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How to Clean your Waterproof Cycling Jacket

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wash your dirty bike jacket
Waterproof cycling jackets see some serious dirt. Unless your fenders cover your entire body like a cocoon, road and trail crud has a way of finding itself onto your cycling outerwear. Luckily, it’s easy to clean your bike jacket.

Get technical.

Waterproof cycling jackets are technical pieces of clothing. Many use a waterproof membrane, like GORE-TEX or eVent, and all have a water-repellent coating (called a DWR in some circles). To maintain the water-repellency of your jacket, it’s important to clean your jacket with a performance cleaner, like Nikwax Tech Wash. Household detergents leave behind residue that attracts water to the surface of your jacket, compromising the water-resistant finish.

So, how do I know when to clean?

1. Captain Obvious says: “If it’s dirty.” Also, as a good rule of thumb, one leading cycling gear maker recommends that daily riders wash their jackets about once a month.
2. If it’s wetting out. (Wetting Out: fabric becomes saturated with water. ) If your jacket wets out, it means that the water-repellent coating has been compromised. It also means that your jacket cannot breathe,as waster vapor (sweat) cannot pass through a liquid barrier. A good cleaning—and possibly reproofing (see below)—can make things right.

How to clean and re-waterproof your cycling jacket:

1. Wash: To start, clean any residual detergent crud from your washing machine soap dispenser. Read garment care label for approved cycle and temperature and the Nikwax Tech Wash label for dosage. Close zippers and Velcro tabs. Wash and rinse thoroughly.
2. Waterproof: If after a good cleaning your jacket is still wetting out, you may need to re-waterproof. To do this, start a new washing machine cycle with Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In. Read the Nikwax label for dosage. Rinse thoroughly.
3. Dry: Look at that care label again to see if using a dryer is approved. Nikwax does not need heat to activate, so using a dryer is optional.

Like lubing your chain or maintaining tire pressure, a little attention to your cycling outerwear can contribute to greater happiness in the saddle. Now get on your bikes and ride!

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