How to Care for Gore-Tex Rainwear

Published October 17, 2017

This article is part of our series: Rainwear Basics

A close up image of a GoreTex rain jacket sleeve

To get the most out of your GORE-TEX® outerwear and help it last longer, keep it clean. The following information describes some basic cleaning procedures. But always read and follow the care instructions sewn into any GORE-TEX garment before you wash it.

Laundry Instructions

It's easy to wash your GORE-TEX outerwear:

  1. Machine wash the garment in warm water with a small amount of liquid detergent. Avoid powder detergents, fabric softeners or bleach. Technical fabric cleaners work best for this because they contain no additives that can interfere with garment performance.
  2. Rinse the garment twice to make sure it's free of detergent.
  3. You can hang dry or tumble dry on a warm, gentle cycle—double-check garment care instructions to see which method to use.
  4. Once the garment is initially dry, there's an additional step. Dry it for an extra 20 minutes on medium heat to revive the DWR treatment. Warm-iron alternative: If you don't have a clothes dryer or your care instructions require hanging to dry, you can use a clothes iron to revive the DWR. Set the iron on no steam, with the heat setting on warm, not hot. Then iron your garment, making sure you have a thin towel or cloth between it and the iron as you do so.

W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc. currently does not recommend the use of powdered soaps or any soaps containing fabric softeners, conditioners, stain removers or bleach when washing GORE-TEX outerwear.

For more detailed care recommendations, visit the GORE-TEX website.

Stain Removal

Use the exact same liquid detergent you plan to use to wash your outerwear (see above for details on what kind of detergent to use). Rub some of that detergent into the stained area and run the garment through a prewash cycle prior to laundering it. If your machine has no prewash cycle, then rub in the detergent and presoak the garment instead.

Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Coatings

Like virtually all rainwear, GORE-TEX outerwear comes with a DWR finish on its outer surface. DWR causes water to bead up and roll off the garment. This clears the fabric surface so that sweat and body heat can pass through unhindered from the inside. It also keeps the fabric surface drier, which makes your outerwear light and comfortable.

Reviving DWR by Laundering

The buildup of dirt and other residues on rainwear fabric impairs the performance of its DWR finish. When this occurs, water no longer beads on the surface, and the fabric may absorb some water. (The GORE-TEX barrier beneath the outer fabric, however, will still stop this moisture from getting to your skin.)

The best way to get your rainwear's factory-applied DWR mojo back is to launder your GORE-TEX outerwear by following the laundry instructions laid out in the beginning of this article—don't forget the fourth step, which is to use an extra session of drying (or ironing) to revive the DWR finish. This will restore the water beading on the outer surface of the fabric as long as the original water-repellent treatment is present.

Reviving DWR by Replenishing

There is no such thing as permanent water-repellent treatment. Eventually, even the factory-applied DWR treatments can wear off, particularly in high-wear areas like cuffs and collars. Environmental elements like rocks and brush also take their toll on DWR. Over time, the original repellent finish will be depleted and you'll need to use a spray-on or wash-in water-repellency treatment to treat the fabric. You may repeat this process as many times as needed over the years.

You are essentially filling in the "bald spots" where the original DWR has finally worn away. Follow the treatment manufacturer's recommendations for applying new DWR. That often involves laundering first with an additive-free detergent and then applying a DWR treatment. Once done, don't forget to reactivate your rainwear's remaining factory-applied DWR finish by putting the garment in a dryer for an additional 20 minutes, or by using the warm-iron method above if the garment care instructions dictate hang drying.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Performance problems caused by worn DWR coatings are often mistaken for GORE-TEX fabric failures. This happens because, when DWR coatings wear off, GORE-TEX layers may:

  • Appear wet on the outside—because the outer fabric may absorb some water.
  • Feel heavier—again, due to water absorption.
  • Collect condensation on the inside—water on the fabric's surface can lower the temperature of the fabric through evaporative heat loss. This can cause warm, humid air inside the garment to condense on the inside surface so it feels wet—like it's leaking.

Before you consider replacing your jacket or rain pants, first try restoring your DWR or reapplying a spray-on or wash-in coating. Remember—just because the outer fabric becomes wet does not mean that water is passing through the GORE-TEX membrane layer laminated to the inside of your garment.

Serious Leaks

If you notice significant moisture inside your GORE-TEX outerwear after just a few minutes in the rain, you may have a leak or more serious problem. Possible causes include a defective seam, a problem with the fabric or damage to the garment. If you need help identifying the cause, call 1-800-431-GORE and make arrangements to return it for an evaluation, or simply return your garment to REI.

Dry Cleaning

Some outerwear garments that use GORE-TEX fabric also use silk or wool. These garment-care instructions almost always dictate that they should be dry cleaned only. When dry cleaning GORE-TEX garments, request clear, distilled solvent rinse and a spray repellent. After dry cleaning, revive the DWR with 20 minutes on low in a dryer. If the care instructions say not to use a dryer, then use a warm (not hot) iron on a no-steam setting; place a thin cloth between the iron and the garment.

Down Garments

If you have an outerwear garment that uses both GORE-TEX fabric and down insulation, fabric care instructions almost always state "Do not dry clean." Dry cleaning strips the oil from the down plumules, causing them to lose loft and warmth.

  1. Machine wash in cold water with a mild powder detergent or down cleaning product. Gore recommends using a front-loading washer.
  2. Tumble dry, on low heat (or dry as directed).
  3. Revive the DWR with 20 minutes on medium heat in a dryer. If the care instructions say not to use a dryer, then use a warm (not hot) iron on a no-steam setting; place a thin cloth or towel between the iron and the garment.

GORE-TEX Fabric and Salt Water

Salt water does not contaminate, clog the pores, decrease the breathability, alter or harm GORE-TEX fabric. So you can sail, paddle and cruise with confidence.

Salt is a desiccant, meaning it attracts moisture. To keep salt from accumulating on outerwear and attracting water, simply rinse it occasionally in fresh water. If you have limited fresh water supplies, even a rinse in seawater will reduce heavy salt accumulations (seawater is approximately 3% salt).

For More Help

If you have additional questions about washing or maintaining any GORE-TEX product, just call Gore Customer Service at 1-800-431-GORE.