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A winter’s worth of riding through slush and grime had made my pannier rain covers nasty. I’d rinse them off with clean water every few days, but they had gotten deeply stained with road grime and they started losing most of their water repellent properties. It’s hard to see in these photos, but the inner surface that faces the wheels was really dirty, even after rinsing them off in the sink.

Our friends at Nikwax were happy to send us some sample-sized products to try out. Tech Wash is a special detergent made for washing water-repellent material.  It’s supposed to help lift stains out and clean the surface without diminishing the waterproofing properties of GORE-TEX and similar textiles. In fact, it’s supposed to help revitalize them a bit. We’ll see. These rain covers are FILTHY and leak water. I also added my waterproof ski shell to the mix. One of these containers is supposed to be good for up to three garments.

After Tech Wash, the pannier covers were notably cleaner, with only a few really deep stains remaining. I let them dry completely before taking this photo, then I put them to the test with some water spray.  Some parts of the rain cover shed water while it permeated other parts. The rain covers were clean, but their waterproofing was too far gone. My ski jacket repelled water like new, though!

I ran the rain covers through the wash again, this time with NikWax’s TX Direct wash-in Waterproofing solution. This milky substance is added directly to the washer (or to a sink full of water) without any detergent, and you “wash” already-clean waterproof gear in it to revitalize its hydrophobic properties.

I once again dried the rain covers out, and then performed the same test with water spray. Even after 5 minutes of water sitting on the rain covers, nothing was soaking through.

That was about a week ago, and they’re still repelling water. Hopefully, after being treated with NikWax, they will last through the rainy spring season that’s on the way.

Nikwax has a wide range of products for cleaning and refurbishing technical clothing. This includes scrubbing cleaners for cycling/running shoes, Base Wash for deodorizing and restoring the wicking and breathability of your base layers, and spray-on waterproofing agents. I may try some of these other products in the future, but for now, I’m quite pleased with TX Direct and Tech Wash.

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