Why can’t I wash waterproof items?

Many washing machines come with a clear warning not to wash waterproof, water repellent or water resistant items. However, some people simply ignore this warning and wash their outdoor gear in the washing machine simply because it’s more convenient.

Can I wash waterproof items in my washing machine?

You can wash waterproof clothes in your washing machine but don’t use regular detergents and fast spinning. Regular detergents and fabric softeners combined with fast spinning strip your clothes of their waterproofing coating. After a few washes, your clothes will completely lose their waterproofing capabilities. 

There is also another issue that may arise and this affects the washer itself. Waterproof clothes and other water repellent items might unbalance the load and cause the washer to vibrate excessively.

Over time, this vibration may damage the washer, floor or even the walls around your washing machine.

Here are some examples of waterproof items you should not wash using your washing machine: rain covers, fishing vests, ski pants, sleeping bags, car and boat covers, shower curtains, outdoor jackets and so on. Use a dry cleaning spray instead.

Now that you know why you should rarely wash waterproof items, let’s see how you can wash water repellent clothing.

| Read more: How Long Does Waterproofing Spray Last?

How to wash waterproof clothes

  1. Clean the items that you want to wash and remove any dirt of mud using a soft brush.
  2. Clean out any regular detergent from the detergent compartment of your machine.
  3. Pour a special detergent that reproofs as well as washes your waterproof clothing items.
  4. Pour the cleaner into the detergent compartment.
  5. Place your waterproof items in the drum. Don’t overload your washing machine. Make sure there is enough room in the drum for the items to spin properly. Do not mix your water repellent clothes with other items.
  6. Select a gentle cycle. Use cold water.
  7. Once the washing cycle is finished, take out the items and air dry them.
  8. Garments can be left to air dry.

I personally don’t recommend tumble drying your waterproof items. This can sometimes crack the waterproof coating and your clothes will start soaking in water. For me, air drying works best.

| Read more: How to make your T-shirt waterproof | 3 simple methods

Related questions

Why can’t I wash waterproof items in my LG washer?

If you checked your LG washer manual and it is clearly stated you can’t wash waterproof items, this means that your washing machine does not feature a dedicated waterproof cycle. Not following these instructions may result in damage to your washer, waterproof items and even objects around your washer due to excessive vibration.

If you don’t have an alternative and you really need to wash the respective items, then choose a low spin cycle. Keep in mind there is no guarantee of a balanced load during the washing cycle.

Can you wash waterproof clothing in front load washer?

It is not recommended to wash your waterproof clothing in a front load washer. Front-loading washing machines spin 30% faster than top loaders. While this removes more water from your clothes, it also breaks the waterproofing coating faster.

What does the waterproof cycle on a Samsung washer do?

This is a dedicated cycle on Samsung washing machines that you can use to wash waterproof items. Use this cycle to wash water proof materials only, don’t use it for regular clothing.

What can I wash a waterproof jacket with?

Use a special detergent for waterproof fabric, and select a gentle cycle on your washing machine. Do not add any fabric conditioner and air dry it outside if possible.


When washing waterproof clothes in the washing machine, use a special detergent for waterproof clothes. Don’t use fabric softeners and fast spinning. Check if your machine has a dedicated cycle for washing waterproof clothes, and use it.

There you go, I hope this post answered your questions. All in all, you can wash your waterproof items using a washing machine but make sure it’s a top loader and select a dedicated waterproof cycle.

If you have additional questions or suggestions, let me know in the comment section below.

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Last updated in October 2021 to add additional information.

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