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Caring for your Wax Cotton Jacket


Wax cotton has a reputation as an old school waterproofing technology. However, with the recent resurgence in “heritage” design, wax cotton is making quite the comeback. This renaissance is amplifying the popularity of wax cotton jackets and bags from brands such as Filson, Orvis, and Barbour. Like any waterproof technology, it is a good idea to take proper care of your wax cotton gear. With that in mind, we present the following photo essay on how to re-waterproof you wax cotton jacket using Nikwax Wax Cotton Proof.

Dirty Wax Cotton JacketThis Orvis Wax Cotton jacket was filthy! As you can see, it wasn’t repelling water as well as it should.

Clean Wax Cotton JacketThe first step is to wash the jacket in Nikwax Tech Wash. This jacket was so dirty that it took multiple cycles to get it clean! While it’s still wet, lay it out on a protected surface.

Waterproofing a Wax Cotton JacketStart spraying Nikwax Wax Cotton proof on the jacket. The waterproofing will be opaque and white, but don’t worry, it will dry clear!

Waterproofing a wax cotton jacketKeep spraying the jacket. Ensure maximum coverage, especially seams and hard wear areas.

rub in the wax cotton waterproofingOnce covered, rub the Wax Cotton Proof into the jacket. Make sure to remove all excess waterproofing!

waterproof the back of the wax cotton jacketFlip the jacket over and waterproof the back.

Ensure even wax cotton proof coverageBuff the entire jacket, making sure to get even coverage and to remove any excess.

Waterproofed wax cotton jacketLet jacket hang dry. It may take a day or two to dry completely. Voila! Clean and Waterproof.

wax-cotton-hunterAnother Satisfied Customer!


  1. Hello, does this procedure works on a ’90 barbour spey wax cotton? How it will be the final “looking finishment”?Thanks, Francesco

    • It will indeed! Depending on age, you may want to hand wash the jacket- or even spot treat it – with Nikwax Tech Wash. Follow the care instructions on the label for cleaning for best results. Once the jacket is wet from cleaning, follow the rest of the steps. Our Wax Cotton finish will be breathable and water-repellent. It will not look extremely shiny, but will have a mild sheen. Hope that helps!

  2. I have just bought a new Held wax cotton motorcycle jacket. Would it be prudent to treat it with your products now or wait until the jacket needs reproofing

  3. Hi there, I have a brand new sea salt wax cotton jacket that I managed to spill beetroot juice down today. I have put it in the wash – is it necessary to re wax after every washing?

    • Hi Lucy,

      Oh dear! Were you able to get the stains out? What did you wash it with? If it was a regular detergent it may have left behind a residue that could compromise the water-repellency. Test to see if it’s still waterproof by either running the jacket under a faucet or spraying it with water. If it beads up, no need to re-waterproof. If water soaks into the fabric you may need to re-wash with Tech Wash to get rid of the detergent residue, then use the Wax Cotton Proof while the jacket is still wet (as in article). Hope that helps!

  4. Greetings,

    Is removal of wax from waxed cotton a possibility? If so, does anyone have a good procedure?


    • Hi Ryan,

      That would depend on the type of wax used. We have never removed wax ourselves, so if anyone else has helpful tips- let Ryan know!

  5. hi,
    I have a caped shoulders waxed coat,its been in the shed for a few years and its not smelling too good.can I wash this to freshen this up?

    • Hello!

      Try spot treating the coat with Tech Wash, diluted with water, and a soft bristled brush. Rinse, and hang to dry somewhere with good air circulation (like a covered patio).

  6. I have a Barbour Bushman wax jacket,it was filthy and looked scruffy,filled a bath with handwarm water and about four capfuls of Nikwax Tech Wash and gave the jacket a scrub using an asda soft bristle scrubbing brush,took off all the dirt and the deposits of black wax,rinsed it in clear water and then laid it flat .
    painted on Nikwax Cotton proof ,buffed it in to the fabric to remove surplus and when completed left it to hang and dry in the shed,Took three days for jacket to dry,mainly because of cold weather ,the inside took the longest.
    Result a great “new” looking jacket that is waterproof again.
    Have used the recommended wax before and this is so much easier and cleaner and does the same job.

  7. I have accidentely treated my Denim riding jeans with nick wax wax cotton waterproofer – will it work as well?

    • Hi David,

      It will absolutely work! It might have a slightly waxier hand than with regular Cotton Proof, but it will still breathe and be water-repellent.

  8. Doesn’t it usually require two coats of Nikwax cotton proof to make a jacket really waterproof and able to stand up to the heaviest of down pours. I am sure that just one coat would not be enough especially if you were reproofing a Barbour jacket. I would give it two coats for good measure.

    • Hi Duncan! One coat should suffice. Nikwax waterproofing is water-based, so it goes where the water goes (why you should apply when wet). This means it ensures great coverage and gets into the fibers effectvively. It is not a traditional wax where layering is key. That being said, if you want to apply two coats- go for it!

  9. Hello Vadim!
    Your jacket needs to be wet before you apply the Wax Cotton Proof.

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