There is probably no membrane on the market that is better known than Gore-Tex. A wide variety of brands use GORE-TEX membranes in their products for a wide variety of sports. Let's take a closer look at the brand, its commitment to sustainability and the proper care of GORE-TEX products.
General information about GORE-TEX
As early as 1969, the scientist Robert W. Gore discovered that PTFE, a special plastic compound, becomes solid and highly porous when stretched. This sounds cryptic at first, but it is quickly and easily explained. The plastic membrane is pulled apart until tiny holes appear in it.
The holes are so small that no drop of water can get through. However, water vapour molecules are much smaller and still pass through the GORE-TEX membrane. Translated to outdoor or winter sports products, this means that no rain or snow can get through an outdoor jacket, for example. At the same time, sweat is wicked away from the body as vapour and sent through the membrane.
This makes the GORE-TEX membrane 100% waterproof, 100% windproof and 100% breathable. Over the years, GORE-TEX has further developed this discovery and created different types of membranes for different areas of application. In addition to these innovations, however, one point has always been of great importance to GORE-TEX: sustainability.
GORE-TEX and sustainability
Sustainability has always been a major concern for GORE-TEX and with the advancing climate change, the importance has been further increased. With the so-called Sustainability Framework, GORE-TEX defines various cornerstones for how the brand can make itself more sustainable today and in the future.
As a simple formula, GORE-TEX describes the approach as follows: Protecting people and the planet multiplied by extending product life and well-being equals the best possible performance for each individual, society and the GORE-TEX brand business. Let's break down the formula together.
Protect people & planet
Protecting people is anchored in GORE-TEX's history and identity. This begins with the obvious protection from rain and other elements provided by the GORE-TEX membrane and extends to the social and societal responsibility of the company. This applies not only to external responsibility, but also to ensuring a fair and safe workplace for GORE-TEX employees, for example.
GORE-TEX has also set itself major goals for the protection of the planet. Overall, the aim is to reduce the impact on climate change. To this end, the brand has formulated so-called Carbon Goals, whereby GORE-TEX wants to be completely carbon neutral by 2050, i.e. work without carbon emissions. The brand achieves this by increasing the use of renewable energies, improving material selection and working more closely with suppliers. These are just a few of the steps GORE-TEX is taking to protect people and the planet, which describes the first part of the formula.
Prolong product life & well-being
A fairly obvious way to improve sustainability is to extend the life of products. The longer a product lasts, the less often new products have to be bought and thus also manufactured. This in turn means less impact on nature and the climate. To extend the durability of GORE-TEX products, proper care of the membrane is also part of the process. We will discuss this point in more detail below.
Extending comfort means that GORE-TEX products are optimised to balance comfort, protection and sustainability. When GORE-TEX products keep people comfortable and protected from the elements for longer, it also makes them more sustainable. Clearly understandable, right?
Perform for individuals, society, business & environment
The result of the Sustainability Framework formula is best explained to you by Ross MacLaine of the GORE Fabrics Division himself:
"With our new Sustainability Framework, we are redefining the term "performance" for ourselves. We are moving away from a purely technical approach to a performance that benefits people and the environment in equal measure. Our focus is on innovations that are inspired by the principle of sustainability and create social benefits. In addition, we will continue to work hard to reduce the environmental impact of our operations and products."
- Ross MacLaine, Sustainability Team Leader, Gore Fabrics Division
The correct care of GORE-TEX products
As already described, a sustainable approach to the environment also includes conscious handling of the articles. This includes, in particular, the correct care of the products. Regular care not only ensures optimal functionality, but also that the service life is extended. But how do you care for your GORE-TEX products properly?
The most important care instructions
Proper care of the products includes the 3 points: regular and correct washing, drying and, if necessary, renewal of the permanently water-repellent impregnation, DWR for short. In addition, you should pay close attention to the manufacturer's care instructions, as they often differ slightly. These care instructions, including washing instructions, can be found on the sewn-in labels.
