Is Nylon Waterproof? How to make Nylon water resistant?

Is Nylon Waterproof Or Water Resistant? The Truth About Its Water-Resistant Abilities

When it comes to choosing the right fabric for outdoor activities or everyday use, one of the key factors to consider is water resistance. Whether you’re planning a hiking trip, need a rain jacket for your daily commute, or simply want a durable backpack that can withstand the elements, you want to make sure that your gear can handle water without getting soaked through. That’s why the question “Is nylon waterproof” is so important.

Is Nylon Waterproof or Water Resistant

Nylon is a popular synthetic fabric that’s known for its strength, durability, and resistance to abrasion. It’s commonly used in a wide range of applications, from clothing and backpacks to tents and tarps. But is nylon waterproof or water resistant? In this article, we’ll explore the properties of nylon fabric, including its water-resistant qualities, and provide some tips for caring for your nylon gear to keep it in top condition.

What Is Nylon?

Nylon is a synthetic polymer, a type of plastic material that was first produced by a team of researchers at DuPont in 1935. Nylon is a thermoplastic material, which means that it can be melted and reshaped multiple times without degrading its properties.

Nylon is a highly versatile material with a range of applications. It is commonly used in the production of fabrics for clothing, upholstery, and carpets. Nylon is also used in the production of plastic parts for vehicles and electronic devices, as well as in the production of fishing lines, toothbrush bristles, and other consumer products.

Is Nylon Fabric Waterproof

So, don’t think too much about is nylon fabric waterproof. Let’s dig into its properties and know about its abilities.

Nylon Properties

Nylon has several properties that make it an ideal material for various applications. These properties include:

  • Strength: Nylon has a high tensile strength, making it resistant to stretching and tearing.
  • Durability: Nylon is resistant to abrasion, making it suitable for products that are subject to wear and tear.
  • Lightweight: Nylon is a lightweight material, making it ideal for outdoor gear and clothing.
  • Chemical Resistance: Nylon is resistant to most chemicals, making it suitable for industrial applications.
  • Quick-drying: Nylon dries quickly when exposed to moisture, making it suitable for outdoor activities.

However, one of the nylon’s properties that is often questioned is its waterproofing capabilities.

Why is Nylon Not Waterproof?

To understand why nylon isn’t waterproof, we first need to understand a bit about its molecular structure. Nylon is a synthetic polymer made from repeating units of amide molecules. These molecules have a polar nature, meaning they have positive and negative charges on opposite ends. This makes them highly reactive to water molecules, which are also polar.

Is nylon water resistant? When nylon comes into contact with water, the water molecules are attracted to the amide molecules in the nylon. This can cause the nylon fibers to swell and weaken, which can lead to water penetrating the material. However, this doesn’t mean that nylon is completely useless when it comes to staying dry.

How Can Nylon Become Waterproof?

Nylon itself is not waterproof, but it can be made water-resistant through various treatments. How to make nylon waterproof? There are several ways to make nylon more water-resistant or waterproof. Here are some of the most common methods:

  1. Coating: One way to make nylon waterproof is to coat it with waterproof material. This can be done with a spray-on coating or by laminating a waterproof membrane to the nylon.
  2. DWR treatment: DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent. This is a treatment that can be applied to nylon to make it more resistant to water. DWR works by creating a thin layer of water-repellent molecules on the surface of the nylon. This layer causes water to bead up and roll off the fabric, rather than penetrating it.
  3. Tighter Weave: A tighter weave can also make nylon more water-resistant. When the weave is tight, there are fewer spaces for water to penetrate. This means that the nylon will be able to repel water more effectively.
  4. Waterproof Zippers: Waterproof zippers can also be used to make nylon more waterproof. These zippers have a special coating or sealing that prevents water from seeping through the teeth and into the fabric.
Is Nylon Water Resistant

Nylon vs Other Waterproof Fabrics

Nylon is not the only waterproof material available in the market. Other common waterproof fabrics include Gore-Tex, eVent, and HyVent. These fabrics are known for their superior waterproofing capabilities, breathability, and durability.

