How Should You Clean Your Workwear?
Personal protective equipment is designed and manufactured to ensure that wearers are protected from the identified workplace risks at all times, significantly improving the safety of workers in hazardous environments. However, in order for PPE to properly do its job, it’s essential that workwear is well maintained and looked after.
But what exactly is the best way to wash and clean your workwear? We sat down with our expert manufacturing team to find out some of the most important do’s and don’ts for washing clothing.
“The most important thing of all is to check the care labels on each individual garment,” says our team. “This tells you everything you need to know, including the best temperature to wash at, and what products can and can’t be used on the material.” But what happens if a care label can’t be read or understood? “Generally, the best advice we can give is the gentler the better when it comes to PPE”.
Hi Vis & Reflective Clothing
Reflective and high visibility clothing is important for maintaining visibility on the worksite, so any clothing that features reflective strips should be cared for carefully. One of the main concerns when washing this type of clothing is that the reflective strips can become damaged or streaked in the machine, reducing its impact.
The trick to extending the life of reflective clothing is to wash it inside out so that the strips are not in direct contact with the inside of the machine which can act as an abrasive during the wash cycle.
Our expert tip: Use a liquid laundry detergent rather than a powder as powders can be abrasive against the material if they don’t dissolve properly, which can happen when washing at low temperatures.
Flame Retardant Clothing
The good news is that inherently flame retardant clothing means that the protection can’t simply wash out, but there are a number of products that can reduce the effect of the material, and even increase risk on the worksite. The primary culprit is bleach.
Bleach is hugely effective at removing tough, stubborn stains but it’s very powerful and can be very damaging, breaking down the fibres in the fabric. Flame retardant clothing should be washed very gently, using a mild detergent and a low/medium setting.
Our expert tip: Avoid using fabric softeners on flame retardant clothing as this can leave a waxy coating that can catch fire easily, the same goes for any soaps that contain animal fats… it’s pretty dangerous.
More Advice and Top Tips From Our Team
- A lot of workwear and PPE features some form of elastication to ensure a great fit and keep the clothing comfortable. It’s best to avoid tumble drying these garments as the heat can break down the elastic.
- No matter how gently you wash your PPE, all fabrics will begin to break down over time. It’s important to know when to replace your workwear. As a general rule, fabrics last anywhere from 1 to 4 years.
- If you have any doubt at all about washing your PPE, it’s always best to see if there’s any industrial or commercial laundry services nearby who have years of experience in treating all sorts of materials.