Washing one’s dirty linen in public

Washing one’s dirty linen in public

Well, not quite – but herewith a short story about the right stuff to wash your textile motorcycle gear with!

The idea to write this up comes as the result of recent experience. A group of us has spent several wonderful days in magnificent weather, riding around the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. FUN!!

And so the fourth day dawned, and we awoke early in the thriving metropolis that is Bordertown. I dashed outside as the sun rose – as is my wont – and instead of being greeted by clear, cerulean skies (as we had become accustomed to), solid sheets of rain, driven by a gusty, icy wind, said “Good Morning Muppet!

Okay, time to readjust expectations!

The inclement weather is not really a problem for me, since the combination of heated grips, the BMW RT fairing and the BMW GS Dry suit will keep me dry and warm, I thought. And that is how it turned out to be. I rode along dumb, fat and happy through incessant rain and 3 degree temperatures all the way home to Melbourne. And as my riding mates all had top quality gear, although they were on BMW GS bikes, I thought that they would also be the same, Okay, maybe not so dumb and fat…

So, I was rather surprised at our coffee stop in Horsham, to witness the sight of one of our intrepid crew, who we shall call Mr. S, doing a very realistic impression of a drowned rat! He had a top of the range textile suit of riding gear which should have kept him warm and dry but was failing dismally.

After drying out a bit, and being reinvigorated with copious amounts of coffee, we set out again. The rain had abated slightly, but the wind was stronger and we had a couple of unplanned stops to make sure that Mr. S did not come down with hypothermia.

After the ride, we examined his riding gear. We looked for any holes or manufacturing defects that could explain why it had leaked like the proverbial sieve but could not find anything untoward.

I then asked him what he had used to wash his gear in…

He replied “Omo” [ an Australia brand of laundry detergent by Unilever ] and there the question was answered.

If you wash your textile motorcycle gear in ordinary soap powder or liquid, yes it will be clean, but you will have also stripped off any waterproofing that the garment may have had! And since every time you ride through rain, the waterproofing is depleted, there may not have been a whole lot of waterproofing capability left in any case.

So, what should be used? A non soap, technical cleaner should be used.

I use the following to both wash and re waterproof my riding gear:

Nikwax Tech Wash. This stuff works very well, and not only cleans the riding gear, but also restores water repellency. 2 caps of it, into the washing machine set on the hand wash cycle and my riding gear comes out completely refreshed, in terms of cleanliness, breathability and water repellency.

I also find it a good habit and it’s recommended by the manufacturer, to run a short wash cycle without any soap in it before putting in the riding gear. This will cleanse the washing machine of any residual soap powder, which may contaminate the non soap cleaner.

Nikwax Tech Wash

Whilst the water repellency of the riding gear is certainly restored well by using the Tech Wash, I find that using the Nikwax TX. Direct Wash-in Waterproofing restores the full waterproofing capability to the riding gear. I use it every third wash, or when I have been riding in rain for days at a time. It is equally as simple to use as the Tech Wash – and you can use it immediately after the Tech Wash is finished.

Nikwax TX. Direct Wash in waterproofing.

I have used these products for over 10 years now and my BMW GS Dry suit still keeps me warm and dry after well over 5 years and 100,000 km – so I can confidently testify, it does work!

I will add that I have no commercial arrangements with the crowd who make or import these products. I buy and use the stuff because it does what it says it will. The company started up as a one man band – mixing the first waterproofing wax in a flat in London, because the creator of it, Nick Brown – hence the name Nikwax – was not satisfied with any of the weatherproofing products available at the time in 1977.

Keep the shiny side up!