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How many times can you wash fire retardant clothing?

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Tips on wash expectancy and the useful life of flame-resistant workwear.

When considering laundering & the useful life of FR clothing, a few factors affect the life expectancy of a garment: 

  • Type of work and duties of the wearer
  • Fabric content
  • Type of laundering and whether garments are laundered correctly
  • How many sets of uniforms are issued to each employee 

Fabric Content

Consider fabric content when assessing workwear durability. When garments are laundered correctly and each employee has five (5) sets: 

Industrial Laundering Program Example

Companies that utilize an Industrial Laundry generally use 11 garments/sets of garments for every employee. This allows each piece to be laundered only 25 times per year with each set being worn approximately every other week. Garments in an industrial laundering program situation will last much longer because of the small yearly number of launderings. 

Home Laundering Examples

However, if a company uses the general rule of thumb, which is five (5) sets of uniforms per employee, the employee is laundering them weekly, which doubles laundering to 50-52 times per year.

There are also companies that issue three (3) sets of uniforms per employee, which means they are laundered 70-75 times per year. Garments in this circumstance will wear out far more quickly.

Did you know?

When fabrics are tested for NFPA 2112 certification, the test performed to establish the flame resistance of the fabric is ASTM D 6413– Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles (Vertical Test). This test is conducted before and after 100 launderings/dry cleanings. The fabric must pass all requirements after the 100 wash cycles to earn the certification.

 

Quick read: How to determine when a flame-resistant garment should be removed from service.

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