How to Care for Performance Outerwear

If you bought your outerwear at Shep’s and you’ve worn it around making great memories and looking awesome along the way, chances are it will be time for a wash at some point.

First rule: follow manufacturer’s printed instructions, usually located on a tag inside the garment. Or, visit their website for fabric and care information.  Any manufacturer’s warranty may be nullified if their instructions are not followed.

Second rule of thumb: unless it’s faux fur, don’t take it to a dry cleaner!  Their process and chemicals will ruin your waterproof/breathable garment. Happily, you can wash and maintain your performance outerwear easily  at home whenever you feel it’s time to be refreshed.  If it’s looking dirty or water is soaking through the shell fabric, then it’s a good time to launder it again.

Your performance outerwear has two lines of defense between you and the elements: the DWR finish on the face (outer) side of the fabric, and waterproof/breathable coatings or laminates on the inside of the fabric.  Waterproof/breathable coatings and laminates will last for the lifetime of your garment with proper care.  All such coatings have microscopic pores that are too small to allow liquid water to pass through, but large enough to let water vapor escape.  Dirt and grime can disrupt the waterproofing and breathability by clogging the pores, which lets water soak through and also prevents water vapor from escaping. Careful cleaning and drying will reopen these pores and restore the effectiveness of the coatings.

image: offpistemag.com/nikwax-dwr-treatment/

The DWR (durable water-resistant) finish is applied to the face side of the outerwear fabric, enabling it to resist exposure to ultraviolet light.  If you splash some water on the outside of your garment, the water should bead up and roll right off.  If it doesn’t, then try careful washing and drying to restore the DWR finish.  If careful cleaning does not restore the effectiveness of the DWR finish, you can reapply a DWR finish yourself.  We recommend Nikwax TX Direct, which can be sprayed on or washed in.

 

 

Here’s how to properly wash your performance outerwear to restore it’s appearance and function:

  •  DO NOT DRY CLEAN.  Check the care tag that is attached.
  • Unzip all the zippers and turn your garment inside-out.
  • Wash in COLD water, separately.
  • DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENERS OR BLEACH.  Fabric softeners will clog the pores of the garment.  Bleach will ruin it.
  • Use a non-detergent cleanser or very mild powder detergent.  We recommend Nikwax products.
  • Minimize soap usage.  Better few bubbles than many.
  • If you’re using a wash-in DWR restorer, add it to the wash cycle.
  • Use your machine’s GENTLE cycle, or hand wash.
  • Rinse throughly.  Even better, rinse twice.
  • Gently squeeze out most of the water.  DO NOT WRING.  Wringing the water from your garment can cause the waterproof/breathable coating to separate from the inside of the shell fabric.
  • Use a powdered non-detergent cleanser.  Liquid detergent can clog the pores in the waterproof-breathable coating.  If one is not available, use a very mild powdered detergent, and use it sparingly. Powdered detergents rinse more throughly than liquid detergents.  Gently rinse your garment, preferably twice.  If you must use a grocery-store brand, we recommend Dreft detergent, used sparingly.
  • LINE-DRY your garment until it is completely dry.  Do not hang it over a heat source, which can damage the fabric and the coatings.
  • If you want to restore DWR and did not a wash-in type, you may apply a spray-pn DWR restorer after washing.

We Offer Nikwax products alongside our great selection of premium outerwear.

Nikwax Tech Wash, a non-detergent cleanser for most outerwear

Nikwax Down Wash, a non-detergent cleanser for outerwear and mid layers insulated with down.

Nikwax TX Direct, Wash-in or Spray-on.

 

Snow Sports Gear, Outdoor Clothing and Your Spring Cleaning List

Sad as it may make you, the snow will eventually melt here in Wausau (Wisconsin’s winter wonderland) and it will be time to put your technical outerwear and ski equipment into storage. Prepare your gear properly and you’ll reap the benefits of long life and premium performance.

Washing your jacket, pants or other outdoor apparel is important to the long life of your garment and is just as easy as washing your other laundry.  Just follow the care label on your outerwear which is specific to your garment (and related to any warranty that may be in

Care labels are fun to read. No, really!

place), avoiding common detergents like Tide, Cheer, Gain, All, etc. which are too harsh for your technical outerwear. They’re great at getting stains out, but just as ruthless in their treatment of waterproofing materials.

