Should you wash your work uniform at home?

March 13, 2015

Employers, you know you are legally responsible for the health and safety of your employees, but did you know this extends into what your employees wear to work? Employees, did you know that something seemingly helpful, like washing your uniforms at home, can actually be detrimental to your safety and your employer? The people that are most affected by home washing are those who need their clothes to stay bright and well maintained for their job safety.

Most workwear is technically able to be washed at home, but it’s in your and your employer’s best interest to have them cleaned by a professional facility. One reason is that with home laundering there is no assurance that stains and soils are adequately removed, and attempting to do so at home can damage the clothing’s protective properties. If washing your workwear at home damages the protective properties of a garment, then the effectiveness of the workwear is reduced.

Workwear washed at home is not subject to inspection of the same quality of maintenance as it is in an industrial laundry. The number of washes or tears and mendings is not tracked either; that also means there is no consideration to when the clothing needs to be replaced. If your clothing is instrumental to keeping you safe, as is the case with high visibility and flame-resistant clothing, not keeping it in top shape could be putting your life at risk.

But if you are someone who avoids washing your garments for fear of damaging them, beware that you may be putting yourself in danger anyway! Dirt and dust can build up on your vest or shirt, dimming the intensity of the fluorescent color and the reflectiveness of the tape. You are less visible, and visibility is essential for those in hazardous industries.

If you must wash your garments at home, there are some rules to make sure you aren’t damaging the clothing’s protective properties. If you can’t air dry your high-visibility clothing, only tumble dry on low heat. Don’t iron them, and avoid washing them with other rough fabrics. High heat settings from the dryer or iron and rough fabrics can damage the retroflective tape on your garments. These fabrics have been specifically treated to maintain their high visibility and mistreatment will render them ineffective, and a liability for your safety.

Home care is similar for your flame-resistant gear. You’ll want to wash and dry them on low heat and avoid all contact with bleach, fabric softener, dryer sheets and certain detergents that could damage the garment’s flame resistant polymers.

For the best care and keeping of your workwear, best practice is to leave it up to the professionals. Australian Uniform Service has 100 years of experience outfitting Australian workers, and our uniform rental program will supply and maintain your uniforms. We track each of our pieces, and clean and mend them following industry standards. All uniforms will be replaced when they are no longer performing at their best. Contact us today, and you’ll see why we’re the best choice for uniform supply and maintenance.