If you’re tucking away your skis and ice tools for the season—hopefully trading them in for tents, river sandals and the like—don’t forget about all the other gear that got you through the winter safe and warm. Nobody wants to find mildewy gloves or a flattened down jacket when the weather turns cold again. Giving a little attention to all your jackets and accessories before you store them will help them last longer and perform their faithful duty better next season. Here are instructions and tips for how to wash and store your insulated jackets (down and synthetic), soft shells, hard shells, base layers and gloves (regular and electric).
Before you stash your winter gloves away for the season, give them a wash. Storing them while they’re still damp and dirty can lead to stink and mildew.
Shake them out to make sure there’s no dirt inside the main hand chamber or down in the fingers. Machines can be too tough on parts of a glove, so hand wash them in warm water if they’re synthetic.
Carefully squeeze the water out from the fingers toward the wrist, pointing the wrists downward to dry, keeping them out of the sun and away from heaters. Shell gloves can be tumble-dried on low heat, but GORE recommends pulling them out while they’re still half damp and sticking your fist inside to restore them to their original shape and then air dry.
If water doesn’t bead off your gloves like it used to, reapply a DWR treatment, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
For leather gloves, put the gloves on your hands, wet them with lukewarm water and scrub them down with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. Rinse them and gently squeeze out the water without twisting.
To make sure your leather gloves are in tip-top water-repelling condition when you pull them out of the closet next fall, condition them with Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather. Nikwax recommends using a Hershey’s Kiss-sized amount of wax, and applying it the way you would apply lotion to your hands, while wearing the gloves. Rub it in evenly and make sure it’s fully absorbed and pressed into the seams where moisture can leak in. Then your gloves will be ready when you pull them out for the next snowfall.
Make sure you don’t completely drain your heated gloves and chuck them in the closet for several months during off season. Neglect like this is a surefire way to prematurely end their life. Batteries left uncharged for over six months may lose functionality, so charge batteries every three months for best long-term performance. Let us help you remember! Sign up to be notified by email when it’s time to charge again. We’ll remind you every three months when it’s time to plug in.
Pro tip: It’s best to charge your gloves overnight. Depending on how drained the batteries are, they can take up to seven hours to charge.
Clean your heated gloves the right way before you tuck them back in the closet:
Don’t machine wash your Heated Gloves. Washing machines bunch and wring clothing
and gloves which can lead to:
Gloves fitting too tight and possible wire damage which can permanently damage glove functionality.
Movement of insulation and targeted warmth being compromised.
Only wash your heated gloves by hand, after you’ve removed each battery. You can spot clean with a damp cloth or hand wash in cold water with mild detergent. Do not wring out your gloves! Hang dry or dry flat before reconnecting the battery.
Down jackets can start to compress and get clumpy after repeated stuffings in packs, bags, etc., so don’t store it compressed. Hang it instead. (Although a quick tumble in a dryer on low heat can help fluff the down back up.) But the longer it stays compressed, the longer it will take to re-loft and fully insulate.
If you have had the jacket for a few seasons/years and you notice the compression is an issue and/or the dryer trick doesn’t work, it may be time to replace your jacket, Alex says. “Down is organic and does break down over time. Long periods of compression do accelerate this.”
Before storing down, consider giving it a wash–just make sure the down is 100 percent dry when you store it away.
"The average lifestyle wearer/commuter/weekend warrior probably ought to think about washing their down jacket once or twice a year,” says product manager Alex Lauver. “Someone LIVING in it might consider a few times a season. Excessive washing can cause wear and tear and stress seams.”
Find a front-loading washing machine; the agitator of a top-loader can damage down feathers. If you don’t have a front-loader at home (or wherever tonight’s bivy might be), head over to the local laundromat.
