Can You Machine Wash a Ski or Snowboard Jacket?

Can You Machine Wash a Ski or Snowboard Jacket?

Yes, you can wash your jacket in the washing machine. But you'll want to be careful. Heavy washing can lead to the DWR coating (Durable Water Repellent) coming off of your jacket, which can cause the material to begin absorbing moisture rather than repelling it.
How Long Does It Take for Snow Pants to Dry? Reading Can You Machine Wash a Ski or Snowboard Jacket? 13 minutes Next Need A Wide Snowboard? Depends On Your Boots

Over the course of a season, your jacket is going to face some tough conditions. Snow, mud, and dirt will certainly layer on, but sweat, moisture, and bacteria will inevitably join the party - bringing some not-so-fun odors along with them. If you're at this point, it's time for the laundry room, but you may be wondering, can you machine wash a ski or snowboard jacket?

Yes, you can wash your jacket in the washing machine. But you'll want to be careful. Heavy washing can lead to the DWR coating (Durable Water Repellent) coming off of your jacket, which can cause the material to begin absorbing moisture rather than repelling it.

It’s important to remember that most snow gear is made out of carefully-crafted materials, constructed with multiple layers with special functions. This makes them excellent for keeping you warm, but they can't be haphazardly tossed into the wash.

The most popular ski and snowboard jackets fall into 5 broad categories, each with a unique way to machine wash. Let's look at each a bit closer.

Caring for the Top 5 Most Popular Snow Jackets

If you're thinking about throwing your jacket into the wash with your cotton t-shirts, like some renegade sock that escaped the laundry basket, think again.

Your jacket should be washed on its own, or at most, with your snow pants, but only if it is made of similar material. And that may not be as common as you think.

All of your snow gear could have widely different ratings for breathability, how it's sealed, and numerous other functions for that article of clothing. So it's important to have a cleaning routine that matches each article of clothing.

It's akin to doing car maintenance - consider the make and model of your vehicle. You wouldn't put unleaded into a car that takes diesel. And while ski and snowboard clothes are a bit less complicated than a diesel engine; bad analogies aside, you'll want to keep in mind the individualized needs of your gear.

Regardless of your specific jacket construction or material, there are some general rules to follow:

  • Err on the side of caution: Read the tags. Even though it sometimes requires a microscope and an advanced degree to interpret the steps, it should at least give you a general idea of what you can and cannot do with the jacket.
  • Hand-washing and Dry Cleaning: To accompany the bullet point above, if you're the type of person who gets something from IKEA and tries to build it without reading the directions, then this is for you. As terrible as it is to read the tags on jackets, ski and snowboard jackets consist of layers and numerous materials. Sometimes, this requires extremely unique care. For some items, the only option may be washing them by hand or having to get them professionally cleaned. It's a hassle, but will preserve the lifetime of your jacket and save you money and time in the end.
  • Avoid fabric softener: Your jacket is a pretty sophisticated assembly of textiles, and fabric softener is one of the quickest ways to ruin the fabric - making it easier for moisture, wind, and other conditions to break through the barriers. Some even suggest avoiding your normal detergent.
  • Close zippers, seal velcro: There's nothing more frustrating than a zipper that breaks or velcro that loses its seal. And machine washing can be rough on these technical components of your jacket. Closing them is one of the best ways to make sure you don't have to get technical repairs on them down the line.
  • Always air-dry: Okay, so this isn't technically part of the machine wash, but it is an important part of caring for your snow gear. And while you'll find some people have care instructions for using your dryer, it's always best to air-dry. Pro Tip: If you're able to air-dry your jacket outdoors, it will dry quicker than air-drying indoors. If you have wool though, don't put it in direct sunlight, unless you want the tiniest jacket available.

Outside of those general rules, machine washing is dependent on the needs of the material composition. Here are five of the most popular categories and what you need to know about each.

