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Just wash the coat

By Andy Brown, posted 6 February 2018

Contact on twitter @justridethebike

Washing a coat takes away the waterproofing, doesn't it? Absolutely not, says Ben Washington of Gore. Not washing is  about the worst thing you can do to your coat. 

Clothes. You wear them. Then normally you wash them. But there are some clothes that either are worn a great deal before they are put into the wash, or in some extreme cases they might not ever be washed properly at all. There might be all sorts of reasons for that - but whatever you can come up with as an excuse doesn’t wash (sorry). Because, in the end if you do not wash your clothes they will not perform the function for which they are designed. Especially if you want to keep water out and heat in. That is why Ben Washington of Gore Apparel rolled his eyes and staggered a little when I admitted I had never washed my Gore active shell cycling jacket since I first wore it in 2013. In the winter it is worn on almost every ride. If it isn’t put on, then it is packed neatly in its stuff sack. But what I am not describing here is the amount of dirt that it is covered in. Having only decided to fix a basic mud guard to my bike it doesn’t take much imagination to consider the level of rainwater, grit, grime and mud that has been spattered and sprayed on my back. It’s only got worse too since finding the joys of off-roading on my Genesis Croix de Fer down the Fosseway. Apparently, according to Ben Washington, my Gore active shell will not be functioning as designed. The fabric will be clogged with dirt. So, the breathability of the jacket, not to mention its waterproof qualities will be compromised - possibly even non-existent. It needs a wash. Urgently.


The jacket has not been washed, but not before some reassurance from Ben. He smiled at me indulgently, even kindly as I admitted my fear of washing that jacket. Wrongly, I perceived a risk from washing - I felt there was more than an outside chance of the active shell losing all of its Gore qualities because of washing. The truth could not be more different. Gore waterproof garments benefit from being clean. So, don’t hold back. But read the instructions carefully.


Here is the step by step process we recommend.


  1. Read the instructions on both sides of the label sewn into the seam of the garment.

  2. Brush off any excess dirt from the jacket

  3. Turn it inside out, zipping it up

  4. Set the washing machine to the right temperature - your own garment will have specific recommendations; my Gore active shell was 30C and I washed it on a fast, 30-minute wash.

  5. Drip dry - don’t tumble dry. Hang it up and be patient.


There is talk on Gore websites and chat rooms and I was told very firmly by the Magic Spanner that it is possible to use an iron on Gore apparel as it helps with waterproofing and breathability. Honestly, I am dubious about that. But I know a man that does know. And he works at Gore. For the time being I am sticking to the instructions sown inside my garment. They say this. No dry cleaning; no tumble dry; no iron, no bleach - wash cold. Bit like the bike then.

Credit: A Brown, 2018

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