How to Care for Your Wax Jacket

How to Care for Your Wax Jacket

How to Clean and Reproof Your Wax Jacket

Wax jackets are a much-loved staple of British country clothing. 

Farmers, dog-walkers, fishermen, and many more love the rugged and rustic charm of these garments, which also do a fantastic job of protecting you from the elements!

As any wax jacket lover will know, there is a simple, yet essential, cleaning and caring process which needs to be followed to keep these garments looking, and performing, their best. A little time here and there can do wonders.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to maintain and refresh your wax clothing, providing our expert tips and tricks to keep your jacket in top-notch condition.


What is Waxed Cotton?

Close up of logo on Dubarry Mountrath Waxed Jacket

Understanding the fabric is key to knowing how to take care of it. So, let's give a quick recap on what it's all about. 

Waxed cotton, or oilskin, is made by weaving cotton yarn into a strong canvas fabric that is then treated with waxes to create a wind and water-resistant barrier. The beauty is that it still maintains the desirable breathable quality of cotton, making it the perfect jacket for the outdoors.

This type of fabric was originally favoured by sailors and fishermen for use in harsh weather conditions and life out at sea, and it then really started to make waves in outdoor clothing in the 19th century. 

Now, it is known for its rugged style, protection against the elements, and, with the right care, its remarkable durability.

It's important to note that although a wax jacket does offer water resistance, it is not completely waterproof. Modern waterproof jackets will keep you dry in downpours, whereas a wax coat is more for drizzly weather and light rain. The waxed cotton also requires regular maintenance to retain these water-resistant properties, so it is crucial to understand how to care for them correctly.  


Cleaning Your Wax Jacket

With your favourite waxed jacket shielding you from the rain, wind, and whatever else nature throws your way, it'll inevitably see its fair share of mud and muck! Luckily, it's easy to keep it looking sleek and sharp.

Follow these steps to clean your wax cotton jacket:

  1. Gently remove any visible dirt or debris with a soft brush or cloth
  2. Sponge wipe with cold water. This may expose some ground-in dirt that you then need to carefully brush off.
  3. Wipe the jacket down and make sure there's no dirt left on the surface.
  4. Let it dry naturally for 24 hours in a well-ventilated area.

To clean the lining, dip a clean cloth in a mixture of mild detergent and cold water and gently scrub the interior of the coat. Rinse with cold water to remove soap residue, and then gently press out the excess water. Leave to dry fully before putting on again. 


Reproofing Your Wax Jacket

An open tin of Hoggs of Fife Professional Waxed Cotton Dressing against a white background
Once the garment is clean and fully dry, you may wish to use a reproofing wax, such as the Hoggs of Fife Professional Waxed Cotton Dressing.

This step goes beyond just hygiene and aesthetic appeal, it is a key part of the maintenance process with many significant benefits. It will help sustain the water-resistant qualities and extend the lifespan of your jacket.

How often you need to reproof a jacket largely depends upon how often you wear it, and what for. It's usually recommended to do this at least once a year, but more if necessary.

Some good indicators that it's time to give your jacket some TLC are:

  • Uneven colour, shiny, or dry areas - or where moisture no longer beads on the surface - suggest the wax coating appears to be drying out and needs a quick reapplication.
  • It's been a tough winter, and your jacket has been regularly exposed to rough weather or environmental conditions.

    It is not always necessary to reproof the entire garment, simply address the areas that seem to require it. Typically, these areas include the shoulders, elbows and seat.


    How to Reproof Your Waxed Cotton Clothing

    Dubarry Waxed Cotton Dressing against a white background

    Alongside your high-quality waxed cotton care product, you'll also need some clean cloths or sponges, plus some old newspapers or tarp to protect the surrounding surfaces from any potential spills or drips.

    Set yourself up in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes from the wax dressing products, and you're ready to get your jacket looking its best once more!

    Follow these simple steps to re-wax your jacket:

    1. Lay the garment on a flat surface and give it another once over for visible dirt or debris. This is important, as any dirt left on the surface will clock the reproofing agent and when it falls away, leaves untreated areas.
    2. Apply the wax dressing or spray sparingly with a soft clean cloth.
    3. Spread it evenly over the surface of the entire jacket, using a circular motion to work it into the fabric. 
    4. Pay attention to the seams and well-worn areas, as these may require a little more wax.
    5. Wipe off any excess wax if necessary. You may need to use a hairdryer after application to allow the wax to fully absorb. This is advised with our Dubarry Waxed Cotton Dressing, for example.
    6. Hang the garment up overnight and let it dry completely before wearing it again.

    After cleaning and reproofing, your jacket is ready to be your trusty outer layer once more!

    It's worth noting that sometimes, your wax jacket may need a professional touch. Brands like Dubarry offer re-waxing services, providing a convenient solution for those who prefer expert care.


    DOs and DON'Ts of Caring for Your Wax Jacket

    Close up of sponge being used to wipe down Dubarry wax jacket

    Caring for your wax coat is all about adopting the right habits, and so we've put together some tips below to help with this process



    1. Pay Attention to Underneath the Collar - this can sometimes be forgotten about!
    2. Check the Care Label - check if there are any specific instructions for your particular garment.
    3. Store in a Cool, Dry, Well-Ventilated Space - this will help avoid mildew or mould growing.



      1. Machine Wash, Tumble Dry, or Take to the Dry Cleaners - this can damage the wax coating
      2. Use Soap, Solvents, or Bleaches - waxed cotton needs special care, so steer clear of any harsh chemicals
      3. Expose to Direct Sunlight or Open Flames - let it dry in a cool area 
      4. Clean with Hot Water - it can strip away the wax, reducing the jacket's effectiveness. Stick to cold water.



        Take the first step in looking after your wax clothing by exploring our range of waxed cotton care products. Unsure about which product suits your needs? Please reach out to our team - we're always here to help.

        And if you're in the market for something new, get inspired by browsing our full range of men's wax jackets and women's wax jackets.

        Don't forget to bookmark this blog for future reference, and always have a smart, clean, and protective wax jacket for your life in the countryside.

        Mark Holland has a keen eye for all things men's country clothing. Living amidst the fields and farms, he understands the practical aspects of rural living and the timeless style that accompanies it. His advice reflects a genuine appreciation for the comfort and connection that come with country wear. If you're looking for down-to-earth recommendations, then trust Mark to guide you through kitting out your wardrobe with firm favourites and classic designs.

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