How to Wash a North Face Jacket

The North Face is known for making high-quality outdoor apparel and gear that can stand up to the elements. However, even the most durable jackets need proper care and washing to keep them looking their best. Washing a North Face jacket correctly helps maintain the fabric’s water-resistance, breathability and overall performance.

Follow these steps to properly wash your North Face jacket at home and keep it functioning optimally for seasons to come.

Preparing to Wash

Before washing your North Face jacket, take a few preparatory steps:

Inspect and Treat Stains

  • Examine the jacket for any visible stains or dirt. Spot clean any stained areas using a small amount of mild detergent and a clean, soft brush or sponge. Allow the spot cleaner to soak in for 5-10 minutes before gently scrubbing the area clean.
  • For more stubborn stains, pre-treat the area with a stain removal spray or stick. Follow the product’s instructions and allow it to set in before washing. This will help loosen the stain so it comes out more easily in the wash.
  • Pay special attention to the armpits, cuffs, and hem where dirt and body oils tend to accumulate.

Zip Up and Velcro

  • Fully zip up any zippers and fasten any hook and loop closures (such as Velcro) to avoid potential snagging and damage during the washing process.
  • If your jacket has any detachable parts, remove them before washing according to the care instructions. Shells, insulation layers and hoods may require separate cleaning.

Check Pockets

  • Completely empty any pockets in the jacket. Items left behind could damage the fabric or get lost in the wash.

Turn Upside Down

  • Turn the jacket upside down so that the interior lining faces outward during washing. This puts more agitation on the inner layers which see heavier wear and need deeper cleaning.

Use a Laundry Bag

  • Place the jacket in a zippered mesh laundry bag before tossing it in the washing machine. This provides protection during the wash cycle and prevents the jacket from picking up lint from other fabrics. Look for bags designed for delicates that are large enough to avoid compressing insulation.

Selecting Detergent

Choosing the right laundry detergent is key to safely washing performance outerwear like a North Face jacket. Steer clear of regular laundry detergents and instead select a speciality outdoor detergent.

Use a Technical or Outdoor Detergent

  • Opt for a detergent made specifically for synthetic technical fabrics, such as those from Nikwax, Granger’s or Gear Aid. The UK-based company Nikwax makes high performing washer-friendly formulations for waterproofing and revitalizing membrane fabrics.
  • These technical detergents are free of harmful additives and better suited for getting performance garments clean without degrading delicate face fabrics or membrane layers. They help restore DWR coatings and breathe new life into weather-beaten pieces.

Avoid Regular Laundry Detergent

  • Standard household detergents contain aggressive surfactants, whiteners and enzymes that can degrade water-resistant coatings andmembrane fabrics over time. They leave behind chemical residues that compromise breathability and promote fiber damage. Using regular detergent repeatedly can shorten the lifespan of your North Face jacket.

Skip Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

  • Fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain waxes, perfumes and chemicals that coat fabric fibers and inhibit breathability. Avoid using them when washing performance outerwear like your North Face jacket. The technical wash formulations are designed to clean and condition without added softeners.

Washing Your North Face Jacket

With your jacket prepped and the right detergent selected, you’re ready to wash. Follow these steps for the actual washing process:

Choose the Right Wash Cycle

  • Wash your North Face jacket on the gentle or delicate setting using cool or cold water. This helps preserve the DWR treatment, avoids shrinkage on delicate technical fabrics and prevents color fading.
  • If washing by hand, use cool water and gentle scrubbing. Avoid overly hot water or harsh twisting motions that could damage the jacket materials.

Use a Mild Detergent Dose

  • Add an appropriate amount of specialty detergent to the wash based on the load size and detergent instructions. Using too much can leave behind a detergent film and using too little may not get the jacket fully clean. Typical doses for a single jacket are around 2-3 tablespoons of liquid detergent.

