How To Waterproof Ski Clothing: A Step By Step Guide

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Picture this: You’re shredding down the mountain, powder flying all around you, a smile on your face wider than the Grand Canyon. Life is good, right? Until suddenly, you feel it—water seeping through your gloves and coat. Now, you’re shivering and drenched, and your epic day turns into an icy-cold saga. Don’t let this be you!

We’re firm believers that adventure doesn’t have to stop when the weather turns bad.  You know the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”? We live by that! It’s our mission to keep the whole family warm and dry because our winter adventures literally depend on it.  Once someone gets wet and cold, the complaining begins and it’s not long until we pack up and go home.  Unfortunately, even the best ski gear will start to lose some of its waterproofing over time.

So whether you’re looking to level up your current gear’s waterproof game or trying to make your favorite old jacket last another season, we’re here to help you! We’re spilling all our secrets on exactly how to waterproof your ski clothing so you can stay warm and dry all winter!

family skiing chairlift

Why Is My Ski Clothing Not Waterproof Anymore?

Maintaining the efficacy of your waterproof ski gear isn’t just kid’s play; it’s crucial for skiers of all ages. So, why does your favorite waterproof ski clothing seem to lose its magic over time? The answer is usually just dirt. 

This might sound like no big deal, but when it comes to prolonging the life of your outdoor equipment, understanding the interaction between dirt and waterproof coatings can be game-changing.

Here’s the science behind it: Waterproof coatings are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water. On the other hand, dirt is hydrophilic, which means it attracts water. The two don’t play well together. When dirt, oils, and even skin residues come into contact with your waterproof apparel, the hydrophobic finish becomes less effective. Over time, this will make your gear less impervious to water, affecting your comfort and performance outdoors.

kids playing in snow after skiing

So, what can you do to maintain the longevity of your waterproof outerwear for skiing? First and foremost, keep them clean. Contrary to popular belief, washing waterproof clothing is actually good for it. You’ll want to use specialized detergents designed for technical fabrics (we’ll share our favorite below) and wash items separately from your regular laundry. These cleansers remove dirt and oils without harming the hydrophobic finish. Clean outerwear not only repels water better but also breathes more efficiently, improving your overall skiing experience.

Snowy crash skiing

Another reason that your waterproofing might not last as long as you hoped is that it wasn’t great to begin with.  We wholeheartedly believe in investing in high-quality outerwear for our entire family.  We know that really good gear will last longer and help us stay outside more when the weather is bad.  If you’re paying $30 for your gloves, you’ll probably get what you pay for.  If you need recommendations for the best ski gear for kids, we’ve tested like crazy to help your family find great gear too!

How To Clean Ski Outerwear

Whether you’re a seasoned skier or new to the slopes, taking proper care of your ski gear is non-negotiable. Ski outerwear is a major investment, and the better you take care of it, the longer it will last. The most crucial step before even thinking about re-waterproofing your jackets and pants is to clean them thoroughly. The reason is simple: clean gear waterproofs better.  And not just a little bit better – A LOT better!

Many skiers underestimate the importance of maintaining their gear, especially when it comes to its waterproof features. Dirt, grime, and oil can break down the hydrophobic coating that keeps you dry during your downhill runs. And let’s not forget—ski gear represents a significant financial investment, not to mention its crucial role in allowing you to enjoy those powder days,  or skiing when a storm rolls in.

snowbasin family skiing

If you’re on the slopes frequently, consider washing your ski clothing at least once a month during the ski season. For those intense ski trips that last a full week or more, we recommend that you wash your gear before and after your trip. Trust me, after a week of tough skiing, even the best gear can start to accumulate some funky odors, oil, and dirt.

When it comes to washing your ski gear, regular household detergents won’t cut it. These can leave behind residues that can severely affect the waterproofing. Specialized detergents designed for outdoor gear are your best bet. We love Sportwash and Nikwax Tech Wash the best.  I think that they both do a great job, but we typically use Sportwash more frequently since it requires a smaller amount of detergent, so the bottle lasts longer. It’s important to not wash your ski gear with your regular laundry as well.  Not only can that impact the waterproofing, but it’s a waste of your expensive technical outerwear detergent!

ski waterproofing

Often, if your ski gear is starting to wet out, it often just needs a good cleaning.  Yes, just by cleaning your outerwear, a good portion of the waterproofing bounces right back.  If washing didn’t do the trick, keep reading for how to waterproof your ski gear.  

When Does My Ski Gear Need To Be Waterproofed?

Most quality ski gear has waterproofing from the manufacturer that will easily last a season or two.  When water starts to soak into the fabric, it’s called “wetting out”.  When your gear starts to wet out in more than just a few small spots, it’s time to re-waterproof it!  

Typically, we waterproof our ski outerwear about every 4-6 washes.

snow pants wet
Snow pants that are wetting out and water is soaking in
snow pants waterproof
Snow pants with waterproofing refreshed

How Do I Know If I Should Waterproof My Ski Clothes?

