Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear


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Nikwax on the Road from Cape Town to Paris with GlobeRiders

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Nikwax ambassador, Helge Pedersen, is on yet another life list adventure. He’s currently motorcycle touring from Cape Town, South Africa, to Paris, France. Along for the 25,000-kilometer ride are three other riders, a supporting vehicle and several of GlobeRiders technical staff.

La Paz photo shoot and pelicansTo those who know Nikwax from the human-powered, outdoor adventure realm, our motorcycle contingent often comes as a surprise. We have a strong relationship with the motorcycling community; our cleaners and waterproofers are often key parts of their safety kit. Adventure riders wear durable fabric outerwear; apparel that can take a beating, keep riders warm and dry, and shed moisture in torrential downpours. That’s right—it’s not that different from your backcountry skiing kit.

Imagine heading out to play in the heat, the rain, the mud and the dust. Now imagine doing it at 70 mph. Your gear takes a beating.

In order for your gear to bear the burden as opposed to your skin, taking precautionary care of motorcycle outerwear is critical.  If not properly cleaned, dust and dirt can damage the fibers of technical outerwear. Sweat, dust and dirt can also mask the durable water repellent finish, causing garments to attract water rather than repel it.  We recommend cleaning with Tech Wash and using TX.Direct to add water-repellency (spray-on or wash-in, depending on the manufacturers washing instructions).

Currently the Globeriders team is nearing Kirundo, Burundi. The weather there may be warm, but there are rain showers in the forecast for the next week. We hope Helge and crew are staying as dry as possible on the road!

If you’d like to live vicariously through Helge, or if this GlobeRiders’ African odyssey spurs your own trip planning into high gear, follow their adventure on the GlobeRiders Live!Journal web page.


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Caring for your Wax Cotton Jacket

Wax cotton has a reputation as an old school waterproofing technology. However, with the recent resurgence in “heritage” design, wax cotton is making quite the comeback. This renaissance is amplifying the popularity of wax cotton jackets and bags from brands such as Filson, Orvis, and Barbour. Like any waterproof technology, it is a good idea to take proper care of your wax cotton gear. With that in mind, we present the following photo essay on how to re-waterproof you wax cotton jacket using Nikwax Wax Cotton Proof.

Dirty Wax Cotton JacketThis Orvis Wax Cotton jacket was filthy! As you can see, it wasn’t repelling water as well as it should.

Clean Wax Cotton JacketThe first step is to wash the jacket in Nikwax Tech Wash. This jacket was so dirty that it took multiple cycles to get it clean! While it’s still wet, lay it out on a protected surface.

Waterproofing a Wax Cotton JacketStart spraying Nikwax Wax Cotton proof on the jacket. The waterproofing will be opaque and white, but don’t worry, it will dry clear!

Waterproofing a wax cotton jacketKeep spraying the jacket. Ensure maximum coverage, especially seams and hard wear areas.

rub in the wax cotton waterproofingOnce covered, rub the Wax Cotton Proof into the jacket. Make sure to remove all excess waterproofing!

waterproof the back of the wax cotton jacketFlip the jacket over and waterproof the back.

Ensure even wax cotton proof coverageBuff the entire jacket, making sure to get even coverage and to remove any excess.

Waterproofed wax cotton jacketLet jacket hang dry. It may take a day or two to dry completely. Voila! Clean and Waterproof.

wax-cotton-hunterAnother Satisfied Customer!


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The Nikwax Spring Break Checklist

2palmsIt’s that time of year again: spring break! After drifting drearily through the murky winter months, it’s finally time to get out and go somewhere exciting. You know you want spring adventure, but where to go? Head to the mountains for some spring snow? Catch surf and sun in some tropical country? Wherever it is that you decide to go, we’ve got your gear covered. Here’s our handy checklist to help you prep for your trip:

 Mountain adventures:

  • Re-waterproof your ski skins. You won’t know your skins need this until they fail. Hit ‘em up proactively.
  • Substitute your big, insulated ski jacket with a shell and a light insulated layer for layering versatility. Wash both in Tech Wash to get ahead of the game.
  •  Consider wool for your base layers in the volatile spring weather. Wool is an effective thermo-regulator, keeping you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Plus, since warmer springtime temps mean more sweat, wool is naturally anti-bacterial and won’t stink as much as synthetics. Bonus: Nikwax has a special Wool Wash that will preserve all of these awesome qualities.

