How To Wash Your Rain Gear

Answer: Stand in the rain. We are only semi-kidding.

We all know that our rain gear works hard to keep us dry and protected in the worst conditions. But like any of your outdoor gear, there comes a point when your rain jacket needs to be looked after in order to maintain its waterproof properties. Taking proper care of your rain gear, mostly through appropriate washing and treatment, will ensure it delivers years of performance.

Here’s how to be sure you’re getting the most out of your waterproof, breathable garments:


Before you start, be sure to read the manufacturer’s care tag first. Most recommend that you wash with cold to warm water on the delicate or hand wash cycle of your washing machine.

You do not need to wash your rain gear by itself. You can wash it with similar garments that are not heavily soiled. To avoid friction and pilling, ensure all hook and loop (velcro) are closed. If you have a High-efficiency (HE) top-loader washing machine, check the machine manual since waterproof clothing can interfere with or cause damage to HE washing machines. We suggest a second rinse cycle to ensure that all of the detergent and soil are completely rinsed out of the garment.

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Use a mild liquid detergent (not powder), preferably non-toxic and biodegradable. Do not bleach or add fabric softener, as the strong chemicals can break down the waterproofing elements that keep you dry and happy.


When drying, hang dry or dry flat in areas with plenty of ventilation. This will prevent peeling or melting of the inner waterproof coatings. Your rain gear can be tumble dried on low heat, but ensure garment is right side out and zipped up. The inner coating can stick to the walls of the dryer and cause friction, which may tear or melt the waterproof coating. If you are using the dryer, add a towel or two to absorb some of the moisture and help tumble the garment softer.


The inner coating and seam sealing is applied by heat and will melt if it comes in contact with high heat, and may ruin your iron.


Make sure to hang your jacket until dry after use. Storing a wet crumpled garment can cause mold and mildew.


Wash your rain as often as you need to remove such impurities as dirt, campfire smoke and cooking odors. Washing and drying your garment helps restore the durable water repellent (DWR) that is important to the performance of the garment.

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Columbia Sportswear Director of Toughness wearing OutDry Extreme jacket in the rain