1. Machine Washing a Synthetic Snow Jacket:

Synthetic fabrics are everywhere, and not just in snow sports. Blends of polyester, nylon, spandex, etc. - are part of our lives today.

Synthetic snow jackets are popular because they dry quickly and retain their insulating properties quite well, even when faced with moisture.

How To Wash a Synthetic Jacket

  1. Machine-wash on the delicate cycle
  2. Use cool water with a mild detergent
  3. Remove the jacket from the washing machine as soon as the cycle is finished - this is going to help with wrinkles so it doesn’t wrinkle
  4. Hang the jacket up to air-dry

2. Machine Washing a GORE-TEX Snow Jacket:

If you have a GORE-TEX jacket or similar waterproof/breathable membrane on your snowboard or ski jacket, you’ll want to treat it with a little more care.

Washing your Gore-Tex jacket in the machine is perfectly safe, and while the info below is generally recommended, look at your tag, because your jacket may have insulation or other factors that influence the washing process.

You can also head over to your manufacturer's site, or the GORE-TEX website and find the most comparable version of your jacket.

How To Wash a GORE-TEX Jacket

  2. Machine-wash on a permanent press cycle
  3. Use warm water and a small amount of liquid detergent
  4. Use a front loading washer
  5. Run it through two rinse cycles
  6. Hang the jacket up to air-dry

Think of GORE-TEX like the pores of your face. Fabric softener and powder detergent clog the pores. While that may just mean bumps on your skin, for a GORE-TEX jacket, that's precisely the thing that ruins its capability to waterproof.

Fun fact, GORE-TEX has 9 billion pores per square inch.

3. Machine Washing a Pertex Snow Jacket:

Safely washing Pertex, eVent, and a few other waterproof and breathable fabrics are a little more complicated than GORE-TEX.

And despite similar names, Pertex is quite different from GORE-TEX, different enough to merit an individual section on this machine-washing list.

Pertex and others are typically the more affordable options to GORE-TEX and are rated with lower water-proofing and breathability to GORE-TEX.

That doesn't mean Pertex isn't great though - it's still waterproof, just at a lower rating than GORE-TEX, but it's also made from sustainable materials and is a lighter-weight option. Making it a great choice for outerwear, like snow sports.

How To Wash a Pertex Jacket

  2. Machine-wash on a permanent press cycle or technical
  3. Use lukewarm water and a small amount of liquid detergent
  4. Use a front-loading washer
  5. Run it through two rinse cycles
  6. Hang the jacket up to air-dry

This may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but washing a Pertex jacket at a higher frequency than other snow jackets will help. It goes back to the pores - if they get blocked or clogged by debris, the jacket won't be able to do its job as effectively.

And while Pertex is breathable, it's not as breathable as GORE-TEX, nor does it have as many pores. These all factor into why Pertex recommends more regular cleaning.

Of course, look at the care instructions on your jacket, but if the rule of thumb is to at least wash your snow jacket once per season, you'll want to wash a Pertex jacket at least twice per season.

4. Machine Washing a Down Snow Jacket:

Oh boy, down is complicated. Nearly every manufacturer will advise you to take it to a professional. It's a finicky composition, especially when combined with other fabrics.

Manufacturers will use Pertex, GORE-TEX, synthetic blends, and nearly any sort of fabric you can think of in combination with down, making it a delicate dance for navigating the care of the jacket. Down on its own has a few unique rules. Washing down too frequently will shorten the lifespan of your jacket as the feathers will start to break down and lose their loft.

And if you don't wash it enough, well, you'll start to smell. And you don't want to be that person.

That said, Down is an incredibly efficient insulator, so for insulated jackets that are built for frigid conditions, it's a great natural choice. Plus, it's as light as a feather - literally.

How To Wash a Down-Insulated Jacket

  2. Machine-wash on a gentle cycle
  3. Use lukewarm water and mild liquid detergent
  4. Use a front-loading washer
  5. Run it through one rinse cycle
  6. Tumble dry on low heat

This is one of the few types of jacket materials that shouldn't be air-dried. If you hang a jacket with down feathers up to dry, the feathers will clump together and can easily trap moisture - which creates mildew and mold.

