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Full Waterproof Zipper

How to Clean and Maintain a Fully Waterproof Zipper

Here's how to properly maintain and care for a full waterproof zipper on gear like duffels, backpacks, drysuits, or tents:

Cleaning:

  • Microfiber or Lens Cloth: Frequently wipe down your zipper with a microfiber towel or lens cloth to keep dust and debris out of the teeth and pull.
  • Saltwater or Dusty Environments: After each use in saltwater, chlorinated water or dusty/dirty conditions, rinse the zipper thoroughly with fresh water. You can use a mild dish soap to help loosen any dirt or grime. Apply a gentle brushing and thorough rinse after soaping.
  • Focus on Teeth and Tracks: Pay particular attention to cleaning the zipper teeth (the interlocking parts) and the zipper tracks (the channels where the teeth interlock) and the garage (where the zipper parks to maintain a waterproof seal). Gently remove any debris or dirt buildup with a soft brush or a toothpick. Avoid using sharp objects that could damage the zipper.
  • Complete Drying: Once cleaned, ensure the zipper and gear is completely dry before storing your gear. Leave the zipper open and allow it to air dry completely. You can also use a clean microfiber cloth to absorb any excess moisture.

Lubrication:

  • Use a Lubricant: Periodically lubricate the zipper teeth to improve its glide and prevent corrosion. Silicone-based, wax or polymer lubricants are ideal for waterproof zippers as they repel water and won't break down the material. RGD offers a bio-friendly, eco-friendly zipper gel as well as a wax.
  • Apply Sparingly: A little goes a long way. Apply a thin coat of lubricant to the teeth of the zipper using a cotton swab or a small cloth. Avoid over-lubrication, as excess lubricant can attract dirt and grime. Use a clean, lint-free cloth like a lens cleaning cloth or microfiber towel to wipe off excess.
  • Focus on Key Areas: Pay particular attention to areas where the zipper bends or curves, as these experience more friction. Be sure to lubricate the garage - the area where the zipper "parks" when full closed.

Storage:

  • Store Open or Zipped Up Halfway: Don't store your gear with the zipper fully zipped up for extended periods. This can put unnecessary tension on the teeth and tracks. Leave the zipper partially open or zipped up halfway to maintain its shape. Leaving your zipper fully closed has a tendency to cause the pull to form to the garage area and get stuck or be stubborn to open again. We recommend keeping the zipper fully open.
  • Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Store your gear in cool, dry conditions. Extreme heat or cold can damage or degrade the zipper material and lubricant.

Additional Tips:

  • Gentle Operation: Avoid forcing the zipper if it snags. Gently work the snag loose using a back-and-forth motion. Forcing a stuck zipper can damage the teeth or tracks. 
  • Damaged Zippers: If the zipper teeth are severely damaged or the zipper track is bent, it's best to seek repair or replacement. Most RGD bags have a lifetime warranty, so let us take care of it for you.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can ensure your full waterproof zipper functions smoothly and reliably for a long time. Remember, regular cleaning, lubrication, and proper storage go a long way in preserving the performance and longevity of your waterproof gear.

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