The working environment can leave its mark on workwear, firefighter suits and protective clothing by way of smoke particles, oil, dirt or greasy deposits. Care and cleaning of hi vis and technical clothing is essential to ensure they retain the protection and high visibility properties to conform to industry standards such as EN 20471 (high visibility) and EN 11612 (flame retardant) standards. Any protective clothing or workwear that is left in this unclean state is unsafe. In the case of high visibility workwear the bright colours and reflective tape can become dulled, making the garments ultimately unlawful. Firefighter clothing is likely to be exposed to a number of unknown contaminates in operational use. There is a possibility of damage and/or loss of performance if incorrectly washed or dried. The removal of decontaminants in protective clothing is imperative to ensure it is fit for purpose and suitable for reuse.
High visibility and technical workwear can be cleaned, repaired and refurbished by a laundry company who develop complete cleansing processes that do not harm any of the components of high visibility and technical workwear. With a managed service, garments are barcoded and each wearer is given a unique identity that allows a laundry to monitor the number of times a garment has been cleaned or repaired. Every time a garment is laundered it is manually inspected and if needed, replaced or repaired. Prior to dispatching, garments are once again manually checked, folded then packed to ensure they are returned ready to be worn. If you work with a laundry partner, expert cleaning and care will ensure your garments retain their protective attributes, keeping you safe and extending the lifespan of your workwear. Ballyclare has our own laundry and managed service centre in Livingston, UK. Our expert, knowledgeable team have years of experience and are highly trained to keep your protective clothing fit for use. Find out more about our laundry service.
If you wash your workwear at home, please follow our washing advice for workwear. If you wear firefighter protective clothing, please follow the care advice for firefighter protective clothing.
Your workwear and PPE garments must always be clean to be safe. Frequent washing, maintaining and storing work clothes in the right way is important to guarantee both the durability and the functionality of the workwear. Every garment therefore has a label with clear washing guidelines, that are always designed to care for the most delicate part of the garment. Garments covered in dirt will signiﬁcantly decrease visibility and other properties, this may put you in danger. The ﬂame and heat protection in protective clothing made of fabrics with inherent ﬂame-resistant properties cannot be washed or worn out. Regular washing ensures that the garments do not contain any ﬂammable particles or dirt that may compromise the protective properties.
We always label our garments with the highest temperature allowed. But you can select a lower washing temperature to save energy and help the environment. Washing at 40 degrees instead of 60 degrees saves almost 50 per cent energy.
Keep protective clothing clean oil, grease and dust deposits can impair the protective performance. Do not remove persistent soiling by scrubbing.
Before washing, close all fasteners (zips, hook and loop) and empty pockets. High visibility garments should be washed separately to avoid dyes from other garments migrating onto the high visibility fabric reducing the visible performance. Machine wash on a warm cycle (40°C) using a non-biological product. Do not use biological detergents as biological detergents can damage the garment performance by reducing waterproofness and breathability Do not use powder detergents or any products that contain fabric softeners, conditioners, stain removers or bleach. Garments can be spin-dried at a medium setting whilst being washed. Rinse well. Use easy-care wash program or extra rinse cycle. Do not use chlorine bleach.
Garments can be line dried, or tumble dried on a warm, gentle cycle. If line drying, when dry, tumble dry for 20 minutes to reactivate the durable water repellent finish. This method is recommended for the maintenance of the garment’s durable water-repellent treatment.
Iron on a medium temperature setting (one dot) without steam. Cover any reflective strips with a cloth to protect them before ironing.
Dry cleaning must only be carried out by a specialist. We recommend cleaning with perchloroethylene (PER) or hydrocarbon. Do not use detergents or additives with a very high or very low pH value. Before cleaning, close or cover all hook and loop fasteners to prevent deposits of foreign matter or textile damage. Dry cleaning is recommended for badly soiled protective clothing. This method is particularly effective for soiling that is not water-soluble e.g. oils, grease, and bitumen. Before using the protective clothing again, check it is completely free of any solvent. Ensure no labels are pinned to the clothing as this will damage the GORE-TEX Membrane.
To prevent colour fading, protective clothing should not be stored in direct sunlight or where there are other sources of UV light. Do not store protective clothing when it is wet. It is the wearer’s responsibility to ensure the layers of protective clothing are intact and fully functional at all times during the product lifecycle. Faulty garments should be disposed of.