 Tropical adventures:

  • Pack enough sunscreen to cover every inch of your lilywhite body. While you’re at it, find your sunglasses and a sun hat. Your eyes and head need as much protection from the sun as the rest of your body.
  •  Go get yourself an ENO Hammock. These super packable little hammocks hang very nicely between two palm trees.
  • Bring a tube of Nikwax BaseWash Travel Gel. It’s packaged to be TSA compliant, and it will come in handy to keep swimsuits, swim trunks, and your other travel clothes from smelling sour. Bonus: no washing machine needed! With the travel gel, you can do your wash in the sink.

General camping and biking adventures:

  • Set up your tent BEFORE you go. Did you lose some stakes? Snap a tent pole? Pack the rainfly when it was wet? Figure it out before you’re racing against nighttime and an incoming storm. While you have that tent up, consider spraying it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. We know you aren’t praying for rain on your vacay, but it never hurts to be prepared for it.
  • Air out your sleeping bags. Though it’s recommended that you store down bags by hanging them up in the open air, who has that kind of space? Pull them out and shake lightly to loft the down. If needed, wash them with Down Wash and Down Proof. The combo will add loft and water repellency, and leave your bag smelling sweet after a winter of exile.
  • If cycling is on the agenda, it’s time for a tune-up. If you rely on professionals for regular maintenance, hit them up before the spring break rush.
  •  They call it “mud season” for a reason. Even if you’ll be exploring a relatively dry area, the shaded areas will likely still have some snow or mud. Waterproof your shoes and boots now, so spring break happy hour can legitimately live up to its name.

Like the wise Helen Keller once quoted, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Now get out there and have some fun, you crazy kids!


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What the wax? Why Nikwax comes with leather gloves and how to use it.

BurtonAKsachetSo, you just dropped a chunk of change on a new pair of leather gloves. You take them out of the packaging and wait, what is this little packet of…Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather? Why is it here? What do I do with it? These are good questions, and we will address them one at a time.

What is Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather? Waterproofing Wax for Leather is a waterbased waterproofing cream for smooth leather. It provides instant durable water repellency (DWR), maintains breathability, and works on wet or dry leather.

Why does it come with your gloves? Glove companies, such as POW, Burton, Dakine, Black Diamond, and FlyLow offer it to help take care of their gloves… or, now, your gloves. The leather is not always waterproof. A waterproof, breathable membrane, like Gore-Tex, is what’s keeping the water/moisture from getting to your hands. Using Waterproofing Wax for Leather will add water repellency to the leather thus providing extra protection from the elements. It will also prolong the life of your gloves!

How do you use it? Well, you can use it sort of like hand lotion. Tear the sachet at the top, put on your gloves, and squeeze about Hershey’s Kiss amount into your palm. Then, like hand lotion, rub the cream evenly all over the gloves. Make sure it is fully absorbed into the leather and pressed into the seams. If you think you missed an area, apply a little bit more.

Now what about cleaning the gloves?

How do you clean them? So you made a snowball and the snow contained… some kind of animal excrement. Or perhaps you dropped the gloves in a mud puddle. Obviously, your gloves need cleaning. The best thing to do is put on the gloves, wet them with lukewarm water and scrub ‘em up with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. (Yes, we know it’s called Footwear Cleaning Gel, but it’s made to clean leather and all types of fabric and it works GREAT on gloves). Rinse and gently squeeze out the water without twisting.

How do you dry your gloves? Dry them in an upright postion, maybe over an empty beer or soda can. DO NOT dry your gloves with a hair dryer, or next to a heater, or go Kramer style and put them in the oven. If the gloves have liners, remove them for easier and faster drying time.

How often should you clean your gloves? It’s best not to wash them too frequently. If they are muddy, or you spilled your beverage on them, clean them. Otherwise once or twice a year is probably a safe bet.

Back to that little Wax packet, how often should you be using it?

