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


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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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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