Your firefighter clothing gives you maximum protection against heat and moisture and is combined with the latest garment ergonomics to create an extremely comfortable product. To meet your expectations, we only use state-of the-art raw materials to craft our fire suits nevertheless, they requires correct maintenance and care to keep them working properly for as long as possible. Correct maintenance and care is essential to extending their life, so please adhere to our recommendations, adjust your washing programme accordingly or pass on this information to your external laundry partner.
The protective clothing is made of flame retardant materials, the flame retardant properties belong to the inherent characteristics of the fibres and materials, which means they do not lose their flame resistance. All the same, improper treatment during cleaning can impair or even severely damage the mechanical properties. Before you start cleaning your new Ballyclare firefighter suits, you should first conduct a series of tests or commission the external laundry firm to do so. Oil, grease and dust deposits on the surface may catch fire and impair the performance of the protective clothing. Fire kit needs to be washed separately to prevent foreign matter eg fluff from bonding with the surface. To ensure cross-contamination cannot take place, for instance between ‘service apparel’ and ‘sports clothing’, you must only wash it in a washing machine designated specifically for this purpose.
Product specific washing, care and storage information can be found on garment labels, including the washing symbols below and in the Product User Information Sheet that came with your new fire kit.
Ballyclare firefighter clothing is suitable for washing in professional washing machines based on household laundry. Washing is preferable to dry cleaning, as body fluids are not as thoroughly removed during the dry cleaning process. In case there is no other possibility, dry cleaning is allowed. Washing at home is strongly discouraged because of the drum capacity, but also because of hygiene reasons. Firefighter clothing comes into contact with various substances and fluids, including bodily, that must be handled in a professional environment. Hand washing is prohibited.
Firefighter kit must only be washed in a designated washing machine. The reasons for this are tumble capacity and for hygiene, to prevent cross-contamination - do not use household appliances. Machines with >15 kg washing drum are recommended to ensure sufficient drum capacity for your fire clothing. Overloading the drum leads to mechanical damage to the clothing. Load the machine to half capacity and select a washing program that applies a higher water level.
Sort the wash by colour and degree of contamination. In order to prevent cross-contamination, firefighting clothing must be washed separately from other clothing. Before washing, all shoulder pieces, name badges, hooks etc. should be removed and bags emptied. Close all fasteners and hook and loop fastenings to avoid damage (wear and pilling).
Excessive friction between materials can occur due to overloading the drum, especially in wet conditions, leading to premature wear and tear. The recommended loading level is 50-60% of the drum capacity. We recommend a front loader without an agitator. Top loaders with agitators can cause damage to the garments.
For optimisation of the garment lifespan we recommend washing temperatures between 40-60˚C. Highly contaminated fire kit should be washed separately, possibly with an appropriate program including prewash. When clothing should be exposed to higher washing temperatures, for example disinfection, we select materials that can be cleaned at such temperatures. Your firefighter clothing contains other symbols on the garment label and you receive additional information / special washing advice.
Use a mild detergent without any optical brighteners, bleaches or integrated fabric softener. Do not use concentrated detergents. Do not use soap, which can produce a flammable scum residue in hard water. Concentrated acids, eg acetic acid, alkalis or powerful oxidants ie hypochlorite and other chlorine-based bleaches, impair the mechanical properties of the firefighter uniform. Avoid exposing the apparel to very low (<2) or very high (>10) pH values during laundry cycles. The pH value of the solution should be 8–9.
We endorse the following detergents (without accepting liability):
This list is not complete, we recommend conducting a test cycle.
Bleaches, especially if chlorine-based, can damage the dye, textile fibres and the fluorescent stripes.
Severely soiled apparel or garments that have been soaked with flammable substances may require several treatments. Rinse them and place them in an additional pre-wash cycle with suitable surfactants/grease solvents. Multiple pre-wash cycles may be required.
Fire suits contaminated with bodily fluids and / or asbestos must not be cleaned using a standard washing process. It must be kept separate, in a polybag, and cleaned in a separate cycle using a suitable washing process.
For standard washing, wash at 40°c and follow the care instructions on the garment label - this will provide garment longevity. For heavily soiled garments follow the procedure below:
Rinse all garments thoroughly after washing to remove all traces of detergents. Clothing with membranes must not be put through the spin cycle or only spun gently if suitable. They must then be placed in the tumble dryer on a gentle cycle and dried at initial drum temperatures of no more than 60°c or in a drying cabinet. Drying in a drying chamber gives less mechanical friction between materials and therefore less wear. Tumble or cabinet drying is necessary to activate the current or newly applied impregnation. Do not hang the fire clothing on a washing line if exposed to direct sunlight, as doing so may damage the material.