Set the dial to cold water, and add a touch of a down specific cleaner. We recommend Nikwax Down Wash Direct, which is specifically formulated to work on down products. “Normal detergents can strip down feathers of their natural oils,” says Sirirot. “This oil is what allows down feathers to maintain their fluffiness; if you strip them they become brittle and breakdown.” Nikwax Down Wash Direct doesn’t strip down of their oil and does not inhibit the water repellence that exists on the outside of the fabric.
After the wash cycle, make sure the jacket gets a thorough rinse; maybe set it for an extra cycle.
Once done, pop the jacket in the dryer on a low heat cycle. You want your products to come out fully dry so it might take a few cycles. Throwing a couple of tennis balls in the mix will help restore the fluff of the down. “But don’t use anything heavier than tennis balls,” says Sirirot. “ It could damage the delicate down feathers.”
Additional notes: Do not use bleach, fabric softeners or an iron on your down jacket. Bleach and fabric softeners can damage the fabric and an iron will, well, burn or melt it. Remember the ol’ battle of down vs. campfire? It never turns out well …
Synthetic insulated jackets dry more quickly than down and have fewer issues like clumping in the dryer, so they’re more straightforward to care for. “I like to wash them separately or with similar products,” Alex says. Simply follow the care instructions on the tag.
Storage is simple, too: Stash them in a closet on a hanger. “Just don’t stuff them away, which can harm the loft over time, much like a sleeping bag,” Alex says.
How To Wash And Store Hard Shell Jackets And Pants
Before storing your hard shell jackets and pants, give them a good clean. Dirt and crud on the outside of your jacket attract water, causing your jacket to “wet out” and no longer be breathable. Sweat and oils on the inside of your jacket attract bacteria and their munching can cause delamination.
Use a technical cleaner like Tech Wash. Household detergents can be harsh AND leave behind residues that attract water. So put down that bottle of PurpleRain OxoBLAM and clean like an outdoor pro. And be sure to check all your pockets before cleaning. Forgotten tissues and lip balm will not do wonders for your jacket. Also close all the zippers—pockets, pit zips, main center zipper—and release any tension on the draw cords.
Follow the jacket’s care label—”Gore and AscentShell are very different animals,” Alex says. “You want to be careful drying AscentShell with heat in the dryer, as the membrane is much more heat sensitive, versus Gore.” For more specific information watch our video about How To Wash GORE-TEX. Or learn more about AscentShell technology here.
If you find your jacket wetting out, the original DWR treatment might need to be reactivated. First, tumble dry the garment for 20 minutes on a warm cycle or iron the garment on a warm setting placing a towel between the garment and the iron. This can reactivate the treatment – the heat encourages the activation of the water repellant properties.
If that doesn’t work, it might be time to replace the original treatment. Before you ditch your threads for brand new ones, try to restore your garment’s functionality by applying a new water-repellant treatment – either a surface spray-on product or wash-in product. Again, we recommend Nikwax products. Nikwax TX Direct® Wash-In will easily restore the DWR performance of your waterproof shells. For Gore-Tex jackets or pants with insulation or a liner, use Nikwax TX.Direct® Spray-On. For more information on caring for GORE® products, visit the GORE® website.
Alex explains that shells are pretty tough material and easy to store—but folding in the exact same spot for long periods of time may lead to creases and possible damage. So once your hard shell is clean and refreshed, just hang it up in the closet.
One of the big perks of the ActiveFresh odor-control treatment in OR base layers is you shouldn’t have to wash them as often, which means ideally they can last longer. But before you tuck them in a drawer for the summer, you’ll definitely want them to be clean.
Wash base layers with like colors on a gentle cycle with other knit garments, says product manager Kylene Wolfe. Keep them out of cycles with jeans or jackets that have zippers, snaps or buttons that could rub against them in the wash.
Don’t put base layers in the dryer, says Kylene. “They don’t take long to dry—so why waste energy?—and then there’s less chance of them being broken down by heat and losing their original fit and color saturation.”
Store OR base layers like you would any other clothes you care about. Since there’s only a maximum of 12 percent wool in OR base layers, there is no need to worry specifically about issues like moths.