Today, I’m on a very specific mission: to determine which is the best water repellent spray that money can buy. But before I do that, I should explain just what exactly a water repellent is why it’s such an important item if you want to be a dry ninja such as yours truly. By now, you’ve surely heard about water repellent sprays and you’re probably thinking that it doesn’t beat actually buying the waterproofed version of that same item. But what happens if you favorite pair of boots, for example, doesn’t come in a waterproof version? What if I told you, you can make them waterproof yourself? First of all, let’s understand how this water repellent thing works.
What is DWR?
DWR is short for Durable Water Repellent. It’s actually a coated added to fabrics during the manufacturing process in order to make them waterproof. DWRs are often used in combination with waterproof breathable fabrics, because they make the external layer fabric from absorbing water. If you’ve ever heard of Gore-Tex, know that this is such an example of waterproof breathable fabric. Sounds fine and dandy so far, but you should know that DWR eventually wears off. In such cases, re-treatment is recommended.
This is where water repellent sprays come in. Since most factory-applied treatments are fluoropolymer based, this fluoropolymer decomposes over time as you will constantly expose it to water. Chemicals will also cause fluoropolymer to decompose faster, such as the ones included in harsh detergents.
Now that we’ve established what durable water repellent is and how it works, let’s determine which is the best water repellent spray out there. After dozens of reviewed products that fall into this category, we’ve come across a wonder-product. It’s recommended in all sorts of waterproof-sensitive situations so we’ll get right down to business. Ninjas, here is the best water repellent spray on the market.
303 (30606) Fabric Guard, Upholstery Protector, Water and Stain Repellent
I’ll try to put into words just how awesome this product is, although the impressive number of customer reviews might as well just do that for me. But I’ll save you the hassle of having to check numerous other sources and review the ups and downs of the 303 Fabric Guard. The first thing you should know about it is that it is the only product recommended by and for Sunbrella. For those of you who’ve never heard of this brand, Sunbrella is a market leader and the number 1 choice in terms of shade structures, marine canvas and upholstery fabric for both outdoor and indoor applications.
You can use the 303 Fabric Guard on your new products straight from the beginning, to make sure you prolong their durability. Not only is this is the best water repellent spray, but it can also keep stains away, which is basically a way of making sure that your products stay new for as long as possible. If you’re a fan of camping, that you know how wonderful it is (or would be) to have a waterproof tent that simply repels all drops of rain water. Even after a heavy storm, you can just take down the tent, roll it and place it in your backpack and be on your way. No hassle, no water, no complications whatsoever. Whether you want to waterproof your convertible top, your yacht sails or your new pair of UGGs, the 303 Fabric Guard does an amazing job. Yes, you can also use it on your door mats and car mats.
While we’re at it, since you’re probably interested in the product’s usability, let’s make a list of some of the things you can waterproof with this repellent:
- Car convertible tops;
- Indoor sofa (if you have pets, this is a must) and armchairs;
- Indoor and outdoor quilts;
- Indoor and outdoor cushions;
- Motorcycle covers;
- Sail covers;
- Boat covers.
The list is just a small glimpse at the many products that the 303 can waterproof. While their customer service will tell you that the product is not UV protective, most customers are using it to protect color fabric and it seems to be working out nicely. Fabrics which are being held in the sun, such as patio furniture and adjacent cushions, will deteriorate a whole lot faster, as the colors become faded and visually unappealing. However, customers which have applied the 303 Fabric Guard have not only managed to keep water and stains away, but they’ve also maintained the original bright colors of the fabric for a longer period of time.
A very important thing to keep in mind is that all the products you plan on coating with the 303 spray should be cleaned first. Luckily, 303 also has an all-purpose cleaner that you can use for better results.
While the 303 has proven to be the best water repellent spray on the market, there are no actual tests performed for snow and ice. In other words, don’t rely on it beading snowflakes. However, it should repel ice and snow as they melt, since the product is indeed waterproofing everything.
Even if it’s also good for carpets, the smell of the 303 may be a bit strong, so you may want to perform a test on a small portion of the rug (maybe a corner) and see just how strong the smell is. If it eventually fades away, you can move your carpet outside or maybe inside your garage and fully coat it with the 303. Leave it there until it’s properly freshened and then bring it back inside the house.
Another very important thing that I need to point out is to follow the instruction carefully. If you don’t apply a sufficient quantity of this product, chances are the item you want to protect will only repel water a couple of times and then start to absorb it. You can use the 303 even if you are allergic to perfume, because it doesn’t have any added fragrance. In other words, it smells like chemicals. Make sure that after you’ve applied the product, you leave your newly-waterproofed products to dry for 24 hours. Also, the 303 is flammable, so make sure you don’t use it near any open flames and don’t smoke during and after the application. Wait for the 24 hours to pass, to make sure the chemicals are fully absorbed.
How to apply the water repellent spray
When you plan an applying the first coat of 303, start by cleaning the fabric thoroughly. Make sure the fabric is not soiled, and also does not have any residue from cleaning agents. It is important to allow the fabric to dry completely before using the 303. You should start applying the product when the temperature is above 70 F. For best results, retreat your outdoor fabric on a hot day with full sun. Test the fabric for colorfastness before treating visible areas. Spray an area of the fabric that is not noticeable first, then wipe the fabric with a white cloth to see if any color wipes away. Do not treat the fabric is color comes off during this test.
Even when you use it on sensitive fabric, such as cushions, the 303 never leaves sticky surfaces. It doesn’t leave a film, it just dries clear. However, please take note that the 303 may not be suitable for all fabrics. As with all fabrics, always test for color fastness. This product is not recommended for vinyl, plastics, rubber, imitation suede or fiberglass, product must cure at 70 degrees. The feel of your fabric should not be affected.
It can be applied with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, or paint roller (uses more product than spraying). You can also use a brush for surfaces such as a convertible car top.
A questions which is a bit difficult to answer is how often to you need to apply the solution? It really depends on the item your are waterproofing and how much it has been exposed to harsh weather conditions. For an inside rug, you most likely won’t need to apply it more than once a year. However, for a convertible car top, the average period should be between 3 to 6 months.
A word of caution: while you may be tempted to waterproof everything once you catch a glimpse of how amazing this product is, don’t overreact. You shouldn’t use the 303 to waterproof a T-shirt, for example, as there are some toxicity issues at hand.
The 303 Fabric Guard is nothing short of awesome. While I generally hesitate in using fancy words and try my best to stay objective when reviewing waterproof products, it’s safe to say that this is the best water repellant spray out there. It comes at a very good price to quantity ratio and seems to be able to waterproof just about everything. It is recommended by one of the greatest indoor and outdoor fabrics manufacturer and provides the peace of mind that everyone should have while leaving their convertible out in the heavy rain. As for the price, we found the best deal to be on Amazon, so click here to check out the current price.