You can get your favorite clothing clean at home without disturbing the DWR (durable water repellent) coating or clogging the waterproof/breathable membrane (commonly referred to as Goretex), which can be destroyed by dry cleaning, by using non-detergent soaps made specifically for technical gear.  And you can do it with confidence that the environment won’t be a casualty of your spring cleaning efforts.  Pick a liquid, free-rinsing soap to use on your garment. Do not use powder detergents which will clog the pores of your waterproof breathable membrane in your jacket or pant, and steer clear of products with surfactants, detergents, bleaches, softeners, conditioners, or perfumes which can contain waxes or oils or can be hydrophilic, or water-absorbing, which is the opposite of what you paid for when you bought your outerwear.

Our favorite is Tech Wash, which maintains the breathability and original water repellency of your outdoor clothing and can be used in your washing machine or sink. ( Another great choice is Granger’s G-Wash Cleaner.)

Nikwax, the maker of Tech Wash, also makes waterproofing products for any garments that have lost their water repellency or never had it in the first place.

Nikwax TX-Direct restores waterproof/breathable coatings on clothing and gear.

Nikwax Tech Wash can be used in your machine or when washing by hand.

You’ll find spray-on or wash-in waterproofing solutions, treatments for fabric, leather and shoes, and more.  Shep’s carries Nikwax year round for your snow clothing, fleece garments, bags, raingear, tents, and more. Remember to read the label on your gear!

 

Now, what to do with your skis or snowboard when the chairlifts stop turning?  Proper storage is easy and will make a difference in the performance you see and feel next season.

It starts with a professional tune-up, like the 10-step stone grind and storage hand-wax we offer at Shep’s.  But if you tune your own equipment or can’t get to a local shop consider doing the following:

  1. Make sure all rust is removed from the edges of your skis or board.  (This can be avoided if you wipe the edges off when you come off the hill each day.)
  2. Once your edges are clean, remove the wax from your bases.  Shep’s stocks Swix base cleaner for this purpose.
  3. With a clean base and smooth edges, and using a hot iron made especially for this purpose, generously apply storage wax, covering the edges.  When the wax is cool and set, leave it alone.  It will protect your edges and bases during the off-season.  The storage wax should be scraped off and removed again when your next ski season begins.
  4. Visually inspect your bindings.  Snowboard bindings are full of parts that like to work loose over time and are notorious for causing missed runs during the season due to missing straps.  Check that you are not missing any screws, washers, nuts or straps and replace them.  (Hint: check these before or after each outing during the season too!)  For their safety skiers are urged to leave all binding work to a certified technician who is trained and tested by the binding manufacturer each season.
  5. Store your board and skis in a well-ventilated space, away from direct light.  Avoid the garage.
  6. If you must keep your skis or board in a garage, hand them on a wall or place a carpet square or even cardboard underneath to reduce the growth of rust due to moisture moving up from the cement.

    You may not have drool-worthy storage like this, but try to keep your gear in a well ventilated space and take care to avoid rust and damage from UV light.

Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods offers free summer ski and board storage when you purchase a complete tune-up.  We will treat your edges and bases to a new finish, store them in “winter wax” which to them is like a month at the spa, and have them freshly waxed, scraped and ready for you come fall.  In addition, we can set your bindings for the new season, all while leaving you room in your closet for your water skis and wakeboard!  It is good practice to have your ski and snowboard bindings inspected by a certified tech at the beginning of each season.  Any time your equipment is not used for a stretch of time there is risk that moving parts become unhealthy.  You also need your ski bindings adjusted each season because even if your height, weight, ability and boot sole length stay the same, your age changes, and all are calculated together to arrive at the proper setting formula.  

We’d love to help you select brand new equipment each season, but a little TLC and proper cleaning and storage will keep your gear healthy and money in your pocket for that special purchase when the time is right, instead of replacing gear you ruined accidentally.

Call us if you’re not sure how to care for any of your sporting equipment.  We’re here to help! 715-845-5432