How to Re-waterproof A Cycling Rain Jacket?

Founder, Mr. Mamil

Ever wondered why your once waterproof jacket is now letting water in?

That’s because the DWR coating is no longer effective after prolonged use. The good news is you can restore the waterproofing capabilities with readily available off-the-shelf products. After all, waterproof cycling jackets are expensive, technical clothing you want to use for years.

Key takeaways

  • DWR coating and the soft-shell membrane prevent water droplets from entering, allowing sweat vapor to escape.
  • The DWR coating will wear off due to exposure to dirt, grime, and oil.
  • Wash the jackets using a technical wash before restoring the DWR coating
  • DWR coating can be restored using the wash-in or spray-on method.

What is a DWR coating?

DWR Membrane Explained
Gore-tex DWR Membrane Layers

The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating protects against water ingress for rain and winter cycling jackets.

It’s an external layer on top of a membrane with tiny pores that allow sweat water to escape while small enough to prevent water droplets from entering.

The DWR coating and the membrane keep you dry from rain (outside) and sweat (inside). The DWR coating is constantly exposed to dirt, grime, and oil as an external layer and will wear off over time. The wear-off accelerates when the jacket is not washed regularly with a technical wash.

Once the DWR wears off and gets damaged, it will let water in.

How to use a technical clothing wash

Nikwax Tech Wash
Nikwax Tech Wash (L) and Nikwax TX.Direct (R)

Use a technical wash such as Nikwax Tech Wash instead of regular laundry detergents for cycling clothing with DWR coating.

The difference between these and regular washing detergents is that they don’t leave any residue on the clothing. The residue can clog up the membranes, thus preventing sweat vapor from getting out, causing you to be wet from the inside.

Here’s how to use a technical wash for your jackets.

  1. Place the jacket in a wash bag and into the washing machine. Ideally, you want to wash 2 to 3 jackets simultaneously. Ask a friend if they need to wash their jackets.
  2. Follow the instructions given. For example, Nikwax recommends using 150ml for up to 3 jackets for a top-loading machine.
  3. Use a delicate wash cycle with 30°C/86°F water temperature.
  4. Let it hang dry.

Ideally, you want to use the technical wash each time you wash your jackets, and not only before restoring the DWR coating.

How to restore the DWR coating

Once the jacket is clean, it’s time to refresh the DWR coating. If you regularly wash your jacket with a technical wash, there is little need to re-treat the DWR coating.

The Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In is a popular option among cyclists. Alternatively, the Grangers Wash + Repel is a 2-in-1 solution that simultaneously cleans and re-treats the DWR. It would save you some time to run two separate washes.

Here’s how to use restore the DWR coating.

  1. Place the jacket in a wash bag and into the washing machine.
  2. Follow the instructions given. For example, Nikwax recommends using 200ml for two jackets in a top-loading machine. Only two jackets each time. Repeat the process if you have more than two.
  3. Read the jacket’s wash instructions. It’s either tumble dry or line dry. Nikwax is fine with either one.


Do spray-on solutions work equally well?

Can I re-treat the Gore-tex Shakedry DWR coating?

Alex Lee at Mr.Mamil

Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.

He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.