Many articles of clothing are treated with water repellent substances, but these substances break down over time. There is more
than one way to re-treat waterproof garments to lengthen their useful life.
Water repellent garments are usually treated with a substance called Fluoropolymers. A Fluoropolymer is characterized by many strong fluoride-carbon bonds. It is resistant to liquids, solvents and various chemicals. This substance is most well known as Teflon.
Fluoropolymers break down over time when exposed to water and chemicals. Laundry soap will eventually decrease the treated garment’s ability to repel water by leaving a residue that attracts water and dirt, so re-treatment becomes necessary.
The first step to revive durable water repellent finishes on clothing is to clean the garment. Often, removing surface oils and dirt will help restore the fiber’s hydrophobic qualities. Next, expose the article of clothing to heat. Place the clothing in a dry and tumble dry on low to medium heat. Always follow the garment’s care directions on the label.
If washing and drying the clothing does not work, there are some at home products that may be used to reinforce and refresh the fluoropolymers. One method is a spray on treatment. The directions are simple. Spray the durable water repellent product directly on the clothing. Make sure to spray the garment as evenly as possible. Next, place the article of clothing on an ironic board. Use an iron with a synthetic clothing setting to iron the treated garment. Re-treating with a spray on solution is much like starching a shirt. Even coverage, and careful, thorough ironing will lead to the greatest amount of success. Before choosing this method, make sure the clothing to be treated can be ironed.
If the garment cannot be ironed, or the spray on method seems too difficult there are several wash in products available. Some popular products are even biodegradable and safe to use in a home washing machine. The process for re-treating with a wash in durable water repellent is much like washing normal laundry. Pretreat the most worn areas of the garment with some of the wash in product. Use a soft bristled brush or a sponge to work the solution into the fibers. Next, place the clothing into the washing machine. Limit the number of items washed in one load to increase the product’s effectiveness. Add the wash in product according to the directions. Wash the garment as recommended on the care label. Follow up the wash in product treatment with a heat treatment. Use either a clothes dryer or iron depending on the care instructions. Sometimes, as second treatment is necessary to fully restore the garment’s hydrophobic qualities.
Most home treatments suggest re-treating clothing every six to eight uses. Garments can last a very long time with proper care and treatments.