The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 5 January 2009

Wash, Wash, Thrice I Wash

According to the Paramo website, one of their waterproofs needs washing after 4-8 weeks of regular use and should be reproofed every 6-12 months.

Following the failure of the proofing on my Velez back in October on the West Highland Way, I washed and reproofed it.

No sooner had we got home but I tipped something sticky all down the front of it, and having washed it I got paranoid (perhaps due to the experience of cold water running down my body and into my trousers being so fresh in my mind?) about the sticky substance having removed the repellency, so I proofed it again.

Despite having two washes in the space of two weeks (both by hand, allowing me to scrub away at the dirt), the jacket still wasn’t overly clean. It seems that the marking around the seams and cuffs just doesn’t want to come out.

That staining was seriously augmented this weekend when I found myself ill-advisedly crawling around some kitchen cupboards whilst wearing it and followed that activity with a close encounter with a sticky lemon tree. Another wash was required.

In the same way that we know that water and down don’t go together, we all know that dire warnings exist about ruining waterproofs by using detergent. In the same way that I was reluctant to wash my down jacket, I hesitated to throw my Velez into the machine with bog-standard non-bio powder. However, not only did the Paramo website say that this is a perfectly acceptable way to treat stubborn stains, but I was also buoyed by the recent success of the down-washing experiment.

Paramo’s advice is to treat the stain with detergent, then remove the detergent by using TechWash, then reproof. That’s already a lot of washing – but I went for belt and braces with an extra wash.

First in went the Velez with a small load of washing, with detergent.

Then it went in with another load of washing, with soap.

Then just to make absolutely sure that all of the detergent was gone it went back in the machine for a third time with my Cascada trousers and some more soap.

Then it had a hand-wash treatment with TX-Direct (I work on the basis that I know I’m getting the right concentration of Nikwax to water if I hand wash, plus it has the added benefit to someone as tight as me that hand washing requires half the dose required by machine washing).

So, three washes in one day, plus a waterproofing.

And did it come out clean?

Nope, those seams and cuffs are still grubby.

So, that’s now two reasons I’ve found as to why buying a bright orange jacket (and I only had the option in XS of bright orange or black) was not a good choice. Black would not show the dirt.


  1. Did you manage to do some pants and socks for me at the same time. I'm getting a bit low.

  2. Yep - another lesson learnt there as well: don't wash your smartwool socks with my black fleece. The latter is now covered in white fibres from the former.