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Static and Baselayers

My baselayers say not to wash with fabric softener. Are dryer sheets out too? No dryer sheet = major static.

Question:

I’ve noticed that the label on all of my baselayers say to not use fabric softeners. Do you know if this is just referring to liquid softeners or does this also mean dryer sheets? No dryer sheet = major static.

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Answer:

I hear ya, Ben. Excessive static is one of my major pet peeves. I always use dryer sheets, and have for years, with all my wicking layers and have noticed no ill effects at all. As for the washing techniques and products, you could opt to invest in a special soap built for outdoor gear, like Granger’s Performance Wash ($9; grangers.co.uk), or you could just use a mild liquid detergent like I do: Tide works for me. Wash your baselayers in cold water, dry them on a low setting, if possible, and don’t hesitate to toss in a dryer sheet.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Hopkins

    The solution to many issues regarding technical fabric performance comes down to one basic act – using the correct laundering product. To the best of my knowledge and research, there is only one BEST product and that is Atsko/Sno-Seal Sport-Wash or Sensi-Clean detergent. These are the only ones that I am aware of that rinse totally clean, leaving no residue. Even Nikwax Tech Wash, which is a widely used and vaunted product leaves residues behind that can fairly rapidly degrade water-resistant performance, barely outperformaing Tide and Woolite in Clemson University ASTM water spray tests designed to test the durability of DWR performance when laundered in different products. Unfortunately in this format, the test details can’t be represented, but if anyone has interest in either these tests, or others that I have available regarding laundry residue, UV performance, email me at APD@comcast.net.

    Residues come in many forms- clays, waxes, fragrances, organic deposits, salts, silicates, phosphates and so on. All residues reduce the physical/mechanical functioning across the entire range of moisture management products – base layers, shells, semi-permeable membranes, wicking layers, etc. They do this by providing a base for water to coalesce onto – just like dust particles provide the seed on which raindrops and snow flakes develope. Once water starts to coalesce, it’s presence prevents water vapor from evaporating thru the material at that point. This goes for both outer DWR surfaces as well as semi-permeable membrane surfaces – surface water can soak down to the outer membrane surface and block vapor movement and water on the inner surface can do the same, beginning a downhill spiral causing more water build-up inside, further shutting down moisture transfer untill all you have is a sweatsuit.

    Residues on high tech (and all materials) produce the following undesireable results. They produce abrasion between fibers which abrades individual fibers, shortening their life, abraded fibers produc surface texture that looks worn (think sweater balls as an example), long before it should be. The friction also causes the vast majority of the static that occurs in the dryer. Remove residues = less color loss, longer “new fabric look”, and limited static. Fabric softeners as noted below coat fibers and dryer sheets introduce residues that hurt performance.

    The other dirty little secret about residues – our bodies are home to zillions of bacteria, which can produce organic odors, courtesy of their “bi-products”. Our clothes are also home to zillions more. If you do not remove substantial numbers of bacteria and their organic bi-products from your clothes, can you expect anything other than a rapid re-occurance of odor? The Atsko products remove significant enough quantities of both bacteria and their organic waste, to significantly extend the time period before body contact can recolonize enough to produce odor. If you couple Redisue -free Sport-Wash with it’s sister shampoo and body wash, which also leaves no residues on your skin (removing residues from soap, shampoo, skin care products as well as bacteria, organic residue), the odor-free timeframe is extended even further. I used to pull “clean” towels out of our linen closet that had been washed 3-4 weeks before – the first time I got out of the shower and toweled off my hair, I could smell a distinct “off” odor which got worse as the week went on. When I changed to Sport-Wash, I discovered towels that had no smell and stayed fresh during the week – they also were significantly more absorbent. Once I dug into the whys for the change, it became obvious – washing towels in normal detergent, leaves behind detergent residue as well as bacteria, etc. While the towels were sitting in the linen closet, the bacteria present was making a smorgasbord out of the laundry residues, creating all manner of their own residue. When they “came out of the closet” and were exposed to water and dead skin cells, etc., they bloomed like tulips in the spring.

    Whether it’s an expensive waterproof-breathable garment, a base layer, a tee shirt, sheets, towels, down or synthetic sleeping bags/pillows, dog bed covers, blankets – whatever you wash with Sport-Wash or Sensi-Clean will come out odor-free, more absorbent, able to perform, technically as it was designed to do and will have a longer usable life.

    Sno-Seal will celebrate its 80th year in 2013 and is still the gold standard for waterproofing boots………..

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