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What is moisture wicking and why is it important for FR knit apparel?

By Michael Schoonover | Last updated: April 11, 2022

Moisture wicking technology in apparel is the use of specific clothing fibers designed to pull moisture off the skin, transport it through the fabric, and then spread it on the surface of the fabric allowing it to dissipate.

Today's industry leading moisture wicking fabrics combine two types of fibers:

  • Hydrophilic fibers that absorb moisture and sweat from the body
  • Hydrophobic fibers that repel moisture and transfer it to the surface layer of the garment

The moisture wicking fabric should be made up of a blend of both synthetic and natural fibers, with a superior garment typically being made up of 55% synthetic and 45% natural fibers. It may include polyester (for its low moisture absorption), polypropylene (effective moisture-wicking), and polyamide (wicking and durability).

With proper design, a moisture wicking garment will keep workers dry and cool through a three-step process:

  • Absorb sweat and moisture from the body
  • Push the sweat and moisture to the surface of the garment
  • Spread moisture throughout the outer surface of the garment so it can dry quickly

(Learn about 3 Ways Moisture Wicking Flame Resistant Fabrics Can Improve Workplace Safety)

How Moisture Wicking Garments Improve Safety

Moisture wicking fabrics are more comfortable, but they also improve workplace safety in the following ways:

  • Keeping the wearer cool in hot, humid conditions reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses
  • Reducing the risk of dehydration or hypernatremia
  • Discomfort from sweat-soaked, sticky clothing can cause workers to lose focus, be distracted, or constantly have to adjust their clothing - all of which increases the risk of an incident
  • Heavy, restrictive, or otherwise uncomfortable clothes can diminish a worker's fine motor skills

Comfortable clothing encourages overall safety compliance.

Selecting a Moisture Wicking Garment

Look for FR garments that have lightweight, functional designs. Each item should combine comfort, functionality, safety, and quality.

Look for a few specific features:

  • Seamless underarm gussetts to eliminate seam pull and shirt rise
  • Flat seams are smoother and more comfortable
  • Atheltic cut for improved safety
  • Shart contrast elements allows for greater worker visibility

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PPE Heat Stress Protective Clothing Flame Resistant (FR)

Written by Michael Schoonover | VP Marketing

Profile Picture of Michael Schoonover

Mike Schoonover is Vice President of Marketing for Lakeland Industries, a global manufacturer of protective apparel. Mike has over 25 years of B2B sales and marketing experience working with a variety of safety equipment manufacturers.

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