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The Muc-Off Technical Wash For Apparel is a sure-fire way to clean your cycling clothes without risk, ensuring your clothing's water repellency and breathability remains unaltered during the wash process. It's pretty effective – but boy is it crazy expensive!
Specialist washing detergents for technical clothing is not a new thing – brands like Nikwax and Grangers have been at it for decades now, initially catering mostly to the hiking crowd. Now, Muc-Off has joined the party with several cleaning products, including this Technical Wash For Apparel and Rain Shield Re-proofer (which I'm also testing at the moment).
Given that cycling clothing probably gets dirtier and smellier than anything else out there, even more so if you venture off-road in the winter, I was intrigued to find out how this product performed compared with my regular washing detergent.
You can use Muc-Off's Technical Wash For Apparel in a washing machine, or for hand washing, it's safe to use in hard or soft water areas and is designed to gently wash your cycling garments without stripping off the water repellent coating, or clogging the fibres that affect your clothing's breathability. It's also biodegradable and PFC-free [PFCs are 'perfluorinated compounds', manmade substances that can break down into other harmful substances over time], so it's not going to harm you or the environment.
The washing procedure is pretty much what you expect. Other than initially shaking the bottle, you simply fill your washing machine tray with about five cap-fulls of the solution, stick it on a 30°C cycle, and away you go. Muc-Off says the 300ml bottle is good for about 12 washes.
I tested it on a variety of mud-encrusted garments, including a bright red Polartec DHB soft-shell, and lurid orange Albion synthetic winter socks (colour clash, right?). it removed virtually all the dirt marks with ease. I may have been imagining things, but the orange in the socks looked a bit brighter than usual. No surprises, the cleaner wasn't able to get rid of the oily marks on some of my clothing, but then neither is my regular detergent, and I wasn't expecting it to.
After hanging the garments up, I noticed that unlike a regular detergent, there was no lingering perfume smell, which is good, and thankfully the garment didn't have any body odours still attached to it either, although in my experience that's not a problem for my regular detergent either.
So, it all works pretty well, then. But there's an issue: is a technical wash like Muc-Off's really necessary? Muc-Off says the product 'gives your garments a deep but safe clean, while protecting any existing DWR treatments and the breathability of the material'. That's good to know, and while I don't doubt those claims, is it any better than a regular detergent?
However, according to Gore (owner of the Gore-Tex brand), it's not actually essential. In the article: 'How to wash Gore-Tex apparel', which asks: 'Which washing detergent should I use?', Gore says, 'No need for special detergents, any normal household wash detergent is fine. What is important is to use liquid detergent and then just sparingly (about 30ml). Powder detergents and fabric softeners can reduce the breathability of the product. Of course, you can also use special detergents that are available at any good outdoor retailer that also carries Gore-Tex products.'
Although I've used Nikwax on Gore-Tex motorcycle gear in the past, these days I just use whatever's under my kitchen sink – in my case a supermarket own-brand non-bio laundry liquid, which is plant-based and therefore contains no toxic nasties. A 1.5-litre bottle is about £4.50, which works out at three quid a litre. It's served me pretty well, and although eventually the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) has worn off after not long, they all wear out eventually anyway.
By comparison Muc-Off's Technical Wash For Apparel costs £13 for 300ml, which is £43.33 a litre – a huge difference by any standards. Merlin Cycles presently has it on sale for £7.99, which is much cheaper but still a pricey £26.63 per litre.
The Nikwax Tech Wash George tested is available in a one-litre bottle from Decathlon for £12.99. In terms of effectiveness, there doesn't appear to be much in it, other than the Nikwax being much, much cheaper.
Less expensive still is the Grangers Performance Wash that's available in a one-litre eco pouch for £13.50 – although I found it at £6.49, which is still twice the price of the detergent I use – but obviously far cheaper than Muc-Off's.
Muc-Off's product does work, for sure, but the price is so inflated over any other existing performance washing detergent out there, which makes it hard for me to recommend. As I've already highlighted, there are much cheaper options out there if you really want the assurance of a detergent specifically for technical clothing.
Decent technical garment cleaner, but the sky-high price tag makes it hard to justify
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Muc-Off Technical Wash For Apparel - 300ml
Size tested: 300ml
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Muc-Off says: "Muc-Off Technical Wash is a wash-in cleaner that safely removes dirt, grime, and odours from your technical gear. The unique, concentrated formula gives your garments a deep but safe clean, whilst protecting any existing DWR treatments and the breathability of the material, so it's perfect for freshening up and extending the life of those shred threads! It can be used on any technical or waterproof/water repellent fabric including Gore-Tex®, Polartec®, Pertex®, eVent®, softshell and hardshell clothing."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gently removes dirt and grime from technical apparel
Extends life and performance of garments
Can be used on any technical or waterproof/water repellent fabric
Can be used in the washing machine or applied by hand
Suitable for use in hard and soft water areas
Will not impact breathability of garments
Not harmful for the environment or to you
Safe to use on any garments with an existing DWR treatment
Perfect to use as a pre-wash ahead of reproofing your technical apparel with Rain Shield Re-Proofer Spray or Wash-In Rain Shield Re-Proofer
The attractive recycle aluminium bottle and cap is a nice touch.
Made dirty garments look clean again, and according to Muc-Off the breathability and water repellency isn't affected, which is good to know.
It's far more expensive than anything else like it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Easy to use and cleaned appropriately.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
No lingering perfume smell.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing – apart from the price!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Versus other technical cleaners, Nikwax's Tech Wash is over half the price, and Grangers Performance Wash is even cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No – but only because of the cost
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No – it's the cost again
Use this box to explain your overall score
Muc-Off's Technical Wash For Apparel works exactly as described, no issues there. It's just waaaay too expensive – there are much cheaper alternatives available that do pretty much the same thing.
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,