Basic Maintenence for Performance Hardshells

Basic Maintenance for your Gore-Tex Jacket & Other Technical Outerwear

To ensure your hardshell technical garments are always at their highest performance level, it is crucial to maintain them periodically. 

As jackets are worn, small amounts of oil, dirt, and grime accumulate on the face fabric. Over time these elements begin to accumulate, causing the garment to lose water repellency and breathability. Contrary to the belief that washing Gore-Tex decreases waterproofing, regular cleaning of garments is crucial to the longtime performance of your technical outerwear. 

If your jacket is used for high-output activities such as trail running, alpine trekking, climbing, or mountaineering, sweat and other oils will quickly accumulate in your jacket, compromising the performance. Jackets used for these activities should be washed more frequently than a casual use jacket. 

Below is a brief guide focusing on maintenance of your performance garements. 

Machine Washing: The Best Choice for Newer Garments

The first step in washing your hardshell jacket is to release all cinches, close pit zippers, open front facing pockets, and adjust wrist velcro to its loosest setting. Once the jacket is prepared, place the item into a clean washing machine (make sure there is no detergent residue). Fill the liquid reservoir with Gore-Tex friendly detergent such as Nikwax or Grangers, following the instructions on the label. Set the temperature to medium/low and run a full cycle. Ensure the jacket is rinsed well and remove it from the machine, shaking off excess moisture. 

Optional: DWR Treatment

If your jacket is experiencing issues with waterproofing, adding a DWR coat can help revive the membrane and add life to your jacket. Between washing and drying, hang the garment outside and thoroughly spray down, ensuring total coverage with a Gore-Tex friendly DWR spray. Make sure to target high wear areas like the cuffs and shoulders of a jacket or the seat of pants.


Once the jacket is cleaned, toss it in the dryer on low heat until it is dry to the touch. If you applied DWR, it is especially important to use the dryer to integrate the treatment into the fabric. Air drying is also sufficient. 

Hand Washing: Best for Vintage Garments

Fill a large bucket with warm water and add 1-2 caps of Gore-Tex detergent to the water. Put on gloves and immerse the jacket, agitating to loosen up dirt and grime. Once cleared of dirt and grime, fill the bucket with clean water, rinse the jacket, and repeat. Once the jacket has been thoroughly rinsed (~3-4 buckets worth of clean water), hang the garment to dry. A fan may be pointed at the jacket to circulate fresh air.


Spot Scrubbing

If your garment has a stain that is difficult to remove, spot scrubbing can be used to clear up the affected area. Find an old hard bristled toothbrush and gentle dish soap (Dawn works well) and lightly wet the stains you want to remove. Apply a drop of soap to the toothbrush, and gently scrub the stain to work in the soap. This technique works best if done before placing the garment in the washer or before hand washing the entire garment. It is important to thoroughly rinse the areas that are scrubbed. 

Seam Delamination

As technical jackets age, oftentimes the adhesive materials holding together seams, zippers, and drawcords may start to crack and peel apart. This is usually the result of improper drying, an uncleaned jacket, or extended wear in dry climates. Once these laminates begin to fail, the jacket quickly becomes unusable as the peeling spreads. The best practice is to quickly patch any small delaminations before they spread.

To re-glue a small tear, first find a technical waterproofing glue. Seam Grip + WP by GearAid is a reliable choice found online for a low price and will last for years if kept in the freezer.

Next, find a small applicator tool such as an old paintbrush or a skewer. 

Make sure you are in a well ventilated area for this procedure. Open the seam gently and examine where the glue is failing. Apply a small amount of seam grip glue and press the area to adhere the glue. Let this cure for 24 hours undisturbed to ensure a proper bond.


Large Scale Repairs

If your jacket is experiencing large scale delamination or seam separation, it is best to send the jacket to a professional gear repair merchant that can re-tape the garment. Attempting to fix an entire jacket may prove difficult and results can be unpredictable. It is best to spot instances of separation early and fix small areas to prevent from becoming a much larger problem. Additionally, if your jacket is experiencing delamination, avoid machine washing and machine drying the garment.