We recently ran a question on the SnowBrains Facebook page, asking how often people washed their winter sports gear. While there were some hilarious answers from our readers and some good insights, there was also considerable confusion about the hows, whens, and whys. To end the debate, we contacted Carolin Breintner, Quality Manager at Swedish ski clothing manufacturer Peak Performance to get some expert advice.
SnowBrains: “So, how often should you wash your outer ski/ride wear?”
Carolin Breintner: “It, of course, depends on how often you use it. But it is really important to wash and re-impregnate on a regular base to make sure the performance of your jackets stays on the highest level possible and make your product long-lasting. We would recommend to at least wash your jacket after every season before you store it.”
SnowBrains: “Some of our readers have admitted to not washing their outer shells ever…”
Carolin Breintner: “You need to wash your shell garment from time to time, even if it doesn’t look dirty. Salt from your sweat, dirt, and oils clog up the membrane after a while and impacts both water repellency and breathability. It also damages the fabric over time.”
SnowBrains: “Why is it important to wash your jacket regularly?”
Carolin Breintner: “Waterproof garments are normally getting sweaty and wet inside. To guarantee the full function of the jacket, like the breathability and water repellency, you need to wash the dirt, salt, and body oils out of the membrane regularly. Otherwise, the membrane gets ruined. If you don’t wash it regularly but wash it for the first time after a few years, you risk that the material will delaminate.”
SnowBrains: “That is really interesting and probably quite counterintuitive because many people believe that washing will damage the repellency.”
Carolin Breintner: “Yes, that is actually not true. Regular cleaning will, in fact, enhance the performance of your garment. Unless you wash it the wrong way. If the outer material is soaking water, you can re-impregnate the jacket, but realistically, this is only needed after every 5-6 washes.”
SnowBrains: “So how do you recommend people wash their shells?”
Carolin Breintner: “Always follow the wash instructions on your garment’s care label. Prepare your shell garment by emptying all pockets and closing all zippers and velcros. We highly recommend using a technical liquid detergent, like Nikwax Tech Wash or similar, to reactivate DWR* and breathability. Normal detergents and softeners are not recommended and will not have the same effect as a technical liquid detergent. Choose a gentle wash program and low spinning. Don’t fill up your washing machine too much and wash it together with other technical garments and similar colors. Take your garment out as soon as the wash cycle ends and hang it to dry. Do not use heat; that’s better for the garment — and the environment. The DWR* does not need heat to reactivate. The technical detergent is reactivating it.”
SnowBrains: “And how does re-impregnating work?”
Carolin Breintner: “After washing your jacket, you can either wash your wet garment again right away, but with a water-repellent impregnation liquid this time. We use Nikwax Tx.direct. Alternatively, you can use a re-impregnation spray, like Nikwax Tx.direct Spray-On or similar. Place your garment on a hanger, close all zippers — they should be closed already, but in case you forgot — and spray directly on your wet product.”
SnowBrains: “Thanks so much for this. Do you have any other tips for our readers?”
Carolin Breintner: “If you are storing your shell garment for the season, always wash it first, and store it on a hanger, don’t compress it too much.”
So there you have it — regular washing is, in fact, best. If you are unsure what ‘regular’ means in your case, just wash it at least once at the end of the season before storing it for the next season.
*DWR = ‘Durable Water Repellent’. It is the coating that makes your winter sports gear waterproof.
One thought on “How Often Should You Wash Your Ski Gear?”
I was hitchhiking and skiing wearing the same outer stuff everyday (washing my underlayers once a week, myself 2-3times a week) without washing it. About a month I was in burger king near vail and a guy went past me and commented “dude, you could have waited till you got home”. I was a bit confused at first, but guessed it must have been smell related. The funny thing is, nobody else up until then had been hostile or after that. If it’s real bad I can smell myself, but couldn’t then.