The ultimate guide on how to clean hi-vis clothing

High visibility clothing is fluorescent regulation garments worn by many professionals who need to be visible while working, for example, construction and railway workers, public service personnel, and even lorry drivers and traffic wardens. These people must be visible to keep them safe while working in hazardous environments and so others can find them when needed. 

However, working in these kinds of environments, it’s inevitable that hi-vis clothing can become dirty, compromising the effectiveness of the fluorescent material. It’s essential to keep your hi-vis clothing clean to maintain your industry standard of visibility. However, incorrectly cleaning a hi-vis vest or pair of trousers can also damage the fluorescent material and reflective strips, so here is our step-by-step guide on cleaning hi-vis clothing without damaging it. 

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How to clean a hi-vis jacket without damaging it

How to clean a hi-vis jacket without damaging it

If you can, avoid cleaning your hi-vis clothing with a washing machine. Manufacturers usually recommend a limit on the number of times you can wash a hi-vis garment before you have to replace it. It’s typically between 20-25 times before it loses its required level of luminosity.

If the dirt is superficial, you can hand wash your garment without compromising the fibres of reflective strips. Here’s how to clean a hi-vis jacket by hand.

  1. If your hi-vis jacket is dirty, don’t bunch it up and throw it on the floor. Any untreated dirt or grime can settle into the fibres and become nearly impossible to clean. Also, bundling up your jacket can crease it, which makes the reflective strips crack.
  2. Hang up the hi-vis jacket and brush off any loose dirt with a dry cloth.
  3. If your hi-vis jacket is still dirty, submerge in lukewarm water in the sink or bath with mild detergent for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Gently rub any persistent stains with a light brush.
  5. Rinse under cold water.
  6. Leave to dry in the shade and hang up as soon as possible to avoid creasing. 
How to wash hi-vis clothing

How to wash hi-vis clothing

However, a washing machine is sometimes necessary, especially if you have limited time to clean a work garment. If you do use a washing machine to clean your hi-vis clothing, here are a few rules you must adhere to:

  • Always use your coldest washing machine temperature setting, or never exceed the recommended temperature on the manufacturer’s laundry label.
  • Wash with similar colours to avoid dark dye bleeding into your hi-vis clothing, making them dull and ineffective.
  • Avoid washing with rough fabric like jeans, as they could damage the reflective strips.
  • Only wash them the recommended amount of times. If you exceed this recommendation, you will have to replace the garment. 
  • Only use detergents with a PH level no more than level 11, as high alkalinity can damage the fibres of your hi-vis clothing.
  • Never put your hi-vis clothing in the dryer, as the heat will warp the polyester fabric and compromise the glue on the reflective tape. 

How to get stains out of a hi-vis vest

Inevitably, stains appear and embed themselves into hi-vis clothing because of the outdoor or messy environment people wear them in. It’s crucial that you don’t use any detergents with brightening agents, as these can compromise the fabric. Also, avoid bleach at all costs. 

For stubborn stains on a hi-vis vest, for example, use a detergent which is safe to use on bright colours and gently rub the stain until it lifts. If the stain persists, soak the stained part of the garment in lukewarm water and a mild detergent. 

How to get stains out of a hi-vis vest

How to remove grease from a hi-vis jacket

If you work with machinery, you’re likely to dirty your hi-vis jacket with oil and grease, which is a nightmare to clean. Here are a few tips and tricks for removing grease stains from a hi-vis jacket. 

Water and oil don’t mix, so regular cleaning methods like the washing machine and soaking might not work. The best way to remove grease is to use a powder method. 

For example, baking soda is one of the best cleaning agents to remove grease and oil stains. Here’s how to remove grease from a hi-vis jacket.

  1. Wipe off excess oil with a dry cloth.
  2. Sprinkle the baking soda on the oil stain.
  3. Leave for 24 hours to soak up the oil.
  4. Rub the stain clean with a brush or towel.
  5. If the stain persists, use vinegar and water to clean the area.
  6. Wash away baking soda or vinegar with soap and water.

You can also use talcum powder, corn starch or chalk for the same effect.

If the stain persists, you can use mild dish soap as it contains properties that break down oil and is mild enough to use on hi-vis clothing.

Hi-vis clothing at Build & Plumb

Now you know how to clean your hi-vis clothing without damaging it. One way to ensure your hi-vis clothing lasts through the dirt and grime of everyday work and subsequential washing is to purchase high-quality garments. Investing in good quality brands means your hi-vis clothing will withstand the wear and tear of working on building sites and outside and won’t fall to pieces when you wash it. 

Here at Build & Plumb, we only supply the best hi-vis regulation-approved clothing for everyone who needs to be safe and seen at work and in daily life. Why not browse our range of hi-vis clothing today?

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