Rain jackets hanging up

Can You Wash a Rain Jacket in the Washing Machine?

Our faithful rain jackets take a hammering from our not so glorious British weather. So, it’s nice to give them a little spruce up every now and then. It’s like saying a little thank you for keeping us dry! 

But can you wash a rain jacket in a washing machine?

Yes, you can usually wash a rain jacket in a washing machine. However, you should always read the care label on your personal jacket before you start cleaning, just to make sure!

Follow our guide below and your rain jacket will be machine washed in a flash.


How to Wash a Rain Jacket in the Washing Machine

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to clean your rain jacket in a washing machine. The process is split up into four stages, and you should follow the stages in chronological order.

If you feel that the waterproof coating on your rain jacket is still intact and working well after washing it, you can leave out Step 4. But remember that you will need to re-waterproof your jacket in the near future.

Step 1: Before washing

blue puffer jacket

Rain jackets usually need to be cared for in a special way, so before you dive right into cleaning your jacket, you need to take note of the following points.

  1. Read the care label on your rain jacket because it will tell you exactly how to wash your jacket. Also, take note of how you dry the jacket for later on. Not sure what each symbol on the tag means? Check out our guide to UK laundry symbols.
  2. Empty all of your rain jacket’s pockets. That stray tissue could cause havoc in the wash!
  3. Zip up your rain jacket’s zips – flapping zips can snag delicate materials.
  4. Remove any sections on your jacket that come off – hood, for example.
  5. Strap down any tassels or straps that are loose on your jacket – they might get caught as they go around in the wash.
  6. With a soft brush, rub off any dried dirt.
  7. Go over to your washing machine and clean out the detergent drawer – you should not use or have any normal detergent residue in the machine. Regular detergent will damage your rain jacket’s waterproofing. 
  8. Run an empty hot wash to clear your machine of any excess products.
  9. Purchase a mild detergent – Nikwax Tech Wash would be ideal for this kind of cleaning job! It will clean, make sure that your rain jacket still has breathability and will ensure that your jacket is still waterproof.

Note: If the care label on your rain jacket says that the item is hand wash only, then this is how you should wash it. In this case, machine washing may not be suitable and could damage your jacket.


Step 2: Wash your rain jacket in the washing machine

jacket in the washing machine drum

Once you’ve prepared your jacket for the washing machine, you can move on to the main task: washing your rain jacket!

Ideally, you should only wash your rain jacket in the washing machine at this time, as other materials may damage your rain jacket, or they may hinder how your jacket is cleaned in the machine.

Note: Rain jackets should not be washed with regular detergent because it will damage the waterproof membrane.

  1. Pop the rain jacket inside the washing machine.
  2. Add a mild detergent to the washing machine – use something like, Nikwax Tech Wash.
  3. Select an appropriate cycle (this will be noted on the care label of your jacket) – a delicate/hand wash cycle is usually more than enough.
  4. Make sure you adjust the water temperature (as noted on the care label on your jacket) – a low heat is usually required. 
  5. Start the wash.
  6. When the initial wash and rinse is over, run another rinse to remove excess soap from your rain jacket.


Step 3: Dry your rain jacket

It’s imperative that you dry your rain jacket in the correct way, because you may cause irreparable damage to it if you haphazardly dry it. And given the fact that rain jackets can cost a pretty penny, it would be a shame to ruin it during this phase!

  1. Remove your rain jacket from the washing machine and dry it as soon as possible.
  2. Check the care label once again to see what it says about drying the item.
  3. If you can dry your jacket in a tumble dryer, do so, but follow the guidelines that have been noted on the care label – you will typically need to use a soft setting and a low heat.
  4. If you cannot dry your jacket in a tumble dryer, you will have to hang it outside to dry, or you’ll have to hang it up to dry indoors.
  5. Make sure your rain jacket is dry before you move onto the next stage or wear it again.


Step 4 (Optional): Re-waterproof your rain jacket

It’s not uncommon for a rain jacket that has been washed in the washing machine to lose some of its waterproof coating. So, this is how you re-waterproof a rain jacket:

  1. Have a quick look over your clean rain jacket to make sure that no soap has been left behind – soap residue may aggravate the waterproofing solution.
  2. Read the instructions on the waterproof solution bottle and spray your rain jacket accordingly – spray in a particular way and at a specific distance.
  3. Test your reproofing skills – drop some water onto the jacket, if beads form and run off, the waterproofing is working. If not, repeat the waterproofing process again.

You will need to re-waterproof your rain jacket every six months.

Note: Some waterproofing solutions take time to work, so if you don’t see significant results immediately check the back of the bottle for more advice. You might have to wait a while. Or you may have to try another solution.