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Tips for keeping kids’ uniforms clean

little-league

Your kid may be good at science, but that doesn’t mean you want to participate in a microbiology experiment in your home this summer. Yep, we’re talking about uniforms—the baseball/soccer/swim/lacrosse/all-around active gear that gets hammered on a regular basis.

If you’re a parent, you know how quickly kids sports gear grimes up. And it’s not just dirt we’re talking about. There are bacteria, mold and fungus that can sprout in less-than-hygienic conditions.

To make sure your kid stands out for their performance on the court or field and not because they smell up the locker room, here are some tips.

1. Air-dry all equipment when wet before throwing it back in a bag or storing it. Drying it outside is OK as long as you avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

2. Wipe down equipment that has direct contact with skin after use. Avoid using odor sprays and products full of chemicals that can break down the plastic and other materials today’s gear is made of. Simply spray hydrogen peroxide on each piece and wipe down with water.

3. Don’t let stinky stained clothes pile up until Mt. St. Odor takes over the laundry room. Create a weekly cleaning routine, teaching your older children where to put their sports apparel post use.

4. That red sticky Popsicle may have been the perfect treat post game but the red stains won’t be a treat to get out when the wrapper and stick go through the wash. Be sure to check the pockets before throwing any uniforms in the wash.

5. Two words: Base Wash. Use Nikwax’s Base Wash each time you wash any uniform made from synthetic material. While you are at it, turn the uniform inside out before throwing it into the wash too.

7. You may think you are saving time throwing in that sportswear with other wash, but for better results, wash it all separately from other clothes. Better yet, throw in a cycle of  BaseFresh to eliminate odors, maintain wicking properties at their maximum, and prolong the uniform’s longevity.

How you take care of and store your equipment is just as important for making it last. While we all would love the crew from HGTV to come over and build us the perfect mudroom/garage, simple to find products from bins and hooks to racks and organizers will also do the trick. Before storing those bats, gloves, sticks etc., follow these tips.

1. Make sure equipment is completely dry before storing.

2. Keep equipment from being exposed to damp environments, excessive heat and excessive cold temperatures.

3. Use Nikwax Leather Cleaner to remove mud from baseball gloves and other leather equipment. To condition the leather, use Nikwax Conditioner for Leather.

4. Shoes stink? That’s a silly question. Of course they do. Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to get those cleats ready for the next game.

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Down Revival: How To Teach Old Feathers New Tricks

850-Fill-Power-Goose-Down

Purchasing down gear is rite of passage for us outdoor types. Remember the joy of stuffing your first down sleeping bag into its impossibly small stuff sack after years of struggling with a monster synthetic bag? Or the first time you donned the down coat that you saved for years to be able to purchase?

You should. Buying down represents achieving the “next stage” of outdoorsiness. Anyone who spends time sleeping, skiing, hiking, or otherwise adventuring outside understands that a down coat (or bag, or booties, or gloves, or, yes, even hats) can mean the difference between basic survival and enjoyment. Down offers an unbeatable warmth to weight ratio. It’s perhaps the best insulator out there. Did we mention it’s cozy?

It also required care and attention to extend its lifespan.

or_trance_sweater_300Here’s the good news: Down care is easy, affordable and guarantees a long lifespan for your gear.

What’s the best way to take care of your down gear?

Wash: Gear performs better when closest to its original, pristine state. Case in point: the birdbath. Birds know that their down will best protect them when it is clean. Down, specifically, requires a gentle, detergent-free cleaner. We recommend our very own, Nikwax Down Wash, which is specially formulated to launder down feathers without weighing down the loft (also see Down Proof, below).

Rinse: So long as there isn’t a center-mount agitator, a special washing machine isn’t required for down gear. If the washer is large enough to handle the load, it’s good to go. Regardless if you’re hand washing or using a machine, the hard and fast rule is rinse, rinse, then rinse again. Ensure the effluent water runs clear.

Dry: Relax to the rhythmic sound of a tennis ball tumbling through the dry cycle. The down will be clumpy from its time in the washer, and drying it completely is critical. Tossing a clean tennis ball in the dryer provides a gentle “smack” to break up the clumps. Fair warning: this is not a short process and you will likely have moments of clumpy terror when you check on the progress. Keep resetting the timer until your beloveds are lump-free and fully dry.

Results: When you pull your newly revived jacket out of the dryer, not only will it be gleaming with cleanliness, it will also be puffier then when you began the day. By gently cleansing the delicate feathers, Nikwax Down Wash revives loft and reinvigorates the down’s ability to trap air once again. Voilà!

