Nikwax washing and re-proofing products are recommended by many of the key waterproof fabric manufacturers such as Gore-Tex®, Sympatex® and eVent®.
Will it be good enough to perform on my wet and dirty waterproofs and make it one of our best waterproof treatments for cycling jackets. I took on some washing, scrubbing and soaking to find out.
The effectiveness of any re-proofing product is dependent on how clean your garment is in the first place. Dirt doesn’t feature the same water repellent capabilities as the fancy fabric of your jacket and can attract moisture into the fibres.
Normal hydrophilic (water attracting) laundry detergents can affect how water repellent a fabric is by leaving a water attracting residue on the item you want to waterproof.
NikWash Tech Wash is a hydrophobic (water repellent) cleaner which cleans your garment without leaving such a residue. It’s also designed to clean without stripping waterproofing coatings on the fabric.
The Tech Wash is really easy to use, you just add it as a normal detergent in your washing machine (or hand wash if you’re that way inclined). As with all waterproofing cleaners / treatments it’s recommended that you only have two garments maximum in the machine and you clean any soap residue out your machine before you start.
As with any normal detergent, I found I needed to spot treat and give a bit of a scrub to particularly mucky areas of kit (as a mountain biker, plenty of my waterproofs have a healthy amount of mud ingrained to them). It certainly improved the effectiveness of the re-proofing later on.
Nikwax recommends using the Wash-In TX.Direct Wash-In in your washing machine for re-proofing to give really comprehensive cover in all the nooks and crannies. It’s really straightforward to use, you just need to measure out the correct dose and put your washing machine back on once the first cycle with the Tech Wash is done.
As the water doesn’t spin out of waterproofs as it does in normal clothes, it’s worth having a bowl ready when you pull the jacket out of the machine and hanging over the bath to save a soggy carpet as it drip dries. Unlike other re-proofing products Nikwax TX.Direct doesn’t require garments to be tumble dried to activate, a particularly attractive feature given the current price of electricity.
If you have garments with wicking linings or want to reapply to hardwearing areas (or items such as tents) then the TX.Direct Spray-In comes in useful too. I’ve not used the Spray-In quite as much as I thought I would, preferring just to get a whole jacket clean and waterproof and the convenience of the washing machine. It has been useful for the shoulders of my walking waterproof which gets a lot of wear from my rucksack without the same level of muck-exposure as my bike jackets.
Frequency of re-proofing is going to be dependent on how much you wear your jacket and how mucky it gets. Rather than an arbitrary 3-4 months or annual schedule, Nikwax recommend to treat the garments when the water no longer beads on the outside of the fabric, or if the garment is ‘wetting out’ i.e. leaving a dark colour where the water soaks in.
You don’t have to re-proof every time you wash either. Nikwax suggests that you can wash a garment around five times before you need to reproof.
The quality of reproofing with Nikwax has been excellent with water beading again on all my jackets I’ve treated. It has performed equally well on a variety of fabrics (including Goretex and DWR treated ones) with different levels of ingrained dirt and water-repellent failure.
Where there have been spots that haven’t completely reproofed, closer inspection has shown some residue dirt. I’ve subjected these to a bit more spot cleaning and used the reproofing spray to save putting the whole jacket through the machine again. If nothing else carrying out this review has highlighted to me how important the cleaning part of the reproofing is.
Nikwax: value and conclusion
Given my riding waterproof cost me over $100/ £100, anything that makes it keep out the rain again is money well spent. A one litre twin-pack of Nikwax Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-In will cost you $42/£25 (Nikwax is available separately or in twin-packs in 300ml, 1l and 5l sizes). TX.Direct Spray-On is $20.00 / £13.00 for 500ml (also available in 300ml and 1l).
Dosing, and therefore the cost per treatment, varies on the hardness of your water and how many re-washes you need per reproofing. 100ml of each of the wash and re-proofer per garment is a good place to start. Based on the one litre / 34 oz list price, this makes a wash and reproof around $4.00 / £2.50 per garment. This comes in a little more expensive than Endura’s Cleaner and Re-Proofer but will actually work out much cheaper as you don’t need to re-proof every wash and can use the spray for spot treatments.