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Verdict: 
Puts in a strong performance, cleaning and revitalising wet weather gear, and bringing old garments back to life
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Nikwax Tech Wash is a great option for bringing wet weather gear back to life, although if there is a smell attached you may need to wash it with something else beforehand.

  • Pros: Easy to use, works, great value
  • Cons: Doesn't remove musty 'old' smell

If you're anything like me, you'll have kit that gets stuck at the back of the wardrobe or left in a box in the loft for months or even years. Nikwax Tech Wash can bring these back to life, getting rid of last year's dirt and grime and bringing everything back up to scratch.

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For this review I found a jacket I hadn't used in a couple of years that was sitting at the back of my wardrobe. It had several dirty patches on it and it kind of smelt a bit, which is why I'd stopped using it in the first place... I hoped the Tech Wash would bring it back to life.

So, after putting the jacket in the washing machine, I just needed to add a couple of caps of the Nikwax liquid to the detergent drawer and set it to a 30-degree wash. It is a really easy process – no different to what you would do with a regular wash, just using Tech Wash instead of your usual detergent.

After the wash I brought the jacket out and dried it, and the results were pretty good. The marks were gone and it seems considerably more waterproof than before. The only thing it fell short of, although it made a dent, was getting rid of the musty smell that it had from sitting in my wardrobe for two years. It isn't marketed as being able to, but it's worth noting that if you're trying to get rid of smells it's worth treating clothes for that before you use this.

Aside from that it was a success: the jacket was clean and it soaked up considerably less water than before when using it in the wet.

> How to winterise your bike – protect it from salt, wet & crud

With an RRP of £5 for a 300ml bottle, that equates to around 83p per wash, which is really good value when bringing a garment back to a usable state. The jacket I tested it on, for instance, was worth a couple of hundred pounds, but because of the state it was in I'd stopped using it. Now it's back to its original quality (after another wash to get rid of the musty smell): for 83p that makes Tech Wash an absolute bargain.

Verdict

Puts in a strong performance, cleaning and revitalising wet weather gear, and bringing old garments back to life

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Nikwax Tech Wash

Size tested: 300ml

Tell us what the product is for

A treatment that cleans wet weather clothes and brings back a degree of water repellency.

Nikwax says: "Nikwax Tech Wash® is the market leader; it has been specifically designed and optimised for breathable waterproof fabrics.

"Nikwax Tech Wash® is a highly effective cleaner. Additionally it will revitalise existing Durable Water Repellency (DWR) and revive breathability. It is the safe way to thoroughly clean your waterproof clothing and equipment.

"Application in a washing machine is quick, easy, and ensures that the whole garment is thoroughly cleaned."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
5/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Performed very well, cleaned my jacket nicely and added water repellency, but could do a better job of removing smells...

Rate the product for durability:
 
5/10
Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

At 83p per garment it's a pretty good price, especially if the alternative is having to buy a replacement.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well; it cleaned my jacket nicely and got rid of all the dirt that had built up.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

How easy it is to use, nothing different to doing regular laundry.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Would be good if it could do a bit more to combat smells too.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's an easy-to-use product that brings previously worn and unloved pieces of wet weather gear back to life. It does exactly what it sets out to, but I'd like it more if it could also remove smells.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.  

14 comments

Avatar
pjclinch [104 posts] 11 months ago
3 likes

This stuff does what it says on the, errrr, bottle, but the point about it (and also the similarly priced Granger's Performance Wash) is that the Special Magic Schtick is that there is no Special Magic Schtick.  It's pure soap in liquid form, and that's it.

That's signifcant because detergents work by reducing surface tension so water can penetrate (and thus clean) more easily, and that's the opposite of those DWR beading coatings that a lot of rain and shower jackets rely on.  Any residues left over after the wash tend to impede the DWR function (though it doesn't actually damage the coating).  Soaps don't work like that, so can be better for this sort of garment, though if it's really filthy a modern detergent tends to do a better cleaning job, and then it's a case of making very sure you do a very thorough rinse afterwards (or possibly a pure soap wash as a followup).

That it's "just soap" is not a criticism, but the fact is that e.g. Dripak an Tesco Liquid Soap Flakes share the same virtues, and they cost a lot less.

Avatar
michophull [150 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Any non-bio liquid will do the job just as well.

Avatar
kevvjj [429 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
pjclinch wrote:

That it's "just soap" is not a criticism, but the fact is that e.g. Dripak an Tesco Liquid Soap Flakes share the same virtues, and they cost a lot less.

+1 for above: DriPak liquid soap works just as good and you get 12 washes out of a 750 mL bottle for less than £3

Avatar
matthewn5 [1241 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I've used NikWax for handwashes and it doesn't seem to be detergent/soap plakes. It leaves some slippery waxy residue on your hands that doesn't wash off easily.

 

Avatar
kevvjj [429 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
matthewn5 wrote:

I've used NikWax for handwashes and it doesn't seem to be detergent/soap plakes. It leaves some slippery waxy residue on your hands that doesn't wash off easily.

Are you talking about TX Direct and not Techwash? That's been my experience - never had any residue using Techwash, but yes, a waxy waterproof residue when using TX Direct.

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crazy-legs [1023 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Tech Wash for all my waterproof / windproof / softshell garments once in a while and maybe every 3rd or 4th wash, a wash straight afterwards with TX Direct (for water/windproof) and the Nikwax Softshell Proof for, erm, softshells.

Works brilliantly, super easy in the washing machine. You can get it muchcheaper than the RRP if you buy it online, Amazon sells it.

