Man loading laundry into industrial washer

Safe Cleaning of PPE Garments

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) garments are crucial to doing your job effectively and safely. Most oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, electrical and construction positions require flame resistant (FR), high-visibility or arc-rated workwear.

When it comes to cleaning PPE clothing, there are two options: outsource the laundering to an industrial laundry expert or let each employee take their uniforms home and use their home washer and dryer. If you leave it up to your employees, you are responsible for making sure that their laundering process does not compromise the protective properties of the clothing.

According to OSHA, “If employers rely on home laundering of the clothing, they must train their employees in proper laundering procedures and techniques, and employers must inspect the clothing on a regular basis to ensure that it is not in need of repair or replacement. If an employer cannot meet these conditions, then the employer is responsible for laundering the FR and arc-rated clothing.”

Consider the following facts associated with home washing PPE garments:

  • PPE garments should be washed in separate loads. Can you be certain that employees aren’t co-mingling their work wear with the family wash?
  • Are employees using the most effective temperatures and detergents at home? Do they know it makes a difference? Industrial laundering uses higher wash temperatures, stronger detergents and better equipment to help remove tough chemical stains.
  • Bulwark®, a leading protective apparel manufacturer, says that the protective qualities of some FR garments may be compromised if home washers use bleach, peroxide or other additives. These could build up on the fabrics and jeopardize safety.
  • When workwear is taken home for washing, chances are good that it isn’t inspected for quality assurance when it comes back to the job site. However, industrial launderers are held to inspection standards.
  • Employees aren’t tracking the number of washes or wear and tear, which is essential information when determining when to replace the garment. Too many washes could mean the premature deterioration of the fabric, and replacement costs can add up. In most cases, industrial laundry providers retire and replace soiled uniforms as part of the customer’s program.
  • By transporting dirty PPE garments, your vehicle, home and washer are potentially exposed to chemicals. Industrial launderers know how to properly and safely deal with contaminants such as lead and asbestos.

Expert Care

Sure, there are some PPE garments that you can wash at home but why take the risk? Remember, if you allow workers to wash their own garments, you may be liable if those garments fall out of compliance. For peace of mind and cost savings associated with premature replacement, trust an industrial laundry partner to take on the responsibility of cleaning your team’s PPE uniforms.


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