An essential part of any personal protective equipment (PPE) practice or program is the proper care of arc flash clothing. Usually, the users of flame resistant clothing will use both commercial laundries and home laundering to clean this clothing. There are advantages to both methods of cleaning although home laundering offers considerable more control over the cleaning process. In order to save on processing costs, commercial laundries usually clean garments in batches which can result in over drying. This can result in your PPE investment to wear out faster, deteriorate, and shrink.
For the life of your arc flash clothing, it is very important that you take proper care of it. This is the result of the stress that can be put on certain areas and parts of the clothing that can happen from normal use.
Any reputable PPE manufacturer will provide laundering instructions on the labels of the clothing. Usually, you should follow the recommendation on the manufacturers that are on these labels because the manufacturers of the product have tested the safest method for cleaning the clothing that they make.
Your arc flash personal protective clothing should be cleaned regularly for both safety and hygienic reasons.
Here are some general guidelines that should be followed although you should follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label.
The arc flash clothing should be cleaned onsite at the workplace or at a commercial laundry if they have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. Your flame resistant clothing (FRC) should be kept away from containments such as lint by separating it from the normal clothing that might come in contact with the FRC. To avoid scratching the surface of the shield, it should be wiped with a clean soft cloth and some soapy water. For laundering the hood, most manufacturers’ hoods are designed such that the face shield can be removed. Excessive grease and oil may be removed by dry cleaning. Remove any combustible substances such as grease and oil because this can ignite on the surface of the clothing which will take away from the protective qualities of your FRC. You shouldn’t use fabric softener because it is flammable. You shouldn’t use chlorine bleach because this can weaken the fabric and affect the color. You shouldn’t over dry the FRC and wash them in warm water and tumble dry on medium heat. You should also remove the garments from the dryer when they are still somewhat damp and then allow them to dry by hanging. You shouldn’t use insect repellents that contain DEET because they contain flammables. It is particularly important not to put the PPE in locations like a tool box or in the back of a truck because the face shield can easily be scratched. You shouldn’t store in areas where the FRCs can become contaminated from other substances. Never put away or store or FRCs rolled up with sharp objects or tools because they can be easily damaged by being cut open. You should also be careful around the mid section because some work habits and tools may lead to the constant rubbing of this area which can deteriorate the material in this area. You need to be careful of the areas that are stressed on the clothing where abrasions may occur like the thighs, elbows, and knees.
Some proactive thinking and common sense can go a long way in taking care of your arc flash clothing. Don’t forget that not only can arc flash clothing help to save your life but it is also expensive.
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