Washing Your Waders and Rain Coats

By: Heather Hodson
Does your rain jacket or waders absorb water?  Do you remember the time when water used to roll off your waders and rain jacket?  You can bring back the roll with some technical wash!
Did you know that it is ok to wash your waders and outerwear?  This blog will cover DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating and steps for reactivating the waterproof finish with Nikwax Tech Wash and TX.Direct.

3 Layer Garments

  1. Outer Face Fabric with DWR Coating
  2. Waterproof Breathable Membrane
  3. Inner Fabric, Inner Backing and/or Liner
Simms DWR Coating

What is DWR Coating?

DWR is Durable Water Repellent (DWR).  DWR prevents the absorption of water into the material.  A material is water-repellent when water beads up on its surface. Most breathable waterproof garments are pre-treated with a DWR coating.

DWR Coating Explained


As mentioned most breathable waterproof garments come pre-treated with a DWR Coating.  An easy way to understand DWR Coating is to compare it to blades of grass.  These blades of grass hold molecules of water away from the outer face fabric. 

Why do we need to reactive the dwr coating

Over time, many factors can cause the DWR coating to no longer function as it did on the first day of purchase.  Some of these factors include dirt, body oils, sunscreen, bug spray, floatant, camp smoke and general wear and tear.  

Those blades of grass (DWR coating) have been compromised in one way or another. The blades of grass have been knocked down, eliminated, or space has been created allowing moisture to sit directly onto the outer face fabric causing “Wet Out”.

Wet Out - DWR Coating1
Wet Out - DWR Coating

wet out

“Wet Out” occurs when the external DWR coating wears off, the jacket’s outer fabric becomes saturated and prevents the internal membrane from passing out water vapor.

Nikwax Cleaning and Waterproofing Products

Clean and waterproof your waders and rain jackets with the Nikwax convenient Duo-Pack of Tech Wash and TX.Direct.

Tech Wash is a soap-based cleaner which can be used regularly to clean clothing and equipment without damaging the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coatings. Use this product instead of conventional detergents or washing powder.

TX.Direct adds water-repellency and revives breathability to fabrics without wicking liners. Prolongs the effective lifespan and optimizes the performance of your wet-weather clothing.

How to clean your Waders and Outerwear

  1. Prep
    • Clean detergent drawer to remove any residue. 
    • Empty pockets and zip all zippers.
    • Place garments in machine washing machine. 
      • 2 garments at a time.
  2. Wash
    • Shake Nikwax Tech Wash well, add to washing machine, then wash according to garment care label.
      • To clean 1-2 items use 2 full caps (100ml) in soft water or 3 full caps in hard water.  
  3. Water Proof
    • Leave wet items in machine. 
    • Shake Nikwax TX.Direct well, then add to washing machine.  Wash according to garment care label.
  4. Dry
    1. Dry according to manufacturer’s label (dryer or air dry).

Heat is not required to activate water-repellency with Nikwax.

Why use Nikwax?

Most importantly, Nikwax doesn’t require heat to activate water-repellency compared to fluorocarbon product.  The angling benefit with this product is your wader booties won’t delaminate or  seam tape won’t be compromised.

  • It’s Affordable
  • Easy to Use
    • It’s simple to apply
    • For clothing just use a washing machine on a normal wash cycle.
    • Garments do not have to be tumbled-dried to activate water repellency and there is no need to wait for a clean, wet garment to dry before waterproofing with Nikwax.
  • Environmentally Safe
    • Non-hazardous, WaterBased and biodegradable.
    • Contains no fluorocarbons and is not tested on animals.
    • Nikwax avoids materials in its cleaners like palm oil, which may be sourced for unsustainable plantations.

Happy Washing!!!

United Women on the Fly Founder - Heather Hodson

Founder of United Women on the Fly and committed to building an inclusive community that educates, provides resources, encourages and connects anglers from around the world. Her passion for getting anyone involved in fly fishing and enthusiasm to think outside the box is infectious.

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