Choosing the right ski gear is tough enough. But once you’ve made your choice, it’s important that you properly maintain your ski wear. It might seem a drag, but keeping your stuff clean and properly stored can make the difference between one year’s use, and many years’ use. Or stinky clothes, and non-stinky clothes. So if you plan on hitting the slopes again in the future, we made this guide for you. Learning how to wash snow clothes can save you a lot of money, and make you smell better.
Before we get started, we would like to suggest everyone read your manufacturer’s directions on how to properly care for your outerwear, whether it may be specified on the tags when bought, or even on the tags located in the jacket itself. This applies to those who want to know how to wash waterproof jackets so they don’t lose their magic, as much as those who don’t know how to wash ski gloves without losing warmth and grip.
What Are Technical Fabrics?
Technical fabrics are designed to be waterproof and warm, as well as breathable. This allows you to stay warm on the slopes when you’re not active, but remain cool when you are exerting yourself. They have breathable inners and waterproof outers, so washing them is not as simple as normal garments. Whether you visit the slopes once a year or you chase the seasons around the globe, knowing how to wash a winter ski jacket at home is essential.
Learning how to wash insulated ski jackets properly (and the rest of your gear) will ensure that these technical fabrics keep performing, so you can stay both warm, and cool, on the slopes.
Some people find this a weird topic and it is sometimes skipped over because we are all interested in skiing and boarding, not the clean-up afterwards. Also, like most people, they are unsure how to care for it so it lasts well into its lifetime, as we all know, the gear isn’t cheap.
As the name suggests though, there is a little more to technical fabrics than that explainer does justice to. Which can make choosing the right technical gear, well, kinda tricky. Luckily, we already prepared for this, so check out our technical outerwear guide if you want to know more.
Why Wash Ski Gear?
Just in case it isn’t obvious enough as we write this post, yes, you do have to wash your snow gear! Just like your normal clothes, snow gear gets dirty and smelly over time and needs some TLC on occasion. Even more importantly, if you don’t wash your gear it can become less effective. If you’ve ever noticed that your jacket seems to be taking on water like a sponge, and not repelling it, that’s called wetting up. It’s pretty natural to assume that you need a new jacket: but actually, you might just need to wash it. We’ll cover this in more detail later, but yes, if you don’t wash your gear it can actually stop working. Also yes, you can fix this by simply washing it.
There aren’t any fancy contraptions needed either. If you have your own washing machine, you’re ready to start washing your gear.
Before you just chuck it in the wash, let’s break it down into the nitty-gritty of the outerwear. Your jacket and pants should be made up of two main parts, the waterproof/breathable membrane, and the outer fabric of the garment. These components make up the effectiveness of the outerwear in snowy conditions, so if these are not cared for properly, it could make you too hot, too cold, and even wet, which is not fun at all.
So the question is less of why to wash your ski jacket: you need to know how to wash a ski jacket.
How To Wash Ski Gear
Plain and simple, warm wash (30-40’C) on a normal wash cycle, nothing heavy, but as we said up the top, always check the product’s directions if available. Normal detergent cannot be used as it is too thick for the membrane, this could get trapped and destroy the membrane and tarnish the durable water-resistant (DWR) coating. So if you were wondering what to wash ski gear in, you were right to: you do need to use a particular detergent for waterproof clothing. Knowing how to wash ski jackets, pants and other gear with the right products can not only keep your gear watertight, it can even improve your ski wear's performance.
How To Wash Waterproof Fabrics
We use Nikwax, which will wash the garments well, restore the waterproofness and DWR coating, and retain its breathable membrane. The directions on the wash are quite simple, but basically, you can only have a max of four jackets or five pants in one load, so most people do two jackets and two pants. For a full load, you use the whole bottle as the detergent is a lot thinner compared to normal detergents, and a half bottle for a half load.
If you wish to add waterproofness to other jackets that may be lacking because of age, you can use their Direct T.X to revitalise the membrane and restore that much-needed feature. We do this with our rental jackets between seasons to keep them in the best shape for the wear and tear of the seasons.
We know you won’t wash it every day, and we don’t want you to either, but most of our clients will ski or board for a week or two, and won’t see the snow again for half a year to a year. So in between your trips, it is advised to wash your gear and store it until required again.
