Chandlery: February 2012
To Clean and to Protect
Quality foul-weather gear can be expensive—in the $500 to $1,000 range for a full kit—so of course, you’ll want to take proper care of it to ensure that it holds up for the long haul. Sailing-apparel maker Gill recently launched a line of aftercare products designed to keep marine wear in top shape. Made in the UK, the product line includes an Intensive Spot Remover to target tough stains like grease and oil, a Wash-in Cleaner that kills bacteria and odors, and a quick-drying Reproofing Spray that replenishes the fabrics’ water- and stain-resisting abilities. While there are numerous products out there that will get fabrics clean, remove stains, and re-proof them, Gill claims its products are the “first-ever marine-specific” aftercare products.
PS tested the products on two heavy-weight foul-weather jackets (July 2008 issue) and two lighter-weight rain jackets. All of the jackets had seen multiple seasons of saltwater use, sported a few stains, and had not been laundered recently.
What We Found
The citrus-based Intensive Spot Cleaner has a pleasant orange smell. We first applied it to stains using a sponge and gentle rubbing as the directions advised, and when that didn’t get the job done, we applied it with a toothbrush and scrubbing. The toothbrush was more successful, and we were able to clean two of three test stains.
We smeared used motor oil onto one jacket and let the stain set before applying the spot cleaner. It did a good job of removing the oil, but a fair amount of scrubbing was required. A few small grease stains on another jacket were no match for the spot remover and toothbrush, but a black mystery stain on one test jacket was unaffected by the combo.
We also attempted to clean mildew stains on a different jacket to no avail—this wasn’t a big surprise as Gill makes no claim it will remove mildew.
Testers have always been cautious when laundering foulies—you never know which detergents may damage the fabric’s breathability, or water and wind repellents—so we were excited that Gill formulated a detergent that’s safe to use on waterproof and wicking fabrics and can be used in the washer or when handwashing. The Wash-in Cleaner washed away all of the salt stains on our test fabrics and left a neutral scent. Testers noted that a little goes a long way, and one bottle should last through about 10 loads. Spray tests with a garden hose confirmed that jackets retained their water-repelling ability after washing.
A few of our test jackets had lost their eagerness to shed water, so we coated them with the Gill Reproofing Spray and an inexpensive spray we found at Wal-Mart, Atsko Silicon Water Guard (803/531-1820, www.atsko.com). After the jackets dried, we spray-tested them with a hose to compare water-beading ability.
Both products were easy to apply and smelled like spray-paint, but the Gill spray (a Fluorinated polymer) dried much faster and its smell dissipated within minutes. The Atsko, however, left the treated fabrics wreaking of chemicals for days—it was not a smell you would want emanating from a V-berth hanging locker.
Neither product changed the color of the fabrics, and the initial greasy look the Atsko left quickly faded as the product dried. All of the reproofed jackets beaded water well in water-spray tests, but the Gill-treated fabrics tended to shed smaller beads. Gill claims its spray also gives fabric a salt and stain repellent finish, without affecting its breathability.
The products work, and we’d definitely recommend adding the Wash-in Cleaner ($16 / 10 ounces) to your laundry kit. The Reproofer we liked much better than the Atsko brand—it was more effective and did not leave a chemical smell on the fabrics. However, the $23 (10 ounces) bottle was only enough to re-proof three jackets, and the $5
(10.5 ounces) Atsko was still 60 percent full after three applications. The spot remover is an average performer, but its price ($14 per 2.5 ounces) makes us reluctant to recommend it over a general spot-stain remover.
For tips on caring for foul-weather gear, check out this article online.