Ski bibs have been growing in popularity on the slopes. Sometimes called “winter overalls” or “snow-veralls” (or are they…?) bibs look super stylish, and they also do an admirable job of preventing the dreaded “snow down the back”. Ski bibs, like any other ski outerwear, benefit from regular cleaning and re-waterproofing to help keep them performing well.
Why clean your ski bibs and other outerwear?
All ski bibs come with a water-repellent coating called DWR (durable water-repellency). This is what makes water “bead up” and roll off the outer fabric of your bibs. By preventing water from absorbing into the material, DWR not only keeps you dry, but it also helps keep your bibs breathable. Hows’ that you say? Well, if your bibs soak up water, moisture vapor from inside (your sweat) cannot pass through the water barrier. This makes your bibs no longer breathable, causing you to be miserable on your next uphill climb (or long traverse). This failure of the DWR is called “wetting out” and it can happen for a variety of reasons. However, the most likely is that your bibs are dirty. Dirt, oils, and remnants from your last après celebration all attract water and cause the DWR to fail. So please, wash your bibs regularly to keep them performing the way they should.
So how does one go about cleaning and waterproofing ski bibs?
Here’s how to clean.
- Check the pockets. Washing a tube of lip balm into your bibs is cause for tears, trust us.
- Place your bibs in washing machine.
- Look at the care label on your bibs. It will help you know what temperature and setting to use on your washer. Always follow the care label on your gear. Nikwax products work at all water temperatures!
- Add Nikwax Tech Wash. In a top-loading machine, add 5oz (150ml) for 1-3 garments or 9oz (250ml) for 4-6 garments. In a front loader, it’s best to add no more than two garments with 3oz (100ml) of Tech Wash. Special note: Bibs could be closer to two garments than one- depending on your size!
- Sit back with a good book and a glass of wine/beer/hot cocoa as the machine runs its course.
- More often than not, this single cycle will be enough to have revitalized your bibs.
But my ski bibs still aren’t waterproof!
That’s ok. Don’t panic. Over time the water-repellent finish can wear off. (DWR= DURABLE, not permanent.) When that happens, it’s time to add more waterproofing.
Here’s how to waterproof.
- Clean first. Always clean first. Use Tech Wash like before. Then…
- Grab your bottle of TX.Direct Wash-In and shake it like it owes you money.
- If you have a top-loading machine, let the machine fill, then add a maximum of 3 garments and 10 oz (300ml) of TX.Direct Wash-In. Follow your bibs’ care label again for temperature and cycle.
- If you have a front-loading machine, add a maximum of 2 garments and 7 oz (200ml) of TX.Direct.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions (on the care label!) as to whether your garment should be line or tumble dried. Nikwax does not require heat for activation, so you’re good to go either way.
- Put your bibs on and admire your waterproofed “snow-veralls” in the mirror.
A question we get a lot is “But how often should I be doing all this?!“. Easy. When you notice your bibs looks dirty (don’t be gross- keep them clean!) or when you notice they’re soaking up water.
There you have it!
Now you’re ready to hit the slopes again and laugh at the soggy fools clustered around the fire pit.
Or, maybe you can tell them about taking care of their ski bibs and spread the dryness.