Oilskin Coats: Advantages, Care and Reproofing

If you are on the market for a reliable protective, warm, windproof and waterproof jacket, one made of oilskin is a perfect choice. The so-called oilskin garments were invented in New Zealand by a Scottish sailor in 1898. Edward Le Roy was trying to make waterproof garments, so he was coating his sailcloth with a mixture of wax and linseed oil, and they soon gained popularity amongst sailors, fishermen, fish-plant workers and so on.

Oilskin Coats

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Nowadays, a very important garment choice in the Australian bush lifestyle, oilskin duster coats and jackets are primarily worn in wet areas. Made from different materials for different purposes, they are made waterproof by coating the materials with oil, wax and gum, to offer maximum protection under extreme weather conditions. Generally, they feature a high spray collar, storm flaps and sometimes hoods. are designed in a way that makes it harder for the water to force up your sleeve – with inner seals on the cuffs. Furthermore, oilskin coats and jackets feature a lot of useful pockets which are also made from materials, like quick-drying synthetic fleece, that protect the items you carry from water damage.

Like motorcycle leather jackets, or many other jackets and coats primarily made for a practical reason, oilskin dusters and jackets have also found their way into the wardrobes of fashionable man across the globe. They are very versatile and they come in many different designs, which is why they can be the ideal coat for many different occasions, both for work and for a more casual setting. Of course, a pair of cowboy boots, jeans, a white t-shirt and a nice-looking oilskin western duster or jacket can make for a perfect rugged look, but these coats can make many other cool fashionable outfits.

Nonetheless, these reliable, but also stylish coats aren’t like other jackets and have to be taken care of, in the right way. So, regardless of whether you need it to protect yourself from water and bad weather or you’re simply trying to up your style, if you decide to buy a quality oilskin duster coat or jacket, you should learn all about that in advance, to make it look great and protect you for a long, long time.

Oilskin Coat

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Taking Care of an Oilskin Jacket

If you wear your cowboy duster coat or jacket for work in wet weather condition, you will have to clean it more frequently than any other jacket for everyday use. But, even if you only wear it as a fashionable clothing item, you will have to clean it to prolong its life. To make your oilskin garments stay in good shape, as well as ensure that they stay waterproof for as long as possible, there are some clear guidelines as to how to store, clean and reproof them.

Removing Dirt

Like with anything that requires a specific type of care, your oilskin coat or jacket will come with care and washing instructions, and you should follow them as closely as possible. Essentially when it comes to washing it, you should not use regular detergent or very hot water, since that will remove the oil and the wax, and will take away your oilskin jacket’s waterproofing abilities. Instead, you should invest in an oilskin and wool detergent, made specifically to protect oilskins or use clear soap.

The best way to clean your oilskin duster coat or any type of oilskin garment is to brush off the dirt or clean it with a sponge with cold water. However, if your oilskin jacket is too dirty, and you have to wash it, don’t soak it. Instead, you may hand wash it in cold or lukewarm water. The next step is to rinse off the excess soap and then hang dry it in a well-ventilated area – keeping it away from direct sunlight.

Oilskin Coat

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Removing Mould

If you use it often in wet conditions or if you store it improperly, it’s possible for mould to start developing on your oilskin jacket. To avoid this, you should always keep your jacket in a dry and well-ventilated area, and you shouldn’t store it in plastic bags, and you shouldn’t keep it in a closet for a long time.

Nevertheless, if your coat ever gets mouldy, to clean it, you should try brushing off as much of it as possible and then hang it under the sun for a few weeks. If that doesn’t work and it’s still mouldy, you should dilute white vinegar and use it to clean the affected areas with a sponge. If the mould is covering the entire coat, you may wash it entirely with vinegar and water. When it’s completely free of mould, you should hand wash it in lukewarm or cold water, and air it as much as needed to remove the unpleasant smell.


Because oilskins are made waterproof with wax and oil, after washing your coat or jacket will lose their waterproofing properties – which is why you’ll need to reproof it. But, even if you take the best care of it, even without being washed it can wear over time, and the wax and the oil will dry naturally. However, there are products you can get to easily reproof your oilskin garments, like wax re-proofers that come in resealable tins. Re-proofers will not only maintain the waterproof qualities of your jacket or another oilskin, but they will also improve their longevity.