How To: Maintain Your GORE-TEX® Outerwear

Eric Behn | | Gear ReviewGear Review

Almost every skier, snowboarder, or outdoor enthusiast owns a piece of outerwear or clothing that is made partly or completely of GORE-TEX®. GORE-TEX® is the leading fabric for waterproof, breathable outdoor wear and is commonly in top quality outerwear across almost every outdoor all weather sport. GORE-TEX® holds a lifetime warranty but what many don’t realize is that the fabric does require some maintenance in order to perform best at shedding water and breath-ability.

A cross section diagram of the GORE-TEX membrane.

Understanding The GORE-TEX® Membrane

The GORE-TEX® membrane sits directly between the outer layer and inner liner of any water shedding garment and acts as the main barrier between you and the elements outside of your garment. The membrane is made up of a porous material in which water vapor can escape through, but water droplets are too large to penetrate; this allows the garment to be extremely breathable but fully waterproof. The heat from your body allows vapor to be pushed through the membrane while cold air has no driving for to penetrate the garment from the outside, keeping you warm and dry. The membrane is laminated to an outer material which is meant to initially shed snow or rain, and is often also laminated to an inner layer which is generally just a softer more skin friendly material. 

Why You Need to Maintain Your GORE-TEX®

The main components that make up GORE-TEX® fabric’s waterproofing and breathability are the outer material and the membrane. Like anything, wear and tear of your GORE-TEX® garment will occur over time and the breathability and waterproofing will diminish, but not permanently.

On the external layer, the Durable Water Repellant(DWR) is a coating which is applied which will be the first combatant against water entering your garment. Beading water droplets are the result of a DWR coating in good condition. Over time the DWR will wear from any sort of abriasion: rubbing from a backpack, arms or legs rubbing another part of the garment, sliding on snow, etc. As you notice your garment isn’t shedding and beading water as nicely, or the first layer of your GORE-TEX® is beginning to absorb water, the DWR needs to be reapplied.

The GORE-TEX® membrane also changes over time as you sweat, get wet, get dirty and do activities with your garment where it is exposed to any of the elements. Over time, sweat molecules and dirt can clog up the pores in the membrane making the garment less breathable. This is easily remedied if you know how do to it.

All layers will also collect dirt and other substances from use and this will call for the garment to be properly clean. Clean GORE-TEX® is good GORE-TEX®

How to Maintain Your GORE-TEX
Directions by GORE-TEX®


Machine wash on a warm permanent press cycle (105º F/40º C) using a small amount of liquid detergent. Rinse twice, minimize spinning to reduce creasing. Do not use powder detergents or any products that contain fabric softeners, conditioners, stain removers or bleach as they will affect garment performance. Do not wash with heavily soiled clothing.


Line dry your garment, or tumble dry it on a warm, gentle cycle. Once it is dry, tumble dry your garment for 20 minutes to reactivate the durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment on the outer fabric.

If unable to tumble dry, iron the dry garment on gentle setting (warm, no steam) by placing a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron. This will help reactivate the DWR treatment on your garment’s outer fabric.

DWR Treatment:

When the factory applied treatment can no longer be reactivated, apply a new water-repellent treatment available as a pump-spray*.

*We spoke with GORE and though some wash-in DWR treatment products advertise themselves as a GORE-TEX® treatment, GORE-TEX® does not recommend the wash-in treatment as they can clog up the membrane. 

If you own a GORE-TEX® garment, and want it to last as it should, follow these easy maintenance instructions and your garment will serve you well for years to come.

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