So you'll need to tumble dry until the down feathers are completely dry. Think of it like a pillow - take it out of the dryer, fluff the jacket a few times to separate the feathers, and if it's still wet, do another slow tumble dry. Repeat this process until thoroughly dry.

The goal here is to give the feathers their loft again.

5. Machine Washing a Wool Snow Jacket: Don't Do It

Wool is one of nature's miracle fibers - its ability to retain heat and resist water is remarkable. This is an ideal combination for colder temperature skiing and snowboarding, which is why manufacturers will use it as a material in certain jackets.

But, if you have wool in your jacket, your top priority is to avoid shrinkage and damage.

Remember that wool sweater you used to love? The one that fit perfectly before you first washed it? The same one that would barely fit a version of yourself at 10 years old? That's right, you know how easy it is to shrink anything with wool in it.

And for a ski or snowboard jacket that cost significantly more than a sweater, it's not worth the risk of shrinking it.

So this is a curveball, but you shouldn't machine-wash a jacket with wool.

How To Wash a Snow Jacket With Wool

  1. Study and follow care instructions on the tag
  2. Wash by hand
  3. Use cool water
  4. Purchase a wool-specific detergent
  5. Rinse thoroughly
  6. Hang to air-dry

It might be more work to wash by hand, but it's definitely worth it.

When you hang your snow jacket with wool to dry, take it outdoors if you can, this will speed up the drying process.

But whatever you do, avoid direct sunlight. If you place wet wool in direct sunlight to dry, it will damage and shrink your fabric.

Machine-Washing Other Snow Gear

Snow pants come in a wide variety of options. In general, they fall into three categories - softshell, uninsulated shells, and insulated. But the materials and layers to each can get complicated and numerous quickly.

It might be tempting to just throw your ski or snowboard pants in the wash and then tumble dry, but they require just as much care as your jacket. Plus, you should wash your snow pants after every few days on the slopes.

Your legs are doing some serious workouts when you ski or snowboard, and even with the best moisture protection or moisture-wicking, they will begin to trap sweat and odorous bacteria. Consult your care instructions, but this is the most common care instruction for washing synthetic softshell snow pants for skiing and snowboarding.

How To Wash and Dry Synthetic Softshell Snow Pants

  1. Machine-wash on delicate cycle
  2. Use a mild liquid detergent
  3. Hang the pants up to air-dry

Simple. But it can get far more nuanced based on the materials and construction, especially for drying. If you're looking to figure out drying instructions for your snow pants, check out this simple guide that goes through the process, but also how long it will take for each to air-dry.

Some people, and even some manufacturers, will provide instructions on how to air-dry snow pants, but it's always the best path to avoid machine-drying your ski or snowboard pants.

And if you're the special breed of person who irons their pants, and was even thinking about ironing your snow pants, avoid the temptation. You're not being graded for your perfect crease on the slopes - and this will ruin your pants.

Other gear, like gloves, hats, and goggles can usually be machine-washed on the delicate cycle as well. This is a general disclaimer for every product in this article, but you should always check the manufacturer’s care instructions before washing any piece of gear.

So, You Can Machine Wash Most Snow Jackets, But Know The Rules

The guide above gives you a great starting point to double-check your understanding of the tag correctly, based on your fabrics. But at the end of the day, listen to your clothes.

Tags on jackets and other snow apparel and gear, feature cleaning instructions, and you should listen to them carefully.

When it comes to maintaining your ski/snowboarding gear, it's important to be gentle (and once again, avoid fabric softener). If in doubt, always hand wash or take it to a professional.

Washing your gear is an important part of maintaining it, but it's not worth ruining expensive gear over. Proper care is the single best way to get the most out of your gear, season after season.