What is the best way to care for FR rainwear?

By Henry Skjerven | Published: May 20, 2019

Let's start with the simple version of the answer:

  • Keep it dry
  • Keep it clean
  • Regularly inspect the product for damage or wear

And of course, the number one way to care for your FR rainwear: follow the manufacturer's cleaning and care instructions!

You can find these instructions on the label attached to the product. If the label is missing or you're not sure how to interpret some of the instructions, contact the manufacturer or consult their website for the information you need.

Now, let's go into this in more detail.

How you clean your protective garments depends on the type of garment you have. Products that have features like flame-resistance, moisture management, and odor control built directly into the fabric fibers won't wash out, but following the care instructions will ensure you don't damage the garment in some other fashion. Proper maintenance will also improve the life span of your product.

(Learn How to Ensure Outdoor Worker Visibility.)

General Instructions

Here are some general rules for caring for FR rainwear:

  1. Read the label and follow the instructions
    1. Never assume that one product's care instructions are the same as another, even if they're the same type of garment or they come from the same manufacturer
  2. Alwa
    ys wash separately from other garments
  3. When machine or handwashing a garment, do not use:
    1. Bleach
    2. Chlorine
    3. Hydrogen peroxide
    4. Fabric softeners
  4. Air drying is preferred for some FR garments, but no matter the method, always ensure that the product is completely dried before it is stored
    1. Storing FR rainwear before completely drying it could damage the fabric, as well as result in mold, mildew, or a musty smell
    2. If your garments do develop mold or mildew, do not attempt to clean them using a bleaching agent
  5. Machine drying is possible for some garments (check the label), and likely requires you to:
    1. Close zippers, buttons, snaps, and other closures
    2. Turn the garment inside out
    3. Tumble dry using the permanent press setting
  6. Do not dry clean unless the product label or manufacturer’s care instruction indicate that this is acceptable
  7. Superficial dirt on the coating may be removed by wiping with a soft cloth moistened with warm, soapy water, then rinsed with plain water
  8. Manufacturers may recommend specific brands of soap for specific types of contamination (for example, one label I consulted recommends Dawn Dish Liquid for oil-based contaminants or stains)
  9. If contaminants cannot be removed after laundering, it is best to discontinue use of the garment

Care and Maintenance Needs to Be Part of Your Overall Program

PPE care and maintenance will require written procedures and worker training. Why? Because it's the best way to ensure the effective life cycle of the product is as long as possible, which gives you the best value for the purchase.

Most organizations pass the care and cleaning of work clothing to the end user. That means you have to educate workers on the subject and do a performance follow up to commend or correct their care and maintenance of their gear.

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Written by Henry Skjerven

Henry Skjerven

Mr. Skjerven has consulted professionally for over 27 years, with extensive Canadian experience, literally from coast to coast but with a home base in Western Canada. His experience ranges from marketing, adult education, and heavy transportation (rail) to municipal public works, fleet and transportation, oil and gas construction in the tar sands, emergency response (Fire and Ambulance), Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Security, as well as human resources and software systems, including enterprise style projects.

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