USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

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USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Glennbo » Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:34 am

I bought a USGI rain pocho a few months ago at an Army/Navy store. It worked great for me in hard, driving rain. I was very happy with it.

I just used it tonight in a heavy rain and the water soaked through. The inside liner was all wet...all over, and wherever it touched my clothes they got wet as well.

The only thing I did to it in the meantime was wash it on the warm cycle with ordinary laundry detergent. Did this make it no longer waterproof? Is there any cure or should I just chuck it, learn from my mistake (I'm assuming I shouldn't have washed it in a clothes washer), and buy a new poncho?

There are no tears or holes in it. Is it ruined? Why did it get ruined?
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by CitizenZ » Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:49 am

The laundry detergent stripped the waterproofing off. You may need to re-wash it with a non-detergent cleaner before waterproofing again.

Re-apply water proofing. Get some good spray silicon waterproofer from REI or other big store. Read the instructions. Not just cheap scotch guard crap. Spray, let dry. Done. Next time you want to clean it, just use a soapy wet rag/sponge to wipe it clean. Air dry.

It will be better than when you bought it.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Glennbo » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:10 am

CitizenZ wrote:The laundry detergent stripped the waterproofing off. You may need to re-wash it with a non-detergent cleaner before waterproofing again.

Re-apply water proofing. Get some good spray silicon waterproofer from REI or other big store. Read the instructions. Not just cheap scotch guard crap. Spray, let dry. Done. Next time you want to clean it, just use a soapy wet rag/sponge to wipe it clean. Air dry.

It will be better than when you bought it.
Thanks a lot for such a prompt, knowlegable reply. But I'm a little confused.

I thought waterproofing spray was for things that were not waterproof, but would be made waterproof by spraying them. My bag is waterproof. My umbrella is waterproof. My shoes are waterproof. They do not have to be sprayed to stay waterproof. I had no idea that a RAIN PONCHO doesn't start off waterproof and stay that way without spraying.

This upsets me because I sprayed my Carthart winter coat and the waterproofing only lasted a couple of months. Not to mention the spraying proccess itself stinks to high heaven and takes days to dry properly. I don't want to go through that with a rain poncho. I would rather invest in a new, high-tech poncho that can be washed without needing to spray it.

But if you think that I can just spray it once, and as long as I don't wash it that way again I'll never have to spray it again, I'll give it a go because I really love this poncho. I even bought some tent stakes for the gromets...so I'm invested in relying on this USGI rain poncho as a major part of my bug-out gear.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:26 am

Well, you COULD try reading the care instructions sewn into every piece of US equipment. The ponchos have, since I've been using them (1980), been a hand care item- warm soapy water and a light brush action, if memory serves. Also, it depends on what TYPE of USGI poncho you have- the 4 pound monster I was issued had different care instructions from the nylon one I bought years later.

If that care panel isn't sewn into the USGI stuff, it might not BE USGI, it could be a knockoff- it happens. It could also have been removed, or plain worn out- if you got it used, this could be the case, too. There's a Field Manual about care and use of personal equipment, I'll have to get back to you on it with the right number. I might even have a link to it, but it'd be on my home computer. I have found it to be very helpful with older equipment, where the panel is no longer legible.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Glennbo » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:46 am

KnightoftheRoc wrote:If that care panel isn't sewn into the USGI stuff, it might not BE USGI, it could be a knockoff- it happens. It could also have been removed, or plain worn out- if you got it used, this could be the case, too.
I bought it used for $17. There's nothing about care anywhere. There're no labels, tags, no writing anywhere on it. It appears genuine, and the store where I bought it sold it as a USGI poncho. That's why I bought it. I've purchased a lot of gear at this store including wool blankets, paracord, Datrex ration bars, etc...and have been nothing but happy until this.