For jackets, for example, these are usually on the lower left inside of the jacket, or for shoes on the inside of the products. There are also some differences depending on the product category that you should be aware of. The information refers to both waterproof and non-waterproof GORE-TEX products, but not to GORE-TEX Shakedry garments.
The right care for your clothing / How to care for your clothing properly
To wash GORE-TEX garments properly, you will need a washing machine, some liquid detergent, preferably a dryer and a DWR waterproofing agent. If you don't have a dryer at the moment, you can also use an iron or a cloth towel.
Step 1: The washing
- Before washing, make sure that all zips and pockets are closed and the straps are fastened.
- It is best to wash the garment on a gentle cycle at 40 degrees.
- Use only a small amount of liquid detergent, but not stain remover, fabric softener or powder detergent.
- Make sure that there are no heavily soiled garments in the washing machine, but there is no need to wash GORE-TEX garments separately.
- Rinse twice more after the wash cycle and make sure you spin as little as possible - max. 400 rpm.
Step 2: The drying
- The garment can either be air dried or tumble dried at a warm temperature and low revolutions - do not dry at high temperature!
- Caution: For GORE-TEX Shakedry garments, the care process ends here. Air dry only.
- To renew the DWR impregnation, the garment must now be put in the dryer for 20 minutes.
- If you do not have a dryer, you can also use an iron. The first thing to do is to follow the manufacturer's care instructions. A very low temperature and no use of steam are usually recommended.
- In addition, a cloth should be placed between the iron and the garment to protect the material.
Step 3: The DWR impregnation
- If, after washing and drying, the water does not bead off the garment in the usual way, the DWR impregnation should be refreshed.
- Any DWR impregnation agent for clothing can be used for this purpose.
- After application, the garment must be put in the dryer for another 20 minutes or ironed again as described above - this activates the DWR impregnation.
The right care for shoes / How to care for your shoes properly
To keep your shoes in the best condition, you should also care for your shoes regularly and properly. This is the only way for your shoes to do what they are capable of and keep your feet dry and warm. In addition, the right care ensures that the life cycle is extended.
GORE-TEX shoes are very easy to care for overall, but the three steps must also be followed here. You should also pay close attention to the manufacturer's care instructions. In addition to a brush or cloth, all you need to care for your shoes is lukewarm water. Optionally, you can also use a shoe dryer, stain remover and waterproofing agent.
Step 1: The washing
- Before washing, remove the laces and, if possible, the inner sole.
- Shake out the coarse dirt, such as sand and gravel, before cleaning.
- Use the brush and remove the outer dirt with a little water - if necessary, you can also use a little liquid detergent.
- Especially with leather shoes, the manufacturer's care instructions should be followed more closely.
- The shoes should not be washed in the washing machine.
Step 2: The drying
- It is best to dry the shoes at medium temperatures.
- To dry the inside of the shoes, you can put crumpled newspaper inside the shoes - but you should make sure to change it regularly.
- Direct exposure to heat - e.g. from a hairdryer - should be avoided.
Step 3: The impregnation
- If after cleaning the water does not bead off the shoes as usual, the DWR impregnation should be refreshed.
- A water-based pump spray waterproofing agent can be used for this purpose.
- Waterproofing wax or grease should be avoided, as otherwise the shoes and feet will breathe less.
With these tips, you can not only contribute to sustainability, but also benefit from your products in the long run.
GORE-TEX: Here's to many more years!
Sustainability is probably one of the most important issues we deal with today. It is clear to most people by now that there is more than one aspect to sustainable coexistence between people and nature and that there are many different approaches to this very complex topic.
GORE-TEX is constantly redefining its performance and has set itself the goal not only of reducing the direct ecological footprint of production, but also of ensuring that the environment is protected with a longer product life cycle.
This also includes the correct care and handling of the products. We hope that with these tips we can ensure that the GORE-TEX products last as long as possible and that you can get the best out of the product.
* The actual price may differ from the one indicated here. It depends on current offers and the model.