The outer material in Ballyclare fire gear is always impregnated with a water and oil repellent finish to meet the requirements of EN 469. This finish is applied to the clothing during the production of the outer fabric and is not permanent. There are, however, standard finishes (short life) and durable (long-term) finishes. Both can and must be maintained during the washing process to provide protection throughout the life cycle.
Mechanical stress, frequency of use and weather conditions affect the impregnation applied to the outer material. For this reason, a visual inspection must be performed after each wash cycle. By allowing water drops to run on the clothes, a quick and simple check can be made to see if the finish is working.
NOTE: Water repellence, however, is different from chemical resistance. Many chemicals have a lower surface tension and penetrate faster than water. A more accurate assessment is to test on the basis of an oil drop test (EN ISO 144119) (oil has a low surface tension). When value 5 is achieved, it can be assumed that chemicals from EN 469 are also sufficiently rejected. The oil drop test is a simple test and test oils are safe and standard available on the market.
To maintain the repellent chemical properties, we recommend a reapplication of the finish on the outer material. For the most optimal resistance, we recommend a reapplication in each wash. The clothing should be adequately rinsed to remove chemical detergents; detergent residues disrupt the peeling action of the finish. Add a fluorocarbon finishing (FC) agent to the final rinse cycle and then dry in the tumble dryer or drying cabinet to activate the necessary re-impregnation.
In the case of reapplication, the outer layer should receive a heat shock to optimally activate the finish. It must be dried against over-drying. Heat and time are required for an optimal repellent result. Over-drying is critical for shrinkage. This makes drying an accurate process.
Your detergent supplier has the right detergents and process setting for your machines and processes. We endorse the following re-impregnation agents (without accepting liability):
This list is not complete, we recommend conducting a test cycle.
Some of the outer materials Ballyclare use in its firefighter clothing are equipped with a durable oil and water-repellent impregnation. It may require re-impregnation after 30 or 40 wash cycles, depending on the outer material. After this number of washes, reapplication should be started as described under Standard Finish. This with the recommendation to repeat every wash.
To activate the durable finish, it is very important the clothes are properly dried. The outer material should get a heat shock to activate the finish after washing, see under Standard Finish. Timely reapplication is essential to ensure the protective properties of clothing. The number of washes can be monitored by means of barcode scanning or RFID and the moment of reapplication can be determined.
Consideration: Depending on the frequency of washing and the logistical process, you can choose to replace the clothing after the durable finish. This is not technically necessary, but can offer advantages from a logistical point of view, because not all clothing must be started simultaneously and there can be half loadings during washing and drying.
Washing as described above should be given precedence over dry cleaning. If there is no other alternative, dry cleaning with industry-standard tetrachloroethylene or hydrocarbons can be performed. Do not use detergent, additives or pure solvents to prevent the retention of flammable residues, as this will impair the protective properties of the garment. Make certain all solvents have been eliminated from the apparel during drying before reusing the garment. To prevent changes in the material, ensure all detergents remain within the specific pH range as stated earlier. For activation of the repellent finish, the outer material should be placed in a tumble dryer or drying room / cabinet.
It is possible that certain garment damage can be repaired using the same inherently flame-retardant materials used in original manufacture. In case of uncertainty please consult Ballyclare. Inadequate removal of contaminants may drastically reduce the heat and flame protection offered. Regular checks for contaminants are essential. In the event of accidental splash of chemical or flammable liquids on this garment, the wearer should immediately withdraw and remove the garment, which should then be cleaned or removed from service.
Garments must be bagged, quarantined and professionally laundered if they become contaminated with blood, organic staining or asbestos.
Clean the equipment when it is exposed to serious contamination such as blood, body fluids, pitch, fuel and soot. If possible, rinse with water at the place of use to remove contamination.
Recommendations for storing garments from new, or garments that have been stored in original packaging for up to 3 years:
To the best of our knowledge the materials components utilised in the manufacture of these garments do not contain any substances known to adversely affect user hygiene or health.
Our garments are also suitable for disposal via landfill in accordance with European standards. At end of life we regularly donate to charities used but serviceable fire kit for use in undeveloped countries.
Every garment has a label that tells you what the fabric is made from and includes symbols that let you know how to care for your garments. The following definitions apply: