How To Waterproof Hiking Pants? (Easy Tips)

Hiking pants are a staple of the hiking world. They’re comfortable, durable, and they keep you cool when temperatures rise. 

But they can also be expensive and they often get dirty quickly! If you’re looking to extend the life of your hiking pants, here are some tips for keeping them waterproof:

Waterproof your clothing – DIY, easy n cheap – YouTube
Properly waterproofing hiking pants is essential for staying dry and comfortable during outdoor adventures.
Cleaning and preparing the pants before applying waterproofing products helps ensure better results.
Choosing the right waterproofing product based on the fabric of the pants is crucial for effectiveness.
Applying the waterproofing product evenly and following the manufacturer’s instructions is important for optimal performance.
Regular maintenance and reapplication of waterproofing treatments can prolong the pants’ waterproof capabilities.
Testing the waterproofing after application and making adjustments if necessary is recommended.
In addition to waterproofing, consider other factors like seam sealing and DWR treatment for comprehensive protection.
Proper care and storage of waterproof hiking pants can help maintain their effectiveness and longevity.
It’s important to balance waterproofing with breathability to ensure comfort during physical activities.
Keep in mind that waterproofing is not a permanent solution and may need to be reapplied over time.

Wash Linen in Cold Water

Wool and linen are best washed in cold water, which prevents the fibers from being damaged. Hot water can also damage the fibers, so you don’t want to use it for any of your hikers or jackets. 

It’s a good idea to wash them at least once every six months if you’re using them regularly, but if not then once a year is usually fine as well. 

If your hiking pants have zippers or buttons on them that get stuck easily when wet, then you should definitely try to hand-wash them instead of throwing them into the washing machine!

This process will help make sure that your items last longer while keeping their original color intact as much as possible!

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Treat Stains Immediately

Treating stains immediately is the best way to tackle them. When you’re out on the trail and a stain occurs, it’s tempting to let it sit until after your hike so you don’t have to deal with it. 

But if you do that, chances are your pants are going to get stained even more when they get wet from sweat or rain, and then those stains will be harder to remove!

So what exactly does treating stains mean? Well if the stain has already soaked into the fabric (leaving behind a duller or lighter appearance), then all that’s needed is water and detergent—and some agitation by hand or machine. 

For fresh-looking spots (where no discoloration has occurred), apply some vinegar first; then follow up with soap and water as above.

Stain TypeRecommended Treatment
CoffeeBlot with a paper towel, then use a stain remover like Brand X.
WineBlot with a clean cloth, then apply a mixture of warm water and Brand Y detergent.
Grease/OilSprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder, let it sit, then brush off and apply Brand Z stain remover.
BloodRinse with cold water, then apply a paste of Brand A enzyme-based cleaner.
InkDab with rubbing alcohol, then treat with Brand B stain remover.
GrassApply a mixture of vinegar and water, then wash with Brand C laundry detergent.
Tomato SauceRinse with cold water, then treat with Brand D pre-wash stain remover.
MudLet mud dry completely, brush off, then treat with Brand E stain remover.
ChocolateScrape off excess, then treat with Brand F liquid dish soap and warm water.
SweatPre-treat with Brand G stain remover, then wash with Brand H laundry detergent.

Avoid Bleach


The problem with bleach is that it can cause fading and discoloration, so it isn’t a good idea to use the stuff on your jeans. 

It’s also possible that you’ll accidentally get some of the bleach solution on yourself or someone else if you’re not careful.

Minimize Dryer Use

If you must use a dryer, then use it carefully. A short cycle at low heat will help maintain the waterproofing on your pants and prevent them from becoming brittle or discolored. If possible, air drying is best because it doesn’t involve heat that can damage the fabric of your pants.

If you have to use a dryer, remember that even if they are machine-washable (and many hiking pants are), they may still be hand-washed in cold water to extend their life and keep them in good condition.

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Choose the Right Detergent

Once you have a good idea of what kind of detergent to use, the next step is to find a good one. This can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for, but luckily there are some tips we can give you. 

First of all, make sure that the detergent is specifically designed for washing jeans so that it will be strong enough to break down any dirt accumulated in your hiking pants and remove stains from them.

Detergents with enzymes are also best because they help remove stains without affecting the integrity of the material. 

You should avoid using detergents with bleach or softeners since these ingredients can easily damage your pants over time. 

Finally, try not to use perfumes in any way when washing your hiking pants as this will affect their smell and could potentially ruin both their appearance and performance over time!

Pre-Treat Stains With Vinegar

Vinegar can remove a wide range of stains, from grass to coffee. It’s also a great presoak for pre-treating stains on your hiking pants.

The best type of vinegar to use is white distilled vinegar, which you can find at any grocery store. (Don’t use apple cider vinegar—it has a different pH level and will react differently.) 

For tough stains like mud or blood, pour the vinegar directly onto the stain and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before laundering as normal.

