Yet another ski season full of snowball fights, hot chocolate, and runny noses has started. You may be looking at that brand new kids ski jacket or pair of pants you bought your little one wondering if it will make it to spring. Kids have an amazing talent for being dirt and grime magnets, but fear not, we’re here to help shed some light on keeping your outerwear fresh and functional all season.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of outerwear on the market today can be washed almost the same as any other piece of clothing. There are, however, a few key differences you should know. First, we have the detergent. The inherent problem with using traditional liquid and gel detergents when it comes to waterproofing is that they’re just too slippery. Commercial detergents are engineered to get into those hard to reach places within clothing fibers and remove dirt, which works great on a cotton shirt but can wreak havoc on outdoor clothing. The high-tech penetrating qualities of these soaps have a nasty habit of the clogging the tiny pores that are essential for the breathability of most ski and snowboard jackets and pants.
There are various specialized detergents out there made for technical clothing, including Nikwax, Revivex, and Sport-Wash. These detergents work to create more of a surface-level clean, and leave a jacket’s pores open and free. Outerwear-specific detergents do run a bit more expensive than the average bottle of Gain, but there are cheap alternatives as well. A mild powdered detergent will do a good job and is your next best bet.
Once you’ve got that clothing good and washed, it’s time to dry. Many people might shy away from throwing their ski jackets in the dryer for fear of ruining it, but leaving the jacket to air dry can also have potentially negative effects. The tiny micro fibers that make up the outer surface of the jacket or pant are meant to stand out and help wick water and other forms of moisture from the fabric. These fibers on a wet jacket left to dry can become compressed or pushed down, decreasing the wicking ability of the garment. A quick spin (5-10 minutes maximu) on low heat helps fluff these fibers and recharge the coating on the outside of the fabric.
Now, having given you what amounts to an educated opinion, always follow any manufacturer instructions for cleaning and drying that may be included on the garment’s tag. Also, always be careful to remember to remove any faux fur or other features that might not make it through the cleaning process.
There you have it parents: the basics of outerwear cleaning. Let them go out, have fun, and get dirty without fear.