The TX Direct is amazing at revitalising old waterproofs that no longer bead water.

Avatar
Duncann [1429 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
crazy-legs wrote:

The TX Direct is amazing at revitalising old waterproofs that no longer bead water.

Do you find the improvement lasts?
I've found it good to begin with but wearing off (possibly literally) pretty quickly.

Avatar
LastBoyScout [492 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

For a start, you can buy it in much bigger bottles than 300ml - a litre costs about £10 and 5l <£30.

If I'm doing anything with it, I tend to try and do it after a big load of other synthetics that went in without fabric softener and always clean out the detergent trays first to get rid of any muck/residue.

Put stuff in, wash according to the labels/instructions and with extra rinse to get rid of the residue.

As others have said, you can use pure soap flakes from any supermarket.

Anything with a DWR should then be carefully tumble dried, or even ironed (use a tea towel, or something, to prevent burning), to restore the effectiveness. If that doesn't work, I use the spray-on TX-Direct on a DRY garment (even though it says you can use it on wet ones), drip dry and then more tumble drying. I don't tend to use the wash-in version, as you only really want to coat the outside of the garment.

Avatar
SingleSpeed [429 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Duncann wrote:
crazy-legs wrote:

The TX Direct is amazing at revitalising old waterproofs that no longer bead water.

Do you find the improvement lasts? I've found it good to begin with but wearing off (possibly literally) pretty quickly.

 

You need to run a hot iron over your gore-tex to really bring the DWR back to life.

Best stuff they make is Base Wash - that does untold wonders to my stinking foul kit even when I've left it festering wet and sweaty in the van for a week.

Also nikwax sell this stuff in 5l bottles buy big!

Avatar
SingleSpeed [429 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
Duncann wrote:
crazy-legs wrote:

The TX Direct is amazing at revitalising old waterproofs that no longer bead water.

Do you find the improvement lasts? I've found it good to begin with but wearing off (possibly literally) pretty quickly.

 

You need to run a hot iron over your gore-tex to really bring the DWR back to life.

Best stuff they make is Base Wash - that does untold wonders to my stinking foul kit even when I've left it festering wet and sweaty in the van for a week.

Also nikwax sell this stuff in 5l bottles buy big!

Avatar
confusedcyclist [1 post] 11 months ago
0 likes
kwyken wrote:

Genuine question - how does ironing work on Gore-tex, which is a mechanical water proofing rather than a DWR?

Most Gore-Tex, apart from the very latest iteration (which hasn't made it to cycling jackets AFAIK!) is DWR. Heat activates the proofer you apply in the wash. Manufacturers recommend running your jackets through a dryer if permissable on the care lable, some jackets, e.g. my altura nightvision specifically state not to be put in a drier, due to the glued seems IIRC.

 

I don't have a dryer, I line dry all my clothes, and my more expensive arcteryx jacket which can go through a drier instead puts up with a technical wash WITH proofer, and the a second coat of grangers proofing sprary for good measure. I hadn't thought of using an iron, I would be wary of melting my £450 arcteryx jacket with an IRON, but might consider trying this with my 3 year old, good as dead altura jacket. yes

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fukawitribe [2601 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Gore-Tex isn't a DWR, it's a PTFE sponge basically. The DWR is applied to the outside of the fabrics to repel water which would otherwise kill the breathability of the thing as a whole, but it's not what accounts for the waterproofing as such.

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philhubbard [161 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
confusedcyclist wrote:
kwyken wrote:

Genuine question - how does ironing work on Gore-tex, which is a mechanical water proofing rather than a DWR?

Most Gore-Tex, apart from the very latest iteration (which hasn't made it to cycling jackets AFAIK!) is DWR. Heat activates the proofer you apply in the wash. Manufacturers recommend running your jackets through a dryer if permissable on the care lable, some jackets, e.g. my altura nightvision specifically state not to be put in a drier, due to the glued seems IIRC.

 

I don't have a dryer, I line dry all my clothes, and my more expensive arcteryx jacket which can go through a drier instead puts up with a technical wash WITH proofer, and the a second coat of grangers proofing sprary for good measure. I hadn't thought of using an iron, I would be wary of melting my £450 arcteryx jacket with an IRON, but might consider trying this with my 3 year old, good as dead altura jacket. yes

 

Dont use an iron directly, use an old towel or similar on top of the jacket and then iron that.

Avatar
kwyken [14 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

"You need to run a hot iron over your gore-tex to really bring the DWR back to life"

Genuine question - how does ironing work on Gore-tex, which is a mechanical water proofing rather than a DWR? Maybe it helps to close the membrane holes? Gore-tex breathability can be restored using Tech-Wash. Minor breakdown of the Gore-Tex membrane can be 'patched' using the waterproofing waxy properties of TX Direct without compromising breathability.

I have used Nikwax products for a long time, mostly on Paramo hiking clothing, but I use it on my cycling stuff too. As others have said Tech-Wash is a soap, but I have found it works more reliably than a supermarket soap. I use Tesco Liquid Soapflakes in a regular wash just before I treat my wet weather gear. This helps to 'purge' any detergent residue in the washing machine, which can destroy the effectiveness of a TX Direct treatment. TX Direct does need to be applied regularly, I treat my Paramo outerlayer in Autumn and again in Spring. This will maintain the strong DWR-like beading properties. If the garment is washed in-between applications, Tech Wash will not destroy the TX Direct properties, but a detergent will.

OK got it I think, the heat - iron or tumble dry - is activating an additional DWR coating rather than anything to do with the Gore-tex membrane itself.