Okay, I’ve covered many aspects of W.L. Gore’s Gore-Tex® membrane technology over the past several blog posts. In fact, some of you are probably hoping this series wraps up soon and I move on to a completely different topic. Well, good news…there is just one more blog post remaining after this one talking about Gore®, but I’m saving the best topic for last.
Next time I will be writing about the science of camouflage as it relates to ungulate animals (animals with a cloven hoof). Specifically, I’ll be covering Gore’s® new OPTIFADE™ Concealment system designed primarily for bowhunters and marketed by Sitka Gear.
But today, I’m going to cover a topic that is vitally important to all Gore-Tex® wearable consumers. Essentially, what do you do with that new Gore-Tex garment once you bring it home from the store. How do you care for it properly?
Honestly, I’m not going to draw this blog post out with an exhaustive bunch of necessary steps consumers must do with their Gore® clothing. Why? Fact of the matter is…your Gore-Tex® doesn’t really require a bunch of special care. Sure, you’ve just invested perhaps hundreds of dollars into a breathable, waterproof garment so the natural tendency is to treat it with kid gloves, so to speak.
And by all means you don’t want to abuse it…but in reality, with some of the testing I’ve previously shown, Gore-Tex® will withstand very demanding use. NOTE: Washing and occasionally cleaning the outer fabric IS NOT ABUSE. In fact, such actions are a must to get the most performance out of your clothing investment.
In this picture, Larry Bollinger, customer service manager for Gore®, shows how a cross-section of Gore-Tex® material is essentially made up of very tiny microscopic pores— in fact, 9 BILLION per square inch. These tiny pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, but moisture will easily pass through them in the form of vapor, such as perspiration from the body.
What is vital to the performance of Gore-Tex® is to keep these pore passageways unobstructed so this vapor can readily pass. In fact, Bollinger said the most common complaint his customer service team gets about Gore-Tex® not performing properly is easily fixed by washing the garment or cleaning the boots.
When a customer calls up and says their boot is leaking it’s usually a result of two main issues. The membrane has either been punctured or torn (i.e. barbed wire, nail, etc.) or the boot is so dirty from use these microscopic pores are actually clogged with debris or the improper use of some form of boot dressing. In the latter case the boot is not leaking, it’s just not allowing the owner’s perspiration to pass through the membrane. Same effect—wet and uncomfortable feet.
That’s why Bollinger’s best advice to someone who brings home a new Gore-Tex® garment is to wash it. These important pores can get obstructed even during the assembly process of the garment or boot…so if you want the ultimate performance out of your Gore-Tex® clothing wash it to ensure it’s clean—even if the item is brand new from the store.
Now, the sales folks at the store will likely try to sell you a bunch of after-market detergents to keep your new Gore-Tex® clean. While Bollinger will not endorse any particular product, I got the sense from him that such expensive specialty care products are not necessary. In fact, you can use just standard laundry detergent—powder or liquid—just avoid those products also containing fabric softeners…and by all means avoid dryer sheets.
One important note. The quickest way to restore your Gore-Tex® garment’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating applied to the fabric on the outer layer of the garment is to throw it into the dryer on medium to high heat. Over time and as the garment is worn, this action is oven necessary to rejuvenate the first-line of repellancy of the outer material. Failure to do so can cause the outer layer to soak water, become heavier to the user, and possibly disrupt the exchange of water vapor through the membrane.
Again, the important thing to remember is Gore-Tex® containing clothing might be some of the most expensive clothes you ever purchase…but with a few common sense care instructions it will outperform and outlast other articles of clothing found in your closet.
In closing, I want to show you these two quick videos produced by W.L. Gore & Associates. I thought about making some videos of my own, but these are so well produced I really couldn’t improve on them. Take a look and you’ll see that owning Gore-Tex® is not a big hassle when it comes to proper care: