Dirty, stinky waders? That’s how you know you’re putting them to good use. Now it’s time to clean them up to keep them performing like they should.

Rinse Often, Wash Every Two or Three Trips

Keeping your waders clean is an ongoing chore; a habit you need to develop if you want your waders to last.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the full washing process every time you wear your waders. When you get home from the river or lake, give your waders a good rinse with the hose then let them dry completely.

Then, after every second or third trip depending on how dirty the water you fish is and how much you’ve been sweating, wash your waders thoroughly inside and out.

waders in lake

Use Approved Wader-Cleaning Detergents ?

Most powdered laundry detergents such as Ivory Snow are safe to use on breathable waders as long as they are free of additives such as color-safe bleach or fabric softeners. But before you start scrubbing away, check the care and cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer of your wader to see if there are any cleaning agents to avoid.

If you want to stay on the extra safe side, use a specialty cleaner such as Nikwax Tech Wash or Revivex Synthetic Fabric Cleaner (Link to Amazon to check prices). These agents are designed solely for cleaning waterproof material treated with DWR coatings.

Should You Machine Wash or Hand Wash Waders?

Some manufacturers suggest running your waders through the washing machine on a delicate cycle. If this is approved for your specific wader, go for it. If not, it’s best to stick with hand washing.

Fishing Waders in washing machine
Fishing Waders in washing machine

The easiest way to hand wash fly fishing waders is in the bath tub. Simply fill up your tub with warm water and add some detergent. Dunk your waders in the tub and use a soft cloth to give them a thorough once-over scrub. Turn the waders inside out and wash the interior.

When you’re done washing, rinse your waders with cold water. You can use the shower to rinse the waders or take them outside and spray them with a hose.

The Most Important Step: Drying Your Waders

After washing, hang your waders in a safe place to let them dry completely. Once the outside is dry, turn the waders inside out to allow the interior to dry.

That’s it! Now you have a fresh pair of clean waders ready for your next adventure.

Over time, you may find that cleaning isn’t enough to keep the DWR active. When that happens, it might be time to apply a new coating of DWR. To do so, follow the steps outlined in our article on wader care and repair.

Sources and More Reading

Read all about how SIMMS recommends taking care of your waders HERE.