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How to wash your waterproof jacket

For good care of your outdoor clothing

© Engin Aykurt / Unsplash

On your last tour, you were caught in a rain shower and your rain gear came in handy. The hike was exhausting and you sweated a lot. Especially when hiking in nature, you have to sit down sometimes and can't always wait until you find a clean bench. The smell of the cosy campfire also lingers stubbornly in your rainwear. Now it's time to wash your rainwear.

If your clothes are dirty, you want to clean them. But you will also wash the outdoor jacket after heavy perspiration. The moisture that we sweat out is transported to the outside in functional clothing. This means that the salt crystals settle and eventually attack the material. So it becomes permeable and the breathability is, therefore, no longer optimal. Washing a functional jacket is no problem if you keep a few important things in mind.

Woman holding a sign of clothing with recommendations for care and washing

Can I wash a rain jacket in the washing machine?

The short answer to this is: yes, you may, unless it is specifically prohibited on the care label and only hand washing is recommended. It does not matter whether it is a hardshell jacket or a softshell. The manufacturer knows best how to wash and clean the membranes and materials used. A look at the label in your rainwear is, therefore, recommended. You will find all the necessary care instructions here.

Washing your rain jacket in the washing machine: What should be considered?

It's time and you want to put your functional jacket in the washing machine. Choose a gentle programme with a low temperature. The water temperature should not exceed 40 degrees. If possible, avoid spinning or choose a programme with a low spin speed. During the spin cycle, there is a lot of pressure and friction on the material, which can damage the membranes.

The right detergent for rain jackets

To wash a rain jacket, you need a detergent, of course. Do not use normal detergents, fabric softeners or even bleach. The substances contained in these agents can have a harmful effect on the material. Sharp substances damage the textiles and thus the function of your clothes.

It is best to use a mild or even a liquid detergent. Powder can leave a residue and must be rinsed out well. However, you must make sure that the liquid detergent does not contain fabric softener. Special detergents for outdoor clothing are ideal. They are easy to wash out while being designed precisely for these fabrics. The performance of these detergents is also very good, so you don't need much and the clothes still get clean.

Step-by-step washing and drying instructions

To wash and dry your outdoor clothing successfully, you can follow these instructions:

1. Read the care instructions

The manufacturer will give you detailed instructions on how to wash your clothes. You will find the recommended temperature on the labels and also whether you can wash the functional clothing by hand or in the machine.

2. Remove heavy dirt

First remove coarse dirt with a soft brush. You should also remove large stains first, there are special products for this.

3. Prepare the rainwear

Empty all pockets of outdoor clothing; often, you will find coins or paper towels. Then close all the zips and also the Velcro fasteners. Turn the clothes inside out to protect the zips when washing.

4. Choose the detergent

Use a mild detergent or a detergent specifically for outdoor clothing. Dose the detergent according to the manufacturer's instructions. By the way, the rule here is: less is more.

5. Wash your functional clothing

Now you can put your rainwear in the washing machine and choose a gentle cycle. If you want to wash the clothes by hand, you can do so in lukewarm water, preferably in the bathtub or a bucket.

6. Rinse several times

It is very important that you rinse your outdoor clothing several times with clean water. This will wash out any residue from the detergent.

7. Let the clothes dry

Hang the functional clothing to dry on a hanger or lay it over a clothes horse. It is important that the clothes are left to dry in the open air.

Man operating washing machine
© Rodnae Productions / Pexels


  • Treat stains and dirt as soon as possible so that the dirt does not penetrate deep into the fabric.
  • Do not use fabric softener when washing. They clog the pores and the function of the clothing is impaired as a result. Special detergents for outdoor clothing are suitable for washing.
  • A gentle programme without a spin cycle at low temperature is ideal for washing your outdoor clothing.
  • Do not place rainwear over a hot radiator to dry. The fabric could melt and the material could dry out.

Checklist: the most important things in a nutshell

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the textile labels.
  • Use a special detergent for outdoor clothing.
  • Wash the rainwear in the machine on the gentle cycle only.
  • Choose a low temperature, maximum 40 degrees.
  • The best way to dry your clothes is to let them air dry.


Washing your rain jacket regularly will ensure that you enjoy your jacket for longer. This way, it will still keep you dry, and your next hike in the mountains doesn't have to end in getting soaked through.