Washing and caring for your Flame Resistant items
Specialty clothing such as Flame Resistant garments are essential to keeping workers safe in situations where electric arcs or flash fires can occur. Because these garments are so specialized they bear a higher price tag than normal clothing and do not qualify under the return/exchange policy for some companies. Once you find the perfect fit you’ll need to know how to keep that garment in tip-top shape for the coming years.
Most FR articles have a life expectancy between 2-5 years (depending on the fabric content) and if you follow the washing instructions your items will keep you protected as long as possible. We have a few different brands that make up our Flame Resistant collection: Carhartt, Walls FR, and Bulwark. Here are the washing instructions for each brand.
Carhartt uses fabric from Mount Vernon Mills on a variety of their Flame Resistant items. All items can be washed at home or dry cleaned. You can find all our Carhartt FR items here.
- Home washing: All quilt lined items should be washed at warm temps that do not exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit; tumble dry low and remove promptly, iron with low heat. Unlined or twill lined garments wash warm temps that do not exceed 165 degrees Fahrenheit; tumble dry low, remove promptly and iron on low heat.
- Carhartt has recently discovered home laundering of the 13 oz. Dark Navy FR garments may result in color streaking. This does not degrade the safety of the fabric but it does impact the aesthetic quality. Carhartt recommends commercial laundering for the following items: FRB229, FRC066, FRJ184, FRJ195, FRJ198, FRR44, FRR45 and FRA265. Please ask for the garment to be turned inside out prior to washing.
Walls FR uses fabric from ITEX that produces BANWEAR and BANOX certified fabrics. BANWEAR products are a blend of 88% cotton/ 12% high tenacity nylon with a life expectancy of 4-5 years. BANOX certified products consist of 100% cotton and last 2-3 years. Start shopping for Walls FR garments now!
- Home washing: professional cleaning can be costly for a garment worn every day -luckily most FR items are machine washable. All detergents, except those containing chlorine or peroxide bleach, and enzymes may be used. When washing at home, the hardness of the water does not affect the BANWEAR and BANOX certified fabric’s flammability, as long as the fabrics are adequately rinsed.
- Industrial laundering: Because of hard water and high temps industrial laundering and drying can cause mineral build up on FR fabric (containing cotton) making them less resistant. This build up can be prevented with soft water or adequate sour. Facilities using hard water should test the flammability of the fabrics after 100 washes. Industrial drying should not exceed 280 degrees Fahrenheit, it is normal for the garment to shrink up to 5%.
- Dry Clean: This procedure must be done in a manner that removes all dry cleaning solvent from fabric. ITEX does NOT want you to dry clean indigo dyed BANOX FR3 or BANOX certified denim.
Bulwark has a few different tips and laundry techniques for the different fabrics. Find all Bulwark Flame Resistant items here.
- Home washing: Wash FR garments separate in a normal or cotton cycle at any water temp up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (you may require hotter water temps to remove oily stains). Bulwark also mentions using soft water due to the fact hard water can cause mineral build up. Use typical laundry detergent, do not use: tallow soap, chlorine bleach, or liquid non-chlorine bleaches. Turn garment inside out before washing to reduce streaking and load the washer no more than 2/3 full. Do not over-dry, this can lead to excessive shrinkage, dry on permanent press or low settings.
- Dry cleaning: Bulwark garments can be dry cleaned by either petroleum solvent or perchloroethlyene, and is recommended when items are heavily soiled with oil or grease. Do not dry clean indigo dyed FR denim.
No matter the brand, all agree that using laundry aids such as starch, fabric softeners, and bleach are not recommended. Starch and fabric softeners can coat the fiber and mask the flame resistant performance and can serve as fuel for combustion. Chlorine bleach destroys FR polymer and reduces the resistance of the fabric.
Now that you know how to take care of your Flame Resistant materials, what do you do if you have a rip or tear in the garment from normal wear? Bulwark offers a repair kit for minor lesions that do not affect the integrity of the garment. If you require a major repair, do not continue to wear the item as it can become contaminated with flammable materials. Minor patches can be made in BANWEAR or BANOX certified fabrics and nomex thread. Any garments that have lost their FR ability should be permanently removed from service.
Don’t hesitate to contact us about Flame Resistant items, whether it be sizing or washing techniques we will help as much as possible or contact the manufacturer if we do not know.