An Easy Guide on How to Wash and Reproof a Waterproof Jacket

A waterproof jacket is an essential garment for country life. Whether you’re hiking through drizzling glens or taking your dog for a walk in the early morning dew, a waterproof jacket is the perfect item to protect you against wet weather conditions.

While a quality waterproof coat will see you through rain, snow, or shine, even the best jackets will require a touch of care to keep them looking and working at their best. Our guide will show you how to properly wash a waterproof jacket and how to maintain its waterproof finish.


What types of waterproof jackets are there?

The first step to understanding how to clean and care for your jacket is to identify what type of waterproof jacket you own. A waterproof coat will protect you against rain, but not all will offer the same level of breathability to keep you comfortable and dry inside. 

There are two main types of waterproofing technology that are applied to jackets to make them moisture-resistant: a waterproof coating and a waterproof membrane.

Jackets with a waterproof coating

These garments have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) liquid coating applied to them, which forms a moisture-repelling wall against water droplets. It’s easy to spot a jacket with a DWR coating as water will bead on the surface and run off without permeating into the fabric. 

It’s worth noting that while a DWR coating is intended to repel water drops from the surface of a material, it doesn’t make the garment completely waterproof on its own. The coating will be applied in conjunction with other factors, like taped seams and treated fabric, to ensure a certain level of moisture protection. 

Jackets made with a Durable Water Repellent finish often tend to be more affordable than those made with other water-repellent methods. The drawback to them is that the DWR coating restricts breathability and may also need to be re-applied, called reproofing, from time to time. 

Jackets with a waterproof membrane

These are crafted with a special waterproof membrane: a thin layer with microscopic pores that are small enough that rainwater can’t get through, but large enough to let vapour molecules out. 

As moisture can get out, these waterproof coats offer exceptional breathability and are excellent for allowing water vapour to escape from the inside of the garment to the outside. Jackets with a waterproof membrane layer are particularly useful for staying dry and regulating body temperature while enjoying energetic outdoor activities.

GORE-TEX® is one of the most commonly used membrane types thanks to its sturdiness and reliability. Many popular outdoor clothing brands, like The North Face and Schoffel, apply GORE-TEX® to a broader range of items too like waterproof trousers and walking boots. 


Can you wash a waterproof jacket?

*always adhere to the manufacturers label for instructions

Yes, you can wash a waterproof jacket. 

You may be hesitant to wash the garment for fear of damaging or reducing the efficacy of the finish, however, the key to maintaining its properties is to keep the garment clean and treat it correctly. Washing waterproof clothing will help to keep the pores clear, eliminate any debris or dirt that’s been picked up from outside, and extend its overall life.

Never wash any waterproof items with regular detergent or fabric softeners as they can clog the pores in the membrane, restrict breathability, or strip the DWR coating. Instead, invest in a specially formulated detergent for cleansing waterproof clothing. 


How to wash a waterproof jacket

*always adhere to the manufacturers label for instructions

Our simple step-by-step guide will ensure your outerwear is in pristine condition for your next adventure — but, we strongly recommend always referring to your garment’s care label before cleaning. All items will vary and some may require specific instructions to keep them at their best.

1. Remove any loose debris

Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the jacket. It’s best to do this the day after wearing your coat so that any dirt can completely dry; it’s much easier to remove dry than when it’s wet.

2. Prep the garment for washing

Check that the pockets are empty before washing, fasten any zips, and secure any flaps or Velcro straps.

3. Check the detergent compartment of your washing machine

Before cleaning your waterproof jacket, we advise ensuring that your washing machine drawer is free of any detergent from its last wash. Running a warm wash cycle with no detergent or softener can clear any residuals.

4. Add your waterproof detergent 

Check the manufacturer’s instructions and add the recommended amount of detergent to the compartment in your machine. Check that your detergent is suitable for jackets with a GORE-TEX® membrane if necessary.

5. Place your waterproof jacket into the drum

Add your garments to the washing machine. Don’t wash your waterproofs with regular clothing and avoid washing more than two items at once so that each article of clothing has enough space to be cleaned properly.

