How to Waterproof a Jacket

Have you spent time outdoors lately and gotten soaked in your waterproof jacket? Are you wondering why your jacket no longer keeps you dry as it should? Have you noticed that it is not repelling and beading water like it used to? You may need to re-waterproof your jacket.

These situations will happen when the water barrier in your jacket has broken down and is no longer effective. There is no need to run out and purchase a new one, though (Although, if you are so inclined, check out our best waterproof jackets of the year). You can learn how to waterproof your jacket in just a few easy steps with the proper products that are readily available.

Why You Should Choose a Waterproof Jacket

Waterproof jackets are excellent items for hiking, fishing, camping, or other outdoor activities. They are one of the must-have items for any outdoor enthusiast today. These products can be expensive, depending on the brand and style of jacket you choose.

Having a waterproof jacket will help keep your skin from getting wet or having damp outerwear, which can be uncomfortable while spending time outdoors. Waterproof jackets do not last forever, unfortunately. To keep them in good working condition, you must periodically reapply a waterproof barrier.

You can help maintain your jacket’s water barrier easily yourself rather than purchasing an entirely new one. This option can save you money and the hassle of trying to find an affordable item similar to what you already own.

Why You Should Regularly Waterproof Your Jacket

Outerwear that helps keep you dry and protected from the elements will break down, depending on how often you wear it. Many avid outdoor enthusiasts who use their jackets frequently will need to waterproof them every 4 to 6 months, while occasional users can wait 6 to 12 months in between. This schedule may seem excessive, but there are several reasons why you should follow this schedule.

With regular use, your body oils, sweat, and skin products, like lotions or sunscreens, break down the fibers, seam tape, and lining of the jacket. Dirt or grime and dust or smoke will also contribute to a water barrier breaking down quickly.

Don’t let your favorite jacket get to the point where it will not protect you from the elements. You want to regularly waterproof your outerwear so it will last and keep you dry and warm while you are outdoors. 

Tell-Tale Signs it’s Time to Re-Waterproof Your Jacket

Several tell-tale signs will show up and let you know it is time to re-waterproof your jacket. If you know what to look for, you can keep your outerwear in top condition and avoid getting soaked on your next hike or camping trip.

Some things you may notice with your jacket that indicate it is time to re-waterproof are:

  • The fabric becomes soaked easily when it comes in contact with water
  • Water does not bead and roll off the surface
  • The material does not breathe properly any longer
  • There are visible stains or dirt on the jacket’s surface
  • You are finding condensation on the inside of the jacket while wearing it

If you have one or more of these issues with your jacket, you should look at re-waterproofing it. If you wait too long, you may not be able to save the material and will have to purchase a new item to keep dry for your next outings.

Signs That Your Jacket is No Longer Useable

No waterproof jacket will last forever, unfortunately. Even with proper care, these products will eventually wear out and will need a replacement. Before you spend more time re-waterproofing your jacket, make sure that it will be beneficial and will still hold up in the elements for you.

Some ways you can tell that your jacket has reached the end of its life are:

  • The jacket surface feels waxy, grimy, or sticky
  • The inside layers have separated from the jacket’s waterproof membrane
  • The seams have come apart, and Tenacious Tape will not hold them together any longer

If you have any outerwear that shows one or more of these signs of damage and breakdown, it is time to start shopping for a new product. If your jacket does not have these issues, you are in luck and can still prolong its life.

Steps on How To Waterproof Your Jacket

It is a very simple process to reapply a waterproof barrier to your jacket at home. All you need to do is follow these easy steps to have your favorite outerwear back to top condition for any weather you may encounter.

Repair Any Visible Damage

If there are any tears, holes, or rips in the jacket surface, you will want to repair them properly. Depending on the size of the damage, you may be able to use waterproof tape on the hole or rip. If the area is larger, you will need to sew the tear together before applying the bonding tape.

Waterproof tape can come in small self-adhesive patches or in rolls to suit a variety of damages. If you are looking at repairing a large tear, applying this tape to both the outer and inner layers once it has been sewn is the best solution for prolonging the life of your jacket. This method will also ensure that water will not penetrate through the existing damaged areas.

Wash the Jacket

When you wash your waterproof jacket, it helps to remove any buildup of dirt, grime, smoke, or dust that could be clogging the membrane fibers. You do have to pay attention to the detergent that you wash it in, though. Regular laundry detergents can cause damage to the water barrier of these types of jackets and do more harm than good.

To clean your waterproof jacket properly, you will need to use a specialized tech wash that is formulated for DWR (Durable Water Repellent) waterproof items. Rinse the jacket well. Let it dry according to the instructions on the tag.

Wash it Again with a Wash-In Treatment

You will need to wash your jacket again, this time with another beneficial product. This wash cycle will require the use of special wash-in treatment like Revivex. This treatment will help revitalize the DWR water barrier and give your jacket the waterproof membrane coating it needs.

Follow the directions closely on the label to ensure that you are using the correct amount of treatment solution for your jacket. If you do not use enough of it, this step will not be an effective way to re-waterproof your item.

Dry Your Jacket

Throw your jacket into the dryer on low heat for approximately 10 minutes. While some DWR products out there do not require heat to activate, many standard brands do need a brief time of low heat in a dryer. A dryer can help shake the water off, activate the barrier, and begin the drying process. Hang your jacket to dry completely overnight once you take it out of the dryer.

Read the instructions carefully on the product you use to determine if you will be using a dryer as part of this step in the waterproofing process.

Spray it with a Spray-On Treatment

Hang the dry jacket in an area where you can spray the treatment evenly. Choose an outdoor clothesline or an open space where you can hang the jacket and apply the treatment solution evenly.

Spray the jacket from a distance of 15 to 20 cm away and try to ensure an even covering. Be careful not to miss any areas. Use a clean cloth to wipe away any excess treatment. Once you have treated the entire jacket, let it dry naturally.

Check the Seams and Repair if Needed

Once your jacket is completely dry, examine if any problems are remaining with the seams or patches. If any repairs did not patch correctly, reapply a new patch or fix any issues with seams that you find later.

If you do not take care of these problems with seams or patches before you wear your jacket, all the time you spent waterproofing your item will be in vain. With any persistent issues, you will still get soaked on your next outing.

The Last Drop

It is not hard to keep your waterproof jacket clean and functioning, so you can enjoy your next camping or fishing trip. Using waterproof items will keep you dry and comfortable as you spend time doing what you love best, rather than focusing on trying to keep warm and dry. By reapplying a DWR waterproof coating to your favorite jacket, you can extend the life of your expensive outerwear and enjoy it for years to come. You can also keep your jacket out of the landfills! Many popular brands are inexpensive, easy to use, and will give your jacket the proper DWR membrane coating it needs to repel water. You can save yourself money by using the correct products to help keep your jacket functioning to withstand any elements you will face.