Nikwax Tech Wash – cleaner for waterproof textiles

Nikwax Tech Wash. We used this cleaner for washing our grimy Hi Viz Olympia Expedition Goretex touring jacket with very good results

Nikwax Tech Wash. We used this cleaner for washing our grimy Hi Viz Olympia AST Goretex touring jacket with very good results

It’s started to warm up here in Northern Alberta.

We’ve seen a few courageous souls on motorcycles, braving the still nasty, gravel covered roads.  With the 2017 riding season about to start, it prodded me into getting my gear in tip top shape.

I bought my Hi Viz Olympia AST jacket in early 2013.  It’s been a comfortable, reliable, and dare I say it, fashionable motorcycle jacket.

The Hi Viz yellow jacket worn with black riding pants in combination with my plain white HJC Symax III flip-up helmet makes me look from afar just enough like a police motor officer to cause motorists to get out of my way when I approach.  Nice.

The Hi Viz yellow colour is superb for conspicuity, but it quickly accumulates a layer of road grime.  I’ve used the Olympia jacket for four seasons, and this is the first wash I’ve given it.

Nikwax Tech Wash is a specialized cleaner designed specifically for washing ‘waterproof’ textiles (called Durable Water Resistant textiles), such as Goretex.

Hand Washing

I followed Olympia’s washing instructions pretty closely.

Step 1:  2 applications of spot remover and scrub 

To make the jacket easier to handle when washing, close all the vents, do up all the zippers and fasten any buttons.  This will also help prevent accidentally scratching the bath tub.

Olympia says to use a cleaner such as Simple Green (diluted 1 part to 10 parts water) to spray on heavily soiled spots.  I used what we had in the house, remnants of bottles of Shout and Resolve spot cleaner used for laundry.

Olympia recommends pre-cleaning heavily soiled spots with diluted Simple Green. We used these cleaners instead

Olympia recommends pre-cleaning heavily soiled spots with diluted Simple Green. We used these cleaners instead

I did all the pre-cleaning work with the jacket in the bathtub.  (Lay an old bath towel in the tub to prevent zippers or metal tabs from scratching the tub.)

I generously sprayed the Resolve and Shout spot cleaners on the grimy spots and let it soak for 15 minutes, then scrubbed the spots with a stiff bristled dish wash scrub brush.  Then I rinsed the spots with clean, warm water.

Step 2:  fill bathtub with warm water (enough to cover jacket), add Nikwax Tech Wash

Olympia recommends hand washing the Expedition jacket.  What drudgery.  But I decided to follow their instructions and NOT machine wash it.  Olympia says use lukewarm water.  Nikwash says use ‘hand hot’ water.  I followed the latter.

I filled the bath tub with enough water to cover the jacket, and added 100 ml of Tech Wash (the amount recommended for a front loading washing machine.  Plus, another 50 ml of Tech Wash (the recommended extra amount of cleaner for areas with hard water.)

Fill the bath tub with enough water (hand hot) to cover the jacket, and add 150 ml of Nikwax Tech Wash

Fill the bath tub with enough water (hand hot) to cover the jacket, and add 150 ml of Nikwax Tech Wash.  The cleaner does not make much lather

The Nikwax Tech Wash does not produce a lot of lather, and it makes the wash water feel slightly ‘slick’.  I imagine this is the ‘waterproofing’ part of the cleaner.

I let the jacket soak in the tub for about half an hour, then came back to do the ‘washing’ part.  I’m lazy, so I simply rolled up my pantlegs and did the washing by walking on the jacket, turning it over, walking on it again.  I did this a number of times, and let the jacket soak for another 15 minutes or so, and repeated the process one more time.

Step 3:  rinse the jacket in clean, warm water, 3 times

Nikwax says to rinse the Tech Washed garment 3 times with clean water.

Rinse the garment in warm, clean water 3 times

Rinse the garment in warm, clean water 3 times

I drained the tub of wash water, hung the jacket from the shower head for a couple of minutes to allow the excess wash water drip from the jacket, and filled the tub with enough warm water to cover the jacket. Rinse the jacket 3 times this way.

Step 4:  almost done.  Towel dry and hang

Olympia says after the third and final rinse, towel dry the garment and hang to air dry.  DO NOT dry the jacket in the clothes dryer.

It was about plus 7 degrees Celsius and sunny, so I hung the jacket outside on a garden hose rack attached to the sunny side of the house.  Surprisingly, the Olympia jacket was dry to the touch in not much more than an hour.

Blinded by the light. . . Hi Viz Olympia jacket after washing with Nikwax Tech Wash

Blinded by the light. . . after washing the Hi Viz Olympia jacket with Nikwax Tech Wash

Results

On seeing the now sparkling clean Hi Viz Olympia jacket hanging outside, Ingrid said, “Ow!  That makes my eyes hurt!”  A good thing, IMHO.

The Olympia jacket now smells fresh and clean, and it is remarkably clean compared to its previous state.

It’s not perfectly clean.  Despite two treatments with laundry spot removers and aggressively scrubbing the stains with a bristle brush, the most soiled parts of the jacket (the yellow fabric under the forearms) still show stains.  That would never be acceptable to my German mother-in-law, whose credo is ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.  And now we know why traditional motorcycle apparel has always been black.

Not German mother-in-law-clean, but a huge improvement. The most soiled areas still show remnants of dirt if you're obsessive-compulsive

Final step, dry garment with a towel.  Result is not German mother-in-law-clean, but a huge improvement. The most soiled areas still show remnants of dirt if you’re obsessive-compulsive

The final word

This is my first experience using Nikwax Tech Wash.  It does a VERY good job at washing the very heavily soiled Olympia jacket made of Goretex.  And I have some assurance that I’ve done everything possible to keep my Goretex jacket as waterproof as possible.

The hand washing of the jacket seems laborious, but it’s not.  Washing the jacket in the bath tub is simple and painless.

Nikwax Tech Wash worked very well for me.  I bought it at Mountain Equipment Co-op some time ago, $13.98 for a 300 ml bottle, which is enough cleaner for at least two treatments for a ‘large’ wash load, such as a bulky, touring motorcycle jacket.

Nikwax Tech Wash, $13.89, available from outdoors retailers- highly recommended.

SIDENOTE:  For a detailed article on using Nikwax and arguing AGAINST the use of regular household detergents (such as Tide) for cleaning so-called ‘waterproof’ textiles like Goretex, visit webBikeWorld here.

 

 

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