A lot of GORE-TEX products are treated with an ultra-thin DWR (durable water repellent), a polymer applied to the outermost fabric layer. Although it's a DURABLE solution, it's not a permanent solution.
The DWR layer needs to be reactivated or reapplied from time to time to remain effective. Regular tear and wear, exposure to sunscreen lotion, dirt, detergents, insect repellents, and other materials can shorten the lifespan of the treatment. This article will explain how DWR works and how you can restore it. Doing so maximizes your GORE-TEX products' long-lasting comfort and performance.
The durable water repellent (DWR) layer reduces the product's surface tension, simply allowing water beads to roll off. This prevents the outer layer of the fabric from getting saturated with water. Having air inside the outer fabric instead of water is essential to maintain warmth because, compared to water, the air is a more effective insulator. When the DWR wears off, even an intact and undamaged GORE-TEX membrane can feel cold and damp on your skin.
If unsure, run a few drops of water over the outer fabric and see if the water pulls into the fabric. If it doesn't, your waterproofing is still OK. If the outer fabric absorbs the water, it's time to restore the DWR of your GORE-TEX product. The first step in restoring the DWR is to clean your GORE-TEX product. The washing process will differ depending on the product, so always check the manufacturer's instructions first.
How to restore the DWR for GORE-TEX outerwear
After you have washed and dried your GORE-TEX outerwear, we recommend you reactivate the DWR. Put the dry jacket or pants into the tumble dryer for another 20 minutes on a warm, gentle cycle. If you do not have entrance to a tumble dryer, you can also iron the dry garment with a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron.
Make sure to use a gentle setting (warm, no steam). This will also reactivate your DWR. After reactivating the DWR, sprinkle some water drops onto the GORE-TEX outerwear and see if it runs off. If it does, the DWR is doing its job. If the water drops pull into the outer fabric, it's time to reapply a new water-repellent treatment.
There are many suitable wash-in and spray-on products available. Check the manufacturer's instructions and follow the steps. Once you've reapplied a new durable water repellent, tumble dry your garment for another 20 minutes. The heat will activate the new DWR treatment and allow water droplets to roll off again, keeping the outer layer dry and your GORE-TEX product comfortable.
How to restore the DWR for GORE-TEX gloves
To restore the waterproofing layer of your GORE-TEX gloves, check the manufacturer's instructions and use a suitable DWR treatment. Make sure to apply the treatment between the fingers and other difficult-to-reach areas.
For textile GORE-TEX gloves, use a water-based spray-on restorative and follow the care instructions. GORE-TEX gloves with leather parts should be completely dry before applying a suitable water-repellent treatment. Avoid wax- or grease-based products to treat the leather, as they might reduce breathability.
How to restore the DWR for GORE-TEX footwear
For GORE-TEX footwear, check the manufacturer's recommended treatment and follow the instructions. A water-based product will protect the upper without impacting breathability. We do not recommend using waterproofing waxes or greases, as these might decrease the breathability of your footwear.
Remember: Restoring the DWR will keep you comfortable and extend the useful life of your product. It's simple: The more you care, the better for you and the environment.