How to wash your ski kit at home

Lucy Aspden

Buying ski or snowboard kit is an investment and many of us are guilty of storing it away and forgetting all about it as soon as we return home from our trip to the mountains – however it needs to be well maintained to perform to the best of its abilities. A week on the slopes can leave outerwear slightly worse for wear, but it’s easy to wash at home to make good as new ahead of your next trip to the mountains, whether that's this season or next.

Why is it important to wash and maintain snow-sports clothing?

Most waterproof clothing has a coating that repels water – known by the experts as a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). Over time, this protective layer can be damaged by dirt, body oils and other outdoor elements, causing the fabric to soak up water. This means its breathability is reduced, potentially resulting in you getting wet. Washing kit in specialist formulas revives this technology, and additional proofing helps to maintain the quality of the product.

Top tips for washing out snow-sports clothing

Laundry expert Kegan Kimball from Laundryheap dry cleaning service shares some tips for keeping your kit in top condition this winter.

1. Use a specialist technical wash

Avoid household detergents when washing outdoor clothing as they can damage the DWR. A specialist wash will remove dirt and marks while revitalising water repellency.

2. Make sure your machine is clean

Remove any detergent build-up in your washing machine to ensure the two don’t mix and damage your kit.

Zips on jakcet

3. Zip up and check pockets

It’s a common mistake to find a soggy lift pass in your pocket after washing – make sure you remove everything from all pockets, fasten the zips, and loosen any elastic straps or velcro.

4. Read the recommendations

Follow the manufacturer's recommended washing guidelines when setting the temperature and spin cycle. The amount of liquid required will depend on the brand you use – always read the instructions.

5. Tough stains

Ahead of washing, use a sponge or a soft nylon brush to scrub the liquid into any large marks or stains that might need extra attention.

6. Two at a time

For the best result, avoid washing multiple items at once – two items is enough for one wash. It is possible to hand wash most items in warm water if you don’t have access to a washing machine.

7. Dry right

Most items will dry nicely when hung in a warm room and some may be suitable for tumble drying – but always check the label.

8. Extra protection

After the initial wash use a waterproofing solution to increase the longevity of your kit – suitable for Gore-tex or synthetic-filled clothing. Simply add to another cold wash; there’s no need to dry the kit first.

After wash

9. Wear it

People don’t often think to wash their gloves or mittens, but they harbour an alarming amount of bacteria and grime. Rather than washing them in a machine, which can damage their shape, put your gloves on and wash them in a sink with detergent – as if you’re washing your hands. Turn them inside out to wash the insides too and rinse with cold water to maintain the shape.

10. Play ball

When drying jackets or layers that are insulated with padding or down put a couple of tennis balls in the tumble dryer with them – this will help prevent the insulation absorbing water and clumping up.

11. Woolly wonders

When washing merino baselayers use a wool-specific wash to make sure they last longer – avoid washing them with other fabrics and use cool water to stop them shrinking.

12. Seeing clearly

Mucky fingers can often leaving unwanted grime on your lenses. Before hitting the slopes wash the outside of your goggles with additive-free – avoid using chemicals because these will damage the specialised lens. And remember if you want to clean the inside of your lens, dab don’t wipe – especially if there’s an anti-fog coating on the lens.

Which products to buy

There are products available to wash layers, including down jackets and soft shell jackets and base layers, with a focus on reviving insulation, breathability and moisture-wicking abilities, and freshening fabric to inhibit the build-up of body odour. 

Nikwax Tech Wash 300ml (£5) and Nikwax TX.Direct 300ml (£8.50)

A soap-based cleaner that will remove dirt, followed by a waterproofing solution that doesn't require tumble drying to activate.
ellis-brigham.com

Nikwax

Nikwax Softshell Proof 300ml (£7)

High-performance waterproofing for softshell fabrics that doesn't require tumble drying to activate. 
gooutdoors.co.uk

Niwax softshell

Nikwax BaseWash 300ml (£4)

A mild detergent that removes dirt, sweat and embedded odour in base layers and clothing worn next to the skin.
gooutdoors.co.uk

Niwax basewash

Granger’s Clothing Wash + Repel 300ml (£9)

Cleans and waterproofs in one wash cycle, requires heat activation in a low-temperature tumble dryer.
gooutdoors.co.uk

Granger's

Granger's Down Wash 1L (£9)

Formulated for use on all down and synthetic filled clothing to avoid damage to the materials. The key is to make sure the item is completely dried after washing.
gooutdoors.co.uk

Nikwax down wash