Your guide to properly caring for techwear

How to wash Gore-Tex w/Nikwax | Acronym, Arc'teryx etc. - YouTube

You have finally secured yourself an authentic piece of techwear clothing and now you’re wondering what is the best way in which you can take care of it, considering you likely emptied out your savings account just to nab a jacket. There must be certain parameters in which clothing of such high quality has to be maintained. Anyone who owns designer anything can tell you that washers and dryers can be detrimental to fabrics if they are not put in the proper setting. 

Also, you might be wondering how one even washes an article of clothing that is meant to withstand some of the most extreme weather on the planet. Well, don’t worry. This handy guide will give you the know how to take care of your most prized techwear possessions.

Before we get into the proper way in which techwear is to be taken care of, lets back things up a bit and go over details for a hugely overlooked item that exits in almost every article of clothing that you have ever purchased.

How to Read Laundry Symbols | Real Simple

Image credit: realsimple.com

The tag!

That’s right. The tag on every single article of clothing is one of the most important aspects of said clothing. Why, you ask? Well for starters, the designer of said clothing usually puts their branding on the tag. What’s the point of owning an Acronym shirt if the shirt doesn’t show the authentic tag to go along with the hefty price you paid to own such wonderful garb?

The wash tag is even more important than the actual branding of the designer in which you acquired these clothes from. I know. Crazy, right? Most of the time, wash instructions are plastered right on the wash tag.

However, you went skipping past them due to your massive amount of excitement from owning said product. You ripped through the bag containing your clothing faster than the wrapping paper on your gifts during Christmas morning. You’re so jazzed up to wear the item that you forget to read the instruction manual for taking care of it.

We get it…but try to contain yourself and read about the care for your items. The wash tag can tell you what temperature the washer should be at. Should you tumble dry, not dry, dry clean only…the list goes on.

However, people often don’t understand the symbols on the tag that display a wealth of washing and drying knowledge. Let’s dive into these symbols and what they mean regarding washing and drying your techwear.

 

Common symbols on tags

Let’s start with the circle symbol. If any of your techwear contains this circle, it is meant to be DRY CLEAN ONLY. The letter within the circle tells the dry cleaner what chemical to use so as not to damage the piece of clothing. The circle with the giant X through it means NO DRY CLEANING EVER.

This next one refers to ironing your fabric. The iron by itself means the clothing can withstand any temperature. A single dot in the iron is meant for delicates: i.e., silk and wool. Two dots in the iron are synthetics. Three dots are for linen and cloth. The three lines below the iron symbol means you can use the steam function on your iron. A giant X through the steam lines means DO NOT STEAM. The giant X through the iron means, DO NOT IRON.

Even though this symbol looks like the dry clean symbol, it is not one in the same. There is a square surrounding the circle, which means the item of clothing can be thrown in the dryer and tumble dried. The dots within the circle within the square are meant for the temperature setting on the dryer. One dot means low temperature, two dots mean medium temperature, and three dots is for high temperature. If you once again see the giant X through the circle and square, DO NOT DRY this item. 

If you see the hand in what looks like a tub of water, it means HAND WASH the item or put it in the delicate cycle for your washer, which is usually 40°C/104°F, or lower. Hand washing is typically used for more delicate items like silk or cashmere, because hand washing doesn’t result in snagging or shrinking. The twisted symbol means you can ring the wet item out and the giant X means DO NOT WRING ITEM.

The tub with water symbol means the piece of clothing can be thrown into the washer. The dots refer to temperature of water. One dot means 30°C. Two dots mean 40°C. That number increases by 10° per dot. Except when there are six dots, it means 95°C. The number inside functions in the same way. The number 30 means the article can be washed at or below 30°C and so and so forth. The lines below the tub refer to what sort of spin cycle can be used. One line means the spin cycle should be reduced and two lines means reduce the spin cycle even further. A giant X through the tub means DO NOT DRY.

Full list of symbols on tags

Free Wash Care Symbols - Labels SAImage courtesy of labelssa.co.za

Now that you have been taken through the wonderful journey of tag knowledge, you can go forth and spread the gospel of tag-dom to all your friends and family. Now let’s get into the specifics for washing and drying your pieces of techwear clothing.

Washing and drying techwear

The first thing to know in protecting your techwear is…. CHECK YOUR TAG. You just read about what each symbol means, so apply that knowledge to the tag of your article of clothing. Check to see what style of washing and drying you can use for your piece of clothing. You may be wondering how water repellent technology laden clothing is meant to be washed, and we are going to detail that right now.

Now, let’s follow some easy steps:

  1. Remove all straps and buckles: Typically, most techwear comes with detachable straps or buckles. Remove them! The metal that could be incorporated on these straps could be scratched and damaged from tumble drying. There are really no reasons to wash straps and buckles, unless you somehow got them dirty. In that case, hand washing, and hand drying might be the best course of action.
  2. Turn clothing inside out: you will see the breathable fabric from the inside of your product and turning the clothes inside out will protect the interior pockets from deforming.
  3. Wash in warm water and low tumble dry: this is the easiest and last step. According to what your tag says, most pieces of techwear, especially those with GORE-TEX, use a warm water cycle and dry on a low setting. See that you check your tag and reference this article when wanting to know how to properly take care of your item.
  4. Should the waterproof technology not be reactivated through washing, you might need to reapply a layer of durable water repellent (DWR). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to reapply the DWR. Should the clothing use 3M Water Repellency or Teflon Repellency, check their websites for proper application procedures. There could be a way in which ironing, or tumble drying will reactivate the water repellency of your item but refer to the manufacturer’s specific instructions on how to accomplish this.

There you have it! Here is the breakdown for the potential steps and symbols that will allow you to keep stunning in your techwear, and should you ignore these steps in any way, please donate your items to someone who cares more. You monster.

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