Zip Up the Bag

  • Place your jacket inside a protective laundry bag and fully zip or clasp it closed before placing in the washing machine. This prevents the jacket from bunching up and retains any loose insulation material during the wash.

Wash Separately

  • Wash your North Face jacket solo or with other synthetic performance fabrics. Avoid washing it with cottons or linens which can cause pilling or fibers catching on the jacket material.

Let it Soak

  • For heavily soiled jackets, allow the wash cycle to soak for 10-15 minutes before agitating. This allows the detergent to fully penetrate the fabric.

Use a Short Gentle Cycle

  • Wash the jacket in short 5-10 minute intervals on a gentle or delicate cycle setting. Extended agitation can be hard on technical fabrics and cause excess wear. Use another quick rinse cycle to remove all detergent residue.

Avoid Overloading

  • Don’t overload the washing machine, which prevents adequate cleaning and can lead to wrinkling. Wash just 1-2 North Face jackets at a time with enough room for them to move around freely.

Skip the Dryer

  • Instead of using the dryer, which exposes jackets to excess heat and motion damage, air dry your jacket after washing.

Drying Your North Face Jacket

Drying is one of the most important steps when washing your North Face jacket. Follow these guidelines to properly dry your jacket and restore its water-resistant finish.

Air Dry Upside Down

  • Lay the jacket flat on top of a drying rack or towel upside down so the interior lining faces outwards. This allows the inner layers to dry faster and prevents the outer shell from collecting lint and debris as it dries.

Reshape During Drying

  • Periodically reshape the jacket on the drying rack to maintain its form. Flip it over every so often so it evenly dries.

Dry Indoors or in Shade

  • Dry your jacket in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight which can damage fabrics and cause fading. The drying process takes longer indoors but is gentler on the materials.

Use a Fan to Speed Drying

  • Position a circulating fan nearby to accelerate drying time. Direct the fan airflow over the jacket’s surface while avoiding high heat settings that could affect waterproofing.

Check Inner Lining

  • When the outer shell of the jacket appears dry, check that the inner lining and pockets are fully dry as well before wearing to avoid mildew.

Avoid the Dryer

  • Line drying is best for outerwear. Avoid using the clothes dryer even on low heat settings, as the motion and heat damage fabrics over time.

Restore DWR Treatment

  • Once fully dry, restore the DWR finish using a wash-in water repellent treatment like Nikwax TX Direct or a spray-on option like Gear Aid ReviveX. Follow product instructions to re-treat clean, dry jackets and improve water beading.

Caring for Your North Face Jacket Between Washes

Taking steps to care for your North Face jacket between washes will keep it performing its best.

Spot Clean Stains ASAP

  • When stains occur, spot clean the area promptly using a soft brush, mild detergent and a rinse to avoid buildup. Allow to fully air dry.

Air Out After Wearing

  • After each use, air out your jacket fully before storing to prevent odor buildup and mildew. Let moisture evaporate before closing up in astuff sack or closet.

Use a Wash-In Water Repellent

  • Periodically treat the jacket with a wash-in water repellent like Nikwax TX Direct which revives DWR protection during washing. Follow product instructions for optimal reapplication.

Check Lining and Seams

  • Inspect the lining and seams inside the jacket for damage, holes or signs of excessive wear that may need professional repair.

Patch Holes

  • For small holes or seam tears, use a patch kit specially formulated for technical fabrics. Clean the area then iron on patches per kit instructions. Avoid ovesized patches that alter breathability.

Store Properly

  • Keep your jacket stored flat in a cool, dry place away from direct sun when not in use. Avoid jam-packing it compressed into a stuff sack for extended time.

Hand Wash if Needed

  • For quick cleanings between full washes, hand wash soiled areas and spot treat stains to keep your jacket fresh. Reshape and air dry before storing.

