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Washing, Cleaning and Repairing Your Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Washing, Cleaning and Repairing Your Waterproof Cycling Jacket

On the first really wet commute of the winter, you may find your old waterproof jacket isn't as good as it was. Here's what you can do about it.

It is essential that you keep your waterproof cycling jacket in good condition, taking care of it will ensure that you never have to suffer from a wet commute.

A waterproof cycling jacket isn’t impermeable and won’t keep you dry indefinitely. Even when it’s brand new, its level of protection can be overwhelmed. Good ones have a hydrostatic head rating, such as 5,000mm, showing how waterproof they are.

That isn’t the amount of rain; 5,000mm would be beyond Biblical! It’s the height of a column of water, in a tube, that the fabric can support before it leaks through. A bigger number is better. If it’s less than 1,500 it’s not waterproof but showerproof, while at 10,000 or more it should cope with heavy rain.

If that all sounds a little complicated then check out this video from Get Out With The Kids.

Can You Wash A Waterproof Cycling Jacket?

Waterproof cycling ackets also get wet from the inside out. However breathable they are, it’s possible to sweat faster than they can breathe. Over time, a build-up of sweat and dirt will make a cycling jackets fabric less breathable. This means it’s important to wash it to keep it working properly (and to stop it ponging).


That said, don’t just chuck it in the washing machine. Read the label. Some jackets aren’t meant to be tumble dried. Others can only be washed at 30 or 40 degrees. And no breathable jacket should ever be washed with fabric conditioner. Your conditioner-coated jacket will feel softer, but won’t breathe properly, and will feel clammier against the skin as it won’t wick away sweat as well.

How To Get Your Cycling Jacket Waterproof Again

The older it gets, the less waterproof your jacket will become. Polyester fabrics slowly degrade in the sun and become less waterproof. The coating on top of the fabric that makes water bead on the surface and rolls off rather than ‘wetting out’ and soaking the outer layer will wear it off. The coating is Durable Waterproof Repellency (DWR), not permanent water repellency. You can refresh it by washing or spraying the jacket with water-repellent treatments from Nikwax, Grangers, and the like. The wash-in stuff is easiest to use – it just goes in the machine with your cycling jacket – but sprays work better for non-machine washable items and those with wicking liners.


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Fixing Tears And Stitching On A Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Wear and tear will limit a jacket’s effectiveness too. While some jackets are bonded together at the seams, most are stitched, with the seams taped to prevent water ingress. As and when the taping peels off, rain will start getting in. You can re-cover the bare stitching with a seam sealer such as McNett Seam Grip.

Fixing A Hole In A Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Any rip or hole in a waterproof jacket will make it disproportionately leaky, as the water that gets in will spread through capillary action. A tear in an elbow means your whole arm will get wet in heavy rain. Some manufacturers (e.g. Endura) offer a repair service. Or you can try it yourself. You’ll need seam seal tape or a patch kit.

After several years, you may need to replace your waterproof cycling jacket. Why not get a Cyclescheme equipment-only package?


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