Are you are paranoid about the leather EVER getting wet? You should probably invest in a few tubes of Waterproofing Wax for Leather. Carry one in your ski bag, keep a backup in your glove compartment, and stash yet another at home so that you can attack at the first sign of water absorption.

Are you one to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation? Once a month is the recommended usage for a pair of POW gloves and it’s a pretty safe recommendation for other leather gloves too. One tube of Waterproofing Wax for Leather should set you up for the season. It’s only $8.50 and can be purchased at pretty much any outdoor retailer.

Are you more of a laid back, “it’s cool, I’m sure the gloves will do their job” type? Then at least apply the Waterproofing Wax for Leather the day you purchase the gloves or before their inaugural pow day. The gloves do COME WITH the packet! Sheesh.

Looking for new leather gloves? Check out the selections from our partners: Dakine, POW, Black Diamond, Burton, FlyLow, 686, Howl, Marmot, and Eddie Bauer.


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How To Clean and Waterproof Fabric and Leather Combination Gloves

waterproof glovesCleaning and waterproofing your gloves is easy with Nikwax!

Why should you take care of your gloves? Well, it extends their life and saves you money. Think about it—you don’t buy a car and never service it or change the oil! Taking care of your gloves is kind of the same thing.

How, exactly, should you clean your gloves, especially when they’re made of both leather and fabric?

Easy. Grab some Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel (seems odd, but trust us!), wet your gloves and scrub away! Rinse, and there you have it: clean gloves.

Now to the part you were waiting for: waterproofing! Use Nikwax Glove Proof for waterproofing all fabric & leather combination gloves. While your gloves are still wet, apply the Glove Proof all over. Wait a few minutes, wipe off any excess and let them air dry.

Easy, right? Footwear Cleaning Gel to clean, Glove Proof to keep ‘em dry.

How frequently should you do this? At least twice a season (beginning and end), but it can’t hurt to do it more regularly.

Your hands will thank you.


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Nikwax Guide to Giving Gifts that Keep on Giving

Christmaspresents

In terms of gift-giving, what is important this holiday season is giving your beloved family something they’ll love and that will last. The best gifts have a personal, perhaps even hidden, meaning that take the art of giving to inspired levels. And we’ve got a few thoughtful gift ideas that will leave those on your list feeling merry and bright! 

For: Your mom who is always cold

Gift: Merino wool sweater

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Wool Wash

Brownie Points: 10 of 10

Wool hasn’t experienced this level of popularity since the Shackleton era. It’s not the cycles of fashion. It’s because wool is nature’s star performer and top of the line Merino wool apparel companies are sticklers for quality. The soft hand, the sleek silhouette and the incomparable warmth will earn you an extra slice of pie, if not a larger slice of the inheritance.

For: Your dad who complains about the thermostat being too high

Gift: A lightweight, stretch fleece

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Polar Proof

Brownie Points: 8 of 10 from Dad and 10 of 10 from Mom

Let’s face it. As a gross generalization, dads don’t get overly excited about clothes. Just explain that this comfy piece of Americana will go directly from his morning jog, to watching football on the couch, to working on his pet project in the backyard. One-stop dressing=brilliant! Bonus: Mom’s Merino wool get-up is bound to be warmer than Dad’s lightweight fleece, thereby solving the age-old argument of where to keep the indoor temperature. You’ve saved Christmas and a marriage. Well done, you!

For: Your recent college graduate sister who is moving to a resort town for “just one year” while she finds herself

Gift: A down puffy jacket

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nikwax Down Wash and Down Proof

Brownie Points: 10 of 10… eventually

She doesn’t know this yet, but no one escapes the siren song of a resort town in “just one year.” She also doesn’t realize that her rent and heating bills will be exorbitant, even after splitting them evenly among her five roommates. Nor has it settled in that her down jacket will be her go-to layer every day this winter. It may take her some time to accept these realities, but she’ll thank you eventually.

For: The annoying uncle who snorts with laughter over the humiliating stories of you as an awkward pre-teen

Gift: Nikwax Rug Proof

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nothing! He’s lucky you kept him on your list in the first place.

Brownie Points: Depends how earnestly you can deliver the present

You’ll say it’s for protecting the horse blankets at the thoroughbred stables he bought for your bratty, spoiled cousin. But we all know it’s for that rat-tastic toupee he sports with no sense of irony or dignity.