Knowing When to Re-Treat vs Rewash

It can be tricky deciding when to re-treat your jacket’s waterproofing versus doing a full wash cycle. Here are some signs it’s time to rewash or re-treat:

When to Re-Treat

Reapply a water repellent treatment if you notice:

  • The fabric is absorbing small splashes rather than beading up
  • Persistent wet spots after light rain exposure
  • Fading water repellency on high wear areas like shoulders
  • The jacket lacks its usual rain, wind and snow resistance

When to Rewash

It’s time to do a full wash cycle if you see:

  • Dirt is embedded in fabric or heavy staining
  • Odors are present even after air drying
  • The inner lining feels dirty or greasy
  • Excess lint, dander or debris has accumulated
  • You’ve worn the jacket for over 5-10 full days of activity

In most cases, a technical jacket can go 5-15 wears between washes if properly cared for and re-treated when needed. When in doubt, do both – wash then reapply DWR protection once fully dry.

Signs Your North Face Jacket Needs Repair

While North Face jackets are made to last across seasons, sometimes repairs become necessary after heavy use. Here are signs it may be time to send your jacket in for professional care:

  • Inner lining has detached or insulation clumps up when disturbed
  • Leaking through the outer fabric in multiple spots during rain
  • Seam tape is peeling off and no longer attached
  • Excess pilling, fraying, holes or tears in fabric
  • Zipper consistently snags, sticks or fails to close
  • Velcro closures no longer grip securely
  • Once vibrant colors appear faded or dull

North Face offers repair services by mail to fix any damage and get your jacket back into top shape. Home repairs are difficult for performance fabrics. Contact their warranty department for personalized service.

Storing Your North Face Jacket Long Term

When prepping your North Face jacket for storage between seasons, keep these tips in mind:

Clean and Retreat First

Before final storage, wash the jacket and reapply a fresh round of DWR treatment so it’s ready for next season’s adventures.

Air Dry Completely

Ensure no moisture remains in fabric layers before sealing up for storage to avoid mildew.

Store Flat

Fold jacket smoothly along natural creases rather than bunching up and store flat in a drawer or bin, not hanging.

Use Unscented Plastic Bins

Place jacket in an airtight plastic storage bin or bag to protect from dust, bugs, and humidity. Avoid scented bags.

Add Cedar

Put cedar blocks or sachets in storage bin to repel moths without directly touching the jacket. Cedar also absorbs moisture.

Keep Cool and Dry

Store jacket in a cool, dry spot away from heat, sun exposure, and moisture to prevent fabric degradation over the off-season.

Reshape Before Wearing

After long-term storage, reshape jacket and air out before wearing to revive insulation and restore water repellency.

With proper washing, drying, repair and storage practices, your beloved North Face jacket will provide many more seasons of reliable performance. Follow these care steps and get outdoors!

Frequently Asked Questions About Washing North Face Jackets

Washing your North Face jacket properly is important for maintaining its functionality. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about cleaning North Face outerwear:

Can I machine wash my North Face jacket?

Yes, you can machine wash most North Face jackets at home as long as you use a mild detergent and the delicate or gentle cycle in cold water. Avoid regular laundry detergents. Wash jackets in a mesh bag and air dry for best results.

How often should I wash my North Face jacket?

Only wash a North Face jacket when dirt is deeply embedded in the fabric or odors are present after air drying. This is typically every 5-15 full wears depending on activity. Spot clean stains right away to avoid buildup between washes.

What is the best detergent for washing North Face jackets?

Use a specialty detergent designed for technical fabrics like those from Nikwax, Granger’s or Gear Aid. These are free of additives and clean effectively without harming waterproof membranes or coatings. Avoid regular laundry detergents.

Can I put my North Face jacket in the dryer?

Air drying is best. Avoid using the dryer even on low heat settings as the tumbling motion and heat can deteriorate the fabric fibers over time. Lay jackets flat or hang to dry.

How do I restore DWR on my North Face jacket?

Reapply a wash-in water repellent treatment like Nikwax TX Direct after washing, or use a spray-on reviver like Gear Aid ReviveX. Follow product instructions to safely restore durable water repellency without affecting breathability.