The best way to know if it’s time to waterproof your ski clothes is to try out the wet test.  Pour a small amount of water onto the fabric and let it sit there for a minute.  If the water beads up and stays there, your waterproofing is in good shape.  If the water soaks into the fabric, it’s time to refresh your waterproofing.  

Best Products For Waterproofing Ski Clothing

When it comes to waterproofing ski clothing, no one does it better and easier than Nikwax.  We’ve been using their products for YEARS and it’s probably saved us thousands of dollars in outerwear it’s rescued.  

waterproofing ski clothes

Now, growing up, waterproofing meant a horrible-smelling aerosol spray you were scared to inhale that had to be done outside.  This created a new coating over the exterior of your clothes, and while it was somewhat effective, it was pretty toxic.  Those days are long gone, and we don’t recommend products like that ONE BIT.  Nikwax products work with the original waterproofing that was built into the garment to renew it and bring the waterproofing back.  

For waterproofing ski pants and ski coats, we always recommend TX Direct.  It’s used directly after washing your coat or pants (while they’re still wet) and is run as its own cycle in the washing machine.  Yes, it’s a coating that just washed right in.  It’s AMAZING and ensures that no portions of your ski coat or pants are missed.  Best of all, it’s super easy.  


For waterproofing ski gloves or mittens, we recommend using the Nikwax Glove Proof.  This product sponges onto your gloves and mittens but helps to maintain (and even improve in some cases), the gripiness of your gloves.  

Specific Gear Recommendations For Each Brand and Product

Every outdoor brand will have some sort of specifications and rules for how to care for their products.  Often, there’s a care label on the inside.  If you can’t find a care label, contact the manufacturer.  There are a few brands, such as Arcteryx, that have very detailed care instructions that are different than what most brands recommend.  Remember that every brand is the expert in their outerwear, so their recommendations should be followed above all other tips we share here!

Shred dog puffy coat for kids

How to Waterproof Ski Jackets and Ski Pants

Ski jackets and ski pants are likely to need waterproofing help most often of any of your ski outerwear.  The first step is to empty all your pockets, zip them back up, and wash with a detergent that’s safe for technical fabrics.

After the cleaning is done, run a second cycle in the washing machine, but instead of using detergent, you’ll add TX Direct to your load.  Wash through with TX Direct.  We generally tumble dry on low after that (unless the brand says not to).  

We generally wash ski jackets and ski pants every 3-4 weeks during the ski season, more if you’re using it a lot of it gets dirty.  Most jackets and pants will need to have their waterproofing refreshed about every 4-6 washes.  For us, we typically refresh our waterproofing in October and again in February.  

Reima winter clothes for kids review

Caring for Waterproof Ski Gloves and Mittens

Ski gloves and mittens are notorious for having bad waterproofing.  Mostly, this is because lots of ski gloves just aren’t great quality.  We spent years buying mittens for our kids from Costco, and by January, they had lost all of their waterproofing and were a wet mess.  It wasn’t until we discovered some GREAT mittens and gloves that we realized that this wasn’t supposed to happen.  From then on, we’ve only invested in REALLY GREAT mittens and gloves.  

Burton gloves skiing

One of the most important things you can do to care for your ski mittens and gloves is to make sure that they’re completely dry before you put them away.  Storing damp mittens will significantly decrease their lifespan.  Usually, we leave them out to dry overnight if they’re damp (which they usually are, thanks to my sweaty handed kids).  

Washing Ski Gloves and Mittens

The first step in waterproofing your gloves and mittens is to clean them.  While you can get away with just spot-cleaning the outside with a rag, water, and detergent, at least annually, we recommend doing a full glove wash to wash away all the grime on the inside.  

There are two ways to wash your ski gloves.  One is to hand wash them in the sink with one of the technical fabric detergents we recommend above.  The other is to wash them in the washing machine.  I feel like brands are pretty split on this, so ask the manufacturer what they would recommend.  We wash most of ours in the washing machine but have a few pairs that are hand wash only.

2-year-old wearing Veyo kids mittens

Waterproofing Ski Gloves and Mittens

To waterproof ski mittens and gloves, we use this glove waterproofer.  It’s amazing and SO EASY to use.  While your gloves are still damp from being washed (damp, not dripping wet) you can start waterproofing.  If find this is easiest to do with a hand inside the glove for extra rigidity.  Take your glove waterproofer and sponge it all over your glove.  Really, all over!  Let it soak in for a couple of minutes and then wipe any excess away.  

After you waterproof your ski gloves, we recommend letting them air dry.  We typically do this by standing them up over a heat vent overnight or putting them on a glove dryer if you have one.  Both of these methods blow a little bit of air into the gloves to make sure that every part of the inside dries well.  

waterproofing ski gloves

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!