Editor’s Note: Nikwax neither recommends nor condones use of Rug Proof as a toupee cleaner. 


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Giving thanks to our gear

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We are gathered here today to give thanks to our gear, which cares for us through sleet and snow.

To you, dear mountaineering pants, thank you for no longer being woolen knickers. Sure, those trousers of yore had a certain panache, but why so stingy in the calf protection department? Calves need protection, too.

To you, sweet, sweet polypro:  We’ve had some touch-and-go moments with stink, but those are so far overshadowed by how you tenderly keep me dry even when I’m soaking you to the core. Pay no mind to the shade thrown at you by my old cotton T-shirts. They’ll learn to forgive… in time.

To you, my fat, semi-rockered skis, god bless. I used to fake my joy of skiing powder. I couldn’t get the balance right; I sat back; my thighs burned; my toes turned black. Then you entered my life in one, portly, waterski-like wave. You’ve taught me how to love again, fatties. You are my new truth.

To you, my itsy-bitsy bundle of feathered joy: my utmost gratitude. Dearest down vest, thank you. I used to run through down vests like a one legged man in an alligator swamp: fast and not looking back. Then I discovered I could wash down, and it was like the sun rose for the first time ever. Thank you for always bouncing back to your lofty and fluff-filled self.

To you, my new soft-as-a-baby’s butt Merino wool base layer: a hearty huzzah! I slighted your kind for years. Memories of scratchy, hot, heavy sweaters fueled my crusade against your goodness. Boy what a difference a century makes! You’re warm. You’re cool. You’re warm when I’m wet. I’m so happy you’ve got my back.

And last, but not least, to you: my beloved partners in crime, leather boots: my sincerest thanks. You’ve not changed much over the years, because you haven’t needed to. You were my first significant outdoor purchase. I knew that we could have a long, happy life together once you gave in a little, and I vowed to take good care of you. Season after season, year after year, together we’ve traveled untold miles of trails, mountains and deserts. Thank you for never changing. You’re living proof that the best gear can last a lifetime, with a little care and a lot of love.

Thank you for the adventures!  —Brook Sutton


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Soft Shell 101

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In the late 1990’s, soft shell (also spelled “softshell”) outerwear hit the marketplace with a bang. Almost overnight, the stretchy fabric became the telltale mark of “serious” outdoorspeople. Soft shells continue to excel as a go-to piece for outdoor play. Today we present: everything you’ve always wanted to know about soft shell fabrics…

1. What exactly is a “soft shell” anyway?

Any synthetic outerwear with stretch, moderate water- and wind-resistance, and high breathability can be considered a soft shell. As fabric technology evolves, the line between hard shell and soft shell gets murkier. Today, there are hard shells that feel a bit like traditional soft shells with high breathability and stretch. There are also membrane soft shells, which will feel like a hard shell with a bit more stretch.

Recognizable ingredient brand names: Polartec, Shoeller and Gore-Tex Soft Shell, plus many branded options from manufacturers.

2. What are the pros and cons soft shells?

  • Pros
    • Breathability. Soft shells provide plenty of protection from (most of) the elements with greater breathability than hard shells. Excellent for aerobic activities like running and ski touring.
    • Stretch. When you need to have greater freedom of movement, such as with climbing or Nordic skiing, added stretch is a huge bonus.
    • Warmth. Soft shells are not sold as insulators, per se, but in moderate temperatures one soft shell can do the job of a hard shell and a fleece combo.
  • Cons
    • Resistance. Soft shells can be slightly less wind and water resistant than hard shells.
    • Weight. If you require super light gear for your latest epic, soft shells generally aren’t as light as hard shells.

3. Do soft shells require special care?

Nothing beyond proper cleaning and occasional waterproofing! The vast majority of soft shells can and should be washed in the home washing machine (always double check the label). Wash with Nikwax Tech Wash – alone or with other gear for which Tech Wash is appropriate. As needed, do a secondary wash with Nikwax SoftShell Proof to revive your soft shell’s water-resistance back to original levels.

