While FR garments need to be treated a bit differently than normal daily-wear clothes, it doesn’t mean that their care is difficult. The following article will break down the recommended practices for caring for your FR garment. To learn more, head over to KnowYourFR.com

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Home Laundering Care and Maintenance of Flame – Resistant Clothing

When FR garments are laundered properly, using the proper detergent, home laundering is an effective cleaning process. It is up to the user to determine if this is appropriate for their situation.

      It is very important that potentially flammable contaminants are removed from garments during the wash process.  If flammable contaminants are not removed, the flame resistance of the garment may be compromised. To reduce the potential of employees wearing garments contaminated with flammable substances, you should analyze the soil conditions to which wearers may be exposed, along with the effectiveness of the wash procedure. In the event home laundering is deemed ineffective, alternative solutions like dry cleaning or industrial laundering should be pursued.

Here are some basic guidelines to effectively care for and maintain FR clothing.

1. Always follow the care label.

2. Use common household laundry detergents like All, Cheer, Gain, Tide, Wisk to name a few. Do not use fatty-based or bar soaps. Liquid detergents are recommended by most fabric manufacturers.

3. Do not use chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, starch, fabric softeners, or detergents or pretreatment products with chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide or derivatives of chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These products may adversely affect the garment.

4. Loosely add clothing to the washing machine.  Do not overload the machine.  Follow the washing machine manufacturer’s instructions for acceptable wash load sizes.

5. Select a machine cycle that is appropriate for the soil level and type of clothing being handled and use the hottest water allowed by the clothing care label. Using the permanent press cycle typically provides the best appearance over the life of the garment.

6. Fabric manufacturers typically recommend the use of soft water or detergent specifically designed for hard water.  Hard water (greater than 7 grains per gallon of hardness) can leave residue on fabrics that may mask flame resistance.

7. Clothing soiled with combustible or flammable chemicals should be handled carefully and in accordance with pre-established procedures.  Failure to fully remove these chemicals could compromise the flame resistant effectiveness of the garment.

NOTE: Garments soiled with hazardous chemicals should only be handled by qualified individuals with techniques approved for such materials. If there are ever any questions about care and maintenance of FR clothing, contact the garment manufacturer or garment supplier for specific care instructions for the fabrics or garments.

8. Dry using the permanent press setting.

The following recommendations may increase the wear life, appearance and comfort of the clothing.

1. Separate light and dark colored garments to avoid possible color transfer.

2. Launder FR and non-FR garments separately. Laundering FR and non-FR garments together may result in appearance degradation and/or lint transfer. It is unlikely this will result in reduced flame resistance.

3. Pre-treat stains and heavy soil lines on collars and cuffs. Rub with full-strength, heavy-duty liquid detergent or off-the-shelf pretreatment products like Shout and Spray & Wash, following the product’s recommendations for use.

4. Turn garments inside out when laundering. This should help maintain the appearance.

5. Tumble dry on hottest setting allowed by the clothing care label. Do not over dry.  Remove from dryer immediately when dry.  Some garment labels indicate better drying performance when using the permanent-press or easy-care sensor-dry settings, instead of a time-to-dry setting because sensor-dry settings will avoid over-drying.  Line drying is also acceptable but some garments specifically state they should not be line dried.

6. If desired, steam or dry iron with heat settings according to the care label instructions

7. Use regular detergent with top-loading washers and high efficiency detergents with front-loading washers

At some point in the life of an FR garment there should be consideration to removing it from service due to basic wear and tear. For most practical purposes, garments may be removed from service based on subjective evaluation after regular inspections. Ultimately the determination of when FR clothing is removed from service is the responsibility of the end user.

The following items, identifiable by visual examination, may diminish the effectiveness of FR clothing and should be cause for removing them from service.

1. Worn – Thin spots, holes, excessive wear or abrasion – for example on elbow or knee area.

2. Mechanical Damage – Evidence of cuts, rips, tears, open seams, and nonfunctional closures.

3. Modifications – Alteration(s) to a garment that differs significantly from the original design.

4. Fit – The FR clothing no longer fits the wearer.

5. Flammable substances – Garments soiled by substances that represent a flammability risk, such as solvents, solids, oils and other petroleum products that cannot be properly removed by cleaning. NOTE: the presence of a petroleum or chemical odor can be evidence of a flammable substance.

It is important to keep FR garments clean and free from flammable contaminants. These general instructions provide the basics to care for FR clothing. The garments laundry instructions and/or manufacturers instructions is the primary source for laundry instructions and should always be followed.