Silver Ridge Shirt
Silver Ridge Shirt (courtesy, Columbia Sportswear)
Gear Guy

Does the sun protection in clothing deteriorate with washing?

Does the sun protection in clothing deteriorate with washing? I referring to Columbia Sportswear's sun-shielding gear. Is there any information on how long it remains effective? Regina Boise, Idaho

Silver Ridge Shirt

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The short answer, my friend, is that yes, the sun-proofing in clothing does deteriorate over time.

Silver Ridge Shirt Silver Ridge Shirt

The long answer, though: That shouldn’t matter. By that I mean companies such as Columbia and Sun Precautions test their sun-protective clothing through repeated washings and exposure to sunny conditions. In the case of something such as Columbia’s Silver Ridge Shirt ($40;, it’s put through the equivalent of 40 machine washings and 100 days of sun exposure. Columbia’s fabric itself is sun-resistant—some other makers either weave in sun-proofing fabrics (which reflect UV rays) or coat their fabric with UV-resistant chemicals. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different way to do things.

Even with sun-resistant clothing, it’s still prudent to use a sunscreen if sun exposure is a real issue for you. Most sunscreens with an SPF rating of 15 to 20 are fine for all but the most sun-sensitive—anything more than that is really gilding the lily. I’ve had good success with many sunscreens, but like Aloe Gator Super Waterproof Sunblock Lotion SPF 15 ($4.95 for three ounces;

Keep cool!

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, Columbia Sportswear