How do I repair a small tear in my North Face jacket?

For minor tears, use an iron-on patch specially designed for technical fabrics. Thoroughly clean and dry the area then follow patch instructions to seal holes and prevent further tearing. For more extensive damage, contact North Face for warranty repair.

Can I use bleach when washing my North Face jacket?

No, never use chlorine bleach when washing a North Face jacket as it will degrade the fabrics. Use an oxygen-based bleach formulated for synthetics and performance fabrics if needed. Oxy-clean is bleach safe for outerwear.

Should I wash my North Face jacket before storing for the summer?

Yes, always clean a jacket and re-treat waterproofing before long term storage. Washing removes dirt, sweat and skin oils that can breed bacteria or cause deterioration during storage. Let dry fully before sealing up.

How should I store my North Face jacket between hiking seasons?

Clean and retreat the jacket, then store flat in a breathable plastic bin or bag in a cool, dry place. Avoid direct heat, sunlight, or humidity. Cedar blocks can help repel insects. Reshape jacket before first wear after storage rejuvenates insulation and water resistance.

Tips for Extending the Life of Your North Face Jacket

Investing in a quality North Face jacket means you want it to last across many seasons. Follow these care and maintenance guidelines to get the most longevity out of your jacket:

Wash Less Often

  • Only fully machine wash when truly dirty. In between, spot clean stains and air dry instead to minimize wear and tear from cleaning.

Always Pre-Treat Stains

  • Dab stains immediately with pre-wash spot remover before washing to avoid set-in damage to fabric fibers.

Inspect Zippers and Velcro

  • Ensure zippers function smoothly and Velcro adheres tightly. Replace damaged hardware promptly to avoid bigger issues.

Hang to Dry

  • Skip the dryer, which degrades fabrics quickly. Always drip dry and reshape jackets before storing.

Restore DWR Frequently

  • Reapply durable water repellent treatments regularly, like Nikwax TX Direct, to maintain water beading and weather resistance.

Brush Off Dirt

  • Use a soft brush to remove dust and dirt after each wear and avoid it embedding in the fabric.

Patch Small Holes

  • Don’t ignore small holes or tears. Patch promptly with technical fabric adhesive patches to prevent enlargement of damaged areas.

Avoid Prolonged Sun Exposure

  • Limit direct sun exposure which fades colors and weakens fabric. Store jackets out of sunlight.

Loose Lint Frequently

  • Use a lint roller or shaver to remove lint often. Built up lint reduces insulation capacity and breathability.

Hang to Store

  • Fold along natural creases and hang jackets on wide, sturdy hangers during storage to maintain shape.

Keep Away From Heat

  • Avoid storing jackets near heat sources. High heat deteriorates technical fabrics and reduces effectiveness of insulation.

By integrating these care habits into your routine use of a North Face jacket, you’ll add years of reliable performance to its lifetime. Pair preventative care with timely repairs when needed and your jacket will thrive for seasons on end. Invest a little time and effort now for maximum rewards down the road. Happy trails!


A North Face jacket is built tough for adventures, but it still requires proper care and maintenance to deliver durable performance year after year. By following the washing, drying, storage and repair tips outlined in this article, you can safely clean your jacket at home and extend its lifespan significantly. The key steps to remember are:

  • Use a specialty detergent made for technical fabrics and avoid regular laundry products
  • Wash in cold water on a gentle cycle and air dry fully before storage
  • Restore DWR frequently between washes for continuous water beading
  • Address stains, repairs and maintenance issues promptly to avoid bigger problems
  • Limit heat, sunlight and compression during storage to prevent fabric damage
  • Inspect gear regularly and retire products once they become irreparable

Taking the time to care for your gear is essential to staying comfortable and safe during outdoor activities. With the proper wash and care regimen tailored to your individual usage, your trusty North Face jacket can remain a staple in your