Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

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Woman wearing Jacket with Sympatex membrane
Sympatex membrane: optimal comfort for any weather

If you’re planning on staying indoors today because dark grey skies and continuous rain are dominating the weather, maybe you should reconsider. Instead of mulling over the adventures that could have been, grab yourself a jacket with a Sympatex membrane, head outdoors and make them a reality! After all, Sympatex membranes thrive in bad weather! Of course, you’re probably wondering, “what if it gets dirty in all that rain and mud?”

You wouldn’t believe it, but just toss it in the washing machine! But, won’t that ruin the membrane? Isn’t there a whole laundry list of dos and don’ts when it comes to washing jackets like this? Indeed there is. When it comes to outdoor clothing and membranes in particular, there is often a world of confusion. But worry not! It’s a completely different story when it comes to Sympatex. In the following, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about caring for Sympatex membranes.

What is Sympatex and how does it work?

Let’s start with some theory. Anybody who has any interest in the great outdoors is bound to have heard of Sympatex at some point or another. But, what exactly this rather odd word refers to remains a mystery to many. So, let’s briefly describe what Sympatex is. Sympatex is a nonporous, waterproof and breathable membrane that is usually laminated onto the another fabric. Such textiles are absolutely windproof and waterproof, making them bulwarks against bad weather. Plus, they offer extremely good moisture wicking properties, are durable and, most importantly, easy to clean.

How does all this work? Well, the membrane has hydrophilic and hydrophobic components. Sounds complicated, I know, but it’s actually quite simple. Hydrophilic just means water-loving or water-attracting, which means that such fabrics absorb sweat and release it to the outside where it can evaporate. In other words, the fabric breathes – hence the term breathability. The hydrophobic, water-repelling components, on the other hand, prevent water, such as rain, from getting in from the outside.

Washing Sympatex clothing is easy

Jacket with Sympatex membrane
TRIPLE2 – Smudd Jacket – hardshell jacket with Sympatex membrane

So far, so good, but what was that about Sympatex being easy to clean? You may not believe it, but it really is! Since a Sympatex membrane is nonporous, there are no pores to be clogged. Neither sweat, dirt nor detergent residue can negatively affect the performance of the membrane. This means that you can wash your Sympatex clothing in your washing machine without batting an eye! All you have to do is follow some easy instructions and nothing will stop you washing your expensive jacket – on a gentle cycle, mind you!

A gentle cycle is key here. Sympatex textiles should be washed on a gentle cycle at 40 °C. When doing so, be careful not to overload the washing machine. If you’re wondering about detergent, your standard mild detergent will do just fine. The important thing here is not to use brighteners or bleach. If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you can also opt for special detergent for functional clothing. In order to preserve the treatment, you should not use fabric softener, either. On some machines, you can select an additional rinse cycle. As nonporous membranes are not susceptible to detergent residue, an extra rinse won’t hurt. Excessive spinning could, however, damage the garment, so be sure to select a lower spin speed.

Dry cleaning, drying, ironing and reproofing

As mentioned before, Sympatex is very easy to clean. So, does that mean you don’t need to dry clean it? Dry cleaning is possible but not at all necessary. You can just rely on your good old washing machine! How easy is that? In some cases, dry cleaning a garment can even damage it. So, if you think dry cleaning your clothing is necessary, do have a look at the care label beforehand!

The membrane is just as easy to dry as it is to wash. Just toss your jacket or trousers in the dryer and have a cuppa while you wait! The only thing you need to remember is not to use excessive heat. The same thing goes for ironing. Less is more! Anything over 100°C is off limits! The great thing about the heat generated by an iron or a dryer is that it actually refreshes the garment’s water-repellent properties as well.

Speaking of water repellency, if moisture no longer rolls off the surface of your garment and is being absorbed by the fabric instead, its DWR coating needs to be renewed. This can be achieved in one of two ways. Either use a wash-in product or a spray. As you can imagine, the wash-in method is extremely easy. All you have to do is pour the product in where you would usually pour the fabric softener and wash the garment according to the instructions. Sympatex HigH2Out textiles, however, don’t respond well to this method of reproofing. For these textiles, it is extremely important to take a look at the care label before reproofing. The spray isn’t at all difficult to apply, either. Just spray it on your garment, let it dry and that’s it! However, do remember to apply the spray in well-ventilated rooms or, preferably, out in the open. And don’t inhale the fumes! After the wash-in or spray method, throw the garment in the dryer so that its water-repellent properties can be reactivated and the coating can set in. That’s all, folks!

If you’d like to know more about how outdoor garments are washed and proofed, you can find some more information on the topic in our care tips.

What about shoe care?

VAUDE - Women's TVL Active STX - Multisport shoes with a Sympatex membrane
VAUDE – Women’s TVL Active STX – Multisport shoes

Shoes with Sympatex membranes also happen to be extremely easy to clean. As long as you follow these easy steps, you won’t need to worry about ruining your expensive brand-name shoes! To clean the shoes, all you need to do is use a brush and lukewarm water. For stubborn stains, there’s a bevy of special cleaning agents you can buy. Afterwards, air dry the shoes at room temperature. Then you can reproof them to restore their water repellency. Before using any of the DWR sprays or care products, do make sure that the respective product is suitable for the shoe’s fabric. If you do this, your leather shoes will stay in tiptop shape for a long time to come!

So, what are you waiting for? Start washing, proofing and drying your Sympatex gear! But, don’t forget to take them outdoors and really get them dirty first!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

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Alpinetrek-Expert Guest author

Alpinetrek-Expert Guest author

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  1. Good Day

    May you advise if you have any products for environmental protection workers.

  2. Hello Tendani,

    we don´t have products that are specifically designed for this purpose, I´m sorry.

    Kind regards,


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