For hiking, sailing and other outdoor experiences, the right clothing is essential. If it is reliable in wind and weather, it will keep wind, rain and moisture out safely. If the jacket, trousers and shoes are waterproof and breathable at the same time, they offer the best protection and ensure good comfort on the skin when out and about. With DWR waterproofing, rainwater or spray simply beads off the jacket, similar to a lotus flower. Here you can find out everything you need to know about durable waterproofing.
The three letters PWR stand for the abbreviation "Durable Water Repellent". If an outer fabric is equipped with it, it is water repellent and therefore stays dry. The waterproofing prevents the individual droplets from becoming a film of water over the entire surface. The water pearls off the surface, runs down and drips off. In rainwear, the finish ensures breathability The waterproof membrane built into the garment can transport moisture from the inside despite rain and wetness from the outside.
New clothing is made with waterproofing: For this purpose, the fabrics are impregnated by nozzles or immersed in a bath with PWR and excess waterproofing is removed mechanically. The clothes produced are permanently waterproof. How long this waterproofing reliably lets the drops roll off depends on the particular application: the layer suffers under the straps of the rucksack or through soiling and washing. If the drops no longer bead up, a reimpregnation is advisable.
A little chemistry is needed to explain the ingredients in detail. Besides paraffin and wax emulsions, fluorocarbons and silicones are also used in the production of outdoor clothing. All active ingredients offer very good permanent protection. The fluorocarbons are also known as polyfluorinated surfactants and work reliably. They not only protect the wearer of the clothing against moisture, but are also dirt-repellent. Because the membranes processed inside react sensitively to contamination by oil or grease, the fluorocarbons also protect against it. Because they are considered a cause for concern despite their positive properties, many manufacturers are looking for genuine alternatives. A good alternative is our Nanoflex Repel Eco : Highly effective system for the industrial finishing of all fibre types for highly wash-resistant water repellency and soil repellency of water-based stains.
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The waterproofing has a great example in nature with the lotus plant. When a drop of water hits the leaf of the Asian lotus plant, it only remains for a short time and slides off the leaf without leaving any trace. The leaf remains dry. The waterproofing works in the same physical way: the waterproofing consists of tiny particles to which resins and oils have been added. These tiny beads allow raindrops to simply roll off.
If the jacket or trousers are permanently waterproofed, they cannot soak up water even in heavy rain. <The clothing remains light, warm and always offers the necessary freedom of movement. Rain jackets and rain trousers with waterproof yet breathable membranes can only show their advantages if the external waterproofing is perfect. Only then will the water run off the outside. If, on the other hand, the outer fabric becomes soaked up with water, known by experts as "wetting out", the membrane is waterproof. It can then no longer release the water vapour formed by the body to the outside.
However, water-repellent does not mean completely waterproof: if the rain lasts long or is particularly heavy, waterproofing will not last long. If you are travelling in rainy areas, your clothing should have taped seams and an inner membrane in addition to waterproofing
Although the word sounds endless, the fabric of a jacket or trousers absorbs the moisture after a while. As soon as no more drops pearl on the surface, the waterproofing should be refreshed.
If the function is to be maintained for a long time, clothing made of Gore-Tex, Sympatex, eVent or other modern materials requires the right treatment. The care instructions will tell you what is important: Washing is uncomplicated and simple. You can simply put the vapour-permeable and at the same time wind- and waterproof membrane fabrics in the washing machine. To ensure that dirt, salt particles and detergent residues are well removed from the clothing, these pieces need to be washed relatively often.
Only then will the vapour diffusion through the built-in membrane work as intended by the manufacturer. Before putting the jacket or trousers in the washing machine, all zips and Velcro fasteners should be closed. As a rule, the gentle wash cycle at 30 degrees Celsius is sufficient. A mild or special detergent is used, but without any fabric softener additive or extra fabric softener. A short spin cycle is sufficient
Sweat contains salts among many other substances: you can simply lick your palm and check. While the moisture of the sweat diffuses through the membrane to the outside, the salt crystallises into large crystals. These crystals remain inside the jacket and trousers because they do not fit through the tiny membrane pores. If the salt crystals remain in the fabric, they can attack the material over time, it becomes porous and can therefore no longer fulfil its function.
