Nikwax and my socks

I washed my socks in Nikwax over the weekend and it feels really weird.

Nikwax TX Direct Wash In

Nikwax TX Direct Wash In is used to restore water repellency to breathable waterproof fabrics like your Goretex cycling jacket. It also works on coated nylon and polyester apparel that have lost their waterproofing. I’ve been using Nikwax to restore my cycling, hiking, and skiing gear for years now and it works as advertised.

You can machine wash your gear in TX Direct Wash-In, but you get a lot more use out of the bottle with handwashing and I think the waterproofing lasts much longer.

After treating my rainpants and jackets in the kitchen sink, I had some Nikwax left over and threw a pair of wool socks in the wash. This isn’t a labeled use for the product, but it’s kind of cool to watch water beading off of my socks. I’m wearing them now and it’s an odd sensation feeling my feet slide around inside the shoes like they are.

The kitchen sink? Really?

Nikwax uses water emulsions instead of nasty petrochemical solvents to carry the waterproofing. You shouldn’t drink the stuff or get it in your eyes because acetic acid is an irritant, but non-toxic Nikwax isn’t going to poison you and you won’t lose any brain cells applying Nikwax. Nikwax also does not use flurocarbons because those environmentally persistent proofing agents can be hazardous to the environment and to your health.

Nikwax’s position paper on fluorocarbons is instructive. Company founder Nick Brown says they were working on an FC (fluorocarbon) product in the 90s before the health and environmental impacts of FC were well known outside of the chemical industry. Nikwax unexpectedly discovered, “Our supplier’s product killed rats!” He continues, “We were working outside our experience, because up until then we had selected out raw materials for low toxicity, and they didn’t need to be tested on rats!”

Nikwax’s waterproofing agent, zirconium acetate, is the zirconium salt of acetic acid with an objectionable (to me) vinegar odor while it “cures,” but that odor goes away in a day or two. After that, you have nicely waterproof raingear again.

Nikwax TX Direct Wash In

I’m an enthusiastic and long time user of Nikwax waterproofing products, but last week Nikwax sent me samples of some other things I’ve never tried before, so watch for a giveaway soon.


  1. I’ve used the wash-in stuff before but I’ve since switched to the spray-on. I use the Nikwax “tech wash” for the family’s jackets and rainwear. The spray-on waterproof is gives the shoulders and hoods a little more water protection.

    I guess if you can’t waterproof your socks you can get a set of “spats” shoe covers from Rivendell. Anyone use those?

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