Washing A Down Jacket
Down jackets differ from others on the market simply because, well, they contain duck or geese feathers, generically known as ‘down’. Given that many ducks and geese must endure freezing temperatures, sometimes at insane altitudes, just to survive (and they have no jackets). This stuff is nature’s custom-made super-insulator. But of course, a natural product like down isn’t going to react in the same way as synthetic materials. So how to wash a down jacket? Read our guide for a step-by-step description. Generally, down jackets are washed with their own wash as they also have breathable membranes, insulation and slight water repellency. Nikwax also has a Down Wash in their line of tech washes to help keep your gear working well.
How To Wash A Fleece Jacket
Never liking to be outdone by nature, mankind went ahead and made its own super insulator: namely, fleece. Derived from Polyethylene, fleece is soft and bobbly, and perfect for trapping air. This, in turn, creates great insulation, but that’s not all of the wonders that fleece has - it’s also surprisingly waterproof. Normally used as a layer, I’m sure you already have first-hand experience of what the fleece jacket has to offer on the slopes. You might not know, however, how to wash it.
Once again, please check the tag! The manufacturer’s instructions will always be the best, but if you don’t have them, here are some general guidelines that should see you right.
Wash on the lowest temperature your machine has, just to be safe - fleece tends to shrink, and sometimes even expand, at high temperatures. It’s also a good idea to turn the fleece inside out, as they tend to pill, or bobble, which you may have experienced. Wash with a mild detergent and avoid fabric softener, as this can have a detrimental effect on the feel of the jacket. Because of fleeces tendency to pill, some people recommend hand washing, but if you’re careful, as stated above (or you just follow the instructions on the tag) you should be fine.
However, you must avoid using a dryer as you can damage the fleece. Thankfully, fleece dries super fast so there’s hardly any need to.
How To Wash Snow Pants
Snow pants, just like the rest of your gear, contain specialised materials which mean they need to be washed separately and with the appropriate detergent. The same rules apply: you snow pants need to be washed on the coldest wash possible and with specialised detergent. Empty and zip all pockets, make sure you check the washing instructions first, and you should encounter no problems. You can also treat any stains (perhaps from your apres ski activities) pre-wash by scrubbing with a brush. The materials ski pants are made from can generally handle a little scrubbing as they are designed to be tough and durable.
If you plan to get a lot of use out of them, or you’re storing them between seasons or holidays, it’s a good idea to periodically treat for waterproofing. How you do this will vary depending on the product you use, so again make sure you read the instructions.
How To Dry
This is a tricky one, as a lot of people are cautious of tumble drying such expensive gear, and you have every right to be. Like I have said over and over, consult the manufacturer’s directions on the garment, or you can air-dry the garments out in the sun. Air drying will result in the garments not getting too hot in comparison to some dryers that are not correctly set, and this will still allow the DWR to freshen up.
If you do wish to tumble dry, you can on a low setting and always check on the garments as you go, I find correctly set up, this will be the most effective way for the DWR to freshen up and become effective when next used.
Gore-Tex garments should be generally washed on a warm permanent press cycle, but of course, check the tag. You will need to use the same detergents as for your other ski wear.
Gore-tex can, however, be dried in the dryer, on a warm but not hot cycle.
How To Mend Ski Gear
Sometimes you come across this jacket or pant that is amazing, your favourite thing about your snow setup, and you fall over near a rock and you get a tear in the fabric. Don’t stress! On most occasions, this is salvageable with the right tools. In our stores, we sell a repair tape which seals the fabric and doesn’t ruin its waterproofness. You are more than welcome to bring in the item of clothing and we will assess to see what would be your next course of action.
As ski gear is washed on a very low heat, some stains can prove pretty stubborn by machine washing alone. Luckily, if you know how to remove stains from your normal clothes, doing the same for your ski jacket is easy. Just scrub the stain pre-wash with stain remover or dish soap. This will loosen up the stain and allow the detergent to do its job. Remember, ski gear is tough so it can take a good scrub.
How To Store Ski Clothes
As we’ve established by now, you will need to wash your gear before storage. Reapplying your DWR treatment now will keep your ski jacket waterproof, along with the rest of your gear, and mean everything is ready to go when you unpack for next time. Also, ensuring your gear is 100% dry before storage is a must.
To keep your gear in top condition, hang free so the insulation has room to breathe and can remain air-filled. Cramming your gear into the back of the cupboard could mean you’re shivering next year, so it’s worth making a little space especially for your ski gear to hang comfortably.
If you wanted to check out any of the products mentioned above, you can find them here at Snowcentral. If you have any concerns or queries you can always check out our Facebook and send us a message, or even pop in-store and say hey!