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Nikwax Cotton Proof



A cotton treatment that does exactly what it sets out to do in a simple, usable way

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Nikwax Cotton Proof is simple to use and it really is effective, adding or replenishing a layer of waterproofing to cotton products.

  • Pros: Waterproofs, easy to use, environmentally friendly
  • Cons: It doesn't clean, though it's not designed to…

Cotton isn't a material that we tend to use too much on the bike for a number of reasons, but key amongst them is that when wet it sticks to your skin and isn't particularly breathable. That doesn't mean that it isn't used, though – like in Resolute Bay's jeans, for example – and it is a material that is certainly common off the bike.

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I tried out the Cotton Proof on an old M65 Parka that I've had for a while but stopped using because it became too cumbersome when wet. It used to be waterproof, but had lost this over years of wear. I also tried the Nikwax on a T-shirt and a tote bag, just to see how it worked on a couple of different textures.

Cotton Proof comes in a 300ml bottle and is environmentally friendly, made of a water-based mixture that doesn't harm the planet. To use, you simply unscrew the cap, fill it with the liquid and pour the correct amount into the detergent drawer of your washing machine. You need to make sure there isn't any detergent left in the drawer, so you'll need to remove it first and give it a rinse.

Once that's done, you just wash the items in the same way you usually would and then hang them out to dry.

One of the first things I noticed was the time it took for the coat to dry. It was considerably quicker than when I'd washed it in a traditional way the day before, easily less than half the time in fact.

After it had dried it was pretty impressively water repellent. It isn't quite as waterproof as something like Gore-Tex, but it is a huge improvement on what it had been. I even poured a bottle of water over it and it mostly just ran off. It's really impressive given the size of coat and the simplicity of treating it.

> Survival tips for cycling in the rain

At £7 for a 300ml bottle, it's not exactly cheap for basically a specialist detergent, but it's considerably cheaper than having to go out and buy a new coat. As there are six washes in each bottle, that equates to about £1.16 per item treated, which is a good price.

Overall, I was impressed. It offers really good waterproofing, simplicity of use, and means you can revitalise old clothing rather than throw them away.


A cotton treatment that does exactly what it sets out to do in a simple, usable way

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Make and model: Nikwax Cotton Proof

Size tested: 300ml

Tell us what the product is for

A treatment that can be used to make cotton products water repellent.

Nikwax says: "Nikwax Cotton Proof™ has been specifically designed and optimised for breathable cotton, polycotton and canvas materials; it leaves a flexible water repellent treatment on individual fibres allowing moisture vapour to pass through, maintaining breathability, prolonging the life of gear and optimising performance in wet weather.

"Nikwax Cotton Proof™ is easy and quick to apply in a washing machine and ensures that the treatment goes right through the garment. The highly Durable Water Repellency (DWR) of Nikwax Cotton Proof™ develops on air drying. Therefore the need for tumble drying is removed, saving energy."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Did exactly what it set out to do and I now have a cotton coat that sheds water again.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for value:

It's expensive for something you put in the washing machine, but when you consider that it can make a coat worth hundreds usable again, it is a bargain.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well; simple to use and effective, covering the entirety of a big coat and giving it water repellency.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The ease of use, just like washing with regular detergent.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Maybe that it doesn't wash the kit? Although that's not what it sets out to do...

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Does exactly what it's meant to, it's simple to use, and environmentally friendly. A great product.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George is the host of the podcast and has been writing for since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between. 

Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.

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