvents, or may be flammable.