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How often should I clean my jacket?

Q: How often should I clean my jacket? 

A: Every month.

No really. Even GORE-TEX product experts recommend cleaning your jacket every month. Keeping your jacket clean is one of the best ways to preserve its useful life. Dirt, smoke, and even body oils and sweat can wreak havoc on many aspects of your jacket. Your body oils and sweat can cause the seam tape and lining of your jacket to break down more quickly. Dirt, grime, and smoke can mask the water-repellent coating, making your jacket wet out faster. “Wetting out” is when water soaks into the surface fabric of your jacket. This is bad, as a wet jacket is not a breathable jacket, and you will get wet from the inside. (See image below.)

jacket_sandwich_nodwr_colorBy washing your jacket, you remove all these harmful contaminants, thereby allowing your jacket to perform at its best. Be mindful though! Cleaning with regular detergents can lead to other issues. Household detergents leave behind a water-attracting residue that can cause your jacket to wet out; similar to dirt, oil, and grime. The safest bet is to always clean with a technical cleaner, like Nikwax Tech Wash, or Nikwax Down Wash if your jacket is down-filled. Tech Wash and Down Wash are soap-based cleaners that are formulated to not leave behind any water-attracting residue. They are also biodegradable and never tested on animals.

Almost all jackets are safe to simply wash in your washing machine- it’s easy! However, if your jacket is down-filled, make sure to use a front-loading machine, as agitators in top loaders can bash up the delicate down feathers. Lastly: always check your garment’s care label before washing.

Enjoy your clean, high-performing jacket!

how to clean your jacket

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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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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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Soft Shell 101

softshell_blog1

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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Back From the Dead: How to Clean Your Ski Jacket

It's... ALIVE!

It’s… ALIVE!

The world is full of frights that the rational mind can’t reconcile with reality: cheese in a can, the zombie apocalypse, that ski jacket you left unwashed, dirt-covered and and reeking at the bottom of your gear closet.

While experts are quite unified in their classification of canned cheese food, zombies and abused ski jackets inhabit a purgatory of confusion. In the words of one zombie expert, “The undead are notoriously difficult to kill.”

But in the words of… well… us: “Old ski jackets are a piece of cake to revive.” Much like the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, Nikwax can bring your (supposedly) deceased ski jacket back to world of the living. So without further ado, here is how to revive your gear:

  1. For waterproof/breathable hard shells or soft shells without a wicking liner*: place the gear in the washing machine and fill with water at the temperature recommended on the tag (or simply warm- to be safe). Set your cycle to “regular” or “synthetics,” as determined by your washer.
  2. Add Nikwax Tech Wash. In a top-loading machine, add three full caps for 1-3 garments or five full caps for 4-6 garments. In a front loader, it’s best to add no more than two garments with two capfuls of Tech Wash. Special note: If you live in an area with hard water, toss in an extra capful of Tech Wash. If you have an HE machine, use about half the recommended amount so you don’t suds up the place.
  3. Sit back in your zombie bunker with a good book and a glass of wine/beer/hot cocoa as the machine runs its course.
  4. More often than not, this single cycle will be enough to have rebuffed your ski jacket’s near death experience. If the old girl was in really bad shape, you may consider leaving it in the washing machine and running a second cycle. In the second cycle, replace Tech Wash with TX.Direct Wash-In waterproofing.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to whether your garment should be line or tumble dried. Nikwax does not require heat for activation, so you’re good to go either way.
  6. Put your jacket on; admire your kickin’ style in the mirror and grab a crow bar. Get outside and have some fun. Special note: The crow bar is for if you encounter a zombie and has nothing to do with your gear.

So long as zombies have human flesh to feast upon, they will survive. And so it is with your cold weather gear. So long as that coat gets a regular Nikwax bath, it will continue to be the well-working, warmth-giving waterproof undead of your closet.

*Wicking liner: a jacket lining that is intended to soak up your sweat. Usually fuzzy in texture.


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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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Get Fit, Don’t Stink: Keeping Your Workout Wear Fresh and Clean

CrossFit_pull-up

Between mud season and daylight savings time, we’re finding more and more excuses to exercise inside these days. Don’t worry—we’re not checking out entirely. We’re just taking advantage of indoors cross training to bridge the gap between snow and summer.

And, as anyone who has ever sweated through a high-octane crossfit schedule or soaked their technical clothes during a spin class knows (we’ll ask again: why is riding a stationary bike so hard?), one of the biggest challenges is keeping workout wear fresh and clean.

Whether they’re bunched in the bottom of your gym bag, or diligently tossed in the laundry later that night, the funk of indoor workout wear is exacerbated by the inevitable byproduct of an indoors workout: sweat.

In a climate-controlled environment, sweat is almost guaranteed. Outside, there might be a breeze. Or fluctuating temps. Or something else to keep the wet at bay. (Or not, we’ve ended many a plein air workout drenched, and, truth be told, it is highly satisfying).

Either way, it requires TLC to take proper care of your apparel.

(Special note: when you’re working out indoors, your feet will likely be sweating up a storm too. If you’re going sockless—a popular trend these days—pull out your insole after a workout to let it dry. If you’re just using insoles that came with the shoes, rinse them with BaseWash.)

So what does TLC for gym wear look like? A special detergent that will get rid of the grime without compromising the gear. And by that, we mean Nikwax BaseWash—a great way to keep your shirts and shorts fresh and clean.

Why a special detergent?

BaseWash cleans, deodorizes, inhibits the build up of body odors, accelerates drying, and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.

We know that’s a tall order for a cleaner. But it’s true.

BaseWash cleans and conditions simultaneously. It help prevent odor build up, which keeps your duds fresh. It also enhances and revitalizes the wicking properties of synthetic base layers, which increases breathability and helps fabric spread sweat and dry quickly. Get where we’re going with this? Think positive feedback cycle.

Put simply, regular detergent just doesn’t perform as well. Sure, it can clean. But it won’t provide the same results.

Think of it this way: you take good care of yourself with exercise, so do the same for your workout wear.