Good tech wear does two major things: it regulates your body temperature, and it deals with moisture. When your clothing gets dirty, it can't function properly. So how do you keep it clean and working effectively? Luckily it's almost as easy as doing the rest of your laundry. (Didn't say it was fun... just easy.)
First, don't thrown it in with the rest of your laundry. Regular detergent makes fibres soak up more water which reduces wicking ability - plus it can lead to pilling, depending on the fabric. And stay away from fabric softeners. Not only are they environmentally unfriendly, they clog up the weave in your garment and really mess with the functionality of it.
The hallmark of tech cleaning products out there is Nikwax. Nikwax products are water based, and contain no harmful chemicals. You can use them in your kitchen without worrying about any ill effects. A lot of cleaners use solvent-based aerosols or fluorocarbons - these are toxic, and highly flammable. Try leaning over a campfire with that on your jacket.
To care for your new and fabulous tech wear, we recommend choosing the correct Nikwax product and washing/treating according to the instructions on the bottle and garment.
Waterproof/breathables (such as Gore-Tex)
These garments have an outer fabric layer and a waterproof, breathable membrane usually laminated to it on the inside. There is a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating on the outer fabric which wears off after time. When this happens, you'll notice the fabric "wetting out" or absorbing moisture - water no longer beads off it. This wet fabric blocks the moisture trying to escape from the inside of the garment through the membrane.
First, wash with Tech Wash to clean the garment. Then wash it again - no need to dry it first - with TX Direct, which treats the entire garment with a new, flexible DWR coating. There is no need to tumble dry your clothing after this, just lay the garment out to dry (or tumble dry on low heat). The DWR develops as it dries.
You can use the TX Direct Spray instead of the wash-in product. You can also use it afterwards on hard-wearing areas such as elbows and shoulders, where your pack straps rub. Just spray it on a wet garment and wipe off the excess; then let dry.
The new coating will last through several washes, so there is no need to do this every time.
These days a lot of down has been treated with a water repellent finish. It doesn't affect the insulating value of the down but allows it to repel water - down has been notorious for becoming completely useless when wet, but this is no longer the case.
When washing your down items, use Nikwax Down Wash Direct. This product recently won an OutDoor Industry award, and effectively cleans down while restoring water repellency. You can use it on treated or untreated down - in either case it will reduce the absorbency of the down many times over.
Treat your softshell garments the same way you would your waterproof/breathables. Wash with Tech Wash first. If the garment has lost water repellency, wash again (or spray) with TX Direct and let dry. Again, there is no need to heat your garment in the drier when using this product.
Nikwax Wool Wash is great for your merino clothing. It cleans effectively and also keeps the wool soft and not scratchy against your skin. An added bonus: it revitalizes the natural properties of the wool that make it such an effective wicking fabric. Just wash your clothing with Wool Wash and lay flat or hang to dry.
For synthetic base layers: use Base Wash. It gets rid of odours that can build up in synthetic fabrics. It also restores the water repellency of the fibres so they can spread moisture better and maximize evaporation.
For merino wool base layers: use Wool Wash (see above).
Happy laundry day everyone! And if you have any garment care questions, feel free to contact the store. We'd be happy to help.