How to Clean Softshell Jackets and Performance Apparel

One of the most common questions with outdoor performance apparel, is "How do I clean my softshell jacket?" 

The majority of waterproof and breathable shells use layered materials, consisting of the outer fabric and a waterproof barrier (this usually has a laminated look) and a coating or fabric lining inside that. 

On the surface, a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is used. This is how water glides smoothly right off jacket shells. Ensuring the water runs off your shell effortlessly like this is critical as it keeps shells breathable. 

Sometimes softshell jacket owners will notice the jacket is getting soaked from the outer shell, after wearing it in the rain. This is called "wetting out" and can happen to any brand, style or type of jacket. As DWR doesn't last forever, it comes down to taking proper care of these jackets. 

A common misunderstanding that washing a jacket or shell will ruin the materials. This is false. Not washing the jacket or shell is the real issue. 

How to Take Care of a Softshell Jacket 

Campfires: Campfires are a staple of summer; however, ruining a high end performance shell isn't. Besides sparks and ashes flying around campfires, one of the worst conditions to put a performance shell into is wood burning smoke. The smoke can contaminate the outer shell on jackets and contaminate the DWR, causing the shell to wet out. Smoke is hydrophilic (which basically means it takes in a lot of water) where jackets are hydrophobic. 

Dirt: Dirt is always a mess. This is a pretty common issue when living n active lifestyle and is usually the leading cause of DWR decay. 

When to Wash a Softshell Jacket or Shell

When to wash performance apparel depends on how much use the gear has gone through. For heavy users, washing apparel every 12-14 days will ensure products last. Light users should wash their apparel every 25-35 days of use. Best judgment comes into play when deciding how often to wash gear. Always remember, when the gear is taken care of, the gear can take care of the user. 

How to Wash a Softshell Jacket or Shell

If washing a softshell jacket is on the agenda, use regular mild detergent. Be aware that commercial detergents have additional ingredients designed to make laundry whiter and brighter. Further to this, using a dryer is out of the question so these types of detergents can leave a residue that contaminates the DWR. This isn't what anyone wants while washing a high end jacket or shell, which is why we recommend using a technical cleaner.These cleaners are designed to work with the DWR of performance apparel fabrics, allowing breathable, waterproof materials to stay that way. 


  1. Nikwax
  2. Sport Wash

How to Prepare a Softshell Jacket or Shell for Washing

To prepare for a wash is a really quick but important process. Ensure all the zippers are closed and tucked into the jacket. Release tension on all elastic draw cords. Add the detergent to the washing machine and use a warm water temperture (40C/104F). Make sure to wash the products on their own with nothing else in the machine. 

Drying performance products is optional. We suggest air drying; however, using a dryer is perfectly safe if used properly. Tumble dry at a medium heat setting for 30 to 40 minutes.

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