Nikwax Tech Wash & TX.Direct Wash-In
Nikwax began as a one-man operation in the UK. Nick Brown simply wanted a better waterproofing product for his boots, and so he developed his own formula. In 1977 he started selling his wax in tins which he had silk-screened the labels onto. In the 1980′s he began to develop his signature line of water-based products that were more environmentally friendly than the competition, and arguably easier to use.
While I’ve long been a fan of Nikwax waterproofing wax for leather, until now I hadn’t tried their other products. Though I had seen them on the shelves of the local outdoor retail shop, I never really thought about buying products to care for my waterproof clothing. Then one sad day I discovered that my uber expensive softshell jacket no longer functioned like it once did.
Nikwax explains that softshell jackets like mine feature a “durable water repellent” finish. Designed to prevent water from entering while allowing vapor to escape, DWR finishes become degraded from exposure to contaminates. Apparently this was the case with my jacket, as a mere dribble of water would still bead up and run off, but any significant deluge would soak right through the fabric. Nikwax calls this “wetting out.”
The first step in reviving my jacket would be to properly clean it. Tech Wash is a soap based cleaner that removes both dirt and detergent residues without degrading the existing DWR. A few ounces in warm water is all it takes.
TX.Direct is a solvent-free waterproofing product. The directions were simple: set the top loading washer for a small load, fill with warm water, dial the settings for heavy duty, dump the entire 10 oz bottle of TX.Direct in, and add no more than three garments.
To make a long story short, the TX.Direct made my jacket every bit as waterproof as the day I got it. And to be honest, it might work even better. As an additional experiment, I treated a pair of non-waterproof cycling knickers with TX.Direct. While it didn’t fully waterproof them, it did impart a water-resistant quality that made light amounts of water bead up and run off.
Sold as a kit, 10 oz bottles of Tech Wash and TX.Direct retail for about $20. Individual bottles retail for about $9 and $13, respectively. While these products are nowhere near as cheap as ordinary laundry detergent, it’s a pretty small price to pay to extend the life of expensive waterproof outerwear. Check out www.nikwax-usa.com