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How To Clean & Wash a Wax Jacket

10 Oct 2019 |

Wax jackets have been around for quite a while and have been extremely popular in the UK and Australia for generations. Today Wax jackets have had a comeback all around the world mainly because these jackets age well adding to the jackets character.

What Is A Traditional Wax Jacket?

A traditional cotton wax jacket is a hip length raincoat that is made from strong durable cotton and made water resistant by coating the jacket with special oils and a paraffin-based wax. These jackets normally sport a removable soft and warm tartan lining, A detachable hood, and corduroy or leather collar. These jackets sport several pockets in which to place fishing or hunting gear. These jackets are extremely popular for outdoor activities such as fishing or hunting or working outdoors.

How To Clean a Wax Jacket

You may be wondering 'how do you clean a wax jacket?'. Wax jackets cannot be cleaned like your other clothing by simply throwing them into your washing machine or taking them to the dry cleaners. While it is important that you closely follow the cleaning directions that come attached to your jacket, here are general cleaning directions so that you have some idea on how to clean these jackets to maintain their looks and usefulness.

Basic Washing Instructions

Before cleaning your wax jacket with water wipe down the jacket with a clean dry rag in order to remove any loose dust or dirt that might damage your jacket. Normally the directions for cleaning a wax jacket recommends that you clean the jacket using cool clean water and sponge though for deeper cleaner you can place the jacket in a shower or spray it with a hose. In cases where the jacket is especially muddy or covered with dirt, try placing it in a bucket of cool water for several hours to loosen the dirt before then sponging or spraying it clean.

Do not use any soap or detergent when cleaning your wax jacket as detergents will strip the jacket completely of its wax coating and cause the colorful lining to fade.

Once your jacket has been washed clean you need to hang it up in a well-ventilated area and allow the jacket to dry thoroughly. This may take up to 24 hours or more.

Once your jacket has dried then it needs to be reproofed.

Reproofing Your Wax Jacket

Once you jacket has dried you need to add wax to your jacket to re-waterproof it and keep it looking it's best. It is advisable to use the wax made by the same company as your jacket, because each company may have their own proprietary blend and using a wax made by a different company may not work as well as it should.

Take your wax jacket and lay it out on a flat surface (you may want to place a garbage bag under it since waxing your jacket can be messy.)

You'll need a couple of soft clean cloths, the reproofing wax, and a few spare hours.

Smooth the jacket out (do not iron it) Then melt the wax until it has turn to liquid form. Melting can be done by placing the can of wax in a pan of hot water or melt with a hairdryer.

Dip one of the soft cloths in the wax and rub into the jacket one small area at a time. Try and apply the wax as evenly as possible all over the jacket taking special care to ensure that you cover the seams well to prevent leakage around the threads.

Use the other clean soft rag to wipe off any excess wax. Use a hairdryer on warm to finish the jack and blend the wax.

Allow the jacket to dry overnight in a well-ventilated area.

Wax Jacket Dos and Don'ts

Here are some dos and don'ts you should remember when cleaning your wax jacket.


  • Follow the care directions on your jacket's label.
  • Use the branded wax from the same manufacturer as your jacket.
  • Dry and wax the jacket in a well-ventilated room.
  • Clean your wax jacket with cold water only.
  • Melt the reproofing wax prior to using.
  • Use a hairdryer to even out the finish once you have completed reproofing.


  • Use warm or hot water when washing your Wax Jacket.
  • You any soaps, detergents, or solvents
  • Expose your jacket to prolonged intense heat or bright sunlight
  • Dry clean or place in a washing machine
  • Iron or apply starch to your wax jacket
  • Reproof until your jacket is clean and completely dry.

Additional Facts About Wax Jackets

Here are some additional facts regarding wax cotton jackets you might find interesting or helpful.

  • Wax jackets normally come in dark colours usually black, brown or olive green.
  • Your jacket should be cleaned and reproofed at least once a year.
  • Used wax jackets sell for a good price. The older the better in some areas.
  • When storing your wax jacket it should be stored in a cool dry place.
  • The origins of wax jackets go back to the 1700 and 1800 in Scotland where these jackets were mainly worn by fisherman and the royal navy.
  • Wax jackets look great with jeans and have become popular in many parts of the world.
  • Wax jackets look really good with jeans.

Keep in mind that a wax jacket is not overly difficult to reproof, but it does take time and some effort. However, many people prefer to have a wax jacket sent to a company to be reproofed. Barbour will reproof and repair your wax jackets for you for a price.

Many people believe that reproofing their jacket themselves is a kind of right of passage, however if you are unsure that you can a good job and keep your jacket waterproof then then it may be wise to have your jacket professionally reproofed.

Let us know if you have any questions on how to clean and wash your wax jacket - we will be more than happy to answer. 

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