Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Anabelle McLean believes there are two reasons people don’t wash their outdoor gear: They either don’t know how or they don’t carve out the extra time. Because washing your ski pants or sleeping bag requires more than just mixing them in with your jeans and T-shirts.
Her new Denver-based company, Gear Washers, is making the process easier and less intimidating for customers while also incentivizing them to visit their local specialty outdoor retailers. Starting on Nov. 23, Feral Mountain Co. will be a drop-off location for Gear Washers.
“The idea is to keep alive the really great gear that’s already being made by outstanding companies,” McLean said. “There’s no need to throw away something that’s perfectly good – it hasn’t gone bad just because it’s dirty. It is amazing what just washing and re-waterproofing will do. It’s a small investment compared to outright buying a new set of gear.”
Using high-efficiency industrial washers at her Denver location, McLean launders synthetic and down apparel and gear items as well as re-waterproofs and UV-proofs materials that need it. She says she can micro adjust how much water she’s using for each load based on how many garments are being washed, therefore wasting less water.
How it works:
1. Place an online order at gearwashers.com for the garments you want serviced.
2. Drop-off those items at Feral and receive a confirmation number.
3. Pick-up your clean gear at the store. Turnaround is 4 to 5 days including weekend days.
Prices range from $60 for a tent (the most labor intensive) to $20 for hardshell pants or jackets to $18 for vests, dog packs, ski skins, hammocks, and unstructured backpacks. She also offers $10 add-ons like deep stain removal and re-waterproofing.
Nikwax is her cleaning product of choice. McLean says she aligns with the company’s mission and commitment to sustainability, and because the waste water is free of chemicals, she feels safe handling it and using it on her customers’ garments.
“Many people don’t realize that they should be cleaning their outdoor gear to help maintain its performance,” said Heidi Allen, VP of marketing at Nikwax. “While Nikwax makes technical cleaners for people to use to care for their gear at home, the first time you wash a ski jacket or sleeping bag can be intimidating for some. Gear Washers provides an awesome service helping people get their outdoor gear clean and we’re proud to be their product of choice.”
Feral is McLean’s first partner store and she’s currently only equipped to serve shops in Denver, Boulder, and the surrounding mountains—along with mail-in orders. But as she grows her team and business and scales it, she is interested in eventually expanding beyond those cities and working with other retailers.
With more stores and companies getting into selling consignment gear and offering rentals, she sees major potential for Gear Washers.