Gore-Tex is a popular waterproof and breathable membrane used in various outdoor gear, including jackets, shoes, and gloves.

eVent is a similar membrane that provides superior breathability and waterproofing, making it ideal for intense outdoor activities.

HyVent, on the other hand, is a proprietary waterproofing technology used by The North Face, known for its durability and water-resistant capabilities.

While nylon is waterproof, versatile and a more affordable option, making it an ideal choice for those on a budget or looking for a multi-purpose material.

Common Uses for Waterproof Nylon

Here are some examples of common uses for waterproof nylon:

  • Outdoor gear: Nylon is a popular material for outdoor gear like bean bags, backpacks, tents, and rain jackets because of its water resistance and lightweight properties.
  • Automotive parts: Nylon is used in a variety of automotive parts, including airbags and fuel tanks, because of its strength and durability.
  • Medical equipment: Nylon is used in medical equipment like catheters and IV bags because of its ability to resist bacteria and other contaminants.
  • Upholstery: Nylon is often used in upholstery because of its durability and resistance to staining.
How To Make Nylon Waterproof

Nylon Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are crucial in maintaining nylon’s water-resistant properties. Some tips for caring for nylon include:

  • Avoid exposing your gear to excessive heat: Nylon is sensitive to high temperatures and can melt or warp if exposed to heat sources like hot car interiors or direct sunlight. Try to store your gear in a cool, dry place when not in use, and avoid leaving it in hot cars or in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
  • Clean your gear regularly: While you don’t want to wash your nylon gear too often, it’s still important to keep it clean. Dirt, sweat, and other contaminants can build up on the surface of the fabric and compromise its water-resistant properties. Use a damp cloth to wipe down your gear after use, and follow any care instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Store your gear properly: When not in use, store your nylon gear in a cool, dry place. Avoid folding or compressing it too tightly, as this can cause creases or damage to the fabric. Instead, hang your gear up or store it in a breathable container to help preserve its shape.

It is also recommended to reapply waterproofing treatments regularly, especially after washing or exposure to sunlight.

Final Thoughts: Is Nylon Waterproof?

So, is nylon water resistant or waterproof? The answer is nylon is not inherently waterproof, but it can be made water-resistant through various treatments such as polyurethane coating, laminating, and DWR coating. Nylon’s water-resistant properties are not permanent and may wear off over time, especially with exposure to sunlight and washing. Therefore, it is essential to reapply waterproofing treatments regularly to maintain nylon’s water-resistant capabilities.

While there are other waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex, eVent, and HyVent, nylon remains a versatile and affordable option for those on a budget or looking for a multi-purpose material. Proper care and maintenance are crucial in maintaining nylon’s water-resistant properties, including avoiding fabric softeners or bleach, washing in cold water, and hang drying instead of using a dryer.

So, is nylon waterproof? The answer is no, but with proper care and treatment, it can be a reliable choice for water-resistant gear. Keep this in mind when shopping for gear and caring for your existing nylon items, and you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of this versatile material for years to come.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is nylon completely waterproof?

No, nylon is not waterproof but can be made water-resistant through various treatments.

How long does nylon’s waterproofing last?

Nylon’s waterproofing capabilities may wear off over time, especially with exposure to sunlight and washing. It is recommended to reapply waterproofing treatments regularly.

Can I wash nylon items in hot water?

No, it is best to wash nylon items in cold water using a gentle detergent to avoid damaging the fabric.

Is nylon a good choice for outdoor gear?

Yes, nylon’s strength, durability, and lightweight properties make it an ideal choice for outdoor gear.

Can I use fabric softeners on nylon?

1.    No, fabric softeners and bleach can break down the waterproofing coating on nylon. It is best to avoid using them when caring for nylon items.

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