Likewise, all residues of perfume, creams, lotion or sunscreen should be regularly removed from the fibres by washing. Carrying a rucksack or bag will rub the straps on your shoulders and back. Again, the manufacturer's waterproofing will wear off over time. Therefore, regular washing and re-impregnation is mandatory if the water and wind repellent function of the clothing is to be maintained.
Tip: The right detergent for functional clothing contains a "Tex" in the name (nanoCare Tex Wash) and is guaranteed to be free of fabric softener. Before washing, clean the filler compartment and the fabric softener compartment and have the laundry rinsed again. Only then can you be sure that really every residue will be rinsed out.
Unless the label says otherwise, you should dry your functional clothing in a tumble dryer after washing. The lowest setting is sufficient to reactivate the waterproofing. If you do not have a tumble dryer, it is sufficient to iron the clothes with the lowest setting of your iron. However, even with the most careful treatment, the manufacturer's waterproofing will wear off over time. If the drops no longer roll off the fabric but are absorbed into it, a reimpregnation is necessary.
How to care for functional clothing properly
- Read the washing and care labels carefully
- Wash the functional clothing frequently and reactivate the waterproofing by tumble drying or ironing
- If the rain does not roll off, waterproofing after
Functional clothing for use in wind and weather is almost high-tech. The membrane in the clothing has tiny but numerous pores. If the inside of the jacket is warmer than the outside, the wearer sweats under stress. As soon as the water vapour inside the jacket exceeds a certain pressure, the tiny molecules diffuse to the outside and you continue to feel comfortable in your clothes.
The pores are designed in such a way that the water vapour can pass from the inside to the outside, while at the same time the rain must stay outside. If the rain cannot penetrate through the fabric and sweat diffuses to the outside, the garment is waterproof. Finally, waterproofing perfects the fabric, the water beads up on the outside and cannot penetrate the fabric.
If the original waterproofing wears off, it is time for a refresher. If you want to re-waterproof your clothes yourself, you can either spray Nanoflex Tex2, Nanoflex THD or Nanoflex L-Care onto the fabric. Or you can wash the product with Nanoflex Wash-On New or Nanoflex Wash-On C0.
If you want to wash in the fresh waterproofing, all rinse chambers of the washing machine must be cleaned meticulously. Then place the freshly washed jacket or trousers in the washing drum and add the amount of waterproofing indicated on the package. Wash the laundry as indicated on the care instructions at 40 degrees Celsius in the gentle wash cycle and then dry everything in the tumble dryer on the lowest setting. You can also hang up the clothes and leave them to dry in the air. Jackets or trousers made of GoreTex or Sympatex, on the other hand, should be specifically waterproofed with a spray on the outside and there on the seams, shoulders and all areas of wear. This helps to preserve the permeability of water vapour better.
Tip: Always carry out the waterproofing with spray outdoors.
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By means of a spray, the waterproofing is simply sprayed onto the garment or shoes. After drying, everything is sealed again securely against water and dirt. The individual sprays differ in smell, price and the time it takes to dry. Nanoflex Tex2 Nanoflex THD or Nanoflex L-Carre are odourless, attractively priced and easy to apply. They achieve the highest performance values based on new scientific findings. They can be used to waterproof all textiles easily and conveniently.
The waterproofing can be done just as easily in the washing machine. The specially developed agents are simply added to the washing drum with trousers, jacket or rucksack and distributed evenly throughout the wash cycle. For exact dosage and handling, simply read the instructions on the pack.
A waterproofing foam is ideal for impregnating suede and other sensitive materials. Even if the foam impregnation does not quite reach the quality of waterproofing by a spray, the materials treated with it reliably repel water. The instructions will tell you whether you need to rub the foam into the material with a cloth or sponge. The foam must then dry well.
The chemicals used in DWR waterproofing ensure that clothing treated with it is both waterproof on the outside and breathable on the inside.
The manufacturers use different materials for this purpose:
Fluorocarbons: Fluorocarbons, which include both perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs for short, are a group that now includes more than 8,000 different substances. Perfluorooctane sulphonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are only two of the best known. They are produced artificially. Because they usually remain persistent and are not simply broken down over time, they are now found in all regions of the world. While some fluorocarbons are classified as completely harmless, others are more problematic. However, especially the waterproofing by fluorocarbons is reliable and durable.
