Caring for Water-Repellent Garments

A comprehensive guide to caring for your water-repellent garments.

04 November 2021
A guide to caring for your water-repellent Rapha garments

Getting caught out in a downpour is something all cyclists should be prepared for. But while riding in the rain comes with the territory, there are a broad range of garments out there that can minimise just how wet you get.

Water-Repellent VS Waterproof

Though it might seem like an obvious distinction, the difference between waterproof and water-repellent garments can be key out on the road. Made with a multi-layer construction in which a waterproof membrane is sandwiched between a durable outer fabric and a soft inner fabric, waterproof garments provide complete protection from rain and road spray.

Water-repellent garments tend to be made with lighter, more breathable materials treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating to provide added weather protection. What kind of garment you choose depends on the weather outside. On days when the weather is set in, waterproof garments are preferable. In changeable conditions, a water-repellent garment might provide a little more versatility.

How Water-Repellent Garments Degrade

Whether you choose a waterproof garment or a water-repellent one, almost all foul weather clothing relies, at least in part, on a DWR treatment to keep you dry. There are many ways water repellency degrades over time, from regular wear and tear and the build up of sweat and dirt to abrasion from backpacks and detergents that contain silicates, but by regularly reproofing your garment, you can restore its original level of performance.



Some people assume that they should never wash their waterproof clothing. In fact, occasionally washing these garments is important for removing residual sweat and grime that can reduce a garment’s breathability and water repellency.

To remove stains, spray a laundry detergent and warm water mixture directly onto the stain and leave to sit for about 15 minutes. Then blot away the stain and soapy solution with a damp cloth. When you do need to put a garment in a washing machine, always choose a cool temperature and use a non-bio detergent. Giving the garment a double rinse will make sure any residual detergent is removed, and you can then tumble dry to reactivate the DWR finish. If you don’t have access to a tumble dryer, you can dry your garment by hanging it on a radiator.

Reproofing Water-Repellent Garments

If you notice that water is not beading off the surface of the jacket or that there is dirt and grime at high wear areas such as the collar, try first washing the item as instructed above. You should only consider reproofing if water is being absorbed into the face fabric indicating that the durable water-repellent treatment has been diminished.

The process is very easy. Simply wash the garment and spray the re-proofer onto the damp garment – the distance from which this should be applied varies according to manufacturer instructions. Apply evenly all over the product, concentrating on high-wear areas such as the collar. Tumble dry on a medium heat to reactivate the DWR treatment before hanging for another 15 minutes to ensure the DWR treatment is fully reactivated.