How to Care for Reflective Material Clothing

Are you wearing reflective clothing at your job? Are you trying to clean it but not sure what to do? Do you worry that you’ll damage the reflective surface, making it less visible?

More than 55 percent of struck-by-vehicle deaths occurred in construction work zones. Wearing reflective clothing is one way to ensure you are visible to others.

Washing clothing that has reflective coatings is different than washing regular clothes. Here’s a guide to keeping your clothes clean without damaging the reflective material.

Prepare Your Clothing Before You Wash It

Work clothes can take a lot of abuse. Before you decide to wash them, take the time to brush off any clumps of dirt or other debris on the material. Turn your garment inside out before you wash it. 

Remove any stains with a nonbleach stain remover and a gentle cloth. Wash in cold water on a gentle cycle, and don’t use bleach. Stubborn stains may need an overnight soak in a bucket of cold water.

Your safety gear will take care of you if you take good care of it. When choosing high visibility clothing, be sure to select the right one for your specific needs.

Avoid Fabric Softener for All Reflective Material

Fabric softener coats your clothing with a waxy lubricating film. The purpose of fabric softener is to prevent static and wrinkles, add a scent, and soften fabrics. Your safety gear doesn’t need these features.

The film will cause permanent damage to the reflective ability of any reflective work jackets or items with reflective tape. Most performance fabrics advise against the use of softeners when cleaning, as it reduces the moisture-wicking and absorption properties of the clothes.

Wash Reflective Clothing by Itself

Repeated brushing against rough materials can wear off the microscopic glass beads on the retroreflective tape. It’s best to wash reflective clothing on its own. Don’t include your heavy work pants or jackets in the same load.

Avoid washing fluorescent clothing with garments that might bleed. The color will mute the intensity of your safety gear, reducing its effectiveness. 

Air Drying vs. Using a Clothes Dryer

If you have the time and available space, it’s better to hang your reflective clothing to dry. You can use a clothes dryer, but the combination of heat and repeated contact with the drum can wear down the reflective qualities over time.

If you don’t have much time, set the dryer on a gentle cycle and use the lowest heat setting to dry your reflective gear. Don’t leave the clothing in for the whole cycle. It’s better to remove it before the heat damages the reflective tape.

Take Care of Your Reflective Clothing 

Now that you know the steps to take care of the reflective material on your clothing, you can wash it without damaging its functionality. You will see the difference proper care can make over time. 

If you enjoyed learning how to take care of your reflective apparel, we have more information and advice on our blog. Check it out today!