4 Best Outerwear Cleaners

4 Best Outerwear CleanersOutdoor clothing is not cheap. For outdoor endeavors like mountaineering, climbing, skiing or backpacking, it is not out of line to purchase a full outerwear set-up, including a rain shell and pants, hat, soft-shell jacket or vest, synthetic long or high-tech wool underwear and socks, and pay almost $1000. The outerwear is designed to withstand abuse and harsh conditions, but will need washing and care eventually. Using the best cleaners and detergents helps maintain a long life for the clothing, saving you money in the long run.


Gore-Tex is designed to be a breathable and waterproof fabric simultaneously. Moisture is drawn away from the interior of the fabric and brought to the outer surface, while the outer surface repels and prevents moisture from penetrating to the interior. Gore-Tex recommends using simple laundry detergent without bleach or fabric softeners when cleaning Gore-Tex clothing.

Soft-Shell Clothing

Soft-shell clothing is a blend of water resistance, breathability and windproofing designed to be flexible and move with your body. Soft-shell water resistance wears down over time, requiring you to wash and re-treat the garment. Outdoor clothing maker Mountain Hardwear makes a full line of soft-shell jackets and pants.

For cleaning, the company recommends using simple powdered laundry detergent on either the cold or warm water setting on a laundry machine. Do not use hot water. To re-treat the garment to restore its water resistance, use a product like Nikwax Soft Shell Proof, available as a spray-on or wash-in.

High-Tech Wools

Many outdoor clothing makers have returned to using natural fibers, especially for bottom layers such as long underwear. Icebreaker, Patagonia, Arctery'x and Smart Wool offer lines of light to mid-weight long underwear made from high-tech Merino wool. Makers such as Icebreaker recommend using powdered laundry detergent with the machine set on warm or cold. The fabric is designed to reduce shrinkage when laundered, making it a stout and easy-to-care-for outerwear fabric.

Polartec Fabrics

Polartec makes and produces a proprietary style of polar fleece, a synthetic fabric that retains heat and thermal abilities when wet. Polartec recommends washing the fleece in machines set on cold with regular powdered or liquid detergents--no bleach or fabric softeners. To help maintain the Durable Water Repellant (DWR), run the fabric through one extra rinse to get rid of any excess soapy residue, which breaks down the DWR. Wash the Polartec garment in a Nikwax Outerwear Detergent after the initial detergent wash, to revitalize the DWR.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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