How to Wash and Care for Ski Pants or Snow Pants

A winter coat, hat, ski pants, and goggles hanging up

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $3

It sounds tricky to wash waterproof clothing such as ski pants and jackets, snowboarding pants, or other snow gear, but it's easy once you know the process. The trick is to pre-treat stains, wash with like materials in cold water on a gentle cycle with a delicate or special detergent, and apply a waterproofing solution to restore the fabric's water impermeability. Never machine dry it; allow it to air or drip dry. Before you get started, read the manufacturer's care label for any other special instructions.

When washing skiing or snowboarding gear, you're washing away the dirt and grime that can disrupt waterproofing and breathability. That dirt clogs the breathable pores and prevents water vapor from escaping. Properly cleaning your ski wear—at least twice a season—will enhance your gear's ability to protect you from getting wet and cold.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Clothesline or drying rack
  • Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush (optional)

Materials

  • Gentle detergent
  • Stain remover (optional)
  • Waterproofing liquid solution or spray

Instructions

Materials to clean snow pants

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Wash Snow Pants
Detergent Gentle, such as Hex Performance, Woolite, or one formulated for waterproof gear
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Delicate
Drying Cycle Type Do not machine-dry
Special Treatments None
Iron Settings Do not iron
How Often to Wash Twice a season

Instructions

  1. Prep the Garment

    Cut off or untie any lift tickets or passes on pants, bibs, or ski jackets if you're washing them together. Remove any inner linings or removable hoods from jackets, zip up all the zippers, snap the snaps, and close all Velcro fasteners to prevent snagging and tears during washing.

    Tip

    Don't forget to check the pants pockets for lip balm, tissues, and anything else that could stain your fabrics.

    Someone checking ski pants before washing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Pre-Treat Stains

    Pre-treat the stain before washing if you have grease or food stains such as chocolate or mustard. Unlike more delicate fabrics, snow pants can handle a little scrubbing to remove stains.

    Apply stain remover to the affected area, and scrub it with a soft-bristled laundry brush or a soft toothbrush. Allow the stain remover to work for 15 minutes, scrub the stain again, and then wash as directed.

    Someone pre-treating stains on snow pants

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Add Pants to the Washing Machine

    Put the snow pants in the washing machine with similar fabrics. Turn the water temperature to cold and the cycle setting to gentle, and start the machine. If the clothes still feel soapy after rinsing, run them through a second rinse cycle.

    A laundry basket full of ski gear

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Rinse With Waterproofing Solution

    After washing, run just the pants and outer jacket, if washing one, through a second wash cycle using an in-wash waterproofing solution. Be sure that the waterproofing solution is designated for clothing, not tents or sleeping bags. Use cold water, and don't put other clothes in the washer.

    A container of waterproofing solution near ski gear

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Air-Dry the Pants

    Don't place your snow pants or ski clothes in the dryer. After washing, hang them to air-dry on a sturdy hanger that won't rust or bend, and don't place them near direct sunlight or a heat source Ironing won't be necessary because the weight of the fabric will pull out most wrinkles.

    A winter coat, hat, ski pants, and goggles hanging up

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

What Is Ski Pants or Snow Pants Material?

Lightweight ski wear is usually made of nylon fabric that the manufacturer treats on one side with special polymers, which lower the material's surface tension, causing water to bead up and roll off. The unique finishes on the inside of ski wear have microscopic pores that are too small to allow water to pass through but are large enough to let water vapor escape. This breathability keeps you both dry and warm because sweat is moved away from the body.

Treating Stains on Ski Pants or Snow Pants

If pre-treating a greasy spot with a stain remover on snow pants didn't help, try a different method using a gentle dish detergent. For example, if you see a grease stain, it could be from ski chair lifts. To help eliminate the problem, put a few drops of gentle dish detergent, such as Dawn or Joy, on the stain, and use a soft toothbrush to work it in. Blot up the stain with a clean cloth, rinse any remaining suds with another damp clean cloth, and then air-dry.

Care and Repairs

If you have a small tear in your snow pants, repair it with pre-cut repair patches meant for waterproof clothing. You'll find in-store patches specializing in outdoor gear, marine items, fabric, and crafting.

Use the repair patches, trim loose threads, and clean the area around the tear as much as possible. Dirt or oil could prevent the repair patch from sticking properly. Place the pants on a flat surface, and line up the edges of the rip as closely as possible. Peel the backing from the patch, and place it over the tear. Press down firmly to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles. The patch will reach full strength after 24 hours.

Storing Ski Pants and Snow Pants

At the end of winter, wash your snow pants with a special detergent meant for base layers, such as BaseWash from Nikwax. It cleans and deodorizes synthetic fabrics before storing them.

Once the snow pants and ski jackets have been washed, put them outside to air-dry on a warm, sunny day. Ensure every last drop of moisture is gone before storing to avoid mildew or mold growth during the off-season.

Finally, hang up the snow pants in a closet or fold them loosely and place them on a shelf. The pants keep you warm by trapping air in the fabric's fibers. Do not use a vacuum-seal bag to store your snow gear. When it's tightly packed, the fibers get compressed, which is not good for future use.

How Often to Wash Ski Pants and Snow Pants

Almost all snow pants are machine washable, but check the labels for cleaning instructions. Wash your snow pants at least twice a season. You don't want to wash them after every wear, especially not waterproofing-coated clothing.

Ski clothes should never be dry-cleaned because the cleaning chemicals are too harsh for the waterproof coating. Use these same cleaning methods for youth snow pants, bibs, or snowsuits.

Tips for Washing Ski Pants and Snow Pants

  • If you're not using an in-wash waterproofing product, wait until the clothes are completely dry, and then use a spray-on water-repellent product.
  • Between washings, hang ski jackets and pants to dry well after each use. Brush away any topsoil, and wipe away visible stains with a clean damp cloth.
  • Washing snow pants is also an excellent time to hand-wash water-repellent gloves. Put them on, wet them with cold water, put a drop of mild soap in the palm, and make the motion of washing your hands. Rinse well with cold water. Clean the inside by inverting the gloves, and repeat the steps. Gently squeeze out the water; wringing damages the fabric. Air-dry away from sunlight and high heat, hanging gloves from fingertips. Treat with a spray-on water repellent.
  • If your gloves have leather palms, use a mild leather cleaner. Treat it with a leather restorer to keep it supple when the leather is dry.
FAQ
  • Can you wash ski pants in the washing machine?

    Most all snow gear is machine-safe. If you're not sure, check the label. Wash in cold water, on gentle, using a delicate detergent or a waterproof material detergent.

  • What detergent do you use on ski pants and snow gear?

    It's better to use a powdered detergent instead of a liquid detergent. Liquid detergent draws water into the fabric, decreasing the fabric's surface tension. Special waterproofing detergents give ski and snow gear a water-repellent coating, increasing the surface tension and making the fabric repel water.

  • How often should you wash your ski pants and snow gear?

    Don't wash your ski clothes after every wear unless they get visibly dirty. Wash them at least twice a season. Or, if you go skiing regularly, wash them once every couple of months.