How Do You Wash Flame-Resistant Clothing?
Renting a lineman uniform is advantageous partly because the provider will wash flame-resistant clothing on your behalf. However, it is essential for those that own their uniforms to know how to wash it, which requires a different approach from normal clothing.
The Four Fabric Types Used in FR Clothing
Before you can correctly wash your flame-resistant uniform, you must know which type of fabric it’s made from. The four most common are:
- Treated Fibers use fabric that is made from synthetic fiber. They usually include a chemical that is flame-retardant and because this chemical is embedded in the clothing no amount of washing will compromise it.
- Inherently FR Fibers include fire resistance as a fundamental part of the fabric. They don’t typically require extra flame-resistant chemicals.
- Blends are a mixture of fabric that includes fibers that are inherently fire resistant and specially treated.
- Treated Fabric consists of common fibers which have been treated with chemicals that are flame retardants, such as cotton.
In the event that your garments get contaminated due to flammable substances, it is recommended to remove them promptly and replace them with apparel that is clean and flame resistant. Both industrial and home laundries can eliminate the majority of non-flammable and flammable soil, however, standard detergents are not advised.
Tips for Washing FR Clothing
Things that you’ll want to avoid for all types of FR fabrics include:
- Washing with bleach
- Washing with dryer sheets or fabric softeners
- Washing with a detergent that uses bleach
- Washing with a detergent that uses animal fats
- Washing with chlorine bleach
You’ll want to wash your FR clothing with a Cotton or Normal cycle at water temperatures that are no higher than one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit (sixty degrees Celsius). Avoid using soap or tallow. The garments must be turned inside out prior to washing them to prevent streaking due to abrasion. Fill up your washer no higher than 2/3 and set the water level to high.
You also want to avoid using starch since it can coat the fibers which will mask the FR performance or even act as fuel if the garments are ignited. You want to avoid using hard water since it can cause an accumulation of magnesium and calcium salts which can also act as fuel should the garments become exposed to flames. You must remove all contaminants and soil which are present on the FR garments and the best products for this include stain removers or presoaking the garments before washing them. Hot water does a great job of soil removal and you can also dry-clean them.
It is also crucial not to over dry FR clothing. You can press them using an iron that is set to low or a permanent press. It is absolutely critical to completely remove soils that are flammable; otherwise, the fire resistance of your garment might become compromised. That being said, it can be tough to know for certain whether flammable soil has been totally eliminated, but common indications include odors or stains after laundering. It is recommended to contact the manufacturer to learn the best way to wash your specific clothing.