Impregnation of Functional Clothing

Whether hikers, skiers, runners, mountain climbers, or cyclists – at some point they all have the same problem: rain and snow no longer repelled by the jacket. How should I wash them now? How many times? And what do you do so that the water rolls off again? Detergent specialists Fibertec is in this post again to make some helpful tips to the beading effect of functional clothing.

Functional clothing works great now according to EHISTORYLIB. There are still only a real bottleneck: the impregnation (called also DWR for “durable water repellent” or “water repellent equipment”). Even the original impregnation of the best functional materials lasts is not forever. At some point, the Outer fabric swells up with water. With unpleasant consequences:

  1. The breathability is reduced up to 60%.
  2. The heat dissipation is increasing strongly. Quickly you feel wet, cold and uncomfortable.
  3. The drying of wet clothing lasts much longer.
  4. In case of extreme dirt and body fats can ensure even, that the jacket breaks down: the seam strips dissolve or delaminates the membrane (= detaches from the membrane and bubbles in the Outer fabric).

What to do, so that the water rolls off again? You can reactivate the standard equipment of the most functional materials after the first washes through heat (30 min in a dryer at 60 ° C or at lowest level iron). If no beading effect occurs despite this treatment, the time has come for the subsequent impregnation.


First you have to wash the piece anyway. The statement that you should as little as possible wash Gore-Tex & co., is absolute nonsense! Dirt deteriorates the passage of water vapor and the impregnation. And good laminates or coatings withstand many washings.

Also you should not mindlessly attack on the supermarket shelf and tilt the cheapest powder into the washing machine. Guido Augustiniak, Chief of the German care and cleaning agent specialists Fibertec, explains: “it is no coincidence that virtually all subsequent impregnation, manufacturers recommend washing with own detergent. In our experiments, we noticed that the chemistry of the detergent and the impregnating agent together must fit. So far, we achieved also only moderately satisfactory results with no single powder detergent! The composition of our detergent is specially on our impregnating agent. In this interaction is achieved best effect.”

In any case is important in the laundry:

  • Observe the washing instructions of clothing!
  • There are often bonded detergent remains in the dispenser of washing machine. Clean it before!
  • If one washes without a special detergent, laundry detergent without fabric softener is recommended. Fabric softener is already “Poison” for all functional materials.
  • After washing, rinse again with water.
  • Do not spin-dry clothing with membranes or coatings.


After washing, the question arises after the impregnating agent. Currently in use in General four technologies: active substances on the basis of C8 – C6-fluorocarbon compounds, silicone and polyurethane acrylate. All active ingredients have advantages and disadvantages (see table), with C8 fluoro carbon preferably acts, but as environmental and is harmful to health, that it is already banned in many countries or is prohibited. C8 fluoro carbon (and its precursors) contains namely perfluorinated surfactants (PFT).

Impregnation on the basis of polyurethane acrylate represent a “green alternative”. They work nearly as well as the C6 fluorine carbon, but they are environmentally and health friendly. Compared to silicone, they offer other advantages: 1 you are bio-degradable. 2. your agents are “compatible” with the most functional jackets fluorocarbon-based original equipment. 3. silicone can significantly reduce the breathability function jackets. 4. on polyurethane acrylate, no dirt sticks – other than in silicone -.

Currently (October, 2010) there is only one manufacturer of subsequent impregnation on the basis of polyurethane acrylate, the small German company Fibertec means GreenGuard. Fibertec focuses on eco-friendly cleaning and care products for sports and outdoor equipment and produces exclusively in Germany and Holland. Fibertec GreenGuard won the editor recently’s choice award of the journal “Outdoor” and received a European OutDoor industry award in the category “Sustainable products” at the trade fair “OutDoor” in 2009.

At the time of purchase, you should respect not only on the environmental impact of the actual substance but also on the “trappings”. The active ingredients in water are resolved or in a solvent (and where)? Look on the package for symbols for “flammable” or similar…

And it has to be an aerosol with propellants? A pump sprayer while tiring more, but completely without propellant. And if propellant – what is no doubt easier in the application – then you should do it like Fibertec: the company uses only 2-Chamber spray cans, whose second Kammer is filled with compressed air. The box will cost more, but she works environmentally friendly and to buy no propellant or solvent, but stain.

More on the topic of eco-friendly impregnation finds her in this post.


Almost all crude Benzole work better when you treat the clothing after impregnation with heat. Ideally, you put them in the dryer for at least 30 minutes at 60 ° C. If you have a dryer, can iron even at the lowest level. The effect of heat on the polyurethane acrylate is particularly important: they develop no impregnation effect without heat! But fluorocarbons and silicones work with heat better than without.

With or without heat – you should expect miracles by any impregnating agent. The original DWR would already be perfect (= stable “forever”), there was also no need for subsequent impregnation. The durability of all original and subsequent impregnation offers potential for improvement.

To get back to the initial question: quiet often, wash your clothing but wash them properly, and used the best Nachimprägniermittel for your purposes.

You will find generally interesting information about subsequent impregnation, the application, as well as the chemicals used in our site.