Stain TypeVinegar Treatment
CoffeeDab stain with a cloth soaked in a mixture of vinegar and water.
WineBlot stain with a vinegar-soaked cloth, then rinse with cold water.
Grease/OilApply undiluted vinegar directly to the stain, then blot with a clean cloth.
BloodSoak stain in a mixture of vinegar and cold water, then gently rub.
InkDab stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar, then wash as usual.
GrassMix vinegar with an equal amount of water and apply to the stain, then wash.
Tomato SauceBlot stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar, then rinse with cold water.
MudApply vinegar to the stain and gently rub, then rinse with water.
ChocolateDab stain with a cloth soaked in vinegar, then wash as usual.
SweatMix vinegar with water and apply to the stain, then wash with laundry detergent.

Turn Your Jeans Inside Out Before Washing

This helps protect the color of your jeans. Turning them inside out also prevents fading, which can happen when a garment is washed with other clothes that are not the same color or type. If you need to wash your jeans with other clothes, be sure to turn them inside out first.

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8. Soak Your Jeans in Vinegar and Water First

Vinegar is a handy cleaning product for many things, and it can help make your jeans more stain-resistant.

First, soak your jeans in a mixture of vinegar and water for at least an hour before washing them. 

This will help loosen stains and dirt that may have accumulated while they were in use. The vinegar also helps break down the fibers so they don’t wear out as quickly—this is especially important if you wear your pants often or have washed them before. You can also do this by using just plain water and baking soda if you don’t want to use vinegar (it’s not necessary).

Wash Separately From Other Clothes

In addition to washing your pants separately, consider using a detergent that is made specifically for denim. 

These detergents will help remove any dirt or stains from your hiking pants and keep them looking new for longer.

If you have a pair of jeans that have started to develop holes in them, use this opportunity as an excuse to upgrade to some nice waterproof hiking pants!

Add a Little Baking Soda to the Wash Cycle

Baking soda is actually an alkaline, so it helps to neutralize the acidity of denim, especially when it comes to blue jeans. 

It also helps remove stains and keep your hiking pants looking new for years to come. The best way to add baking soda into the wash cycle is by mixing it with hot water before you put any clothes in your washing machine or hand-washing them with some warm water and then adding some baking soda while they’re wet. 

As far as how much baking soda you should use? Just add enough until the water feels slippery like an egg white.

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Allow Denim to Air-Dry After Washing

Once you’ve given your jeans a good wash, it’s important to let them air-dry in an area with good ventilation. Hanging the pants up to dry in direct sunlight will fade the fabric and make it brittle over time. 

Similarly, leaving damp leather boots on the floor of your closet or kitchen can lead to mold growth, which can damage the leather beyond repair. 

Lastly, if you live in a climate where temperatures fluctuate between hot and cold throughout the year (for instance, a large city), allow your denim product to air-dry in an environment that doesn’t get too hot or cold.

Care TipDescription
WashingMachine wash denim inside out in cold water.
DetergentUse a mild detergent such as Brand X.
BleachAvoid using bleach as it can weaken the fabric.
DryingAir-dry denim by hanging or laying flat.
HeatAvoid excessive heat from dryers or direct sunlight.
WrinklesSmooth out wrinkles by hand after washing.
IroningIf necessary, iron on low heat inside out.
StorageStore denim in a cool, dry place to prevent mildew.
Spot CleaningSpot clean with a damp cloth or sponge as needed.
Fading PreventionWash denim less frequently to preserve color.

Don’t Let Your Jeans Hang Dry in Direct Sunlight too Long!

Never, ever hang your jeans in direct sunlight to dry. The ultraviolet rays will cause them to fade and break down faster. 

It’s also important that you remove the pants as soon as they’re dry, because leaving them in the sun for too long can lead to a color change and even shrinkage of your pants.

I recommend using an indoor drying rack if possible, but if you don’t have one available, then try hanging them on a clothesline indoors or under an overhang outdoors. 

If you live somewhere without much sun like Seattle or London you should still find some shade nearby where your jeans won’t get bleached out by the sun’s rays!

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We hope you found these tips helpful! Remember, the best way to keep your jeans looking great is to take care of them. 

And while it may seem like a lot of work at first, after you’ve done it a few times (and as long as you follow these steps), caring for your favorite pair won’t be a chore at all.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on waterproofing and gear maintenance:


How long does waterproofing last?

Waterproofing effectiveness can vary depending on the product used, the frequency of use, and the conditions your gear is exposed to. In general, waterproofing treatments may last several months to a year before requiring reapplication.

Can I use the same waterproofing spray for different materials?

While some waterproofing sprays are designed for specific materials, there are also multipurpose options available. However, it’s recommended to check the product instructions or consult with the manufacturer to ensure compatibility with the material you intend to treat.

How often should I wash my waterproof gear?

The frequency of washing waterproof gear depends on usage and dirtiness. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to wash waterproof gear when it becomes visibly dirty or when the water repellency starts to diminish.

Can I machine wash my waterproof jacket?

Machine washing waterproof jackets can be done, but it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, using a gentle cycle, mild detergent, and avoiding fabric softeners is recommended. It’s also essential to reapply a waterproofing treatment after washing.

How can I tell if my gear needs re-waterproofing?

If water no longer beads up on the surface of your gear or it becomes easily saturated, it may be time to reapply a waterproofing treatment. Additionally, if you notice areas where water seeps through the fabric, it indicates a loss of waterproofness and the need for re-waterproofing.