I can't believe that one time in a washer on warm cycle ruined it.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:50 am

Well, like someone great once said- "shit happens". The good points are: it happened before you CAN'T get a replacement, it didn't cost you an arm and a leg, as some lessons might, and it CAN be spiffed back up to performance level. All in all, some good things to take away with you here, and not too costly. Send me a PM, to remind me about that manual- after I finish work tonight, I have a job to go to somewhere else, and I expect to be pretty trashed by the time I get home, so my built in forgetter will be the only thing reliably working. :D
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by K9medic » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:17 am

I dont know if the UK issued poncho is diffrent, but mine is a wipe with a damp sponge and air dry. We were always taught never to put them in a washer or use detergent on them as it strips the water pruff coating of them.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Ufdyixcaff » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:12 pm

A few points.

1) Ponchos dont go into the washer/dryer. The heat/detergent/agitation action = bad juju. Im surprised a single cycle would cause a loss of all water repellency, but you did buy it used. Detergent is REALLY harsh on A LOT of things you think should be "washable".

2) It sounds like you might have bought a knock off. The genuine stuff is waterproofed via a urethane coating. For it to come off, it would come off like old sunburned skin... flaky and gross.

3) Even if it is genuine, its possible it just hit its water repellency threshold. It happens. You can replace the fabrics DWR (durable water repellent) with several products. Nikwax and Goretex both make good stuff. Alternately, you could thin out some silicone with some mineral spirits and brush the solution on the underside of the poncho and you would have a homebrew version of a silnylon poncho.

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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by ODA 226 » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:14 pm

Glennbo wrote:The only thing I did to it in the meantime was wash it on the warm cycle with ordinary laundry detergent.
You won't do that again, will ya?! LMAO! :lol:
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by dukman » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:39 pm

If they have a Urethane coating, could it be that the coating is still working but maybe the seams have lost their seal? I would go over the stitching with a seam sealer before spraying.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by BobtheBreaker » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:47 pm

Glennbo wrote: I can't believe that one time in a washer on warm cycle ruined it.
Assuming its surplus gear...theres no guarantee its only been one time.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Woods Walker » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:30 pm

Are you 100% certain that the issue wasn't just condensation which can be a problem for any non breathable raingear (sometime even breathable too) given the right set of circumstances.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by GunsUp » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:42 pm

Did you get little white flakes coming off the outside? If not odds are you got a knockoff poncho. This is the urethane coating as mentioned previously.

The care instructions are printed on the inside of the front about knee to crotch height.

If it is USGI it will have a NSN number on it somewhere (8405-01-100-0976 for woodland).

However even if it is not a knock off it specifically says not to machine wash....

If its leaking from the seams... seam seal it. If its leaking from anywhere else... trash....

There are no ponchos that can be machine washed... except maybe plastic or PVC ponchos...

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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Dawgboy » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:47 pm

+1 on the Nikwax... That stuff is the Bomb...
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by CitizenZ » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:34 pm

Glennbo wrote:
CitizenZ wrote:The laundry detergent stripped the waterproofing off. You may need to re-wash it with a non-detergent cleaner before waterproofing again.
Re-apply water proofing. Get some good spray silicon waterproofer from REI or other big store. Read the instructions. Not just cheap scotch guard crap. Spray, let dry. Done. Next time you want to clean it, just use a soapy wet rag/sponge to wipe it clean. Air dry.
It will be better than when you bought it.
Thanks a lot for such a prompt, knowlegable reply. But I'm a little confused.
I thought waterproofing spray was for things that were not waterproof, but would be made waterproof by spraying them. My bag is waterproof. My umbrella is waterproof. My shoes are waterproof. They do not have to be sprayed to stay waterproof. I had no idea that a RAIN PONCHO doesn't start off waterproof and stay that way without spraying.
This upsets me because I sprayed my Carthart winter coat and the waterproofing only lasted a couple of months. Not to mention the spraying proccess itself stinks to high heaven and takes days to dry properly. I don't want to go through that with a rain poncho. I would rather invest in a new, high-tech poncho that can be washed without needing to spray it.
But if you think that I can just spray it once, and as long as I don't wash it that way again I'll never have to spray it again, I'll give it a go because I really love this poncho. I even bought some tent stakes for the gromets...so I'm invested in relying on this USGI rain poncho as a major part of my bug-out gear.
There are actually very few materials that are inherently water proof without treatment. Vinyl, PVC, plastic, rubber, Gore-tex, etc. Your umbrella is probably just nylon (or polyester) treated with a waterproofing layer. Either silicon or urethane. Also being stretched into the shape to shed water helps. If you washed it with harsh detergent and exposed to heat, it would do the same thing. Or if you held it upside down and filled it with water, it would probably leak.
Treating fabrics is an excellent way to get the abrasion resistance, durability and lightweight we want. I suggest you just treat it and keep it.
You really shouldn't be washing your rain gear. Even fancy Gore-tex or anything else. Read the care labels. Just wipe with a soapy rag, no detergent.
Dawgboy wrote:+1 on the Nikwax... That stuff is the Bomb...
That's the stuff. I couldn't remember the name. It's expensive, but worth it. They make different kinds for different fabrics.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by aa1pr » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:45 pm