4. Do I need soft shell gear?

If you can answer yes to either of the following questions it may be time to add soft shell gear to your performance wardrobe.

  • Do I participate in sports where I’m likely to sweat a lot?
  • When I’m outside, is it usually snowy or clear, as opposed to rainy or sleety?

Here’s to fun, warm, safe and dry outdoor play!


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How to add warmth to your Halloween costume

Unless you live in Southern California or Miami, chances are you are freezing your buns off every year on Halloween. And every year you think to yourself, “Man, I need to come up with a way to add warmth to my costume. Why am I wearing this sexy French maid outfit anyway? Are French maids notoriously sexy?”

At Nikwax, we are in the business of keeping people warm, dry and comfortable during cold, snow, or rain; so it comes as no surprise that we have a ton of ideas to keep you warm on Halloween. Whether you are dressing up as the sexy French maid, Mrs. Doubtfire, or Dr. Frank-n-Furter, the following tips and ideas will keep you warm when the Fireball shots run out.

  • Tights are your best friend. Most women are up-to-speed on this one, so we’re talking to you, Mr. Cross Dressing dude. Nylons (aka stockings or pantyhose) and tights are not the same thing. Tights or leggings will keep you warmer than a pair of nylons. Money-saving tip for the outdoorsy types: Instead of buying fashion leggings that you’ll never wear again, opt for a pair of performance tights or long underwear in Merino wool. The wool will complement your Halloween finery and be ready for a detoxifying cold weather run on Nov. 1.
  • Wigs are surprisingly effective hats. That’s about it. Sport a wig to complete your costume and you won’t need a hat. It’s “method” costuming at its finest.
  • Thrift store finds are not one-trick, costume ponies. Take it from Seattle’s own, mega-rap star, Macklemore – fur will be your best friend, whether you’re drapin’ a leopard mink or rockin’ a wolf on your noggin.  When you hit up your local secondhand or vintage store, or even your grandparent’s closet ask yourself three questions:
    • Will this pull my costume look together?
    • Will it prevent frostbite?
    • Does it have the cool, sassy, “je ne sais quoi” style that I can wear with panache when I’m not dressed in costume?

If the answer to all three is yes, cop that coat, flannel onesy, velour jumpsuit or leather jack and wash and treat it immediately! Thrift stores are full of looks from eras when people weren’t afraid of a little color or a little pattern. As long as it’s machine washable, Nikwax has you covered on the cleaning side. Some of our favorite—not to mention most admired—down vests came directly from the unwanted bin at our local thrift store. After a wash and a waterproof, they stole the Halloween show and have provided years of distinguished style and warmth.

Yet another stay-warm idea would be to pick a costume that is actually warm. In the words of the late Jermaine Stewart, we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, oh no. So here are some not so scantily clad, creative, fun, and WARM costume ideas that you can rock this Halloween.

 Difficulty Level: Easy

Thing 1 and Thing 2: Get yourself a couple red troll wigs and some blue fleece tops and bottoms. For a little extra protection, waterproof that fleece with Polar Proof. Not only will it help you stay waterproof and warm in the rain and snow, it will also help protect your costume from the beer-spilling drunk idiots out there.

Breaking Bad: The Hazmat suit version, not the shirt tucked into the underpants – we are talking about staying warm people!

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: Flannel and Fleece Galore!

Inspector Gadget: A Trench Coat and Fedora – 2 things every adult should already own.

Shaun White: Red-headed curly wig, and your ski or snowboard gear. Add an obscene amount of fake medals and you are good to go.Shaun white

Difficulty Level: Medium

Ron Swanson and/or Ron Burgundy: What they have in common is incredible quotes, fantastic hair, and wicked awesome mustaches.

Gandalf: A long gray robe, beard, hair, and sweet wizard hat will surely keep you cozy and safe. Besides, who doesn’t want to yell out, “You shall not pass!”

Gumby & Pokey: This takes a bit of work, but the results are fantastic.

Teen Wolf: You will be covered in fur. Enough said.Teen Wolf

 Group Costume Ideas:

Ghostbusters: The difficulty level on this one is of medium intensity but it would be totally rewarding.

