How to Wash Your GORE-TEX Rain Jacket

How to Wash Your GORE-TEX Rain Jacket

October 9, 2015 20 By nikwax

Caring for your GORE-TEX jacket is as easy as giving it a wash from time to time.

Cleaning keeps your jacket performing its best.

Washing a GORE-TEX, eVent, or any waterproof breathable rain jacket is remarkably simple.



Follow these three steps to a clean rain jacket:

  1. Read the care label in your jacket prior to cleaning.
  2. Wash in your washing machine with a technical cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash.
  3. If the care label allows, you can tumble dry low, or simply hang dry.

There! That’s it! You now know how to clean your GORE-TEX rain jacket.


Now, some of you might be asking “How does cleaning help waterproof performance?”

It all comes down to DWR (Durable Water Repellency):

All waterproof breathable rain jackets come with a factory-applied coating that repels water. This is called DWR.

DWR causes water to bead up and roll off the surface of the jacket.


water repellency



In the instance of single layer rain jackets, DWR is all that is keeping the rain out!

Waterproof jacket single layer

A single-layer waterproof rain jacket


GORE-TEX jackets, however, use a laminate technology that allows water vapor (sweat) to escape, but prevents water from entering.


gore-tex jacket technology diagram

GORE-TEX working properly


While this makes GORE-TEX jackets more dependably waterproof, the laminate needs the DWR coating on the outside of the jacket in order to work properly. If the outside fabric starts absorbing water, then water vapor can no longer escape, and you feel cold, wet, and clammy.


gore-tex waterproof fail

DWR failing on a GORE-TEX jacket


Over time, many things can cause this coating to no longer function properly. Dirt, oils, sweat, and campfire smoke will all mask the DWR and cause water to be absorbed into the fabric.


jacket wetting out

Fabric wetting out


By washing your jacket with a technical cleaner, you remove the crud, allowing the DWR to once again function as intended.

*It is important to use a technical cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash, as detergents leave behind residues that attract water. Also, many household detergents are overly harsh and can contain perfumes and bleach.