They let rain and moisture roll off the outside and even keep greasy dirt away. This is important for jackets or trousers with a special membrane, after all, this can only work if the pores are not blocked. In the meantime, waterproofing without fluorocarbons has long been available. In these cases, the waterproofing consists of silicones or other polymers. Unfortunately, these do not provide such excellent protection against greasy and oily soiling. To fill this gap in the market, we have developed PFC-free products based on hyper-branched polymers: Nanoflex L-Care, Nanoflex Wash-On C0 and Nanoflex DWR CO-ECO.
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If a jacket has been given the rating "waterproof", you can be sure that you will always stay dry, even if the rain lasts longer. Inside, an appropriate membrane ensures that the waterproof jacket is really waterproof. If the jacket or trousers are classified as water resistant or water repellent, water and dirt will also roll off the surface. However, if the rain lasts longer, the clothing will soften over time. The hydrostatic water column is an international standard used by the textile industry to classify waterproof, waterproof and water-repellent clothing.
This number indicates the theoretical height of a water column in millimetres. 10,000 millimetres is therefore ten metres of water column and corresponds to the pressure of one bar. The greater the pressure from the water on the fabric, the denser it must be. If the backpack straps press on the shoulder and back, the pressure is increased, as is the pressure when the rain is whipped by the wind. According to international standards, a water column of 800 millimetres is the boundary between waterproof and water-repellent. In addition to the membrane and waterproofing, all zips and seams of waterproof clothing must be sealed. Water-repellent clothing is chemically or thermally impregnated.
If the garment has a DWR finish, this ensures that rain and other moisture simply rolls off the outside and the top layer of fabric remains dry. This allows perspiration to diffuse from the inside through the integrated membrane, the clothing remains breathable and at the same time waterproof.
This depends on the specific load and the quality of the clothing. If the functional clothing is really to be waterproof, a hydrostatic water column of 10,000 millimetres is recommended. This allows you to jog, cycle, walk or sail for several hours in the rain.
If you're not sure whether your outdoor clothing is still rainproof, just do a test: just hold the garment under the shower and let the water run over the fabric. If the water runs off as usual, everything is fine. If not, you should either thermally reactivate or renew the waterproofing.
In principle, any type of clothing can be waterproofed, especially those that are worn as the outermost layer against cold, rain and dirt. While this is obvious for rain jackets and trousers, it can also be worthwhile for workwear and other jackets. They are waterproofed with a DWR waterproofing agent, which is also water-repellent. In contrast, only functional clothing with an internal climate membrane is actually waterproof.
If the functional clothing is to be waterproofed again with the help of spray, the following brief instructions will help:
- Close all Velcro and zip fasteners and wash the clothes with the appropriate detergent.
- Only when the salt has been removed from the sweat and all dirt, the waterproofing can be applied evenly.
- Observe the manufacturer's instructions on the package: while some waterproofing is applied to dry fabric, other agents require the fabric to be still damp. Hang the garments in an airy place. It is best to waterproof the clothes on the outside.
- The spray is sprayed evenly from a relatively short distance onto all parts of the clothing.
- Make sure that you also treat the zips and other parts. After spraying, the waterproofing must take effect and dry.
- If the manufacturer stipulates that the waterproofing must be activated by heat, the clothing is then treated with a hairdryer, iron or tumble dryer.
If the waterproofing spray is to ensure a robust waterproofing, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. They specify how long the impregnation spray must be allowed to work and dry. While for some sprays it is sufficient for the fabric to dry for an hour in the fresh air, others need to be activated by heat first.
If you follow the manufacturer's instructions, the waterproofing is safe. You should choose the appropriate waterproofing for your clothes. If the fabrics and waterproofing are coordinated, they will work best. Since most waterproofing sprays are suitable for almost all textiles, they are therefore good and easy to use. You should remove dust, dirt and salts from the textiles before every new DWR waterproofing to ensure that it works well.
Whether you waterproof your jacket, trousers or rucksack with a spray or by washing depends on the material used. For example, lined jackets and membranes without pores can be waterproofed well with a spray. Membranes with micropores can be treated with an impregnation spray, but also in the washing machine. It is important that you follow the care instructions of the respective manufacturer. Then, after successful waterproofing, the water rolls off the jacket or trousers again and the climate in the clothing remains pleasant.