The Royal Tenenbaums: This one is easy because the likelihood that you have all the costume items in your closet is very high. Really. Everyone owns a tracksuit, a polo shirt, and some kind of suit. Everyone.

Team Zissou: Another from the Wes Anderson film collection. Baby blue shirt and pants and a red knit hat, how easy is that?

The Golden Girls: Grandma’s are always dressing in layers and wearing a gray grannie wig will keep you super warm.

DJ Lance Rock and the creatures from Yo Gabba! Gabba!: This one will take some work, a crazy amount of fleece, some imagination, and mad sewing skills or just set you back about $100 buying the costume. But just think how awesome your group would look especially if you treated all the outfits with Polar Proof. You would all be mystical, magical, waterproof creatures.

Have fun, be safe, and to all the parents out there, remember: always negotiate for your kids’ good candy earlier, rather than later.

Words to live by, from your friends at Nikwax.


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Attack of the killer detergent: The Nikwax Difference

killer-detergent

It begins innocently enough. First, you figure what harm could it possibly do? I’ll wash my jacket just this once with my regular laundry detergent. Before long, that harmless “regular” laundry detergent has become a gateway to the serious stuff: fabric softeners, boosters, oxidizers…

And your outdoor excursions become significantly less comfortable.

We’re not out to bash grocery store detergents. They are effective cleaners for a good majority of our clothes, just not our performance gear.

Think of it this way: You don’t buy a $200,000 Ferrari for use as a family truckster. You buy it for performance. It follows that you wouldn’t toss 200-Gs on a car and fill it up with regular gas that’s designed for a Ford Fiesta. You maintain the Ferrari with premium gas and oil that will keep it performing as it’s designed to perform.

Let’s bring that example a little closer to home. The average cost for a high performance, all-weather jacket is about $400. Washing it with detergent equates to diminishing returns on your investment with every rinse and spin cycle. The basis of all of this boils down to the chemistry of soaps and detergents.

Gettin’ down with chemistry

Believe it or not, but the first barrier to cleaning any garment is water. Specifically it’s the surface tension of water. When left to its own devices, water prefers to stick together by forming droplets. Good when you’re outside in a storm. Bad when you’re trying to clean your jacket.

To remove the oils, sweat, dirt and grime that inhibit our gear’s performance, we need a cleaner of some sort. Water alone will not cut the mustard. Literally.

That leaves two options: a soap (such as Nikwax products) or a detergent (typical grocery store brands laundry cleaners). Soaps are derived from botanical oils or animal fats. Detergents are derived from synthetic or petroleum-based oils. They both work to break down the surface tension of water so the cleaners can connect with the dirt and oils on the fabrics.

You can see where this is leading, right? A life of confusion.

Soaps and detergents each have molecules that are amphiphilic – having both hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) ends. One side distracts the water by breaking down its surface tension, while the other side makes a pass at the oils the water won’t associate with.

As the hydrophobic side of the cleaner (chemical energy) dances with the oils, the warmth of the water (thermal energy) and the agitation of washing machine (mechanical energy) helps to break down and separate the mess.

At this stage it may seem like the only advantage soap has over detergent is the “natural” derivation.

Just wait. There’s more.

Along comes the rinse cycle

Remember how the molecules of both soaps and detergents have hydrophilic and hydrophobic sides? No big deal if you’re washing a cotton T-shirt. But if you’re washing a $400 jacket, you want that puppy to exit the washing machine with a serious case of hydrophobia.

This is where Nikwax cleaners excel.

Conventional laundry detergents can leave behind hydrophilic (umm… water-loving) residue, which counters the performance of the durable water repellency (DWR). Nikwax soap-based cleaners do not.

Nikwax cleaners are specially formulated for the different types of fabrics they treat. In the case of waterproof/breathable fabrics, like Gore-Tex, Nikwax Tech Wash is a soap-based cleaner that will not leave behind hydrophilic residue.

Since Nikwax does not leave that residue, it will not impede your jacket’s water-repelling performance. Great, right?

We think so.

Bottom line

With your safety and comfort on the line, not to mention the notable economic investment of your outdoor apparel, it is worth the effort to wash your jacket with Nikwax. This guarantees not only a clean piece of gear, but also additional protection and enhanced performance. And who can argue with that?

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