CitizenZ wrote:
Glennbo wrote:
CitizenZ wrote:There are actually very few materials that are inherently water proof without treatment. Vinyl, PVC, plastic, rubber, Gore-tex, etc. I suggest you just treat it and keep it.
You really shouldn't be washing your rain gear. Even fancy Gore-tex or anything else. Read the care labels. Just wipe with a soapy rag, no detergent.
Dawgboy wrote:+1 on the Nikwax... That stuff is the Bomb...
If you wash gortex in laundry soap the soap fills the pores of the material and it becomes worthless. +2 on Nikwax or these work as well: Tech Wash, Softshell Proof and TX Direct.

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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by NYKh » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:57 pm

I checked mine, it's made in 92 contract number DLA100-93-F-EA07 ORC industries.
On Caution label, the first thing is DO NOT MACHINE LAUNDER, do not dry clean. Handwash in warm watter, mild soap using a soft bristle brush. Thoroughly rinse and air dry.

Like another said, get a good wash in water proofing, check REI or Campmor. Wash it first without soap, then use the wash in proofing.

It will be good to go again.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Crimson Phoenix » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:59 pm

The poncho I was issued has the care and use instructions printed onto the fabric itself and isn't a separate stitched in label. I've never washed the thing in the five years I've had it, just hang it to dry in the shower and it's good by morning.

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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by NYKh » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:05 pm

Ditto, the instructions and care are printed on mine too.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by 11binf » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:11 pm

live and learn ,never wash G.I. issue wet weather kit in the washer/dryer......the reasons for this were posted above...i was Infantry i always handwashed my wet weather kit and the other lads in my squad would wash there kit in the washer/dryer and end up like you did ...the only thing that saved them from a crappy FTX was the fact they could DX there f**ked up kit before the field...you and i can't do that anymore so we have to be smart and make are kit last....vince g. 11b Inf...
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:51 pm

OK, looked it up, and the Field Manual is FM 21-15, Care and Use of Individual Clothing and Equipment. Darn near anything you'd likely be issued can be found in here, and you'll want one as current as possible, obviously. I found one on e-bay as an example, but it doesn't say what the publication date is. ( http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/Care-Use-of-Indi ... ILF:SG:101" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )

While they don't always show the exact care labels, the instructions are the same as you'd find inside a given piece of equipment on the care label. Your odds of finding your exact poncho are pretty good. I recommend this manual for anyone buying US surplus stuff for a maintenance reference.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Glennbo » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:08 am

Thanks for the replies everyone. Hopefully others can learn from my ignorant mistake.

Rather than ditch the poncho I'll try to get some of that Nikwax stuff and treat it.
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Re: USGI rain poncho fail...no longer waterproof

Post by Squirrley » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:16 am

Woods Walker wrote:Are you 100% certain that the issue wasn't just condensation which can be a problem for any non breathable raingear (sometime even breathable too) given the right set of circumstances.

This? its surprising how much condensation a human can generate all by themselves, although usually not enough to totally soak gear..
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