How to Wash a Waterproof Jacket

Other jackets may keep you warm during cold, wet days, but they will not be able to keep you dry.

Waterproof jackets, however, will keep you warm and dry even in wet conditions because the design of waterproof jackets allows water to pass on rather than through them.

Hence, the main goal of washing waterproof jackets is to maintain their water repellent qualities while avoiding damage to their fabric. This article will help you to do that.

How to Wash a Waterproof Jacket by Hand

Columbia Waterproof Coat
Columbia Waterproof Coat

It is preferable to wash waterproof jackets with a suitable washing machine. But you can still hand wash them if, for some reason, you don’t have access to a washing machine.

It is crucial while doing this to take every reasonable precaution. Check the fabric care label on the jacket for the best way to wash your jacket.

Also, avoid laundry products such as fabric softeners, chlorine bleach, and powder detergents; Liquid detergents are always preferable.

Follow the steps below to wash your waterproof jacket without destroying them:

Step One: Prepare The Jacket

Always ensure that all pockets of your jackets are empty before washing. Stray objects can damage the jacket’s fabrics and cause injury since you are hand washing.

Zip up every pocket and fasten every velcro strap, preventing them from getting caught up in the fabric during washing.

If there are any significant stains, pre-treat them with a mild detergent until they are barely visible. You can do this by scrubbing the jacket with a soft cloth.

Step Two: Create a Good Soapy Solution

Fill a suitable container with cold water. Ideally, you can use a sink or bathtub with enough space to immerse your jacket completely.

Once the tub is two-thirds filled, add a mild liquid detergent to the water and mix it to create a soapy solution. Remember, detergent should be bleach free.

Step Three: Wash the Jacket in the Soapy Solution

Immerse your jacket into the solution and gently rub the jacket between your palms until every area is covered.

After washing is complete, rinse the jacket in cold plain water until all soapy suds are gone; this might require you to do it more than once.

Residue detergents can reduce the water repellant properties of the jacket, so you mustn’t let this happen.

Step Four: Dry Your Jacket Away From the Sun

It is always the best policy to wash your jacket at the lowest temperatures possible. So it is best to air dry them after washing.

Place your jacket on a sturdy hanger or a good drying rack, and air dry out of direct sunlight. The jacket could take a long time, but it will preserve your jacket.

How to Wash Your Waterproof Jacket Using a Washing Machine

Waterproof Jacket Care Label

Using a washing machine is the preferable way to wash your jacket, but you still have to be careful while doing it.

Washing machines can ruin your waterproof jackets if you don’t follow the proper steps to limit the damage. You will find the steps to take when washing your jacket in a machine below:

Step One: Preparing the Jacket for The Machine

As always, search every pocket for stray items and remove them to avoid damage to your jacket. Fasten all velcro straps and zip up every pocket. 

Prepping the jacket is even more critical now as the machine’s agitation can cause unzipped and unfastened pockets to ruin the jacket’s fabric.

Turn the jacket inside out to protect its DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellant) coating from the machine’s abrasion. 

If possible, you should use a front-loading machine without a central agitator for gentler abrasion.

Step Two: Spot Clean Your Jacket

Since you will likely be using a delicate setting on your washing machine, it won’t be able to get rid of tough stains.

You can take care of this by spot cleaning the jacket before putting it into the washing machine. 

Fill a small bowl with water and mix with a very mild liquid detergent. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with the soapy solution and use it to brush off stubborn stains.

Step Three: Adjust the Machine to the Appropriate Setting

Washer Settings

Set your machine to the delicate wash cycle; If the machine has a setting for waterproof clothing, use it. Turn the temperature to about 20/30°C and reduce the spin rate to less than 200 rpm. 

Check for residue detergent from previous washes. Some more commonly used detergents may be harmful to your waterproof jackets. Clean out the detergent tray before every wash.

Fill the machine tub with cold water and add a specific waterproof safe detergent. If none is available, you can use any other mild liquid detergent.

In all you do, always check the fabric care instructions for the best temperature and the most appropriate detergent to use while washing. Some jackets, like Gore-Tex jackets, require only a specific type of detergent.

Step Four: Washing a Waterproof Jacket

Always wash waterproof jackets with other jackets of their kind. Never mix it with regular clothing as this could be bad for the jacket, and some fabrics could cause additional abrasion.

Run the jacket through a wash and rinse cycle. After each rinse cycle, ensure that no soapy suds on the jacket.

Step Five: Drying a Waterproof Jacket

How you dry your jacket will ultimately depend on the specific fabric care instructions on your jacket. So always consult it before choosing a drying method.

Some jacket instructions allow for the use of a dryer. In this case, place the jacket in a dryer on a low heat setting and tumble dry until it is dry.

If you can’t access a dryer or the fabric care instructions, caution against using one, then you should air dry.

Use a hang loop to tag the jacket on a hanger until the water completely drips off (it is preferable if this is done outside or over your bathroom tub).

Once the jacket is damp, you can place it on a hanger in an airy place. Avoid hanging your jacket under direct sunlight.

Reproofing a Waterproof Jacket

As you keep wearing and washing your jacket, its waterproof qualities will likely begin to decline. 

To curb this, always check your jacket after every wash. If water is beginning to go through your jacket, that’s a sign that you need to waterproof your jacket. There are two ways to do this.

The first method is tossing the jacket into a tumble dryer (if the manufacturer permits) for about 20-30 minutes. After tumble drying, test the jacket again. If the water forms beads on the jacket, its DWR coating is back in business.

A second method would be applying DWR coating on the jacket while it’s still moist. Once the jacket is dry, its water repellency should be back, which works whether you use a dryer.

Note: Some waterproofing products come in liquid form and are usually applied while the jacket is still in the washing machine.


Waterproof jackets keep you dry and warm during cold, wet days.

Depending on the fabric care instructions, you can wash them by hand or with a washing machine. Reproof them when necessary, and you will be able to use your jacket for a long time.

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