6. Start the wash cycle

Run your washing machine on a wash and rinse cycle at 30°C. Most waterproof clothing will have no problem with a standard 30-degree wash and some can even be washed at 40°C. Always check the care label for exact guidelines.

7. Dry your waterproof jacket 

If the care label states that the garment is suitable for tumble drying, add it to your tumble dryer on a low heat cycle. This step is crucial for reactivating the waterproof fibres. 

You can leave your coat to air dry too. Fit it onto a clothes hanger and place it near, but not covering, a radiator on a low heat. Rotate it every few hours so that it dries evenly.

How often should you wash a waterproof jacket?

*always adhere to the manufacturers label for instructions

You only need to wash your waterproof clothing when they are visibly dirty or you notice that their water-repellent properties aren’t as effective as they should be. 

If you spend much of your free time high up in the mountains or hiking across hills, your waterproof jacket may need to be washed every few months. Whereas those who only require a waterproof coat as part of their winter outerwear rotation may only need to wash it at the end of the season before putting it into storage for next year.

Avoid washing them after every wear as this will quickly wear away any DWR finish.


How to reproof a waterproof jacket

*always adhere to the manufacturers label for instructions

After washing, your waterproof jacket should be ready to protect you from drizzles to downpours. If you notice that it still seems to be absorbing moisture rather than deflecting it, you may need to reapply the water-repellent coating.

The easiest way to reproof a jacket with a waterproof coating is to use a wash-in product with a DWR treatment. Here’s how:

1. Prep the garment by ensuring that it’s debris-free and all zips and flaps are secured.

2. Add the required amount of product to the detergent drawer of your washing machine.

3. Place your garments that require reproofing into the drum.

4. Run your wash cycle at 30°C or as directed by the product instructions.

5. The DWR coating is activated by heat, so tumble dry your jacket on low or air dry it near a radiator.

You don’t need to reproof your waterproof coat after each wash, only when you notice that it’s not repelling moisture. Newer waterproof jackets will have a stronger finish, so it’s unlikely that they will need to be reproofed, but the coating on older garments may need to be refreshed.

What are the best waterproof jackets?

Best classic raincoat: Joules Coast Waterproof Coat

The iconic Joules Coast Waterproof Coat has been updated for the new season and wraps up your rainy-day necessities in a stylish package for tackling wet weather. It features a sturdy zip and popper fastening for extra secure wear, flapped pockets, and an integral hood with cord and toggle details. This waterproof is completed with a feminine curved hem to complement your silhouette and is lined with a pretty striped cotton lining. 

Best waterproof jacket for easy storage: Joules Waybridge Packable Raincoat

Being prepared for the changeable Scottish weather is a must and this packable raincoat is ideal for having a waterproof on hand when you need it. Quickly and easily folding down into its own pouch means that you can pack this into your backpack and take it with you wherever you go. It’s crafted from 100% recycled polyester from plastic bottles and the longline style offers extra protection against the elements.

Best waterproof jacket for warmth: Joules Snug Packable Jacket

Stay warm and dry with this Snug Packable Jacket that offers an extra layer in the face of unexpected weather conditions. Quilted barrels padded with recycled wadding to keep the cold and wind at bay, a water-resistant finish helps you stay dry, and front zip pockets keep all your essentials secure. 

Best waterproof jacket for everyday wear: Joules Shoreside Waterproof Coat

The Shoreside Waterproof Coat by Joules is your everyday hero for early morning walks, school runs, and every occasion in between. The elegant A-line shape makes it easy to pull on and taped seams offer complete waterproof protection to shield you through storms. Finishing touches like adjustable cuffs, a hood with a storm peak, and underarm ventilation will make this garment a staple — come rain or shine.

Find your wet-weather wardrobe staple with the House of Bruar

A waterproof jacket is a versatile piece of outerwear that belongs in every country wardrobe. Before heading on your next expedition, make sure yours is properly washed and looked after so that it can look after you. 

Or, if you're looking to add one to your collection, shop our full range of ladies’ and men’s waterproof jackets here.