Store: Hang it all out there. Just say no to storing down gear in tight stuff sacks. Over time, perpetually “squished” down feathers will become more resistant to re-lofting to their original air-trapping excellence. Store down apparel and sleeping bags hanging freely with plenty of space or hanging in large, breathable bags.

Additional resources:

  • Cleaning instructions from http://www.shop-denali.com/down_care.aspx.
  • Always read and follow the label instructions for temperature and other considerations.
  • Down is only effective when dry. Periodically apply Nikwax Down Proof, which both revives the outer fabric’s DWR, AND adds water repellency to the down itself, without adversely affecting the insulating properties.


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Winter Layering 101

crosscountry

We’ve said it before: the key to staying comfortable in cold weather is layering. Whether you’re skinning up several thousand feet to a snowy summit, braving slushy roads for a ride, or hitting the Nordic track on skate gear, chances are you’re going to begin your workout colder than you end it.

The body expends a lot of energy during athletic pursuits. That energy floods your body with heat, which makes you sweat and feel, well, warm. (Generally followed by a release of elevating endorphins—one of the reasons we here at Nikwax remain avid athletes, no matter what the weather outside is doing).

Starting cold means you’re unlikely to overheat right out of the gate. Once you get going, being warm is good. Being hot is not. And wet? You most definitely do not want to be wet.

Managing your body’s heat can mean the difference between a good workout and a bad one. Why do you want to manage it? Simple.

  1. Comfort. Who wants to stew in damp clothes? Not us, and not you, either.
  2. A matter of life and death. Sounds extreme? Maybe. But those who don’t wick away sweat risk getting chilled. The chills can lead to frostbite (bad) and even hypothermia (worse).
  3. Performance. Your movements are more precise when you can concentrate. When you body gets cold and soggy, your thoughts focus on your discomfort and take away your prowess.

How, then, do you keep dry and cool—not cold, not too warm—during your workout? Through careful layering and proper care of your different layers.

Start with a technical base layer that wicks sweat away from the body and stays relatively dry to the touch. There’s a multitude to choose from: wool or synthetics. Care for these with our BaseFresh or Wool Wash.

Next, add an insulting layer. Fleece or a wool sweater. Think warm and fuzzy.

Follow with a shell that breathes. And then wash that shell regularly. We know what you’re thinking: really? Yep. If you don’t wash it regularly, your shell can get gunked up with sweat, grime, dirt, and the like. A gunked up shell won’t breathe, and that leads to soggy misery. Take care of it with our Tech Wash.

What else is good in your quiver? Warm gloves and a pair of lighter liner gloves. A hat. A pair of dry socks. A thermos with a warm drink and a full water bottle.

Use this system, and you’ll give yourself the edge you need to get outside and keep your heart rate up all winter long.


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The Gear Closet Archetypes

If you are a lover of the outdoors and the activities associated, it goes without saying that you have an assortment of gear. How people store their gear, however, widely varies. Which type are you?

The Gear Decorator:

Your friends may not understand it, but you believe there’s no better way to store your gear than to artfully arrange it, on your living room wall. “I think the ice axe looks lovely hanging over the television; it really ties the room together.”

The OCD:

You have a place for everything and everything IS in its place. Or else. “Can’t you SEE the outlines for each item I’ve neatly drawn on the wall?”

The Mobile:

“Yeah, I’m just gonna leave it in the car.”

The Old School:

Your gear is all at least 20 years old, but it is meticulously maintained, and loved. You always put it away clean. “You can have my external frame backpack when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

The Gear Shed/Garage/House:

You have a dedicated storage facility/fortress for your massive gear collection. “What? You don’t keep all your gear in a climate-controlled, highly secured environment? Me? Oh, I sleep in my car.”

The Chaos:

“Where’s the tent? Where’s the @$&! tent?!?”


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Adventures Without Limits Partnership

Adventures Without LimitsRecently we announced our partnership with the non-profit Adventures Without Limits (AWL), an organization dedicated to using the outdoors as an experiential learning tool to enhance the lives of youth, families, and adults with special needs in the greater Portland metropolitan communities. We will provide ample supplies of product to the non-profit throughout the year to help the organization maintain their gear and equipment.

AWL uses an extensive amount of gear that experiences high use and rough wear, which also requires frequent maintenance, including washing. Partnering with us will help enable the organization to maintain and treat their gear, increasing its function and prolonging its life.

“A partnership with Nikwax is a perfect match for us as a non-profit,” says AWL executive director Doug Knighton. “Our gear tends to have rougher usage than average and is washed every time it is used, so wear and tear is much faster than normal. Having an ample supply of Nikwax products on hand enables us to treat our gear and lengthen its life, which will help us lower our replacement costs and keep our gear looking great and functional.”

