How to Clean and Care for Snow Pants

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

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner

To fully enjoy outdoor winter activities, you need warm, lightweight, waterproof clothing such as jackets and snow pants to keep you from freezing during your snowy adventures. If you care for these clothes properly, they'll last for years to come.

Lightweight ski wear is usually made of nylon fabric that the manufacturer treats on one side with special polymers, which lower the surface tension of the fabric, causing water to bead up and roll off. The special 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 perspiration is moved away from the body.

However, dirt and grime can disrupt the waterproofing and breathability by clogging the pores and preventing water vapor from escaping. So properly cleaning your ski wear will enhance its performance—and, potentially, yours.

How Often to Clean Snow Pants

Wash your snow pants at least twice a season. However, you don't always need to wash them after every wearing. Almost all snow pants are washable, but check the labels for cleaning instructions. This is especially important for waterproof clothing. Ski clothes should not be dry-cleaned because the cleaning chemicals are too harsh for the waterproof coating. If you have youth snow pants or bibs, you can use these same cleaning methods.

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 (optional)

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
  1. Prep the Garment

    Check the pants pockets for lip balm, tissues, and anything that could stain your fabrics. 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.

    Someone checking ski pants before washing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Pre-Treat Stains

    If you have a grease stain or food stains such as chocolate or mustard, pre-treat the stain before washing. Unlike more delicate fabrics, snow pants can handle a little bit of 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 then 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 any 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 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

Storing Snow Pants

At the end of winter, wash your snow pants with a special detergent that's meant for base layers, such as BaseWash from Nikwax. It cleans and deodorizes the 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. Make sure that 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. Compressing the fibers will hinder that result.

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 patches in stores specializing in outdoor gear, marine items, fabric, and crafting.

To use the repair patches, trim any 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.

Treating Stains on 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 off with another damp clean cloth, and then air-dry.

Tips for Washing 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.
  • When washing snow pants, it's also a good 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, if possible, 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. When the leather is dry, treat with a leather restorer to keep it supple.