Invented in 1969, by father and son Wilbert and Robert Gore, Gore-Tex has transformed the outdoor clothing industry.
When used in ski and snowboard pants and jackets, Gore-Tex repels liquid water (snow and rain) from the outside environment while simultaneously allowing water vapour (sweat) to escape from the inside. Sounds a lot like skin, right? And the similarities don’t stop there.
What most people don’t know about Gore-Tex is that it’s not a fabric at all, it’s a membrane full of microscopic pores. And just like skin, Gore-Tex needs cleaning to make sure that the pores stay free of dirt and sweat.
Now, it’s time for us to put on our geek cap and answer some of the most frequently asked questions on keeping Gore-Tex products in tip-top shape:
#1 Does Gore-Tex lose its waterproofing/breathability if I wash it?
No, and it’s actually very easy to wash a Gore-Tex garment (see #2).
But there are a couple of things to note before you go and throw your jacket in the washing machine.
1: The Gore-Tex membrane is laminated to an outer face fabric that is chosen by the manufacture of your garment. Depending on what item you have, there may also be an inner lining.
Always follow the cleaning suggestions on the tag inside the garment. The manufacturer will take into account the care of their face fabric and lining fabrics as well as the Gore-Tex membrane inside.
2: Eventually you may experience “wetting out”, which is when the durable water repellency (DWR) coating that is applied to the manufacturer’s face fabric starts to wear off. This does affect the Gore-Tex membrane or mean that it is leaking, it just means that you need to reactivate the DWR coating in the dryer (see #6) or reapply it by using products like TX Direct.
#2 How do I wash my Gore-Tex jacket?
Gore-Tex recommends that it’s products are cleaned in the washing machine in warm (105°F/40°C) water. For best results, always refer to the manufacturer’s care label and use a mild (preferably biodegradable) liquid or Nikwax Tech wash.
Put the garment on a gentle cycle that will minimize creasing or damage that can be caused by the pulling and twisting motion inside a washing machine.
#3 Why should I wash my Gore-Tex garment and how often?
Wash your Gore-Tex garment as needed, when you notice reduced breathability or there is visible dirt on the face fabric.
As we mentioned in the post’s introduction, Gore-Tex behaves very much like skin. It has micro-pores big enough to let sweat vapour escape, but small enough to stop liquid moisture getting in. Like skin, these pores can get clogged with dirt in snow, rain, and sweat.
If, during regular use, the inside of your Gore-Tex garment starts to feel clammy or damp while you’re wearing it, it’s very likely that there is something in the pores preventing the water vapour from escaping. Washing your Gore-Tex garment will clean out the pores and should fix this problem.
#4 Can I dry my Gore-Tex pants in the dryer?
For sure! Gore-Tex recommends a gentle cycle with medium heat. If you have a modern, high-efficiency dryer there’s a good chance that it will have an auto shut off as soon as the moisture level inside the dryer drops. At this point the garment will probably be dry to touch, however the DWR on the face fabric requires an extra 20 minutes to reactivate.
Even if you choose to line-dry your garment (which is ok, too), Gore-Tex still recommends an extra 20 minutes in the dryer to reactivate the DWR (see #1).
#5 Can I use regular laundry detergent to wash my Gore-Tex jacket?
You sure can, but Gore-Tex suggests that you us a mild, liquid detergent (do not use powder detergent), and always check the manufacturer’s care label for any special recommendations.
We would recommend Nikwax Tech Wash (see #2), and never use bleach unless specifically recommended by the garment manufacturer. While the Gore-Tex membrane would probably be ok, the bleach could remove the colour from the manufacturer’s face fabric.
#6 How do I restore the DWR coating on the outside of my jacket?
The DWR liquifies when heated and will re-coat the face fabric when put in the dryer. To restore the DWR, once your garment is dry just pop it in the dryer for 20 minutes (see #4).
Gore-Tex is a membrane that is laminated to the inside of a face fabric. This face fabric protects the Gore-Tex from abrasion, but the fabric itself is not waterproof. To stop the fabric soaking up moisture from rain and snow, the face fabric is treated with a durable water repellency coating (DWR).
Even if your garments face fabric appears to be wet, the Gore-Tex below is still doing it’s job. But, no matter how dry you are on the inside, having a wet soggy jacket on the outside is no fun.
#7 Can I iron my Gore-Tex jacket or pants?
Absolutely, but first check the manufacturer’s care label for the face fabric. Gore-Tex recommends using a low temperature and definitely no steam.
Always place a cloth, like a tea towel, over the garment so that the iron does not touch the garment directly.