AWL was founded in 1995 in response for a need for year round, adventure-based activity for special needs youth. They provide adventure trips throughout the year including: rock climbing, river rafting, sea kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more. AWL fulfills its mission by providing outdoor access to people of all abilities, social statures, and backgrounds. Additionally, the organization provides participants with the opportunity to develop new skills, enhance awareness of the natural environment, build self-confidence, and recognize personal potential. They also adapt equipment and provide additional staff-support to accommodate people with disabilities.

We are honored to partner with such an incredible organization whose mission supports enjoyment of the great outdoors to such a myriad of outdoor enthusiasts. This partnership also supports our mission of prolonging and enhancing outdoor gear in a sustainable way, resulting in less gear in the landfill and a greener, safer outdoor experience.


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Reuse again and again and again! Nikwax for the whole family

We at Nikwax know that outdoor adventurers come in all ages and sizes AND that keeping all those little fast-growing  trail-monsters outfitted can be both a logistical and an economic challenge. Then there’s the environmental impact of discarding all those tiny boots and mittens! Not to worry, parents, Nikwax can help!

Get outdoors with our family

Never again worry about accepting those hand-me-down boots from the lady at work or wonder how much life is REALLY left in that little jacket you picked up at the thrift store. Nikwax makes all sorts of products that can breathe new life into tired outdoor gear and help it last long enough to pass down to the next kid in line. We’ll help you clean and waterproof footwear to extend the life of your family’s shoes and ensure that they don’t have to be replaced as often. Our Glove Proof will keep everyone’s hands dry during your adventures, and help make those gloves last long enough to be handed down.

Make sure to regularly clean your family’s outerwear too! Regular cleaning alone can do wonders for extending the life and performance of your outdoor gear! Use products like TX. Direct, Softshell Proof, and Polar Proof to replenish or add durable water repellency (DWR) to your outerwear and make older items perform like new ones.

It’s easy! With proper care, outdoor gear can last much, much longer, saving your family money and preventing those items from piling up in the landfill. We apologize in advance to the baby – see that jacket on your big brother? That will be yours some day! Wear it well, kid…

Stay Dry out there!

~The Nikwax Team


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You Don’t Need a New Jacket!

You may know this story. You buy a brand new jacket. It is shiny and wondrous.

Bling bling!

You love your new jacket. You go places together, and it keeps you dry and toasty.

Time passes, as it inevitably does, and suddenly your jacket is no longer shiny. As a matter of fact, it seems to have become more absorbent than a sponge. Even if your jacket is Gore-Tex, if it wets out, you will be unhappy. The jacket will weigh you down with its soggy fabric. It will no longer be breathable. The rain might not get through to your skin, but you’re miserable all the same.

What do you do? This jacket was supposed to be waterproof. You storm back to the store and berate the employee who sold this jacket to you. False advertising is unacceptable!

However, the store associate knows her business. She tells you that like a car, outdoor gear needs proper maintenance. She shows you this stuff called Nikwax.

It’s easy to use! Just throw the offending jacket in the washer with Tech Wash first to clean it. Sometimes just cleaning will make your jacket work like new again. Dirt, oil and other grime can muck up the performance of your jacket, making it wet out. Be careful about cleaning your outdoor gear in detergents, they can leave behind a residue that will attract water to your gear, which is a bit counter productive! Tech Wash is a non-detergent cleaner and gets rid of grimy crud and detergent residue! Follow the instructions on the bottle so you know how much to use!

Washy washy!After that cycle is done, you have two options.

#1. You can call it good, and (if the care label allows) put your jacket in the dryer. This will help revitalize any factory applied DWR (durable water repellant) coating. That’s the stuff on the outside of your jacket that makes the water bead up. That’s what failed and allowed your jacket to soak up water. If your jacket is pretty haggard, you might just want to skip to option #2.

#2. You can run another cycle with Nikwax TX. Direct. This will add more of that wondrous DWR to your jacket. Follow the instructions on the bottle to know how much you need to use!

With TX.Direct you do not need to put your jacket in the dyer afterwards. You can if you want to, and the care label allows it, but it is not necessary with Nikwax waterproofing products, as they do not contain fluorocarbons! (Fluorocarbon-based waterproofing requires heat to activate). Save some energy and hang dry.

That’s it! After those steps your jacket will be happy and ready for the next adventure. This process can help you keep your jacket performing year after year! No need to throw it out, no need to buy a new jacket. Save money! Keep your gear out of the landfills! Also, all Nikwax products are created to be safe for you to use, and safe for the environment.

Now get out there and have fun outdoors!

Woohoo! Adventure!~The Nikwax Team