A coat made of oilskin, also called waxed cotton, is crafted from high performance fabric that combines advanced protection from wind and water with comfort and breathability. Despite being waterproof, oilskin is still prone to picking up mold, mildew or stains that can cause odors and can't be machine-washed or dry-cleaned. Properly care for and protect your oilskin coat so your oilskin coat can continue to protect you.
Waxed cotton, or oilskin, is created by weaving two-ply cotton yarn into heavy canvas fabric and then treating the fabric with a mixture of oil and wax. This treatment results in a fabric that is water- and wind-resistant, yet flexible and breathable.
Clean your coat regularly to remove dust and dirt that can build up and cause wear or stains that may promote odor. Remove surface dirt, sand and grit as soon as possible with a soft-bristled clothing brush. Rinse with a hose or wipe your coat down with a sponge using cold water only. Hang to dry completely for at least 24 hours in a well-ventilated area away from the sun and artificial heat. Don't machine wash, tumble dry or dry-clean your oilskin garment or use detergent soap, solvents or bleach, all of which can damage or remove the coating. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for long periods of time.
Check your coat monthly for uneven, shiny or dry patches, especially around the sleeves, neck and shoulders, or areas where moisture no longer beads, which will require reproofing in these areas. Generally, oilskin garments need reproofing yearly if worn regularly or sooner if the coat has dried out due to exposure to sun, wind and rain. Reproofing can bring back the water-resistant finish, refresh the garment's color and help prevent rips forming along the seams. Use a reproofing cream formulated for oilskin and apply to the clean and dry garment with a lint-free soft cloth as directed. Use extra cream in seams and worn areas. Wipe off excess cream and hang to dry overnight. Apply additional cream to areas that still appear dry or shiny.
Store your oilskin coat properly when not in use. Make sure the reproofed coat is clean and dry, as garments that are not thoroughly dry or that are stored in a humid area may develop mildew. Either hang or fold and roll your coat and store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Periodically inspect your coat while in storage to check for mildew or odors that may cause damage.
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Hilary White is a professional writer and editor based in San Diego. White has been writing articles on fashion, style, fitness, nutrition, movies and entertainment since 1994. Her articles have been published in "Westways" magazine, "Pages" magazine, "Book Street USA," "Magill's Cinema Annual," and numerous titles from Visible Ink Press. White holds a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University.