When it comes to reflective clothing that is worn daily, it is important to keep this vital safety gear clean and in good condition. Reflective gear that is dirty or stained may not reflect properly, putting the wearer at risk. That means, yes, high-visibility (hi-vis) reflective clothing must be cleaned regularly. However, improperly washing reflective clothing may also reduce its effectiveness and violate industry safety standards, such as OSHA safety standards and the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) High Visibility Safety Apparel standards.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions about how to wash reflective clothing, as well as tips on how to extend the lifespan of reflective garments.
Can employees wash hi-visibility reflective clothing at home?
Yes! Many of Reflective Apparel’s hi-vis safety garments can be washed by employees at home. In general, unless otherwise indicated on the tag of a hi-vis reflective garment, we recommend employees machine wash reflective clothing in cold water on a delicate cycle. Make sure employees follow the recommendations below:
- Use a mild detergent.
- No bleach!
- Avoid fabric softeners, as they damage reflective tape.
Do not wash reflective apparel with garments that have a rough finish, such as jeans.
Wash garments inside out.
- Do not wash reflective garments with other dark garments, which may reduce the intensity of the fluorescent color.
- Tumble dry on low heat. Remove immediately. When possible, line dry reflective apparel instead of putting it in the dryer. If you do machine dry, remove the garment as soon as possible to avoid excess heat, which can damage reflective tape.
Do not iron.
- Do not dry clean.
How do you get spots or stains out of hi-vis reflective clothing?
Need help with spot cleaning or grease on a hi-vis reflective garment? Try OxiClean, Shout, Zout, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, or Fels Naptha Soap.
Can reflective clothing be dry cleaned?
Unless otherwise specified on the tag, do not dry clean reflective clothing. The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process may damage a garment’s reflective materials.
Can reflective clothing be washed by an industrial laundry service?
The answer is, it depends. Not every reflective garment is able to stand up to the rigors of industrial laundries and remain in compliance with ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 standards. However, Reflective Apparel has engineered RAflect50, a line of high visibility ANSI-compliant work shirts specifically designed to withstand up to 50 washes in the high temperatures and harsh chemicals of industrial wash cycles. RAflect50 garments have been independently tested under industrial laundry conditions, and AATCC test results confirm excellent fabric physicals, including:
- 4.9 out of 5 for snag resistance
- 5 out of 5 for pilling resistance
- 5 out of 5 for colorfastness
- < 3.5 shrinkage
RAflect50 products are available in multiple hi-vis reflective styles, including rental-friendly T-shirts, woven work shirts and polos. All RAflect50 products feature segmented reflective tape for high visibility, comfort, longevity and durability and comply with ANSI Class II High Visibility standards. The micro pique fabric used in RAflect50 high visibility garments received third-party certification for ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 High Visibility Compliance. RAflect50 products can also be customized with company logos and corporate branding.
How can employees extend the lifespan of reflective hi-vis clothing?
Now that you know how to keep your reflective garments clean, fresh and ANSI-compliant, let’s talk about a few ways employees can extend the life of reflective garments. Proper care can ensure that safety apparel does not wear out prematurely. Never allow employees to use safety apparel that is worn, torn, or no longer working up to safety standards. Even new safety garments that are improperly cared for can lose their effectiveness and pose a safety risk.
Below are recommendations on how to extend the life of hi-vis reflective garments.
- Clean garments according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Do not leave dirt on garments, which can diminish the intensity of the fluorescent color and diminish the reflectivity of the tape.
Do not store reflective garments in direct sunlight.
- Do not crush reflective tape when storing.
Need additional tips on which reflective garments are best for your team? Give our team a call.