Does your jacket need to be washed?

The answer may surprise you.

Whether it’s a warranty issue, or you just have a worn-out zipper on your Microlight Jacket from 12 years ago, we strive to eschew the throwaway culture that has become all too normalized in the outdoor industry.  In the first half of 2023, we have been able to repair 85% of the pieces sent in for warranty / repair. But, in order to perform these repairs, a garment must be clean.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: we don’t want to wash your jacket. 

It adds work for our Service Center personnel and there is no financial incentive. From a company standpoint, the $25 fee doesn’t even cover the cost of washing operations.

What we do want, is to ensure the well-being of the sewing and garment specialists who work so hard to get your gear back in working order. Replacing a zipper, installing a patch, stitching seams, etc all require the techs to work intimately with your garment. For this reason, we can only repair items that are clean. Not only will a clean jacket ensure the health, safety, and sanity of the repair techs, but it is also necessary for the effectiveness and longevity of adhesive-based repairs like welds.  

Beyond all that, a clean jacket is one that performs at its best. Items received that are not in clean condition will require a $25 fee as we’ll need to wash the item prior to repair.

So what does “clean” actually mean?

Great question. We’re here to help answer this question and be upfront about the standard of cleanliness that’s required for repair work to commence.

We love that Rab users come from all walks of life--weekend adventurers, professional mountain guides, healthcare workers, and businesswomen/men to name a few. But with that, we’ve learned that different folks can have different standards / definitions of what “clean” means.

As a general rule of thumb, you should wash any piece at least twice a year or more if it sees heavy use.

Problem areas often overlooked include the inside of the collar, near the hand pockets, and on the sleeve cuffs. These are prime locations to pick up oils / grime from sweat, makeup, or sunscreen.

Below are some examples of jackets we’ve received that needed be washed prior to repair.

Hopefully, this gives you an idea what “clean” looks like.

In this example, if you look closely there are significant stains in the hood and collar areas:Picture2.jpg

Here’s a close-up of the collar:

The sleeve cuffs and near the hand pockets are other areas that often get stained.

For dark-colored pieces, it may not be visually obvious that a jacket is dirty. Some indicators are a shiny/greasy sheen or a crinkly texture on the outer fabric as seen in the following examples.

For good measure, here are a couple more examples of not-clean vs. clean jackets. These also demonstrate how well our Rab Wash service has restored jackets in the past.

Tips for cleaning/washing your jacket/garment:

Depending on the type of garment you’re washing, Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax Down Wash are the recommended cleaning agents (these are what we use). Granger’s also works well. Normal detergents can be harsh on technical fabrics and you should never use any sort of fabric softener.

If your jacket has some significant stains or hasn’t been washed in a while then you should perform the following extra steps to ensure your garment is washed thoroughly and effectively.

  • Apply some mild stain remover (we have used Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover) on the problem areas and work it into the fabric with a brush, let sit for 20 minutes
  • Soak the jacket for 2-12 hours in a bucket of room-temperature water
  • Wash per the recommended care instructions

Too much effort?  

You can click here to purchase a wash or request one when you send it in for warranty / repair.

Have more questions? Submit a request