3 Care & Maintenance Tips for an Oilskin Garment

Driza-Bone Oilskin Jacket
Photo: Driza-Bone

Initially, oilskin clothing was primarily favored by sailors and fishermen. These durable garments were created by treating the thick cotton fabric with oil, shielding the wearer from extreme weather conditions. Oilskin outerwear such as coats, vests, pants, and jackets are essential for outdoor workers, including farmers, loggers, and stockmen. 

Moreover, these items are often sported by individuals participating in camping and other outdoor activities. Fashion enthusiasts have also embraced oilskin apparel to enhance their style. Oilskin garments have become popular because they’re wind-resistant and waterproof. 

In addition, manufacturers have made them more durable, breathable, easy to clean, and fashionable. Consider buying from reputable retailers or manufacturers for the best deals on oilskin coats, vests, and jackets.

After purchase, caring for and maintaining your oilskin garments is vital. This ensures they serve you longer. Below are some tips to consider: 

1. Proper Cleaning & Drying

Yellow Oilskin Jacket Woman Back
Photo: Shutterstock

Ensuring proper cleaning and drying is crucial to keeping your oilskin garments in good condition. They’re unlike your other clothes, and you may be unsure how to care for them. Handwashing your oilskins is recommended to make them last longer. 

Also, avoid washing them with laundry detergent and hot water, as these can remove the wax and oil that make your garment waterproof. Here’s how to wash your oilskins properly:

  • Soak your garment in cold water. 
  • Brush with a cold water-soaked sponge or a firm brush to eliminate dirt and dust.
  • Use plain soap or a product the manufacturer recommends if your oilskin item needs a thorough cleaning.
  • Rinse your garment with cold water. 

After washing, let your oilskin garment dry naturally. Do not dry it over a flame, heater, radiator, or under direct sunlight.  

2. Check for Mold

Mold can grow on your oilskin garments if you store them while wet or leave them in a humid place. Whether in the bathroom, kitchen, closet or on clothes, mold in your home can be hazardous to your health. This fungus can cause sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, breathing problems, and asthma symptoms. 

Vinegar
Photo: Shutterstock

Thus, checking for and getting rid of mold as soon as possible is crucial. To eliminate mold from your oilskin garments, consider the following steps:

  • Mix two parts of water with one part of white vinegar.
  • Pour the solution into a bucket or spray bottle. 
  • Use a stiff brush to apply the vinegar solution from the bucket. Alternatively, spray the mixture while brushing your garment.
  • Scrub both sides of the garment thoroughly to eliminate mold.
  • Hose it off and let it dry completely.

Soak your garment in the solution for stubborn mold for a few hours before scrubbing. When your garment is completely dry, hang or store it in a place with good air circulation. 

3. Re-Proof Regularly

It’s essential to re-proof your oilskin garments every three to 10 years. Doing so restores the water-repellent coating, makes your garment feel and look new, and extends its lifespan. You can use cream, wax, or spray to re-proof your oilskins. 

If you’re using a cream, here are the steps to follow:

  • Ensure it’s a sunny or warm day.
  • Place your garment under the sun for a few minutes.
  • Place the re-proofing cream in hot water or direct sunlight to warm it up.
  • Apply the cream on your oilskin garment using a clean cloth, adding a little extra along the friction points and seams.
Hanging Jacket
Photo: Shutterstock

If you prefer wax to re-proof your oilskin garments, here’s what you should do: 

  • Hang your garment where there’s direct sunlight. 
  • Heat the wax under the sun or place it in a container with hot water until it turns into liquid.
  • Use a paintbrush, soft cloth, or sponge to apply the wax onto your oilskin item, ensuring a thicker application on the seams and friction areas.
  • Leave the garment in a warm place to allow the wax to be fully absorbed. 

A re-proofing spray is recommended for smaller items like hats, bags, or coats for dogs. It also allows easy application for hidden parts of your jacket, coat, or trousers. Don’t forget to apply more on your garment’s seams and friction areas.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions about re-proofing to avoid damaging your oilskin outfits. 

Final Thoughts

Proper care and maintenance of your oilskin garments are vital. Remember that the cleaning and drying process differs from regular clothes. In addition, removing mold and regular re-proofing can help keep them in good condition and extend their lifespan.


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