JFalling in the rain is depicted on the screen with an almost comedic hesitation. From the flop scenes in the Nicholas Sparks movie to the Shawshank drama Redemption and Point Break, stormy skies have always been a sign of heightened emotion, desperate pronouncements, and a willingness to heal.
As La Niña’s weather patterns are already making this summer a particularly humid Australian summer, on the upside, we can plan big romantic gestures with a little more oomph. But that doesn’t mean our clothes have to suffer. Here’s how to take care of your appearance after a heavy rain.
When you get home after you’ve been in the rain, take stock of what you’re wearing and how sunk it is to determine what you should do next. “Some materials may not need any care after being exposed to the rain; others, like natural fabrics, may need to dry,” says Cory Simpson, communications director for Patagonia Garment Company.
Clothes such as coats and jackets that have a natural water resistance can only be shaken or wiped, while shirts, blouses, and pants that have absorbed rainwater require more attention.
Once wet clothes are taken off, it is best not to leave them sitting in a pile or inside a clothes basket, as this can lead to mildew and odors. Wet clothes should be hung on a rack to dry or washed immediately.
If you’re particularly adventurous (or unlucky) and your clothes are dirty and wet, Simpson says to “wipe off bits of mud and debris” first, “and then wash the garment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
For delicate fabrics like fine wool and silk, it may be a go-to for a dry cleaner in order to prevent water spots.
Re-mounting mosquito repellent
Synthetic fabrics coated with waterproof materials “always fare better in the rain,” Simpson says, but they also require special handling to maintain their performance.
Unfortunately, water resistance does not last forever. It can be affected by dirt, your skin’s natural oils, sunscreen, and smoke, so it’s important to keep your raincoat or puffy jacket clean. “Be sure to wash and dry your clothes often—this helps remove oils and anything that could get in the way of the sprayer or raincoat’s performance,” Simpson says.
Check the care instructions, but most nylon or polyester rain jackets and waterproof covers are machine washable. Use a cleaner designed for abrasion (Simpson recommends Grangers).
Proper drying is also important to maintain its water repellent properties. It is suggested that raincoats should be placed in the dryer on medium heat for at least half an hour. If the care instructions allow, ironing can also improve the water-repellent properties, but this should be done over a towel at a very low temperature to avoid melting your jacket.
For less technical rainwear – such as waxed cotton raincoats or poly-cotton raincoats – it’s best to follow the care instructions on the label. Ironically, some rainproof trench coats can only be dry clean.
Jackets must be washed with a specific down detergent and can take a long time to dry. They should be allowed to dry for 24 to 48 hours, giving them the occasional fluff to prevent the fluff from clumping. When it’s almost dry, put the sprayer in the dryer on low with a few dryer balls to completely break up any remaining clumps.
If the water-repellent properties of your outerwear have diminished after a few years of wear, the good news is that you can put on a new layer. Patagonia recommends Nicuax wash or spray products—which also work on waxed cotton.
Special care for shoes
Getting caught in the rain is the number one reason why your shoes and sneakers are resistant when you first buy them. Jenny Velakoulis, owner of Evans Leather Repair, says she applies three layers of a waterproof spray to your leather shoes, then reapplies it every six months.
The same goes for athletic shoes. The first and most important step is protection, says Eugene Cheng, founder of Sneaker Laundry, a maintenance service in Melbourne. The waterproofing spray will form a barrier around the sneaker, making it easier to care for.
If rain has already reached your shoes, before drying them, make sure they are clean. Use a special material shampoo to prevent the dirt from drying into the shoes, then put the leather shoes in a dry place away from heaters and out of direct sunlight to dry. Once it dries, apply a moisturizer to nourish the skin.
For sneakers that have been soaked, take out the laces and insoles and leave them outside in the sun. Cheng warns that sneakers can rot if placed in closets or left indoors while wet.