Washing flame retardant fabrics clothing is important because it not only keeps the clothes squeaky clean but also increases their life so they can be effective against fire for longer. For linemen, welders, and other utility workers, it’s always necessary to wear the correct protective gear when working.
It means it’s necessary for them to wear the correct clothing, fall protection gear, and safety equipment. A lineman’s protective clothing must be durable and flame-retardant for optimum safety.
Utility workers like linemen and welders are constantly in danger because their work involves working around a fire, and a chance of a fire hazard is always most likely. Hence, flame-resistant clothing is a necessity for utility workers to provide them protection against flames.
No matter how durable and fire-resistant it is, flame-retardant clothing is still clothing, and clothes can get dirty. If you’re a utility worker and you’ve to wear your flame-retardant garment daily for work, it’s bound to get very dirty.
Washing flame-retardant clothing isn’t the same as washing everyday clothing. So before you wash them, you should know how to properly care for, dry, and wash flame-retardant clothing.
This guide will tell you about how to properly care for flame-retardant clothes, how to wash them, how to dry them, and how to remove stains. This guide will also give helpful tips regarding washing flame-retardant fabrics so you can avoid damaging your flame-retardant fabric or limiting its protectiveness against flames.
What Are Flame Retardant Fabrics?
Flame-resistant or retardant fabrics make flame-resistant clothing, and these are used to protect people that work around fire. Flame retardant clothing helps limit the spread of fire, provides resistance against burning, and self-extinguishes when the clothing has enough distance from the heat or fire source.
It is mandatory for all types of fire retardant clothing to meet requirements laid out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 2112. Flame-retardant clothing is made from varying types of fabrics, all of which is resistant to burning and heat.
Following are the four types of fabrics that make flame-retardant clothing:
Inherently Flame Retardant Fibers
Inherently flame-retardant fibers are naturally resistant to fire and heat. Due to their natural fire resistance, there is no need to apply flame-resistant chemicals to these types of fabrics.
Treated fabrics aren’t naturally fire resistant, so flame retardant chemicals are applied to them to make them resistant to fire. An example is a cotton; as it doesn’t have a natural resistance against fire, it is treated with flame-retardant chemicals.
These are synthetic fibers extruded with flame-retardant chemicals during their formation process to make them resistant to fire. The applied fire retardant chemicals can’t be removed through the washing of the treated fibers. Hence they’re able to provide protection against fire for the garment’s overall life.
Blends are flame-retardant clothing that is made by a blend of inherently flame-retardant fibers and treated fibers.
Can You Wash Flame Retardant Clothing?
Flame-retardant clothing can often get dirty with oil stains and grease. Wearing flame-retardant clothes that are dirty with paints, oils, solvents, grease, and any other flammable chemicals can damage your garment’s protection against flames. When your flame-retardant clothes get dirty, it is important to clean them ASAP.
Cleaning your flame-retardant clothes also ensures that your clothes are effective for repelling flames for longer. It is easy to wash your flame-retardant clothing if you have accurate equipment. This guide will help you easily wash your flame-retardant clothes.
How to wash your flame retardant clothes?
Ensure you wash your flame-retardant clothes separately from your other clothes. There is a risk of a decrease in protection in your flame-retardant clothes if you put them in a washer with normal clothes. Separately washing your FR clothing will ensure no contaminants get into your flame-retardant clothes.
Remember to turn your clothes inside out. This helps preserve their flame-resistant capabilities.
Avoid using the hottest temperature setting when washing your flame-retardant clothing. Your clothes will shrink if the temperature is too high. Use cool or warm temperatures. Most flame-retardant clothes are washed at 140 degrees.
The material of your clothing also depends on what temperature your garment may start shrinking. Check the label of your clothes for further details regarding the maximum temperature. Avoid letting the garments stay in the washer for far too long, as it can damage the protective finish of the FR clothing.
Do not use vinegar, bleach, or other additives when washing your flame-retardant clothes. Your garment’s integrity can be damaged through bleach. Before using a detergent, check its label to see if it has liquid non-chlorine or chlorine bleach; if it does, then avoid using it.
Also, avoid starch, fabric softeners, and any other similar additives as well. These can decrease your flame-retardant garment’s protective capabilities as well.
Flame Retardant Fabrics Washing
Flame-retardant clothes can be washed in a regular home washing machine or industrial washing machine. Flame-retardant clothing can also be dry-cleaned. Before learning about the tips for washing flame-retardant clothing, it is best to know what things you should avoid when washing FR clothing.
3 Things To Avoid When Washing FR Fabrics Clothing
- Avoid using bleach or any detergent containing bleach. Bleach can reduce the flame resistance of FR clothing
- Avoid fabric softeners or any detergent that may contain fabric softeners. Fabric softeners are flammable and can also reduce flame resistance
- Avoid starch or detergents containing animal fats. Starch can act as a fuel, and animal fats are flammable
9 Tips For Washing Flame Retardant Clothing At Home
- FR clothing can be washed at a permanent press or normal cycle, depending on what type of garment you have. You can wash canvas garments and insulated outerwear on normal cycles and FR shirts in the permanent press cycle using cold water
- Washing FR clothing separately from your everyday clothing will help avoid FR clothes from being contaminated and your everyday clothes from getting dirty.
- Most flame-retardant clothes can be dried and washed at any temperature. Check the labels on your clothes beforehand for temperature recommendations
- Turn your flame-retardant garments inside and out. This will prevent streaking during abrasion
- Make sure you don’t use fabric softeners, bleach, and starch
- Use soft water to remove contaminants that may be on the clothes
- Ensure soil and any other contaminants are removed from the FR clothing. If contaminants and stains aren’t removed from washing, you can dry clean or use stain remover products
- Use low heat when drying your flame-retardant clothing and a low setting when ironing them
- You can also consult the manufacturer if you’re still confused about anything regarding your flame-retardant clothing
6 Tips For Washing FR Fabrics Clothing At An Industrial Laundry
Washing flame-retardant clothing with an industrial machine will be slightly different than washing it at home.
- Separately wash your flame-retardant garment, or else you will damage its luminescent effect
- Avoid natural soaps and utilize only non-iconic detergents
- Same as washing at home, when washing at an industrial machine, ensure you only use soft water and avoid hard water. Hard water can precipitate soaps and can cause a buildup of magnesium salts which will affect the flame resistance and luminescent properties of the FR clothing
- Follow the temperature instructions and detergent recommendations given by the manufacturer when washing your flame-retardant garment
- Use a short extract time so you can prevent wrinkles on the flame-retardant garment
- Ensure you don’t over-dry your garments to avoid shrinkage. Remember to keep the total temperature below 280 degrees
Why Stain Removal Is Imperative?
Stains are always bad on any clothing, but flame-retardant clothing, it’s especially bad as stains from oils, grease, and gas are flammable and can heavily affect your garment. So ensure you get rid of them as soon as you can. These stains lessen the resistance your garment has against fires, which can be dangerous when working around flames. If your home washer isn’t able to remove the stains, wash your FR garment in an industrial or commercial washer or dry clean your garments. But stay protected.
What should you do if there are oil stains on your flame retardant clothes?
Wash your flame-retardant clothes immediately if they’re stained. Oil stains or grease can put you in danger as they’re flammable. Use regular hot water and non-bleach detergent and start scrubbing on the stain until it is removed. Avoid using bleach, regular soap, or any other product.
If your FR clothing has a stain that isn’t getting removed from scrubbing, dry cleaning may fix your problem. If nothing is working and the stains are still present, it is advised to replace your flame-retardant clothes, as stained FR clothes are dangerous and do not provide protection against flames.